Friday, September 28, 2012

poem of the day 09.28.12

the devil is in designer clothes

the devil is in designer clothes
or maybe they’re knock-offs

she tells everyone on the subway
that she got the blouse in india
when she was there last summer

only three bucks, she says
i knocked him down from five

i think, well, at least there’s one person
coming out like roses in the global economy

i live in jersey, she says
for no reason
and when i get home i got a pitcher of margaritas
waiting for me

an old asian woman nods and smiles
keeps looking at the next train stop

you need margaritas
on a hot day like this, she says,
looking around

but people are engrossed in their gadgets
in each other

only i’m dumb enough
to be on this train with no other diversion

she looks me up and down
focuses on the bag at my feet
with a famous liquor store’s name
emblazoned on the front

what you got in there, sweetheart?
she says
as we come upon my stop

the rest of my afternoon, i tell her
as i rise and head out the doors

even as the train pulls away
i can hear her laughing and repeating
what  i just said

the rest of my afternoon, she cackles
did yeah hear him?
did yeah?
as the train disappears into black oblivion

and the quiet envelops me
like a set of warm, soft mother’s hands.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Misfits' Miscellany

hello folks

i have a new poem magic kingdom over at Misfits' Miscellany.

poem of the day 09.27.12

the scene at cookie’s clubhouse

we were both tired of being white

tired of punk rock
tattooed white idiots screaming into microphones

tired of summer nights in pittsburgh

we wandered down penn avenue
down to the black bar

because the music emanating from the place
was something that we both loved

and inside it was packed with bodies
jostling to music or just standing around

there were no white faces in the joint
just purple neon and joy

and this pleased us
so we went inside with our petty little fears

only it wasn’t like the movies

the music didn’t screech to a halt
no one turned our way
there were no rows of angry, suspecting faces
mad at us for killing their buzz, their good time
as we made our way toward the bar

just people singing along to d’angelo
and then tony toni tone

not an ounce of flaccid punk rock bravado in the joint
tattooed jackoffs screaming into microphones

no import beer
just budweiser in cold cans
which we drank at the bar
as nervous as two white boys in a black bar could be

but there was really nothing to be nervous about

just music and dancing
and conversation about another wasted pirates season
talk of the end of summer
talk of football

and we stood there decidedly white
decidedly not punk

when these two girls and a guy took pity on us
had us play darts with them

as tony toni tone morphed into blackstreet
morphed into johnny gill

and we looked at each other with wide eyes
because some bar was finally playing all of the music
that we listened to
in our white heads on black nights in the city

and the guy kept calling me ace ventura

his girlfriend said that he thought that i looked like jim carrey

maybe i did

jim carrey was a fine thing to be on a summer night
playing darts and drinking beer in cookie’s clubhouse

jim carrey probably got a lot of pussy
without the perils of color and punk rock

and i remembered you turned to me and smiled
whispered how much you’d like to date the other girl

if only

if only what? i said back

forgetting what city we were in
what time and place

which is forever that time and place
in america.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

poem of the day 09.26.12

bukowski t-shirt

sitting with the pittsburgh poets
at lou’s little corner tavern

i’ve got a stack of their books next to me
and cheap pitchers of yuengling crowding the table

i’m looking for inspiration
but all i’ve got is some yinzer barfly at my back
yapping about my bukowski t-shirt

before he came over
we’d been watching the giants/cowboys game
and talking shop

talking poetic gibberish
reconfiguring the past
treading awkward and carefully on the present

we’d been eating his cigarettes for about an hour

these little indian bidis
that blow purple smoke
and probably give one cancer upon impact

but he keeps tapping me on the shoulder
pointing at my shirt
saying, bukowski, man, bukowski
you just don’t see t-shirts like that in this place

of course that’s when i turn around to take in the joint

the teased hair of the bartender
the row of fleshy desperation lining up at the bar
the rat faced, emaciated whatevers
playing pool under white flood lights

and think that i’ve been coming into joints like this
for far too long

having too many conversations like these to kill the hours

and everything is beginning to look the same
whether or not i’m in pittsburgh, brooklyn,
or on the east end of madrid

i think i might be getting too old

still, he’s right
i’m the only one wearing a bukowski t-shirt
in this place

to tell the truth
i hardly ever wear the thing
because i’m worried that i’ll get a stain on it

or that some asshole
will say, hey, that’s a bukowski t-shirt
and i won’t know what to say
except, yes, yes it is

i tell him i got it in pasadena
at some bukowski exhibit
that i got to see buk’s typewriter
and his old, used wine glass as well

but he stares at me like i could’ve got the shirt
on mars for all he cares

so i tell him maybe bukowski would’ve
liked a place like lou’s
back in the old bar fight days

thinking that’ll end the conversation

but all he says is hot water music, man
hot water music
that’s my favorite book

then takes my hand in his like we’re old lovers
my red eyes staring into his red eyes
until the bartender tells him to go home and sleep it off

so that all of us poets can get back
to talking about everything
that poets talk about

all our books and our wardrobes

over beers
on a humid wednesday night
in good old pittsburgh, pa.                 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

poem of the day 09.25.12

the nerd

we were about
thirteen or fourteen

sarah carried herself gangly
had a head of blonde hair
that shook on the top of her head
like a circus clown

big glasses that covered her pale face

carl glavin was the one
who decided that she was a nerd

so that’s what we called her
whenever sarah walked down the hallway at school
or whenever she spoke in class

nerd, carl glavin would say
in this sneering whine
as the rest of us boys laughed at him

the teachers would get angry and scold us

the girls in class would scowl
because we were making fun of one of their own

nerd, in the lunchroom
nerd, in gym class

if it bothered sarah you couldn’t tell
except maybe her face turned red
every once in a while

she seemed well-adjusted
had a lot of friends
and wasn’t really all that nerdy grade wise

i think carl just liked to pick on people
because his old man
was an oligarchical douche bag
and his mother drank away her suburban existence

there were days when carl turned on his own kind
and you were the nerd for the day
nerd, in science class
nerd, in math class
or nerd at recess when carl had packs of boys
chase you around the campus

but he always seemed to go back to sarah

he’d call her a nerd when she read a book report
a nerd everywhere she went on the eighth-grade trip

he called her a nerd
when we saw her at the mall on memorial day weekend

at graduation carl called sarah a nerd
when she went to get her diploma
but no one laughed

most of us were done with eighth grade
and everyone was done with carl

the other day i heard some boys
calling someone a nerd

i looked up thinking i’d see carl’s fat face
and his long burn-out hair

but i hadn’t seen him for almost twenty years

as for sarah
she’s on facebook of all things

she’s successful and married with three kids

she looks good for her age

we share a lot of the same friends
but haven’t reconnected

i thought about sending her an email
but i’m afraid she wouldn’t respond

time being relative and all.


Monday, September 24, 2012

poem of the day 09.24.12

talking poetry with the liquor store man

i ask the liquor store man if i can use his phone
but he just stares at me from behind his pulpit

the one that has all of  those scotch pints incased in glass

i tell the liquor store man that it’s important
the bus never showed
and my wife is waiting for me

i don’t own a cell phone, i tell the liquor store man
you got to find the humor in that in this day and age

but he just shuffles receipts and sighs
looks out the window at the rain that has drenched me
made me look like a lunatic

come on, man, i say, be decent
although i hate begging

i shouldn’t have to beg
because i’ve spent a lot of money in this store
since i started working in this neighborhood

the liquor store man and i both know that he’s been dressing better
since i came to town

he should be begging me to buy a liter of whiskey
but he doesn’t

he just rearranges the mini bottles
throws a few more in the plastic tub for good measure
as i look around the store, think about buying a bottle of wine
and walking home

i tell him that my wife will be worried

the liquor store man knows that there are wives all over the city
who are worried

he sells alcohol, after all
he sort of manufactures worry

you know me, i say
i’m a good guy, i tell the liquor store man
i’m a poet and you can look me up on all of the internets

that seems to work
the liquor store man grabs the store phone at first
but then he gives me his cell phone

thanks, i tell him
it’s a local call

he nods and grabs his laptop
watches me closely as i call my wife

i’d like to think he’s looking me up
that he’s proud to have a poet who buys liquor from his store

but he probably thinks that i’m just another drunkard
on a tuesday evening

another one who can’t get his shit right.

Friday, September 21, 2012

poem of the day 09.21.12


i lay there
listen to beethoven’s
egmont overture
with the aches and pain
of everything
plus existence
the end result
of drinking every last bit of booze
in the place
save the drop of amaretto
left over from christmas
this is death
or a bad hangover maybe
a real dandy
coming on
for the first time in months
but at least this isn’t boredom
it’s more like making art
i guess
conducting my own orchestra
of the damned
the way men construct buildings
and ugly people in ugly cars
race toward
another fruitless day
a construct of their blind optimism
i lay there
all red eyes
and sloppy contentment
as beethoven ends
and the audience roars
then i rise like a maestro
to take a bow
my back knotted
my legs like jelly
only i head for
the bathroom to vomit
of facing the adoring


Thursday, September 20, 2012

poem of the day 09.20.12

     after jason baldinger’s the lady pittsburgh

i wake

to lift weights
that hurt my arms

and do nothing for my
unquenchable booze belly thirsts

to the weight of old cities on my back

i wake
to five in the morning cat cries
and fan hums

hangovers that are mild
but always there

to bland coffee
and lovely sleep-headed wife

to poems that i’m squandering line by line

i wake
and lift weights that hurt my flesh

to editors that i’m too washed up for
and journals that are done with me like cold ex-girlfriends

so i bark sonnets
to the shivering dog brigades
taking their morning craps
outside my bedroom window

as their owners huff
in sweatpants and sports team t-shirts

clasp their little illuminated worlds
to post a.m. facebook statuses of the damned
tweets from no man’s land

i wake
to this
to lift my weights
to lift my sagging gray skin in the mirror

where i make violent faces meant to prod
all of those lamentable years
into a cohesive conceptual

portrait of the artist as an aging and tired man

and i think the editors are right
and all of these cities that have beaten me down
with jobs and alcohol

they are right too

still i wake
to neighbors showering the dirt and gloom
off of their flabby bodies

to sleep fucks and wine breath

the periwinkle glare
just before the sun rises

with horns honking outside
and damnable brooklyn
hungry to try and murder me again

to sling words
and lift weights that tighten
my worn muscles

to carry cities on my crooked back

places i’ll never understand
though i’ve wandered them endlessly

places that’ll bury me some day
in warm graveyard dirt

on a hill
just below the horizon

goddamn it

i wake.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

poem of the day 09.19.12

chewing the fat

i never count the calories
in a glass of wine
a six pack of beer
or scotch on the couch after work

but i probably should at my age

it’s the hamburger that i worry about
wednesday pizza binges
and hunks of cheddar cheese on saltine crackers

growing up a fat kid
i was taught that too much of one thing
was bad for you

while too much of the other
was just a way of life

my brother, bless his soul
blames our old man
for his prescription pill abuse

although dad never did anything harder
than beer on the fourth of july

when i get drunk
or gorge from the fridge
i sometimes think about my grandfather
and the way he used to wake up
smelling like day old bread

to eggs and bacon and home fries
with the coffee boiling on the stove
as my grandmother sipped whiskey
and figured out her numbers

how he silently put all of the food into one mound
eating it with salt, pepper and globs of ketchup

good health be damned

before heading outside
to kill the day drinking a case of beer
beaching himself like a whale
with a humongous tan belly

on the corner of a corroded
picnic bench

the sun beating down on him
as it moved across the sky

marking the hours
until dinner and the evening news

how i always wanted to try
a life like that

free of worry and cholesterol

only i was too sensitive and vain

i never had the guts
for that sort of thing.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

poem of the day 09.18.12

washers and dryers

i see the poor old bastard
from my apartment building

he’s spending a lot of time at the laundry
smoking his cigarillos
staring into the void

i see the poor old bastard
and i know that technology has passed him by

because the geniuses that own my building
have replaced the old coin washers and dryers
with these debit cards

and the poor old bastard cannot use them

i suppose it’s a wave of things to come
something new every year
seems to drop a segment of us off the radar

smart phones and LCD televisions for some
and now washers and dryers for others

we learn to make due
we learn to cope with being left behind

i see the old bastard
from my apartment building

he’s smoking his cigarillos
counting out his quarters
and getting along the best way he can

i see him
and wonder what it’ll be that one day gets me

jet packs, e-paper, robot lovers

or a good old fashioned heart attack
in a warm bathtub full of synthetic water
and computerized soap.


Monday, September 17, 2012

poem of the day 09.17.12

a synergy

he’s better than most of them
in this place
better than the ones who scream in the hallway
let their kids run like wild dogs
smoke in the elevators
when you’re taking down the trash
or stand outside talking bullshit in the dawn

he’s better than the whore who used to live above me
the one who either fought or fucked
who moved out on christmas eve
and made me believe in the grace of miracles

but this new kid on the block
he and i are always up at the same time
i can hear his alarm go off with mine
hear him shuffling around the upstairs apartment
in a monday morning haze
banging shit
mumbling to himself
trying to navigate his way
through another unforgiving week

we seem to watch movies or television
on the same schedule
go to bed at the same time too

we always end up washing clothes together

the only difference is
i never hear him fucking

i don’t feel a sense of comradery with this man
a symbiosis either
instead i feel that we are both trapped
in the same dull cycle of life

i sort of hate him and his routine
the sound of his footsteps on my ceiling
the echo of his radio
the monotony of this man’s life
making mine that much more common and glaring

i wish he’d get a new job
or meet someone and spend nights at her place
start watching different tv shows
create a new laundry schedule

or just go mad one day
tear his place apart brick by brick
smash a few windows
shoot his tv elvis-style
throw his phone against the wall
as he yowled into the brooklyn night

declaring his independence from our madness
once and for all.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Twitter, etc.

hello all

i've been doing more "talking" on this blog than posting poems.
i plan on rectifying that starting next week.  will put up a poem-a-day
old school style.

also, i've joined Twitter.  I don't know why.  i'm not promoting anything
and the stuff i have i'm bad at promoting.  but i'm on there anyway.  let's find each other.
here's a link to me.  find me.  then i'll find you.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb

hello all

a week or so ago i posted  a link to an interview with Ally Malinenko
author of the middle grade fantasy book, Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb.
Well....the book came out yesterday.  It's in ebook form and it's a very good read.
anyone interested in picking it up, can do so on



Wednesday, September 12, 2012

poem of the day 09.12.12

9/11 years

eleven years
 you want to talk media perpetuation?
political manipulation?
then come to the good ol’ u.s. of a
click on any station
(except NBC)
and we’ll be crying our eyes out
and never forgetting
and all of that other happy horseshit
sometimes i’m too tired for 9/11 years
too tired for the pomp
the moments of silence
the where were you years?
new york’s bravest
new york’s finest
i want a little national dignity
a little self-respect
remember and move on
and not watch buildings fall every september
but you can’t do that in america
the land of the free
the home of the brave
on soil that never forgets a fucking thing
….at least that what’s been televised
i wonder if we’ll all be
twenty years from now
i hope the hell not
i hope the kids in school right now are learning
aren’t offering up a moment of silence
but are caterwauling the loud roar of progress
because eleven years
9/11 years
are too long to drag our asses through the fire
and at some point it’s all got to stop
we’ve got to face the rubble that we’ve been left with
the garbage collecting these 9 and 11 years
the war
the death
the division and debt
and somehow
more than somehow
this stumbling punch-drunk giant
has to move on
because tomorrow it’s september and twelve
sunny and eighty-one
in a world a whole lot bigger
than it was
9/11 years ago.