Tuesday, November 30, 2010

poem of the day 11.30.10

where have all of the people gone?

i swear that i used to see them
all of the time as a kid

these magnificent creatures

full of laughter and grit

full of life and piss and shit

full of heart and nerve

full of beauty

but now i only see
these common dull lumps of flesh

riding buses

talking on phones

waiting for subway trains

sitting at desks
glued to computers

hunched over pints
in empty bars

watching television

carrying shopping bags
down 28th street

or drinking beer in my living room

and now i’m not sure
that i’d ever seen one
in the first place.

Monday, November 29, 2010

poem of the day 11.29.10

crawling toward the win

an old woman shouts at me
says don’t print that receipt
think about all of the trees

i ask, what about all of those
political ads the politicians are stuffing
into our mailboxes?

the superintendent of the building
asks me if i heard the fire trucks
the other night

christ, he says
i was only smoking one little cigarette
at one o’clock in the morning

the neighbor’s dog growls at me
and keeps pacing back and forth

while i think i’m a fool anyway

three years and i wanted nothing to do with that dog
i get a little bit of scotch in me
and i think the thing is my best friend

the poems keep coming back rejected
the radio keeps going out
when a car passes on the parkway
the coffee is getting cold and the weather is hot

b.j. says that he has a stack of
books waiting for me at the bar

and humanity keeps slouching
toward its twilight

but the days are getting shorter
and another mediocre year is ending 33 days


i feel like i’m crawling toward the win.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

poem of the day 11.27.10

an oldie but a "goodie"

in another one of your poems

i was in the midst of ruining
the thanksgiving holiday.
i’d been drinking wine
since seven-thirty in the morning
and for a week now
i’d been mad at the world
for any number of reasons
that i usually had for being
mad at the world.
just two days ago i’d threatened
to throw a plate of ravioli against a wall,
and had slammed down a jar
of romano cheese on her finger
(an accident)
all over a slice of italian bread
that was too big for my plate.
i didn’t know what was happening
except to say that i simply felt dead
and buried, and needed to get something
impossible out of my soul.
but anyway we tried to have the holiday
even though i was kind of drunk and belligerent
and i was tired of holidays and people.
and i started in on the food, which was good,
but made me mad because everyone
else was probably eating the same goddamned thing
and how we all had no originality.
i kept picturing hundreds of ugly faces
at hundreds of ugly tables
their lips greasy, their jowls moving succinctly
over food and bad conversation.
and she said that we were out of paper towels
which made me angrier
because we just couldn’t seem to keep paper towels
in the apartment as of late
(a trivial matter, unless you’ve lived through it)
so she got us toilet paper, toilet paper
and i thought, christ, this is nice,
thanksgiving and toilet paper,
so i started in on her about
what happened to the paper towels
because i’d just opened a roll that morning
to clean up turkey juice and cat vomit
and she said she didn’t know
which turned into a big, drunken argument
about absent-mindedness
her absent-mindedness, which i knew
would sting
and it did.
her eyes filled with tears
and she said, i don’t know why
you are doing this?
it’s thanksgiving day and we’re off
and we’re together.
it doesn’t have to be like this
there’s no drama, there’s no one else,
there isn’t anything wrong that you
can go ahead and put
in another one of your poems
and that stung me,
as if i used my life solely for fodder
and i said, baby, don’t say that,
jesus, i’m sorry.
and the two of us sat there with
thanksgiving on the table and a fine
bottle of red between us,
almost crying over nothing,
until we calmed down.
and here it is now, anyway, a week later,
that moment finally in a poem,
because essentially i am a whore.
i’ve mined my life so much that i can’t
have a natural moment without
the backwash of “art”
even though i try like hell to squeeze them out.
this is no excuse.
but you have to understand,
if i don’t exercise this shit some way, somehow
i’ll lay in bed awake all night
going slowly mad and dreaming suicide
while you lay beside me
thinking everything is fine
and the next time we have ravioli
on a tuesday night
i’ll make sure that plate hits the wall
with effortless grace,
or i’ll try like hell to choke myself
on a piece of pasta
and a cup of lukewarm tomato sauce
and neither of us will understand why. 12.03.08

Friday, November 26, 2010

poem of the day 11.26.10

benny ends

on a street corner
in brooklyn
middle of the goddamned day
and he’s already drunk on jack
but who’s serving him?
banned from his favorite bar
banned from his second
favorite bar
fired as the bartender
from his third favorite bar
after only one night
because mona came in with some guy
and benny started firing
shot glasses at them
benny ended up back
at mona’s anyway
staying in the spare room now
night after night
as she brings home
a different guy to fuck
in the bed that they used to share
he’s in bad shape
he’s gone off the deep end
shattered and done
but we all told him
told him about mona
the other guys and the bar
but benny wouldn’t listen
he told us he’s fifty-three
and to mind our own business
so now he stands there
on a street corner in brooklyn
stinking of sawdust
and whiskey
dressed in the same hawaiian shirt
and cargo shorts
he’s been in for a week
with the sun casting shadows
behind his back
and a light november breeze
tickling the gray whiskers
on his face.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

poem of the day 11.24.10

not drinking

not drinking
for nearly two days now
i feel lightheaded and constantly hungry
i’m constipated and then i have bad gas
but i think there must be some value in this act
well, i am helping my wife anyway
or i think that i am
she is on antibiotics for ten days
and the doctor told her that a drink could be lethal
so i decided not to drink in front of her
because if in the same shoes
i’d want to kill the person
who drank in front of me
but then i got this crazy idea
that i could make the whole ten days without a drink
so i had decaf tea on the couch last night
and read some of a biography
on george washington
i thought about throwing an old typewriter
through our living room window
or picking a fight with the upstairs neighbor
but i didn’t see the point in such obtuse madness
i bantered with the ladies at work this morning
as they talked about tv shows and pop music
i had a salad for lunch
and pretended that it was good
but in two hours i go home alone
walking by all the newly hung christmas lights
and the dumb people stoned on the boring goal of existence
consumed by a depressing late november heat
that won’t end
i’ll go home and know that there is a pint of scotch
on top of the refrigerator
just in case of an emergency
and that the bar is only a couple of blocks away
in it half-bagged people will be laughing
and playing the jukebox
i can already see them now, sitting here slowly detoxing
trying to collect my clouded thoughts
all those kings and queens of the saloon
full-bellied and complete
without suffering or false altruism
and i will think how badly i hate them
for their small and ordinary joys

Saturday, November 20, 2010

poem of the day 11.20.10

beautiful couple

they are a beautiful couple
sitting there
playing the smith’s on the juke
giggling like children
texting each other
from one seat away
her hands up and down
his back

the way that she plays
with his hair
is oh so romantic

they are a beautiful couple
gazing into each other’s eyes
sharing shots and pints of beer
caressing each other’s face
searching for each other’s souls
in a such a black and awful world

simply a beautiful couple

i wonder if his wife
will feel the same way
when he comes home for dinner
smelling of her generic cigarettes
and cheap perfume.

Friday, November 19, 2010

PoemS of the day 11.19.10

today is my brother's 33rd! Happy Birthday, Kid.
so we'll have an old poem in his honor and then today's.

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.


the bus

riding the bus home
friday evening
listening to coltrane
as babies cry
and people make dinner plans
riding the bus home
as black men rap into cell phones
and chinese ladies shout
unshaven for two weeks
eyes red
nose and cheeks red from
bad water and bad booze
two magnum bottles
of red wine in my bag
to be drunk tonight
with the shades drawn
riding the bus home
my back slouched
as wide and as long
as a bankrupt country
two scotch and waters
three beers and two bottles of wine
riding the bus home
friday evening
fifty-five dollars in my wallet
that will be gone
by monday
gone to the bar
gone to pizza slices and fairytales
riding the bus home
on friday
at a low ebb
my reflection in the window
bloated and mean
my long hair greasy and gray
big bad brooklyn, a dark purgatory
riding the bus home
coltrane plays the saxophone
soft and mournful
just the thing
it’s just the thing
for riding the bus home
friday evening

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

poem of the day 11.17.10

the loneliest and best part

this is the loneliest and best part of the day

sitting here with the radio on
waiting for the magic to happen

the loneliest and best part

with the hunger growing
and the dull bloom of the morning safely outside

this is the loneliest and best part

assured of love
content but not satisfied
in the condition of the continuing self

the hammering hours of work death
held at arm’s length

the loneliest and best part

sludge coffee, staring at a wall of fame
old wine and thai food stuck in my nostrils

contemplating hemingway and henry miller

the loneliest and best part

untouched and clean
no longer constipated from life
the sheet’s crumpled from good sleep
from years of good fucking
the bed awaiting the night

maybe the best part

the autumn air coming through the windows
as birds sing and cats hunt
as barking dogs pacify the dead
as rain comes to keep the streets bare

this is the loneliest and best part of the day

without another human alive
without the moan of buses and cars
without kids crying over school

the loneliest and best part

a stack of unwanted poems to my right
a hulk figurine my doppelganger
a handful of coins from countries that i’ve visited
a granite rock from the bottom of a new hampshire lake
to stare at when i’m lost

my grandfather’s watch
stuck at eleven thirty-two

this is the loneliest and best part of the day

it will be all downhill after this

they will get to me
because they always do

it is their job to get to me

but for now i have
the loneliest and best part of the day
to renew myself

i have maps of paris and london to look over
i have audrey hepburn smiling at me
holding her cursed cigarette

anne sexton giving me one of them looks
that always got her into so much trouble

the loneliest and best part of the day

here with picasso and van gogh
shakespeare and larry fine
here with elvis and the brooklyn bridge
here with f. scott, knut, and fante
here with stargell, clemente, aaron, ruth and mays
here with kerouac and bukowski
here with the beatles and proust

also here with you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

poem of the day 11.16.10


they have bright
and shining faces
unblemished skin
they wear coats and scarves
knit hats and boots
although it is too warm
they don’t sweat
they smile in the sun
and walk manicured dogs
down crowded streets
they don’t wake with madness
blurry confusion
staring into the void
at three o’clock in the morning
they don’t know what that feels like
because they are drinking pear cider
and talking on smart phones
holding hands
these well-adjusted pricks
how effortlessly they stroll through
the city’s farmer’s market
fondling apples and pumpkin pies
talking pleasant nothing
while i am on a partial three day drunk
my left eye twitching
brown spots on my skin
unshaven because of a clogged
bathroom sink
these aliens turn my stomach
so strange with their plastic faces
and plastic souls
with their wallets of good leather
and pints of beer that they sip on
taking pictures of neon street signs
these strange and demented
green-blooded lumps of flesh and bone
waiting on friday night
waiting on thanksgiving and christmas
new year’s eve and valentine’s day
these year-long masochists
so happy
so strange
so dumb
so perfectly blank.

Monday, November 15, 2010

poem of the day 11.15.10

empty calories

i don’t understand
why you drink so much
they say
sucking on their tenth coffee
alcohol has nothing to offer
it is nothing but empty calories
bottled depression
alcohol leaves you bloated
and miserable
they feel good saying this
sucking on coffee and diet soda
feeling righteous
however i want to tell them
that they are right
half right
because what about
all of the people out there
who are empty and bloated
without alcohol
i want to ask them about those people
but it’s always too late
after they’ve finished talking
their heads expanding
their bodies floating away
like colorful balloons
escaping the madness
of a crowded
summer carnival

Friday, November 12, 2010

poem of the day 11.12.10

street cred

the brother
at the car rental place
is impressed

brooklyn? he says
then he swaggers
toward our car
thinking about the east coast

the people in the bars
on the sunset strip, too

new york! the bartender squeals
as two guys tell her
that she looks like a chick
on a new jersey reality tv show

i’ve got street cred
here in los angeles
but i can’t find a decent bagel
or a place to get a beer
for under five bucks

i’ve got street cred
but i don’t care
driving down hollywood boulevard
having to take a piss
trying to be a badass
while american masses line the street
waiting for bruce willis
to give them a wave

yo, go yankees!
the waiter tells me
at the mexican place
i nod my head and give him
a sly wave
i love new york! he says
then he apologizes for california pizza

what’s with these people
and new york? my wife asks
i shrug because i don’t know
i tell her it’s penis envy
that their brains have been burned
by all of that sun

hey let’s go and buy sunglasses, i say
then we’ll sip martinis
in musso & franks’s
drive down sunset boulevard as the sun sets
with all of mountains growing dark
in the distance
with all of those palm trees lining the street
looking like big brushes
sweeping across the west coast sky.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

poem of the day 11.11.10

norman mailer bookmark

the norman mailer bookmark
looks up at me
while i’m creating another
gloomy symphony in the morning

i think about using it to kill
the cockroach
who has overstayed his welcome

but the norman mailer bookmark
talks to me

it says
look at you kid
almost forty
gray hair and nothing to show for it
but a sore back and sore arms
union dues and another hangover

the norman mailer bookmark is smug

i don’t like its smile

it was a genius already at forty

a legend

i’ve grown sick of legends

so i take the bookmark off the bathroom sink
go after the cockroach with it

but he’s too fast

then i take the normal mailer bookmark
and toss it in the garbage can

i go and get the one
with shakespeare’s dull face on it
and stick it in my book

at least i’ve read his shit.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

poem of the day 11.10.10


they ask me
what’s with him
i tell them that i don’t know
they say he’s
curt and ignorant
i tell them to go home
and drink him off
but they do not understand
they have families
and television to watch
sex in the city movies
toy story 1,2, and 3
the local public house
is not their answer for him
the public house
is never the answer for most
they ask me
for an answer
but what can i do about him?
my hands are tied
just like theirs
i tell them that
we are all impotent
when it comes to him
that is an unsatisfactory answer
in an unsatisfactory world
they tell me
that they don’t know
how much longer they can
put up with him
they say that they are
getting ready to make a move
but i know that they
are full of shit
the economy is bad
i know that they’ll be here
until they die or retire
just like him

and most probably

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

poem of the day 11.09.10


i wish that i was a painter
if i were a painter
i wouldn’t be sitting here
right now
nursing a wine and scotch
trying to write poems
trying to beat the sun
i’d still be in bed
if i were a painter
i’d be in bed dreaming picasso
or van gogh
i wouldn’t be listening
to the wind blow
or neighbors leaving for their
miserable jobs
i’d be thinking about
oils and acrylics
i wouldn’t be wiping up jism
from the bedroom floor
as the morning dj gives me
the sports report
i’d be listening to charles mingus
instead of dvorak
sketching a naked woman
instead of looking at nude starlets
on the internet
if i were a painter
i wouldn’t have to deal with
the small presses
just the big gallery owners
they’d give me wine and cheese
instead of rejections notices
they’d give me money
instead of contributor copies
if i were a painter
that is, if i were a good painter
i could lay in bed
and stare at the ceiling
thinking that i had it all
over on monet
i could do one painting a year
and live like a king
instead of wiping my ass
with hundreds of unknown poems
i’d buy a flat screen television
if i were a painter
fifty-six inches of bliss
and i’d watch every show
that the hoi polloi
was talking about
i’d watch the shows while
i painted
incorporating the thin plots
into my landscapes
and portraits
i’d watch action movies
and political debates
i’d drink the good booze
if i were a painter
french wine from alsace
vodka in glass bottles
not that plastic jug rot gut
wine and scotch
the kind that gave me a hangover
this morning
making me wish that
i were a painter
instead of a poet
because drunken poets
are a dime a dozen
and no whore ever rejected
a poet’s bloody ear.

Monday, November 8, 2010

poem of the day 11.08.10


we are sitting in the bar

it looks like our old bar
but there’s a bowl
of halloween candy
resting between used pint glasses

and there are candles
that smell like christmas

the bartender is female
she was born after vietnam
and there are no sports games
on the television

the people sitting on stools
are different


younger by decades

the men have trim beards
and the women have white teeth

they drink wine and heineken
talk quietly in conversations
that do not end in fisticuffs

shit, i tell my wife
there’s even a candle
in the men’s room

what in the fuck
happened to this place?
she asks

i don’t know, i say
but i like it
we could use a little peace after work
a little class after all of these years

yes, she says
but what are you going
to write poems about now?

i don’t know

i pick up a christmas candle
cranberries or some other scent

i’ll write about christmas, i say
christmas and snowfalls
horses and happy
summer days that never end

there’s always something
to write about, i say

then we take a package of bottlecaps
out of the candy bowl

eat a root beer flavored one

as the couple next to us
discusses the work
of bon iver

whoever the fuck that is.

Friday, November 5, 2010

poem of the day 11.05.10

hank’s grave (bukowski exhibit)

i am just another
dumb writer
with a bad book of poems
standing at your grave
overlooking san pedro
searching for the pacific ocean

i’m sorry i’m here
sorry for you
because there’s obviously
no peace in death
no escape from another book
of poems placed at your feet
from the adulation
and horror of humanity

i’m a freak show
i came here from cold new york city
i made my wife drive
through the smog
and never offered to take the wheel
not even once
as she drove white-knuckled
on your l.a. freeways

the world is still here
clueless and cruel
the longwood avenue
house of horrors still stands
de longpre avenue is still here
it has a plaque with your name on it
carlton way and mariposa still bake
in the california sun
underneath the hollywood sign

your old neighborhood still looks like shit
it’s an anomaly of cultures actually
one side of sunset boulevard burned out
the other has a new yogurt joint
and an upscale mexican restaurant

we didn’t know which
way to turn to find you in los angeles
the maps don’t tell us anything
we got lost in the palm trees
and glitz of hollywood boulevard
the bartender in the red rock
thinks that you’re a painter
she told us to go and see your shit
at the getty museum

we went to pasadena instead
saw your typer and your wine chalice
saw your poems and letters
your horseracing parking pass
and the brown mountains of toil and flame

a security guard yelled at me
for leaning on the glass
because all of your things are precious artifacts now
a woman told her man
that ginsberg was full of shit
and did it all for show
while you were the one to really put it down

i thought i heard you laughing

i don’t know if any of this
makes you feel better
out there in the void
six foot under ground
my poem book soaking up
the dew and mist surrounding your grave
while an old ecuadorian cuts the grass

and i don’t know
what this does for me, hank
another city
another literary journey
down another rabbit hole
toward what?
toward what end?
i never seem to get any closer, hank
turning to my wife as the smog dissipates
wondering where we can get a decent lunch
in this town
before we drive off to see something else.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

poem of the day 11.04.10

old jock

drinking wine
watching the old jock
on the football field
trying to scramble away
with his bad knees and broken toes
from all of these heavy kids
watching the old jock take a hit
falling on the field, clutching his jaw
everyone in the stadium is quiet
the announcers on television
talk about what a warrior he is
people root for the old jock
because he’s hung in there so long
because he’s won the big game
and has met the president
they wear jerseys
with the old jock’s name on them
and talk about his best moments
while i sit here drinking cold wine
in the dark living room
on another hopeless sunday
hoping that the old jock
doesn’t get up so quickly this time
i hope he lays on the field
and thinks about his pain for a moment
about how rich and young he still is
how he doesn’t need to keep
taking a beating for the hungry masses
how he can get up and call it quits
retire for real this time
buy his wife trips to europe
while he announces football games
and fucks around behind her back
drinking wine
i hope the old jock
recognizes his pain this time
and says enough is enough
but you and i know that won’t happen
there’s beer and apparel to sell
there’s the chance for one last, great throw
for one last big game
for another trip to disney world
and when they
pick the old jock up off the ground
the crowd roars and the announcers
talk about true grit
as the old jock hobbles off the field
his helmet off
his gray hair under the hot lights
as the sports writer’s sit in press boxes
imagining their immortal articles
about how the old jock will
be questionable for next week’s game
but they know what we know
the old jock will keep it interesting all week
he’ll keep us guessing until the last minute
then next sunday he’ll limp onto the field
rising like a christ figure
that old jock
that old warrior
to proud and dumb
to know when to call it quits.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

poem of the day 11.02.10

the voters

the voters are out
in full force
they keep stuffing my
mailbox with candidate fliers
but i can’t tell these people apart
they are for different things
but none of them
represent what i want
which is to be left alone

the voters send me emails
asking me to support
this person or that
i look at the web sites
and these people make me sick
with their ugly families
and talking points
they make me wonder
how one gets their teeth so shiny

the voters
think that every election
is important
but most of the voters
are well-off and white
with two cars and dull kids
with toilet paper degrees hanging
on their painted walls
elections never really change
their position or status

they no longer have any idea
what is important

they get mad
at minorities for not showing
up on election night

the voters are still carrying around
that good ol’ white man’s burden

i’m willing to bet that they
wouldn’t think so much about voting
if each night’s dinner came out of a box
full of sugar, salt, and preservatives
if they had gunfire outside
of their big, beautiful windows
metal detectors at their schools
and drug dealers hanging around
their pretty little parks

but the voters
will tell me that the only way
to change this
is to get out and vote
join the other assholes
and have your voice heard
they honestly believe that they
are changing the world
then they go home and watch the results
with some ice cream or popcorn
on one of the 24/7 news channels

the voters believe in the system
because they have never
had faith in anything
including themselves

they do not realize
that nothing has changed
and nothing ever will
that you cannot put blind trust
in egomaniacal fools
looking for a soft road
on the pathway to death

you cannot trust these people
as far as you can throw them
man can only help mankind
one person at a time

but the voters don’t care
they’ll be up early on election day
washed and well-dressed
a good breakfast in their soft gut
so full of pride and civic duty
they’ll be parading around like peacocks

then thankfully they’ll be gone
for at least another 365 days.

Monday, November 1, 2010

poem of the day 11.01.10


she spots me on the morning bus

she recognizes me from the job
where she likes to talk to me
about nietzsche and schopenhauer

she tells me that the shop
on the corner of 86th and 24th avenue
is a good place to buy nuts

she eats nuts every day

a whole bag

and dark chocolate

it is good for the heart, she says

she eats plain yogurt
and walks forty blocks a day, too

she is eating plain yogurt out of a blue carton

probably thinking about nietzsche

as people get on and off the bus
some of them sitting in the seat that is wet
from christ knows what

the woman who was warning
everyone about the wet seat
got off at 22nd avenue
as my friend was telling me
about a good place to buy nuts

the guy across from the wet seats
tried to pick up the mantle of warning people
but he gave up after a block

now he just sits there shaking his head
as if everyone should already know about the wet spot

as she talks to me about nuts and yogurt
nietzsche and schopenhauer
forty blocks and dark chocolate

i watch people sit in the wet seat
their look of disgust humors me a little

this is known as schadenfreude

but i think that maybe i should
be the one to warn people about the wet seat

be this morning’s big hero

it would give me something to do
something to end the conversation with this woman

telling the people would make me a good citizen

and sometimes that is as good for the heart
as walking forty blocks
eating nuts and yogurt and dark chocolate

or talking about dead philosophers
until your face turns blue.