Wednesday, April 30, 2014

poem of the day 04.30.14

talking intellectual freedom with a bare assed girl

before i can get a word out
there’s a picture of her bare ass
on my work computer screen

she says it’s for her boyfriend
he’s been in prison for a year

he’s been missing this, she says
and i can obviously see why

…but mam, is all i can get out

what? she says
i’m not embarrassed by it

it’s not that, i tell her
this can get me in deep shit here

i thought you were printing out a resume, i say

i still am, she tells me
as the two of us stare at her bare ass

it’s one of those self-pictures
fresh out of the shower
the side of her face and her toned back
then down to her wonderfully youthful ass

if i were her and her age
i probably wouldn’t be embarrassed either

i’d walk around brooklyn naked on sundays

i can’t print that for you, i tell her

she still doesn’t understand why not
but she minimizes the photo
much to the chagrin of the teen boy
who’d been standing behind us the whole time

you’re just scared, she says

tell you what
i’ll print the other pictures for you, i say

we get the one of her in her tight burgundy mini
the one of her in a puerto rican flag bikini
and the close-up shot of her mugging for the camera
all in full page black and white

do you think that’ll hold him off
until he gets out? i ask

i hope, she says
he’s out in twenty-five days

one can only imagine what he’s going to do
to that bare ass once he’s back on the outside

when i give the photo prints to her
she smiles and folds them up into an envelope
like the dutiful girlfriend

he’s really going to love these, she says

then she frowns
are you sure you can’t print that picture
of my bare ass?

as much as i’d love to, i tell her

i think i understand now, she says

then you understand america, i tell her

she shrugs and walks away
licking the envelope

the cloth covering her rear end
a mere formality between us now

the two of us having forgotten
all about that resume of hers.


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

poem of the day 04.29.14

banned books

the bookstore
has a huge display of banned books

bookstores are always
proud of themselves in this way

but these displays rarely attract the intellectually curious

instead they attract people like this woman
who before she found the display
had been screaming into her phone
about frozen yogurt and the world trade center memorial

screaming across the book store to her idiot kids
as if they were at a yankees game

now she has them all gathered here
in this hallowed place of american folly
to thumb through illicit literature

oh my god, she says
i can’t believe books are banned in america
that just doesn’t seem like it would happen here

i’ll bet they were banned in other countries
her daughter offers

they all nod

the bookstore has placards up
telling the story of each banned book

but these patriots aren’t reading those

it’s general, uninformed assumption time
here in the good old u.s.a.

the mother holds up a copy of lowry’s the giver
she looks at her son in earnest
well, this must be why they didn’t have you read it this year

the mother continues scanning the display

she picks up a joyce then a toni morrison
she picks up some steinbeck and james baldwin
then puts them down just as quickly

well, they must’ve had their reasons, she tells her kids
after all, the giver, is a pretty sad story
and our leaders probably didn’t want
to depress any of you with it

they all nod again
then they walk away without buying anything

leaving the hemingways and hellers
the orwells, huxleys, and alice walkers
to duke it out for infamy

and those of us left lingering around
to fear for the future of this infant nation.


Monday, April 28, 2014

poem of the day 04.28.14

and i thought they only made these in america

he looks like an ape
sitting there in the liverpool hotel dining room
with his shaved head, pug nose and overly muscled body
he takes up half the table and half the room
hunched over his breakfast as if daring someone to steal it
everything is piled into a large greasy mound on his plate
the eggs, the bacon, the tomatoes, the sausage
the mushrooms and baked beans
a traditional english breakfast for sure
he’s using a spoon and holding it in a clutched fist
like a child would do
he keeps farting and huffing in his scent while he eats
his girlfriend sits down from the buffet to join him
she’s his polar opposite
beautiful with a head of blonde hair brushing her shoulders
refinement the whole way around
she has all of her food in neat little compartments
fruit and toast with jam
hot tea, and a bowl of corn flakes waiting for some milk
he greets her by burping into her face and then diving back into his food
she sits there glaring at him for a moment
then says, can’t you be proper?
he stops shoving the food in after that
looks at her for too long a moment
then says something slow and deliberate that i cannot hear
before he gets up from the table and storms out of the room
smacking into food trays and tables
the proverbial bull in a china shop
while she follows after him sullenly
nary a bite of toast taken
and a cup of lady grey waiting for its first sip


Friday, April 25, 2014

poem of the day 04.25.14

crossing abbey road at forty years old

it’s a beautiful day
only there’s this guy at the famed crosswalk

he’s got a tweed blazer on
and he’s wearing his abbey road t-shirt
like that guy who wears the band t-shirt
to the same band’s concert

his wife looks pissed
because he keeps directing her on how to cross the street

how wide her gate should be
how far apart her arms should swing

like mccartney, like lennon
do it like them, he’s shouting across the street

there are a number of people waiting to do the same thing
rainbows of flesh and blood from all over the world
trying to get to that other, magical mystery side

the cars are patient enough
i mean no one honks at the horde like they would in america

my wife and i are waiting at abbey road
to get to the other side to look at the graffiti
scrawled on the walls of the studio

we don’t need the photo op

we crossed abbey road five years ago
and it wasn’t the enlightened experience everyone claims it to be

i’ve had much more in the way of visionary moments
just crossing the street to buy a six pack of beer

but it would be nice to pause and stop for a picture
just to ruin tweed blazer’s fashion spread

have a laugh when he makes his old lady cross the street yet again

but she’s given up anyway
she’s sitting on a bench by the bus stop having a smoke
while other people are checking their cameras
to see if they got it all right

tweed blazer keeps screaming at her to give it another go
like george harrison, he says  like ringo

she tells him to go to hell then checks her phone
so he takes a picture of the famed pavement instead

and when my wife and i cross abbey road
she sneaks a picture of me
making musical history with a dozen others

my tired eyes and drunkard’s slouch
snapped for posterity

that fab, fat forty year old belly and all


Thursday, April 24, 2014

poem of the day 04.24.14


watching a french film

i take note that the characters
often pause to sit in parks
to have a smoke or to drink

the french seem to have created leisure
as the ultimate gift to mankind

one time in paris i killed half a day
just sitting in the jardin du luxembourg
drinking wine and feeding bread to pigeons

i felt very un-american
and at peace with myself

not at all guilty
being so far away from a land

who’s idea of comfort and ease
was to once create something called

the leisure suit.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Shakespeare poemS of the day 04.23.14

american high school tour group
at anne hathaway’s cottage

was only
when he
this twenty-six year old
and then
left here
for london
or something
banged all kinds
of chicks
in london
for all
of these
and then
the most
of all time.

i told you
fucking cool
or something



works the tours
at hall’s croft
stratford upon avon
he dresses proper
in a suit
with a constant smile
and he’s happy
to see a couple
of americans
have come
in out of the cold

tells us about
john hall
shakespeare’s son-in-law.
hall was a doctor
the first to document
cases of patients
or something like that
i don’t know
because i cannot stop
staring at adam’s yellow
and natty teeth.
it’s an american defect
that i’ve developed
toward the british
in my half-week here.

and i’ve developed an addiction
to british cheddar cheese.

wants to know where
we are from
and he squeals when he finds out
that we’re from new york.
he wants to know what
theater we’ve seen back in london
back in the u.s.a.
i tell him we’re more like
ghost chasers
going after shakespeare
and the beatles and the like

says we must
make time for the theater
and then he talks our ear off
about his trip
to new york city
back in the 1980s
and how different new york
must be now.
yes, yes, new york city
is different now
times square is like disneyland
my wife says
although new york is the farthest
thing on either of our minds.

i want to tell adam
that i’m over four thousand miles
from home
that new york could sink
into the ocean for all i care
but i just stand there and smile
as i do with most people
while he talks about
seeing a chorus line
and strolling the east village,
wondering when i can get
a pint of aspall cyder
or an abbot ale
in the garrick inn
a pub that is over six-hundred
years old
one where they say a plague
had started in 1564
wiping out enough people
that stratford upon avon
was kind of like a ghost town.

i wonder if adam thinks
about that sometimes
when he’s alone
and finally runs out of things
to say.                                                  10.13.09

slightly shakespearian

some bored young thing
at a production of hamlet
gave it to my wife first
this nasty bug that makes you
hack and ache
and sneeze the most horrid yellow mucus
and mostly makes you wish
that you were dead
so my wife
in turn
gave it to me
and i guess that’s shakespeare for you
but because i’m stubborn
and maybe a tad bit vindictive
i took this plague to work
trying to inflict them all
but i only lasted two days
home and couch-bound
i did nothing but mainline o.j.
and read comics and richard dawkins
and try not to drink
all of the whisky in the apartment
when i returned to work
they all asked me how i felt
and when i said, slightly better
they all laughed at me
as if no one had ever said the phrase before
it was bizarre
not shakespearian at all
and they walked around for a good hour
saying to each other, did you hear him?
he’s slightly better
then laughing at me as if i were
the funniest man on this side of the east river
while i hit the bathroom to hack up
a lung
spew bile
and think about how while maybe
this is slightly shakespearian
i still should’ve said fuck them
stayed home another day
drank all of that whisky in the apartment
for sure.                                                                        10.19.12

my bedroom wall doth mock me

sitting here in a silly hat
as the commuters make their way to work

in the middle of one of the worst
writing weeks of my life

writing poems about why i can’t write

and i realize that i’m doing it again
with this one

i look up and shakespeare
is looking down at me from a postcard
that i bought in stratford-upon-avon

i’ll bet you never had trouble
with the word, you son-of-a-bitch
i tell him

but will says nothing as usual
he just looks as smug and self-assured
as he always looks

and you, proust,
with your cork-lined room and madelines
with your legendary memory

i think of tearing both of their postcards down

same with fante and hamsun
fitzgerald and henry miller

but then hemingway would have to go too

pounding away another classic
on his typewriter

who needs him?

kerouac doing the same

even the beatles
and roberto clemente
are starting to piss me off
on a week like this

shit, roberto’s last hit was immortal
and the most immortal thing
that i’ve done this week
is take a shit

van gogh
with his olive trees
and starry nights

van gogh
with his whore ear
and lonely legendary death

don’t even get me started on picasso

picasso wrote poems
when he was too bored to paint

i tell anne sexton
take your top off, baby

because this is a party for the damned
this week is a banquet on the titantic

bukowski looks at me
and shakes his head
glances to his left to whitman
and harvey pekar
as if saying that kid never had it to begin with

and i’d have to agree

sitting here in a silly hat
waiting to join the commuters
on their way to work

writing another poem
about why i can’t write

wishing that i’d taken up something easier
like nuclear physics

instead.                                     06.15.11

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

poem of the day 04.22.14

the world cup

british soccer hooligans take the national rail
and are drunk on beer before noon

case upon case of foster’s pounders
that they’re tossing around fuzzy seats like lawn darts

as they shout about players from the past
and chant team songs in my ear

while i’m trying to read the sea-wolf by jack london

i can’t even drown them out with my headphones
can hear their r&b music above the david bowie

watch helplessly as they play computer games
on their cell phones and then try to rip apart
the national rail seats when they lose

and these are the old fans, the geezers

gray-haired, fifty year-old men built like mountains
with stacks of empties crushed in front of them
or rolling on the floor of the train

old bastards on a gent’s weekend away from their wives
bitching about their women
bitch about each other’s women
threatening to smash skulls when they get to liverpool

all over a soccer match

the younger ones are two cars up
blasting music from five different smart phones

terrorizing the tourists and their girlfriends

drunk dancing in the small aisles and saying
‘scuse me, mate, when they bump into me
like they’re telling me to watch it next time i need to piss

i wonder what these guys would think of american soccer fans
because american soccer fans are kind of effete

thin, wispy men and women
looking for yet another excuse to wear scarves

i was on a train packed with american soccer fans once
they were all drinking iced coffee and playing on facebook

you could hear a pin drop

while one of these blokes on this death ride
screams bloody murder over a goal from six years ago
and looks primed to put a pin through his best friend’s eye
if it’s even suggested that the foster’s might run out

i’d love to see american soccer fans mix with this breed
place an easy bet on who’d come off of this train alive

film it for posterity and my own amusement
and watch it on the television over and over this summer

call it the world cup.

Monday, April 21, 2014

poem of the day 04.21.14

the garden of gethsemane

i can taste
the first of a few scotches

i think two weeks away from a job
a man can get too used to freedom

but one day back can strip it all away
and leave his dignity hanging by the noose

and then she comes in

she looks like the nun
who taught me all the way back in eighth grade

this old hen who used to torment me
with declarations of hell

because i never bought into the bullshit
never accepted that sad imp jesus
as my one and only savior

so i take an instant dislike to this woman

i don’t appreciate her smile
it has a reverent smugness to it
safe in the knowledge that she’s always right

always stuck talking to assholes like me

and, oh, how i can taste that first scotch
one little, two little, three little scotches

she asks me for help
schedules, tax forms, reading recommendations
for genres that i don’t give a shit about

and there is under five minutes left in this work day

when i look at my watch
she asks me if i have somewhere else to be

i tell her yes, it’s called my life

i tell her the sun has gone down on my benevolence
and now it’s time for the real me to rise again

she says but isn’t the customer always right

not in my tree, i say

and then i go to shut off the lights in the building
so i can spend the night forgetting myself
letting my liver make love to a bottle of clan macgregor

four little, five little, six little scotches

she just stands there
that smile still plastered across the face
like that old nun before she’d tip over my desk
or kick me out of her classroom for a week

i give her one last look and think fuck it
i let my river of alcoholic bliss take me away

as a final salutation this woman calls me lazy
and storms out of the building

then i pop the first switch

i let each light click off slowly
until the whole space is dark and silent
devoid of nearly all flesh but my own

finally holy

after all of the hours that it tangled
with my mortal coil

and made a sacrifice of my soul.


Friday, April 18, 2014

"best of" poem of the day 04.18.14


i go into the one room in the office
and she has her head on the desk
what's the matter? i ask

god is punishing me, she says
my laptop, it's all gone
the internet and all of my files

i pay my bills online, she says
i go over to check out her computer
sure as shit everything is gone
you have that malware, i tell her
one of those fucking viruses
those little anarchist pricks have plagued us with

this happened to me once, i say
cost me two hundred to get the machine working again
god is punishing me, she says

god isn't real
and if he was he wouldn't punish you
for looking at porn, i say
she lifts her head
i wasn't looking at porn

well, i was, and that's how they got me
i don't want to tell you how this happened, she says

i get up from her laptop
and go into my office to check my email
and pray for a better life
because god is punishing me too
by burdening me with certain aspects of this one

she comes to my door with tears in her eyes
i have to be honest with you, she says
i was looking up your poems again

i look at her sideways because
we've had this problem before about a year ago
i thought my cover was blown at this place
but she never said a word to anyone else

it's just that your stuff is so deep and real, she says
you come off as dull and boring at work, but you're not
i'm just a good liar, i tell her
i really am this dull and boring

no you're not, she says
you're lucky, she tells me
i always wanted to do something like that
but i never could
there was never any encouragement
i just did what my parents told me, she says
i got married and i had a child

there's always time to get the word down, i tell her
she shakes her head
god is punishing me, she says
this is what i get for being nosy and interested in something

malware, i tell her
that's why i'm giving you up for lent
i have to give you up for lent, she says

and then she laughs
tell your wife there's a crazy woman at the office
who's giving you up for lent
i probably shouldn't, i say

god,i bet you find this so hysterical, she says
then she leaves the office
to go back and tend to her broken machine
thinking that some god has punished her
for trying to be more than this criminal world will allow

and i sit there, as always,
trying to find the humor in anything
and everything else in this life.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

poem of the day 04.17.14

dream job

i had this dream last night
that i up and quit my job
it felt good for a moment
but then my wife said
what are we going to do about your share of the money?
so i had to get another job in the dream
the only one that i could get
was as a traveling salesman
i had to wear a suit and carry a clipboard
i don’t have a clue if this is how
traveling salesman actually look
my boss was my old boss
back when i was a teenager
and worked in a suburban mall
he looked the same as he did twenty some years ago
same bad moustache and same receding hairline
he was still a dick, too
on my case about my facial hair and baggy pants
he was still showing pictures of his wife
in her bikini on their hawaiian vacation
although i didn’t jack-off to her in the dream
like i did back in 1991 just to spite him
i was too busy driving around trying to sell shit
getting yelled at by that prick for my goatee
i kept wondering why i quit my other job
in the first place
it wasn’t that bad of a job
everyone has to work
it’s true
i didn’t create the system
i just work within its confines
i didn’t really have it that bad to begin with
i’ve had it much worse
but it seems that i can’t stop doing stupid shit
in dreams or in real life
and when i woke up i was covered in sweat
i realized that i had the same job that i always had
i laid in bed in praised the gods
for being gainfully employed
a viable member of this capitalist society
and it was very much unlike me
so i wondered if i was still in that dream            

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

poem of the day 04.16.14

cavern club

the place is packed with tourists
doing a ringo starr sing-a-long
and you can buy everything here from matchbooks
to full scale models of the joint
the beatles never played this cavern club
theirs got torn down in the 1970s
while they were making those mediocre solo albums
but a lot of beatles shit is framed on the walls
this isn’t a place for a kindred connection
or to wonder at the spectacle of what once was
this is the place to sing yellow submarine
with packs of day trippers
and business blokes getting drunk after work
maybe buy a cavern club t-shirt on the way out
before you have a pint at lennon’s pub
the quarry bank tavern or the rubber soul on matthew street
there’s no history seeping from the walls
no blood and sweat from 292 fab four performances
just an asshole who recognizes your american accent
who won’t move when you say, excuse me
so you have no recourse but to brush past him
spilling some of his beer
and if you didn’t have to piss so bad
you’d wipe that sour look right off of his face
but you can’t really see him anyway
with the flashbulbs going off at tables full of people
who’ve found their graceland along the mersey
and in the toilet drunk men in suits
or with cameras and fanny packs strapped to their waist
sing octopus’s garden out of key
as the bathroom attendant shuffles back and forth
humming something that isn’t a beatles’ song
trying to douse you with come together cologne
before you head back into the club proper
making sure to slam that motherfucker hard
when he won’t move out of your way again
laugh when half his pint hits the floor and he calls you a cunt
as the whole club begins a john lennon sing-a-long
with a guy on stage
dressed in shorts and a beatles t-shirt
who can’t even get the lyrics to jealous guy


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

poem of the day 04.15.14

american confederacy embassy (liverpool)

standing there on menlove avenue
about a block from where john lennon dreamed the beatles
my wife and i are waiting for a bus
to take us back toward penny lane

when this old man tells us that there’s
an american confederacy embassy building still standing
somewhere in the heart of downtown liverpool

although he’s not sure what street it’s on
he thinks it’s near the slavery museum

i say, oh really? in an inquisitive way
but i’m not at all interested in seeing it

we’ve been in england less than a week
and there’s already been a mass stabbing in pennsylvania
and another mass shooting in texas

i can’t escape the savagery of america from across an ocean
so i don’t plan on seeking it while i’m on these shores as well

i wonder why the old man would think
we’d want to see something like that anyway

maybe we look primed for a good joke

the american confederacy was as much of a folly
as anything else produced in the united states

the edsel of self-rule

the old man takes my liverpool map
he starts scanning the streets looking for the place

i really should tell him to stop
but i’m too tired to tell anyone what to do

he seems like a nice guy anyway

he’s been to america
brooklyn, seattle, houston, and san francisco

so he probably knows how fucked up we are
how addicted to the bloodshed we’ve gotten

maybe if we met in new york
we could have a nice chat about the falklands

get those fine english hands a little dirty too

but i really don’t want to see some confederacy building
while i’m on vacation

i just want to get on and have the #76 bus show up
see some more beatles stuff while the wife and i are in liverpool

maybe where george harrison or paul mccartney lived

see some beauty, something positive
let the history of violence in america
wait until i’m back across that ocean

where the barbarism wafts out of every window

like the rich scent of dinner
on a humid summer night.


Monday, April 14, 2014

poem of the day 04.14.14

saturday afternoon at the health food restaurant

and it’s the first decent saturday afternoon in months
so everyone is out
only there are no leaves on the trees yet
and the sun is blinding
so everyone is inside somewhere else to escape the light
this health food restaurant is packed
with muscleheads from the gym across the street
i’m standing behind some blonde
with a baby carriage the size of a small tank
her kid isn’t even in the thing
she’s running around the cramped space of the restaurant
screaming for her calypso smoothie
whatever in the hell that is
it’s her second one too
the little brat dropped the first
and it’s still sitting in a pink puddle on the floor
because no one has the time to clean it
the kid is stopping the waitress from getting salads and protein shakes
to the bodybuilders
the massive baby carriage isn’t helping the matter
but the blonde is too busy texting to notice her kid or the carriage
the muscleheads are too busy flexing their muscles
to see that they aren’t getting their lunch
i should’ve gone food shopping at lloyd’s met
instead of coming in this damned place
but the food here is pretty good
nearly everything on the menu
has a picture of a little heart next to it
just to let me know that i’m treating the body well
i figure a good meal will counterbalance
the whiskey and wine at home
after all, i’m forty now
and i need to start taking care of myself
but coming into this place was a mistake
the first of many that i’ll probably make today
the girls that work here look so put upon
they are sweating and taking too many orders
the sexy one with the tattoo on the back of her neck
keeps looking at me because i’m the only one
standing there not texting or flexing my muscles
or yelling and crying for something that looks like vomit
she thinks my complacency at doing nothing
means that i’m being impatient
but i just don’t have anywhere else to go
on this fine saturday afternoon
the best we’ve seen in months
she keeps telling me that my order is coming
although i haven’t asked her for it once
when she finally hands me the food
she does it with a dramatic gesture just to let me know
how hard this life is
she tells me to enjoy the nice weather outside
but i can tell that she doesn’t mean it
and that’s all right with me.