Tuesday, August 31, 2010

poem of the day 08.31.10

curb your criticism

this sunday morning
is too humid

and there are too many
american flags lining the street

i try to remember if
the union jack was everywhere in england
or if the french flag hung
from the porches of paris

my mind tells me that they didn’t

this is purely an american thing
hanging flags for no reason

exclusionary freedom for the chosen

this sunday morning
is too humid to be political

i watch an old woman instead

she has a metal cart
it is filled with grocery bags
full of material items

in her free hand she’s carrying
an ikea bag

i don’t think she’s homeless
she’s certainly not one
of the ancient chinese dragon ladies
stealing all of my wine and beer bottles

this woman is fit
an athletic grandmother

about a block behind her is her old man

he’s carrying a metal cart too
it is filled with more bags
full of more material items
and in his good hand
he is also carrying an ikea bag

hurry up, the old lady shouts

she looks back at him
then waves him away

you’re going too slow she says
watch the dog shit in the street
be careful with those bags

and watch how you navigate those curbs

this sunday morning
is too humid to watch an old couple fight

but i do it anyway
forget that i’m picking up the papers
and breakfast

the old man has given up too
he stops at the corner
watches his wife

probably taking account of
all the years wasted with this woman

you could curb your criticism, he shouts

then waits

it’s probably taken him hours
to muster up the courage to say that to her

but it’s too late
the old woman
the athletic grandmother
his wife

she’s already down the block
and around the corner

she calls back to him

make sure you watch
the goddamned potholes on this next block

Monday, August 30, 2010

poem of the day 08.30.10

our hobby

sitting in a living room
in buffalo, new york

my sister-in-law and her husband
putting their daughter to bed

my wife and i
are plowing through a bottle of their malbec
looking at pictures of our niece
on the digital camera that wants to die

we have pictures of the cats
on here, my wife says
dozens of them

she shows me a picture
of one of the cats hiding behind a bookcase
and another of the cat
sleeping in a box we still haven’t thrown away

i remember taking those, i say
we took those pictures weeks ago
we must’ve been drinking that night

my wife takes the camera back
begins deleting the pictures of the cats
some of me making drunken faces
the few remaining ones we had on there
from our april trip to paris

we drink every night, she says
in between the faint beeps of deleted pictures

i nod
say nothing

hope that when we’re done with the malbec
the in-laws won’t mind us
going to town on that bottle of pinot noir
waiting there on the kitchen table

Friday, August 27, 2010

poem of the day 08.27.10

a response as to why
i kicked the laundry basket
against the bedroom wall

because i set the alarm incorrectly
and it went off a half hour early
because i could not get it to shut off
then had to lay awake, staring at another
mediocre dawn coming through the window
because one of the cats
shit on the living room floor
because the fly in the bathroom won’t die
because i burnt the toast
and the coffee tasted like death
because there was nothing good on the radio
because i didn’t like today’s weather forecast
because i was tired of going
to a mediocre job, talking to mediocre people,
eating a mediocre lunch, carving out a mediocre existence
for less than enough money
because i should be thankful for a job
in these tough economic times
because there was a picture of paris
on our wall, and i was mad that we weren’t there
because i’m tired of movies and poetry
because my wardrobe is old and bland
because all art is old and bland
because john lennon is still dead
because jesus ruins everything
and the shower would not get hot
because we are running out
of mountain strawberry shampoo and freezer bags
because my bag smells like old socks
because i can’t find a decent book to read
because the newspapers are filled
with nothing but human comedy and crossword puzzles
because the bad guys keep winning
and the good guys don’t exist

i kicked the laundry basket against
the bedroom wall
because it felt imaginative to do so

and i’ll take anything these days
that has the slightest stink of originality

Thursday, August 26, 2010

poem of the day 08.26.10

hating the lawn chair people

they get on the bus
an old couple
followed by an ugly woman
and her ugly daughter
they are all holding lawn chairs
i watch them pay their fare
and find seats near the front of the bus
feeling an intense hatred for these people
pink fleshed
casual summer clothes
i wonder why
was i not raised right?
had i spent too much time
fat and alone, as a child?
these are good citizens after all
an extended family out for the evening
taking in a free concert in the park
or a ballgame
they are doing what millions
of other americans are doing
passing these final summer days
but i cannot see that
i am some kind of repulsive man
a greasy-haired cretin with a hard-on
carrying two magnum bottles of wine
hoping to finish them that night
trying to forget the job and everything else
i look at these people
such dull expressions on their faces
such blank stares
the kind who participate in the current zeitgeist
the ones who feel an obligation to attend
every civic event
the ones who find it their duty to cookout
every weekend between memorial day
and labor day
the ones who only have sex one way
the ones who vote republican or democrat
the ones who like to eat outside
with the sun setting in the sky
the ones who attend church
the god fearing
or the ones who are too hip for god
the ones who cannot go out without ten
of their closest friends
walking in tandem
the ones leading an un-examined life
the ones who watch thanksgiving day parades
the ones who drink imported coffee
the temperate ones
the ones who never go mad looking in the mirror
the ones satisfied with forty-hours a week
fifty-two weeks a year
one beer at the bar on a friday night
the ones who go to disneyland
on their only two weeks of salvation
the best seller readers
the ones who watch stand-up comedy and laugh
the reality television watchers
the ones who eat balanced meals
and go to bed before ten o’clock
the blockbuster movie watcher
and the art museum hags
these lawn chair people infesting the atmosphere
with carbon dioxide
polluting their earth with their smiles
there is no cure for them
they walk this rock like roaches
and the best that you can do is sit there watching
your soul rotting into a black goop
that these psychos will one day use for oil
or energy to run an electric car
late for a picnic by a lake
of crystal blue water
smelling oddly of piss on a nice spring day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

poem of the day 08.25.10

waiting in the rain

it is gray outside
so we sit in the
train station with everyone else

i try reading the paper
but i can’t stop looking
at all of the dull faces around me

the thick goon in the buffalo bills hat
his girlfriend wearing pajamas
instead of pants or shorts

the old couple reading bibles
sucking on coffee out of styrofoam cups

the woman with tight hair
reading the newspaper with a smirk

the bored clerk working behind the counter
changing the times on the trains

i don’t know what it is with me

i must be a defective

but there are days where i cannot stand
to look at the human race

i tap my wife on the shoulder

she is sitting there drinking a bottled water
nervous that we won’t get seats together on the train
that we’ll be forced into sitting next
to one of these cretins

(with my luck i know
i’ll get the bible thumping old woman
or the black lady who won’t quit singing
gospel songs)

i ask her if she wants to wait outside on the platform
even though it is starting to rain

she nods
we get up and make our way outside
where there are only a few other people waiting

i look down the train tracks
taking in the infinity down both ends

there is nothing and no one

it is nice

shit, my wife says


look what we started

she points back to the train station

it is something out of an exodus story
dozens of people out of their seats
coming out the station door to join us

all of those blank faced dregs
those lusterless zombies
heading for the soaking platform
hoisting suitcases and duffle bags
with sports team logos on them

eating breakfast sandwiches
that stink of rancid flesh and rotten eggs

there is nothing to be done
but to watch them lumber along
congregating as the dead congregate
when they become dust

all of us assholes waiting in the rain

for the 7:59 express to deliver us to hell
or new york city

whichever destination we arrive at first.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

poem of the day 08.24.10

hold it

the old bitch
is waving down to us

hold it!
hold it!

she’s screeching

the bus feels hot
idling there

hold it!
hold it!

i look down at her
dyed blonde hair
orange chicken legs
wide ass
tits sagging to her stomach

that voice again

hold it!
hold it!

like someone swallowing glass

and i wonder how many lives
she’s ruined with her tone

how many men she’s put in graves
with that wailing

hold it!
hold it!

when i get on the bus
i think i’ll be nice
but the driver stops me
before i get a word out

that woman has been
chasing me for blocks, he says
there’s another bus
behind this one

i shrug
go and find a seat
not baking in the sun

hold it!
hold it!

shrieking out into
the pale afternoon
until the bus doors close

and we move along
down the avenue
in near silence.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Winedrunk Sidewalk will be on Hiatus from Friday August 20 to Monday August 23. More
Poems coming August 24th!

poem of the day 08.19.10

mr. mensa

hey you got
computer classes here?
because, see, i need someone
to teach me the basics, you know
not like microsoft word or excel
but, like, hey, how do you
even turn this thing on?
ha ha ha
but i’m not dumb, or nothing
what i learned much later in life
is that i’m what they call
learning deficient
see i went through school
and the teachers just labeled me
as an underachiever
because we didn’t have all of those tests
back then
for things like attention deficit disorder
they just thought you were slow
or that you didn’t want to learn
i got tossed into a lot of shop classes this way
but like i said, i just got fed up as an adult
so i went to the doctor and he tested me
that’s how i found out i got
learning problems
but what else i found out is that
i have a high i.q., right?
like it’s up there with the people in mensa
i’m thinking i could maybe come here
take a couple free computer classes
that you guys offer
learn how to turn the computer on
learn how to use one of them mouses
or whatever you call them
then i could go back out there and get me
a pretty decent job
like maybe in an office or a lab or somewhere
sounds like a good plan, right?

say, when do those fall
computer classes start anyway?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

poem of the day 08.18.10

but really it’s just like
anywhere else

b.j. slides down a stool
says, stop me if i’m telling you
something that you already know

but last night benny’s sister
and his nephew had to come down here
and drag benny out of the bar

he went nuts
he was ripping down pictures
tossing chairs all over the place

why? i asked

you don’t know?

b.j. leans in
mona’s been fucking around on him

big time
with all of this friends

you know dave the janitor?

yeah, i say

mona’s been fucking him
behind benny’s back
for a long time.

pete the ups guy?

him too? i say

saturday night
mona got drunk in here with pete
then she took him home
and fucked him


it gets worse, b.j. says
mona comes back to the bar
after fucking pete
and two hours later
she’s around the corner
in this big, sweaty mishmash with dave

really? i say

benny staggered out of the bar
and caught them
he beat the shit out of mona

b.j. takes a pull on his beer
draining it

benny spent two nights in jail
i guess he’d been in denial for a few days
drunk all of the time
just a shell of a guy

i’ll bet

doesn’t help that mona’s
been coming around here with dave
rubbing it in benny’s face

b.j. finishes his shot

last night benny just snapped, he says

sounds like it

b.j. nods
slides back over to his stool
checks his phone
as the bartender puts down another draft
and a shot of jim beam

b.j. looks back at me and my wife

this place, he says
it’s just so fucked up
somebody really oughta
write a book about it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

MORE poemS of the day 08.16.10

Today also would've been the 90th birthday of Charles Bukowski,
so here are 3 more poems in honor of good ol' Hank.

bukowski and the 21st century

bukowski died in 1994
but he always wanted to live
until he was 80
until the year 2000
& maybe even into the 21st century
i couldn’t begin to wonder why
well, Hank, the year came in all right
& at the end of the evening i vomited
& pissed between two garbage cans
on a side street in downtown pittsburgh
a taxi cab passed us up and we had to
walk five drunken miles.
two of the friends i was with, i
don’t even know anymore.
but that’s okay because i’ve had enough
to keep me busy these last six years
friends have died & some grow sicker
the work world is just as bad, and
health care is a joke
only the big shots have gotten smarter,
and they keep us dumber with gadgets
and celebrity tv while fucking the
nation in the ass.
the music scene is terrible
and writing is dead
there’s a new war
there’s another enemy
gas costs $3 a gallon
no one cares about your precious brahms
and i can’t seem to stay in a city long
enough to remember anything good about it
the religious have taken over
time has dipped into the abyss
the american century has collapsed
& humanity seems to be limping toward
its inevitable, anemic climax.
maybe now i know why you wanted to
stay around.
inevitable, anemic climax
if nothing else, i thought you might’ve
wanted to be around for that.
i know i’m sure enjoying it.


reading bukowski

then i was on the train
reading hank’s selected,
thinking about a shot of
scotch in the morning tea,
the beatles,
and what to do about
my neighbor’s loud television
when she said

“bukowski’s great, isn’t he?”
“yes,” i answered.

“i saw a play about him once,
and a movie.”
“that’s nice,” i answered.

“his poems are so real,
so true,” she said.

“bukowski’s poetry has
saved my life,” she said.
“that’s nice,” i answered.

then she got off the train,
feeling good about herself,
and i went back to reading
hank’s selected,
thinking about a shot of scotch
in the morning tea,
the beatles,
what to do about my neighbor’s
loud television,
how i should start taking a different train
to work in the morning,
and how if she really loved bukowski
she would’ve left me alone
in the first place.


oh no, you got me

dear editor
yes there was a fella names bukowski,
and he did beat me to the punch
in terms of writing in a direct style..
but, if i'm correct, people are allowed
to express themselves as they see fit.
if you think i'm nicking bukowski, that's fine,
if you want to pinpoint me.
i guess i should start writing poems
about whores and the racetrack now,
to say nothing for the hundreds of poets who,
i guess, are "borrowing" styles from other poets.
and gee, i always thought i was ripping off
ray carver anyway.

you see,
i never write these notes back to editors and the like.
ive learned to take the punches and roll with them.
but i don't know.
maybe you've struck a nerve this time,
as was evident in what you wrote to me.
maybe i'm tired too, and sick of bullshit
maybe it's the wine getting to me today.
but i've read your mag,
and that's the most i can say for it.
so thanks for the compliment
disguised as a critique of my writing.
i will take it and i will think about it.
and who knows,
maybe i will send more poems to you.
or maybe i'll just send them
to a better rag next time,
or just wipe my ass with the paper.
good luck anyway,


poemS of the day 08.16.10

I make no bones about being a big Elvis Presley fan. Not in the cheesy way; i actually love the man's music. I wanted to post tribute poems today, but
found it odd that i hadn't really written anything about him. So here are
two poems whose titles were stolen from Elvis songs.

way down

delta dave
is in the atlantic avenue station
with his wheelchair, harmonica,
and beaten guitar.
he looks like a big black bulk
stuck in the tunnel.
he is hocking his cds on the cheap,
he’s giving us new yorkers
the boogie woogie, and the new orleans
jive, and all we’re giving him back
is a funeral march as we move from train to train
toward oblivion
in another suspended, suffocating gotham night.
i want to stop and throw dave a buck
but i’m caught in the mix
of pissed bodies late for dinner
hoodlums blocking passenger rails
and people stopping on steps to look
at cell phones or music machines,
besides i need the money for beer.
though as i walk away
and the music fades
the harmonica swells into the subway tile,
until its just an echo,
something is drudged up from inside of me.
i think of you on royal street,
new orleans,
content the rich wouldn’t give us any wine,
the way you smiled when i grabbed
your hands
and we waltzed a half a block,
but making so much noise
from so far away
it probably echoed in this same station
so i ran back and gave dave that buck.
it was like giving alms at a church service
when you really believe the bullshit
is suddenly real
that it can save you.


a little less conversation

the bartender got me drunk
with free ones because he used to live
in my current building.
so i got drunk thinking a little conversation
doesn’t hurt from time to time, right?
then i came home and passed out.
still drunk
beershit and vomit flashes,
took the 3 train to work where
the janitor had called off,
and joint was still locked up.
i opened it.
the metal gate came crashing down
on my hand,
and sliced the right middle finger.
blood on my clothes.
no stitches though.
i’ll take my chances, i think.
what’s a body without a little damage
done to it?
but the next time i go in that bar
you can bet i’ll give that fucking bartender
the old silent treatment.
because now i know,
as i should’ve always known,
no matter how many free ones get shoved
in my face,
that a little conversation now and then
can hurt like hell


....i found one! but it's kind of about my brother too.
Craig since i know you're reading, this one is for you as well

the king

my brother calls to tell me
he is playing “kentucky rain”
over the loud speakers
on an endless loop
inside the retail store he manages.
it is driving the college kids mad
and the customers out in droves
when all they wanted to do was
a little mindless work, or some
measly holiday shopping.
i laugh when he tells me this.
i am hungover and tired,
battling red wine, insomnia,
and ray carver’s poems.
november is back,
it is cold outside and the wind
is roaring.
until that phone call
a cat’s body was keeping my legs
warm from the chill of the apartment
and the horror of my coming work day.
next it’ll be “suspicious minds”
he tells me.
i laugh again, sadder this time,
and then he has to go.
we hadn’t really talked since may
and it was good to hear his voice.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

poem of the day 08.14.10


i come in from
the eight hour day
the evening shift

there is wine and beer
and scotch in the fridge
thus making me
the happiest i’ve been in eight hours

do you want to
stop at the joint and get
a drink after work tomorrow? my wife asks.

sure, i say
although we quit going
to the bar two weeks ago
for both personal and aesthetic reasons

i thought it would be nice, she says
besides i walked by there on the way home
and the place just looked so lonely

it was just b.j. and ivan
sitting there nursing their drinks

i made the mistake
of looking inside just
as walt (the bartender) looked up

did he see you? i asked

i don’t know, she says
i think so

maybe we’ll just stop by
for a couple
before we come home and have dinner

how does that sound? she asks

fine, i say
getting up to refill our drinks

i guess we owe them a visit.

Friday, August 13, 2010

poem of the day 08.13.10


i see you sitting there
he says
only it doesn’t look like you

but it is you
he says

only you’re slouched
instead of upright

your hair is greasy
and it looks long

what’s this? he asks
rubbing his trim beard
then pointing at my unkempt one

it just has to grow in
i explain

he waves me off

i don’t know
he says

wrinkled clothes
greasy, long hair
scraggly beard

something is wrong here
for sure
you look seedy

he says

then he walks away
without asking the question
he meant to ask

everyone is a fucking critic.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

poem of the day 08.12.10

leaner more efficient
organization people

we are
one man
one woman
sitting on this couch in the blaze
of august
drunk on wine
laughing our asses off

having been told
in this economy
that we were keeping our jobs
then being told three weeks later
that we might now lose them

it makes you dizzy
this malfeasance

makes you want to hold those chips
instead of betting on humanity
on a species hell bent
on murdering its own soul

but it’s good for the soul too
it’s good for humor

it makes you fuck
knowing that there is nothing
left to lose

within this constant, humid darkness
there does shine a cool light

to realize safety nets
are for the foolish and the lucky

to understand how
the string pullers really are
hiding behind hyperbole
and the checkbooks of the rich

to suddenly realize
that you do not have to be
leaner, more efficient organization people

one man
one woman
drunk on wine
laughing your asses off

as summer trees
get caught up in autumn breezes

and back to school ads plaster
the sunday newspapers
keeping the new mice well dressed

cute and clueless

as the cheese rots
getting further and further
away from everyone.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

poem of the day 08.11.10


endless summer
of ninety degree sweat
double wars raging
unemployment never ending
had a job
didn’t have a job
had a job again
it’s like an abusive relationship
millions of us coming home
on evening busses
tired, debauched, demoralized
coming from jobs that
no one wants
millions more of us
looking for jobs
no one wants
greasy desperation
the jackass and the elephant
dueling over nothing
because there is nothing
anemic sports stars struggling
to hit the long ball without the juice
year of the pitcher
outrageous electric bills
and distant hotels waiting
on the west coast
shedding cats
ripped couches and misery
stale beer and corked wine
scotch hangovers blazing
like the sun
dead flesh cooking in crude oil
gravel roads
immigrant paper posts to fat, stolid cops
streetlight blackouts
infrastructure breakdowns
sewage backups
rotten tomatoes and peppers
coming from wonderland

but the student loan people
are cutting me a 1% break on interest
and i found my comb
hidden underneath a stack of rejected poems

so it’s all gravy for me
from here on out.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

poem of the day 08.10.10

fair-weather fan

over the years
i have accumulated
many articles of clothing
from sports teams


other sundry items

some i’ve bought
but most were given to me
on my birthday
or at christmas

because if i told people
what i really wanted
they’d never speak to me again

i don’t mind these clothes

some i like

usually i wear them without
regard for team pride

but just because
i simply must dress myself
before stepping outside

other days

like today

new york yankees hat
new york yankees t-shirt

i feel like a walking billboard
for corporate pansies everywhere

i must tell the truth
if i woke up tomorrow
and each popular american sport
basketball and hockey

(especially basketball and hockey)

had disappeared

i probably wouldn’t care at all

my wardrobe
on the other hand
would take a significant hit

of course
i could always turn to clothing
with the images
of rock bands on them

but i suppose that look
has its own set of problems attached to it

and this poem
has wasted enough
of your precious time
on this particular one.

Monday, August 9, 2010

poem of the day 08.09.10

chocolate doughnuts

the girls from
human resources
are eating chocolate doughnuts
from a box on the table
they are playing on their cell phones
they are laughing
feeling giddy
the one is trying to get the other
to take half of her doughnut
it’s too much
even though i love chocolate doughnuts
she says
shoving half the doughnut in the other’s face
the other half down her mouth
they laugh and giggle again
chew on their doughnuts
the room is white
chairs are lined up in rows
they have coffee in here
to go with the doughnuts
if you have a doughnut
but no one had offered anyone
no one is hungry but the girls
from human resources
other people come in with grins
they are from human resources too
they pour themselves a cup of coffee
then turn to look at those of us
someone calls out a name
someone gets up
a mexican janitor
the person from human resources
drops her smile and gets a gloomy look on her puss
she’s holding a brown envelope
she shakes the janitor’s hand
and begins to lead him off toward god knows where
but before they go she tells the other girls
from human resources
that she’ll be back for
a chocolate doughnut
just as soon as she’s done with this

Saturday, August 7, 2010

poem of the day 08.07.10

her sister’s ass

we were young once
we thought we were in love
and on the trip to indiana
for her nephew’s birthday
she warned me about her older sister

she’s a slut, she said

how? i asked

she dresses like one
she has a different man
almost every other month

she doesn’t sound so bad, i said

she’s disgusting

her sister lived in a quiet suburb
with picket fences and green lawns
and the whole nine yards

she took care of her kids

while some people would say
that she dressed like a slut
(including her younger sister)

cut-off jean shorts with high heels
halter tops with black bras
or no bras at all

i didn’t seem to mind

i thought that the woman i was with
didn’t like her sister because
her sister knew how to let it loose

she danced when the radio
played her song
she liked to move around the room
smoking her cigarettes, holding a beer
her morning coffee was laced
with a little bit of irish whiskey
and she looked like she liked to fuck

my woman and i were in a dry spell
that had lasted a month
and showed no signs of ending any time soon

she’s harmless, i told her

she’s a slut

on the morning of the birthday party
her sister came into the room
my woman and i were sharing

she had on a see-through black kimono
that only went to the top of her thighs
and she had on a black thong which covered nothing

her ass looked like two perfect summer peaches

i kept my eyes half-closed
pretending that i was asleep
while she bent over, giving me a good look

when she turned around
she looked me in the eye and winked

after she left
i laid there thinking about the kind of god
who makes an ass like that


i told you that she was a slut, she said

i guess you’re right about everything, i said
turning over toward the wall

but we were young once
and we thought we were in love
though i’ve since long forgotten what
that love ever felt like

her sister’s ass, on the other hand
lingers in my mind like the buzz off of a fine wine
or a bouquet of roses placed in the arms of a good woman

Friday, August 6, 2010

poem of the day 08.06.10

three beers in

the human body begins
to feel uncomfortable in clothing
at seventy-four degrees

i get uncomfortable the minute
anyone speaks to me in this joint

a place where i used to be a phantom
drinking alone at the end of the bar

can’t they leave me alone
to taste the streets
of metal and garbage?

to consult the gods
with wine eyes and this draft beer?

oh how i begin to sweat
at the flick of someone’s tongue

i can see hell

i think murderous thoughts
watching my fat reflection
in the tavern mirror
as they prattle on

that can’t be me, i say
wiping my forehead

big gut
gray beard
sunken, tired green eyes looking back

because that guy is a mendacious prick

get him a glass of water
and help him to see the truth!
i want to shout

a glass of water and a lot of ice

and if the rest of you will just stop talking
the next round is on me.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

poem of the day 08.05.10

julia roberts

he tells me to come over
and look at his computer

on the screen he has a trailer
for the new julia roberts film

watch this, he says, smiling

in the trailer
julia is biking and sailing
cavorting on the beach
cherry-picking every eastern religion
that she can get her hands on

her big horse-mouth open in awe

i love her, he says
after the trailer is over
she’s my girl
remember that film of hers?
the one where she
has to disguise herself
from her abusive husband?

sleeping with the enemy

yeah, that one
and that other one where she’s a lawyer

the pelican brief

how about that one where julia
has to fight
that chemical company?

erin brockovich?

yeah, man!
that was a great movie

he leans back to stare
at the frozen frame
of the trailer

julia is walking
down the street
with some european grease-ball

i tell you she’s my girl, he says to me

that’s nice, i say

you must like her too
since you know all of her movies

no, i say

i hate the bitch.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

poem of the day 08.04.10

that’s where he got it from

they had the three of us sleeping
out on the screened-in porch

jeff, his sister penny, and i
all in a row

three sleeping bags

we were going fishing the next day
up at keystone lake

we had to be up early
because jeff’s old man said
the fish bit better before noon

but kids being kids we stayed awake
as long as we could
telling stories
and gossiping about school

finally jeff drifted off

hey, i said to penny
did you ever do this?

what? she asked

i took her hand and put it down
my pajamas, in between my legs
had her grab it

taught her how to stroke the thing

ew, she said, pulling her hand away
where’d you learn a thing like that?

late night tv, i said
the benny hill show

it was a lie, of course
i’d discovered the joy on my own
but based on penny’s reaction
i felt that i needed some kind of scapegoat

come on and do it, i said

no, penny said

but after a few minutes she put her hands on me
began stroking above the pajama bottoms

okay, now me, she said

you don’t have one, i said

but i put my hand down her pajama bottoms
got between her legs

oh, penny said

hey what’s going on? jeff asked, waking up

nothing, penny said

she pulled my hand away
and we went to sleep

the next day was fishing
which jeff and his dad enjoyed
but i hated

i’d never fished before
and the first one i caught had died
in my hands

so i stared out at the lake
watching the birds nosedive into the water
wondering why everyone liked nature

penny said, mom, i have to go

well, go in the bushes, her mom said

not that one, penny said, blushing

can’t it wait?


suddenly an idea struck me
you need to dig a hole, i said
dig a hole, go, and then cover it up
that’ll keep the bears away

that’s very good, john, their mother said
where’d you learn that?

probably from the benny hill show, penny said
that’s where he got it from

then she grabbed a small shovel
and some unused newspaper

her mom and i watched
penny go off into the woods to take a shit

i wonder what made her say that,
their mom asked

i shrugged

then i turned back toward the lake
to watch the birds nosedive again
not one ever seeming to get bored doing the same thing
over and over.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

poem of the day 08.03.10

in the days of painters
and old men

i don’t know
what’s happened
to this bar
but it used to be filled
with painters
and old men
drinking stale beer
arguing in smears of thick color
talking so loudly over
the jukebox
that you couldn’t hear
the music

we all sit here
in silence
the jukebox broken
watching the air conditioning drip
through the metal ceiling tiles
while some young horn-nosed bitch
nursing a pitcher
of hard cider
shouts about how much
she can out drink
her sorority sisters
so in love with her own hubris
that it makes you sick

and the bartender
ignores us all
snacking on a rotting banana
watching a goddamned yankees game
to help kill
his hours

Monday, August 2, 2010

poem of the day 08.02.10

black charlie

was one of the kids
who lived in the alleyway
behind my grandmother’s house

she never wanted me
out there playing with the kids
on her street

they were all bastards, she’d say

or gypsies

you’d see tons of kids
but never a parent
and never anyone’s old man

but charlie lived
down at the end of the alleyway

he was riding a bike
while i was still doing time
on a big wheel

one day he came up the street
with his brother, august
the two of them stood
and watched me toss crab apples against
a cracked wall

august asked me if i ever rode a bike

i said no

charlie offered me his
even though my grandmother
was standing watch on her front porch
beer in one hand
one of the cigarettes that would kill her in the other

she let me go with august and charlie
against her better judgment

we spent the afternoon riding the bikes
up and down the alleyway
as the gypsy kids watched

charlie held on to the back of his bike
while i peddled

eventually he let go and i was on my own

the feeling scared and hell out of me
but gave me a burst of freedom

anything was possible, i thought,
looking down the alleyway
at the city of pittsburgh

nowhere was too far

when we were done
charlie asked me if i ever went to the park

i didn’t know

i went where my mother went at the time

then he and august left to wander up the alleyway

i went over to my grandmother
still drinking beer and smoking on the porch

honey, there ain’t nothing good here, she said

there ain’t nothing but bastards, gypsies, and blacks
on this street, she told me

but i knew better than to believe any of that

thanks, charlie.