Saturday, July 31, 2010

poem of the day 07.31.10

god save the children

she comes in the office
she tells us that she is a teacher
and wants to know if she can bring
a school group by for some instruction

she is a young, attractive asian woman
she is wearing a one piece gray dress
that clings to her body
like the last vestiges of sin itself

we tell her sure
when she leaves the women begin complaining

she shouldn’t be teaching children, they say
not dressed like that

if that were my kid’s teacher, i’d complain
i’d call the school and have her pulled out of that class

i’d get her fired for dressing like that

she’s not even in school, i say
there aren’t even any kids with her

that’s just like a man to say something like that
but you don’t know because you don’t
have children
they get influenced

she should be ashamed, they say

and on and on and on
just like that


chanting like cackling witches
sharpening their stones

feminism once again kicked in the dust
over a pair of legs, a tight ass,
and insurmountable jealousies.

Friday, July 30, 2010

poem of the day 07.30.10

the asshole at the end of this bar

has been playing nothing but rap music
on the jukebox

it’s been going on for over an hour now

the entire oeuvre of the beastie boys
and now it’s eminem

he won’t play the black shit
in this joint

all the old drunks are grumbling
but it’s okay
the asshole at the end of this bar
is a new york city fireman

he’s been telling us stories about 9/11
rehashing that bullshit
while the rap music molests our heads
and rattles our bones

he has touched all of the old drunks’ hearts
it’s the only reason that they haven’t killed him yet

suddenly we are all taken back
to that fateful day

they all want to share where they’d been

the asshole at the end of this bar
tells us he wishes he was able to help more people
that he just missed the towers falling down

he arrived too late in my opinion

he gets misty-eyed retelling it
as ol’ eminem
still the poet laureate of the american idiot-ocracy
raps about raping and killing his ex-wife

i stare at
the asshole at the end of this bar
trying to see something in him
trying to see what they are all seeing
a modern day hero

but there is nothing to him

there is flesh and blood, bone
and a little gray matter

that is all

except for his penchant for rap music

so i shoot down my beer
i ask the wife if she wants to go somewhere else
as all the old boys start in on
obama and illegal immigrants

we find another bar about two blocks down
where the asshole at the end of that bar
is nursing a pint of coors light
and bobbing his head
to a cher song

and this is all right with us

for now.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

poem of the day 07.29.10

the hero of my shit

sitting here in the morning
somewhere between the poem
and the novel
trying to write about my youth
in some kind of context
turn myself into the protagonist
the hero of the novel

but the hero of my shit
isn’t going to win it
i already know this, so that makes it
hard to write anything of substance
that doesn’t bring the rage
the blood of the old wounds
leaking back out of me
that doesn’t chip the soul anew

for mine was a lost youth
of too many moves
too many new faces to navigate to care
of fat lonely days and nights
in the bedroom of thwarted dreams
of arguments and misunderstanding
of chaos and creation
of turncoat pals and all the girls
that never gave a damn

ah, the poetry of the dead end street
to nowhere

i wouldn’t change a second of the pain
not for anything

maybe that’s all you need to create a hero

perseverance and the ever-twisting knife

maybe the hero isn’t sitting on this page
waiting for drive and motivation

maybe he’s the guy in the chair drinking coffee
nursing another periwinkle dawn
just trying to get it all down

nah...but that would be too easy

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

poem of the day 07.28.10


come home to the mail
some benevolent stranger
has decided to let me keep my job
ending months of financial madness
crammed between the bottles
of wine, beer, and scotch

and i sit there for a moment
thinking of all the time
that has been wasted
all the nerves that have been shot

then shot again

i tell my wife
that we are becoming members
of the modern art museum
attending concerts, films,
doing everything else that i can think of

buying this
buying that
laying down so much conspicuous consumption

enough to make thornton veblem blush

we’re going to be dandies
i tell her
we’re going to paint the apartment
and the town red
we’ll get drunk on the best wine
and fart in everyone’s face

i’m going to be a man about town
this fall
squiring you everywhere

before this misery comes around again
next spring

but first
i have to kill all of the flies
that have been buzzing around the wine bottles
the wine bottles like carcasses
stacked up in this acrid oblivion
collecting a thick haze of dust

the two of us prostrate from the months
of gloom

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

poemS of the day 07.27.10

my grandmother would've been 83 today. she was a tough lady.
in celebration, here are 2 old poems that are about her.


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. 09.01.09

helen mcintyre

my grandmother was
tough as nails
and she had a voice
soaked in whisky.
she put up with a lot
of shit
from my grandfather
from alcohol
to ignorance.
she was born in pittsburgh
and she died
in pittsburgh.
cancer got her three times
before it took her
for good.
she was the first person
i ever
comatose, she said
but breathed heavily
and clutched the rosary
my mother gave her,
but still fighting for
the shred of life
she’d had given to her
from someone’s unjust
a tough lady
to the very end,
which is more than
i can say for those
of you reading
this poem.


Monday, July 26, 2010

poem of the day 07.26.10


you take a hit on
the first one
after all those
missing months
trying to keep away
from the stuff
fooling yourself
with cheap beer
and jug wine
you take the hit
examine the sweating glass
let the ice cubes
clink again
like playing piano
on an old familiar
and think
i’ve missed this
simple kind of bliss
more than i’ve
missed most
of the people
in my life
upon the second hit
you’re damned sure of it
and a little bit sad too.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

poem of the day 07.24.10

looking like an artist

i like those earrings you have
she tells me
you look very cool like that

and the long hair and beard

i keep trying to get my son
to grow his hair out

you look like some kind
of an artist, she says

a painter or poet

if only, i say to her

thinking about how
all of the poetry zines have rejected me lately

and the novel
just got sent back with
a letter from some assistant in chicago
who couldn’t even get
the title of the book
or my characters’ names right

i think about the paint dried up in the closet
and the stack of poetry books
that i can’t even give away

yet she stands there and smiles at me

while i’m nursing another
thursday morning wine and beer hangover

maybe the bloodshot eyes
and pale vomitous complexion
are doing something for her as well

to think it was so easy all along

if you can’t be
a decent artist
at least you can look like one.

Friday, July 23, 2010

poem of the day 07.23.10

at the all-star break

they are bickering in d.c.
over the extension of unemployment benefits

the spendthrift democrats
the neglectful republicans

the same folks who got us into
this mess in the first place

in afghanistan
war lords are coming out of the woodwork
to collect protection money
from u.s. government contractors
in iraq
the shiites and sunnies
are fighting one of those never-ending wars of blood

in the gulf of mexico the oil leak in capped
but the damage had been done
the fragile ecosystem has been decimated
at least for now
and once again those katrina families
are on the brink of ruin

at the all-star break
photographers are taking pictures
of celebrities looking pretty and pretty dull
cavorting on beaches
where there are no tar balls and poverty
and each summer flick
is destined to break 100 million by the end of its run

the teachers
are being welcomed into the every-growing bread line
by the smiling faces of the new poor

i’m batting .285
in case you wanted to know
i’m down in home runs this year
up in doubles

but i’m back on the juice
so i’m hoping to hit .300 again
by the time the weather breaks in september

Thursday, July 22, 2010

poem of day 07.22.10


i read in the paper
that digital books
are out selling print books
according to sales
at one behemoth online retailer

the book is dead
one of the modern technocrats writes

book lovers
need a reality check,
another genius proclaims
because they knew
that this day was going to come

they are so happy and wise
to watch these
old articles of faith
fall by the wayside

they seem as happy and eager
as a group of young nazis
waiting by a warming furnace

technology is all the rage
for the many
who still make up the few

it’s just disease and death
for the rest of us

and i feel like an old man
in a plasitc world that i no longer hunger for

but tonight
we’re putting it all aside, baby
i’ve got a volume
of hemingway in one arm
and you in the other

i want to wrap our love in videotape
wrap us up so tight
that we turn to nothing by silicone and dust.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

poem of the day 07.21.10

in a bit of good news...since i mentioned it..found out
yesterday that i get to keep my public service more booze
and reckless travel for least for the next fiscal year.
thank you, all who made calls, to save NYC libraries. Still, many
library systems are hurting, as it seems to be the American way
to cut the funding of educational institutions during times of crisis,
as opposed to raising taxes on the wealthy....but alas and alack, at least
we can still go online and see topless pictures of Paris Hilton, right?

i'll shut up now.....

hot for teacher

now, boys,
she used to purr
sitting atop her desk
with the short skirt coming up
to the thighs
and her sweater tight around the breasts

boys, don’t you know how
to clean up after yourselves? she’d ask

and then she’d giggle
hopping off the desk fast
but not fast enough

we’d always get a glimpse of the back
of her thighs as well

she was mrs. bender
but we called her mrs. bend-ass
for the way she’d lean over in class
to pick up trash off of the floor

legs spread
a full bend at the waist
so that the classroom full of us
could get a good look at her
ass crack

twenty fifteen year-old boys
getting hard-ons
in algebra class

tearing paper out of notebooks
and scattering it about
just to get a good look
at all of that glory
hidden behind her polyester skirt

how are you going to grow
up to be men? mrs. bend-ass would ask
if you can’t even pick up
a piece of paper off the floor?

then she’s bend it again
and someone would knock
on the wood of their desk
making like they were jerking it off
right then and there

she didn’t even have that decent
of a face
but a face never mattered with
a body like that

mrs. bend-ass would giggle again
she’d saunter over to the garbage can
to throw away the trash

she’d sigh heavily
her breasts going up and down
before she’d hop back on that desk
to give us all
a look at her glorious legs again

i should make some of you
stay after class, she’d say
maybe that would teach you how
to be nice, clean boys

don’t you want to be nice, clean
catholic boys?

yes, mrs. bender
we would all say in unison

good, she’d say
now where were we?

mrs. bend-ass would hop
off of the desk with her chalk
to go to town on the blackboard
her wonderful ass quivering as she wrote
exponents and fractions

not a lick of math sticking
inside of any of our brains
on a day like that.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

poem of the day 07.20.10


standing in the near dark
at the metropolitan museum
of natural history

waiting for my wife

who’s stuck in the ubiquitous line
for the women’s restroom

there is a film being projected

it is all about vertebrates

it is as interesting as everything else
in the museum of natural history

which to me means
not very interesting at all

but there are hordes of people
watching this film
learning everything that they can
about vertebrates

until the narrator begins to talk about us


the only vertebrates with the capacity
to make another of our kind extinct

the films shows images of smog
and garbage dumps
seas of traffic and airplane streaks
across the blue sky

that’s when everyone gets up
to move away from the film

for there is no need to be disparaging of our race
on a saturday afternoon in the big city

this is just when the film is getting interesting
maybe i’ll sit down and watch this
for a little bit. i think

but then my wife comes out of the restroom

and we decide to take a walk
though the great hall of dinosaurs
looking for the tyrannosaurus rex
or one of them other, big, lost giants

run off this gas ball by little more
than flaming rocks
falling from the orange-yellow sky.

Monday, July 19, 2010

poem of the day 07.19.10

on knowing the queen
of the sanitation department

look at this, she says
slapping down the daily news
in front of me

it is a picture of a dead woman
being taken out of her house on a stretcher

the neighbors are loitering around
taking photographs with their cell phones

disgusting, isn’t it? she asks

typical, i say
standard human behavior

no, she says
people have gotten worse
society has gotten worse
it’s these cell phones
and this technology
air conditioners and reality tv
the internet and all of those damned video games

people don’t care, she says
not like they used to

people have never cared, i tell her
you have us confused with another kind of animal

people did care
they did once in this country, she says

people had respect and pride
we had a sense of community in this city

but not now

people are disgusting to each other here
and in the world at large, she says

just yesterday i saw a woman walk outside
and dump garbage all over the street
even though there was a garbage can
a half a block down

i asked her what she though she was doing
dumping that shit all over
and do you know what she said to me?
she asks


this bitch says
what’re you? queen of the sanitation department?

and what did you say?

i said, yeah, i’m the queen of the
fucking sanitation department
you bet your ass i am
and if you don’t pick that garbage up
i’m going to grab you by the neck
and ram it down your fucking throat

i swear, she says
people just can’t be kind and considerate

Saturday, July 17, 2010

poem of the day 07.17.10


she’s a slut
they all agree
sitting on the rush hour bus
three of them
rich lazy tans
tank tops that only go
to the waist
no bras
hard teen nipples
poking through
denim shorts that ride
all the way up the thigh
showing pale crotch flesh
with not a pair
of underwear in sight
she has pictures
on facebook
on snapfish
on her blog
pictures of her
kissing, holding hands
i counted five different guys
the one with curly, sand-colored hair says
she says she hasn’t
but i know she has
she’s a liar
one says
a slut they all agree
i don’t know why we’re even
friends with her
another shouts
as they get off the bus
in the july heat
picking faded denim
out of their
tight ass cracks
walking up the street
whistling and waving
at the sweaty boys
on the basketball court.

Friday, July 16, 2010

poem of the day 07.16.10

thinning the herd

they are talking about
neighborhood kids

she says that she hates the summer
because the neighborhood kids
take over the street

they don’t look, she says
do you know how many of them
i almost hit with my car?

i stop the car and curse them out

i ask them
don’t you want to live?

but they just curse me back

it’s like they don’t care, she says

the other ladies agree with her
they all have horror stories
from summer streets

kids riding bikes without helmets
diving into the shallow end of the pool
setting off illegal fireworks

skateboarding for goodness sake


you should let them go, i say

the women look up at me because
i typically don’t talk at lunch

let them go if they want to take chances
any loss of life will just help thin out the herd

thin out the herd? they all say in unison

how could you say
a thing like that?
kids are so innocent

inside of every kid is an adult waiting to happen
i tell them

but they wave me off

think i’m the crazy one

they go back to talking

this time about all of the new shows
on television this summer

apparently the cable schedule is packed
with shows that
you just can’t miss.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

poem of the day 07.15.10

newly broken scotch glass

sitting on the shitter
reading about the history
of the transcontinental railroad
and i hear a crash coming from the living room

“what happened now?” i scream

“i broke one of the scotch glasses,”
my wife says

“just put my next one in a pint glass”

“well, we still have one of
the scotch glasses left from the other set,”
she says

that’s right, i think
“you broke one of those as well,”
i say
“remember? back in buffalo.”

then it dawns on me
that she broke the glass
throwing it at my head
from across the kitchen

so i shut up and go back
to reading about the railroads
all of those men with genius and ingenuity
pouring out of their head and hands
making something immortal

so unlike us clueless assholes today
who just make a mess
out of everything so very common.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Harvey Pekar

for those of us still saddened by the death of Harvey Pekar,
there is a little tribute to him over at Don Wentworth's Lilliput Review blog,
that uses the poem i put up yesterday and ends with an amazing haiku by Master Issa.

poem of the day 07.14.10


gary wants us
to meet crispin
he asks if we smoke pot
and i say not in a long time, man
you get older
you run out of connections

gary says
crispin has the best shit
bright green with purple veins
maybe we’ve seen
him in here
he has long hair
and these wild, blue eyes

no, haven’t seen
crispin, i say

so you think
you want to?
gary asks
he looks from me to my wife
she shrugs
i think back to when
gary was just another guy
in the bar
who left us alone
like the rest of them did

now we’re exchanging
books and movies
buying each other beer
playing each other songs
on the juke
and making vague plans to hang out

maybe, i tell him

great, gary says
he shoots down his draft
takes the last hit on his jack

make sure to be here
on thursday, he says
crispin comes in
on thursday

gary leaves after another free
splash of jack

i turn to my wife

thursday might be a good day
to find another fucking bar,
she says
because this place has become
too much
i miss the two of us
coming in here after work
to drink and relax

and crispin? she says
what kind of a fucking name
is crispin
for a lousy drug dealer?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

poem of the day 07.13.10

mornings like this
for harvey pekar

mornings like this
with the scotch burning a new hole
in the stomach
with the coffee tasting stale
and the rejection letters stinging
a little more than usual

mornings like this
with the dumb sun breaking through the dark
shaking off violent dreams
worrying about the last month
of paychecks coming

mornings like this
sitting in front of the machine
hoping for magic
or a soft single into shallow left
with the gods playing on the radio
and the bad news of the world
untouched by the eyes

mornings like this
where anything is possible
mornings of great poems and stories
mornings like this
of words slapped on paper
of the solitary act of saving your own life

that’s what this life is all about
mornings like this
or nights just the same
under the hot lights
under the gun of your own genius

so many of us try for it every day
so few of us have it
even fewer will let it grow
and that’s why hearing about you, harvey
makes mornings like this
a bit more somber
knowing that we, the crazy souls,
the ones up while the fat world rests
have one less of us out there
scratching insanity and soul onto paper
hoping for just a sliver of bliss

Monday, July 12, 2010

poem of the day 07.12.10

the race

the little arab girl is watching me
she keeps turning around
as her mother pulls her along fourth avenue
she knows i’m gaining on them
i think maybe i should walk slower
just in case i’m scaring the child
but she doesn’t look scared
i can’t explain it but
she has this expression on her face
something between intrigue
and fierce competitiveness
it makes her look bored and constipated
i’m tired of being looked at by this kid
so i kick it up a notch and pass
when i look down to my left
she’s right there with me
keeping my stride
grinning to herself, like the little bitch she is
she starts walking faster
huffing and puffing in the humid july morning
moving as quickly as her bony legs can take her
she thinks she’s something, this kid
she thinks her shit doesn’t stink
she thinks she’s going to beat me on my avenue
it’s some victory for her to best my old ass
a mild accomplishment
in a young life that hasn’t amounted to much
and won’t amount to much more when
she reaches my age
this idea makes me sad
i tell myself to grow up and slow down
let the kid pass me and get to the corner first
let her have a little something to get her through the day
but then i remember that i’m walking five miles to work
and that this kid is in the middle
of three summer months
with nothing to do but fuck around
and sleep in on weekdays
i feel myself pick up the pace
i start to move
sweat beads on my forehead
and drips down the back of my neck
in no time the kid is dust
and i’m on my own
barreling down the avenue
i cross an intersection just as the light turns red
leaving her there with her mother
i look back, point and laugh
the kid has her arms crossed
and tears in her eyes
good, i think, turning down 78th street
at least she’s learning something about the world
during her summer vacation.

Friday, July 9, 2010

New Yinzer

in case anyone is interested, my quartely column The Lost Yinzer is up
over at The New Yinzer

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

...on a break

hello all, due to my trip to Pittsburgh,
the heat wave, the continued possibility of losing
my job, and overall tiredness, WineDrunk Sidewalk
will be on a break the rest of this week.

i will be back with more shitty poems on Monday,
July 12th.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

poem of the day 07.03.10


you can tell that they’re
on the outs again
because mona is sitting alone in the bar
nursing her johnnie walkers
chasing them with short drafts of bud
she’s playing air supply songs on the jukebox
her face smeared from an afternoon of bawling
checking her cell phone like an addict

the bartender comes over to me
slams down the draft
just as i’m all out of love begins
says, “that’s the fourth time
i’ve heard that song this hour”
all i can think is that mona
has two of my bukowski novels at home
victims of a drunken book sharing moment
and that i’m probably never
going to see them again

mona starts crying
staggers over to the juke
to play more music when the air supply ends
she plays rock and roll from her 1990s heyday
bush, creed, collective soul
shit like that
bands from when her times were good
then she staggers out of the bar
and doesn’t come back

about a half hour later
benny comes in
he looks haggard
is wearing the same clothes that he had on last night
the bartender goes over to him
lays the shot of jack down like a gift
says, “she just left”
benny takes a hit on his drink
says, “that’s why i’m here now.
i've had it, i tell you.
she woke me up screaming and yelling
she was already drunk.
when i get home tonight
i'm kicking her out for good."

then he gets off of his stool
to play the grateful dead
and i think for sure
i’m not getting those bukowski books back.

Friday, July 2, 2010

poem of the day 07.02.10


my cats pull their fur out
on hot days
and vomit everywhere

they meow endlessly at frying
morsels of meat
and take up half of my side
of the bed

they are simple
but want more love
than i am able
to give

my cats are a test
of my compassion
and humanity
and i fail every step
of the way

i swat with newspapers
and rage through rooms
scattering them

one time
i grabbed one of the cats
and thought about
tossing her
across the hallway

i had her by her neck
and her tail

but instead
i set her down
on her fraying woolen perch
then crumpled against
a window in the kitchen
to cry

full of more self-knowledge
than i ever wanted
to be burdened with.