Tuesday, March 31, 2015

poem of the day 03.31.15


alvin liked to eat peppers whole

he sat at lunch with a pepper
palmed in his hand like he was nolan ryan
then he went to town

this seemed to bother everyone else

why is alvin eating his peppers that way?
they all asked each other

people in that place had a real problem
worrying about their own backyards

their peppers were cut in thin strips in dull salads
or sautéed on sandwiches that stunk up the staff room

they ate piles of chinese food
with fried peppers that looked like colorful slugs

they didn’t like that alvin sat there
on his only free hour of the day
and ate his pepper like he was eating an apple

people there had a real problem with freedom
or thinking outside the box

alvin spent a lot of time in the bathroom
this really got everyone’s goat as well

they’d sit in the staff room
eating their malodorous and greasy lunches
while alvin did his business in the crapper

they wondered why he was in there for so long

it’s those goddamned peppers, they’d say
when they ran out of all other reasons

peppers make you go
everyone knows that

that’s why i do my business
at home, they said
i never go at work

which explained the sea of constipated faces
throughout the day

usually one of them would get up
and pound on the bathroom door

people are waiting out here, they’d say to laughter

although when alvin came out of the shitter
none of them ever went inside
unless it was to check on what he did in there

sometimes they’d spray lysol for no reason

alvin has been gone from that place
for four years now

but i’m still there

whenever anyone has peppers in their lunch
they look around the room and say, hey, remember alvin?

remember how he used to sit there
and eat his peppers whole?

then they laugh
someone usually mentions how
he was always in the bathroom too

eventually the laughter dies down

people go back to their lunches
and playing games on their cell phones
with nary a hint of lysol in the air

or sometimes the hour passes
with no noted conversation at all.


Monday, March 30, 2015

poem of the day 03.30.15

the world on a string

i stare into the vodka
i stare into the void

wait in soup kitchen lines
for shits and giggles and student loans

i think of half a new york city block
taken out just like that

the barricades and the people taking pictures
above the subway rats and future sinkholes

i huff gas leaks and moonwalk on collapsed bridges
i sing a song of water contamination

dance like gene kelly in a downpour
stomp like alex the droog when a water main breaks

daydream commuter trains on rusted railroad tracks
skidding into forests or main streets

i do the evolution on the hottest spring day
in packed classrooms studying for the test

i shiver in march and deny the climate
three times before the rooster crows

hopscotch potholes and cracked concrete
pole-vault highway congestion

bawl and shout the mass transit blues

i spit runny dam water and coo to newborns
if it keeps on rainin’, the levee gonna break

i watch the buildings crumble
and the planes collide

release asbestos into the air
like beautiful white doves

i’ve got the world on a string, my friend

sitting here dining on coca-cola and oreos
in the shade of another nuclear winter

tweeting my thoughts on
my favorite super-hero films

poke my blind eye with a selfie stick

as the pundits pundit the plutocrats and oligarchs
on the  news cycle 24/7

and the soldiers do a goodwill tour after tour
like a never-ending oldies act

while the civil wars rage


Friday, March 27, 2015

poem of the day 03.27.15

poem to my sixteen year old cat

i watch you prance around the apartment
and it’s such sadness

the way you trace the same pattern
behind chairs and stacks of junk left on the floor

to climb on the couch with a thump on the coffee table
to try and lay on me always, no matter the weather

the way your pupils are dilated
blind for almost three years now
with a bum thyroid that makes you nuts

the last two teeth rotting in your mouth

i try to remember the good times
the two decades, seven apartments and three cities

but it’s hard with you meowing in my ear at all hours
warbling in the hallway at five in the morning
while i’m trying to get the poems down

were there really any good times?

we seem more like beings stuck together
than anything that once spoke of love and affection

some nights i try and get you to fall asleep
cooing in the bedroom like you’re a baby

so that i can go and enjoy a book, some drinks
maybe even a movie with the wife

but you always end up back in our space
with the pacing and the meowing and vying for couch room

i look around at what you’ve destroyed
chairs, couches, lampshades and blankets

whole sunday afternoons held captive to your madness

i watch your cat hair roll like tumbleweeds
only an hour after we’ve cleaned

cursing the day we brought you home while cutting your nails

forever cleaning your vomit
or pulling out another lump of shit
that got stuck in your ass

you’ve taught me that while life is short
things can live an awful long time

relationships can fester and wilt but remain

and every day when i come home
i open and front door and hope to find you dead

the two of us finally achieving a workable peace

maybe one day it’ll happen
when is it safe to say goodbye?

but for now i’m putting the keys down
and taking off my coat

while you walk in circles and howl to the gods
the food with your meds in it, uneaten again

there’s a pile of your shit in the hallway

but the new age vet thinks
you could go another six years easy

if only we’d come up there
with five hundred dollars
and get those two rotten teeth pulled



Thursday, March 26, 2015

poem of the day 03.26.15


campo was the funny guy
at the wine store

he had a ceaseless energy
and a legion of sycophants
who followed him around and hung on his every word

i disliked him from the onset

i was thirty-two and the rest of them
were barely pushing twenty in the warehouse
which made me a road sign warning to them

a decade full of dead ends they’d be fools to repeat

campo gave everyone nicknames
c-train, hoss, j-dog and futureman
for some reason he chose johnson for me

it stuck

the bosses and even the bartender
across the street called me that

it amazed me what i’d answer to
for a paycheck and a three-dollar buyback
on the third round

but then again i always hated the sound of my own name

campo had an ease with the customers that i did not
he could sell and sell

while i just hung around dusting bottles
and listening to the 1950s music the store pumped in

i got a reputation for being surly and aloof
although i just didn’t know how to relate to a lot of the kids

on weekends we had hot looking wine pourers
come in from the distributers
to pour samples for the customers

campo spent his whole work day at the tasting center
flirting with girls and getting drunk

the assistant manager had me in his office weekly
for a conversation about my attitude

he thought campo was the greatest
be more like campo, he told me
campo makes the world his own playground

but when i went to spend my day
flirting with the wine pouring girls
the assistant manager tossed my ass in the warehouse
for drinking on the job

he made me count broken vodka bottles

on evenings campo and the assistant boss
would stand in front of a large tv
they’d watch hockey and tell tall tales about the wine pourers

campo would do play-by-play
and shout outrageous platitudes at the screen

he talked about how many of the pourers he nailed

while i ran around cleaning wine spills and hauling boxes
scratching the collection of pink write-up slips in my back pocket

when i quit the wine store
campo was the only guy i saw on my way out

he was just an hour into another nine-hour shift
in his own personal minimum-wage playground

we shook hands
and he called me johnson one last time

then i sat in my car alone
drinking the rest of a warm beer
from the morning drive to work

watching as campo played the clown for all of his boys
while they collected shopping carts and laughed

thinking some guys had it good
and some guys just didn’t get it at all.                                       

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

poem of the day 03.25.15

tonight’s the night

dead tired and starving
i pick neil young songs
over reading poems on the train home tonight

think of complex math problems
that i don’t want to solve
graphs and synthetic division
that my part-timer showed me

math never validated anything for me
except how stupid i am when it comes to figuring anything out

the man across from me
he must be three hundred pounds

he’s dressed in royal blue from head to toe
he has his hood up and i can hear his music over mine

he’s eating an italian hero
pulling the meat and lettuce from the bread
with his hands and shoveling it all into his mouth

there are a ring of onions around his sneakers
and the train car smells of them

his royal blue sweatpants are streaked with grease

when he’s done he shoves the bread back into a plastic bag
then tosses it on the floor along with his can of sierra mist

burps aloud
before closing his eyes and scratching his balls

i watch him
i think he’s like math to me
another problem that can’t be solved

watch his garbage roll around

i think tonight’s the night
where any grand illusions of mine
could simply end.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

poem of the day 03.24.15

i’ll miss the liquor store man

soon to be displaced
for six months or longer
while they repair my office building

i think change is inevitable
i think i don’t like change

it is akin to a certain kind of death

all the new relationships and the scenery
they’re no good for the soul

there is an ease in being stuck
with the same people for eight hours a day

it is a simple, honest hatred
like an old marriage where it’s okay to fart in the bed

like what i have with the liquor store man
high on his perch with his pop music on the radio

the way he never says hello or goodbye

how he casts his judgement down upon me
as i haul another jug of vodka or magnum bottle of wine
into his sphere of influence

there’s a beautiful vulgarity to the way he grabs
the money from my hand and slaps down the change
turns away in disgust as i walk out of the store

i don’t know if i’ll find that anywhere else

i think i’ll miss the liquor store man the most
during this exile

his dead stare and the twinkle
of marquee neon in his eyes

as the sun sets over the elevated d line
and i head home from here

to do the damage once again.

Monday, March 23, 2015

poem of the day 03.23.15

sexual harassment

trina used to blow all of the janitors
it was well known amongst them
that if you were hard-up
five minutes in a basement men’s room stall with trina
could cure all of your ills
she wasn’t anything to look at
most people aren’t
she didn’t dress the part of the organizational tramp
but trina was willing in a way that others weren’t
she and i used to smoke together
on a big orange bench when we didn’t feel like working
trina talked about her douche bag husband and their bills
as we sucked away breaks sharing my camel lights
from time to time
trina would tell me….you know…if you need a little
i was a clerk
and i think trina thought this meant moving up in the world
because i didn’t wear a uniform
even though the janitors made double what i did
from time to time i’d think about taking her up on her offer
every night i went home alone
i’d been going home alone for almost two years
i wasn’t much to look at either
i didn’t really see the harm in a little men’s room action
but then trina got weird on me
everywhere i went in the building she seemed to be
she found me on lunches and always seemed to be at that orange bench
once she attacked me on the elevator
and tried to bite my neck
when i worked nights it became a given that trina would call
she told me once how good she’d suck my cock
she said if i didn’t believe her, go and ask one of the janitors
i didn’t know what to do
i went and told my boss
who laughed at me when she found out it was trina
my boss had been noted for her blow jobs back in the day
and had a notorious hateful streak for her rivals
she said, what you need to do is write everything down
every word trina says to you
so we can build a sexual harassment case, my boss said
then she laughed again and went to the orange bench
to smoke half a pack of virginia slims
well, i didn’t write down anything and i didn’t say anything else
it seemed pointless and unmanly
i just avoided the orange bench
and started smoking my cigarettes in front of the building
where the homeless guys stood in packs
and bothered the college kids for change
at times they shared my camel lights too
but it got back to trina anyway that i’d squealed
when we passed each other we kept our heads down
except one time she was on her way
to the men’s room with a janitor
when she saw me she whispered something in his ear
and they both laughed
then they dipped into the men’s room like a couple of spies
and i went out to the orange bench
for my first smoke of the afternoon
knowing that i had
at least five minutes of peace.


Friday, March 20, 2015

poem of the day 03.20.15

five for five

i feel like
i’m in a harvey pekar comic
standing in this grocery line
listening to the two women in front of me
arguing the price of soda with the cashier
it says five for five, they keep shouting
one of them is shaking the grocery flyer
soon the manager comes over
and three other cashiers who could be ringing people out
he’s trying to sooth the situation
but he’s just pissing the women off
i picked this line because it was the shortest
i should’ve known
there’s no such thing as a free lunch in this town
and no one ever gets behind old ladies
hot on the heels of sunday mass and jonesing for a sugar fix
at least it’s not election day
everyone else in this joint
looks wiser than me in the moment
people with their ice cream and cold cuts
who will pay and be out and free
while i’m stuck behind these old bats
as they continue to plead their case
five for five, they keep on
there aren’t even any hot cashiers
too look at to pass the time
so i look at the things in my basket
fruit, vegetables, club soda for vodka
meats, cheese, toilet paper and cat food
everything is an essential part of my human wheel
i can’t even toss the basket and leave
i just stand there watching my minutes tick
high noon on sunday
with a six-day work week staring down the barrel of a gun
as the women and the manager and even more cashiers
are leaning over the grocery flyer
like they’re examining battle plans
in this dirty little war we wage
and call it a life.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

poem of the day 03.19.15

the poetry rejection

in 1999 i was
three years out of college

working in a library basement
checking-in magazines and newspapers for a living
delivering mail and stocking book donations

making fifteen grand a year
which mostly went to rent, bills,
gas money and smokes

she had written three books of poetry in twenty years
but was well-known around the city
for being one of the hard-working literary big shots

she’d been my teacher in college
had given me c.k. williams and a b minus
for missing too many of her classes

in one small stretch
i’d read two of her books on a plane
from florida back to pittsburgh
then proceeded to forget them both

but i was hardly getting by
living bad paycheck to bad paycheck
growing green on peanut butter sandwiches
and hardly writing a word of my own

i thought the only way
i’d ever make it was to go back to grad school
and get an MFA degree

hide in some college until i died

i needed a recommendation
so i thought about the poet and her books
the c.k. williams and the b minus

i started leaving messages for her
but she never got back to me

when i finally got her
she said, well, you know
in that soothing poet voice she’d used in class

usually i do recommendations
but i’ve just been so busy with my own poetry lately
the new book, readings
that i simply don’t have the time to write a letter for you

she laughed her flighty poet laugh
said, you know, this is the first time
i’ve ever said no to anyone

then she said, good luck with the poetry, and hung up on me

as i sat there
surrounded by a pile of mail
that needed to be sorted

a dull ache in my belly
half a pack of cigarettes left until payday

and another peanut butter sandwich waiting
with my name written all over it

for her next book to come out
eleven years later.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

poem of the day 03.18.15


oh tammy
with your tall tales
of twelve cocks over
french fries and beer
at the squirrel cage
who could forget
the leopard print thongs
that you showed us
under the streetlights on forbes avenue
mixing beer and happy pills
was that a smart choice, doll?
taking hits on my joint too
making hints and hard-selling innuendo
drunken lipstick smeared tammy
climbing in my lap to bite my neck
with your new boyfriend outside
it was a forgone conclusion
that someone was getting laid that night
still it wasn’t going to be me and you
no matter how nice those nibbles felt
your tongue on my chin
i was licking my wounds
nursing the blonde hangover
who’d been jerking me around all summer
you and i were never meant to be
although at times
i’m curious what  you thought about
a couple of hours later
taking his virginity
outside of that mcdonald’s
on mcknight road
was it him
or one of the illustrious dozen
that you hungered down on
when the nights
got too hard

to catch your falling star.                                              

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

poem of the day 03.17.15

ireland forever

come to think of it
i’ve never been in a bar on st. patrick’s day

i’ve never shouted, what’s the craic?
to some pasty eejit mainlining jameson
and pouring green beer down his throat

i’ve been in plenty of bars
the day after st. patrick’s day

have sat there drinking beer with the regulars
eating left over corned beef and cabbage
getting it all over themselves and the floor

i’ve been in forgotten bars in may
that were too lazy to take down
the shamrocks and leprechaun decorations

but i’ve never been in a bar on st. patrick’s day

have never watched the parade
with the other drunks

have never hung my head
to danny boy by the chieftains

put on the pogues, van morrison or u2
sang songs while pumping a guinness

and watching the tits on a woman
in a kiss me, i’m irish t-shirt

i’ve never found my pot of gold on march 17th

in fact, if there’s a day that i don’t go into bars
that day would be st. patrick’s day

i’ve never liked crowds
especially of the drunken, white, vomitus persuasion

i prefer bars that look dead all of the time
the ones that wouldn’t know st. patrick’s day from christmas

where the beer is green as a matter of course
and the television is always off

but i’ve never been in a bar on st. patrick’s day

oh wait, i was once
about a dozen years ago i was in this joint
in midtown manhattan, waiting for my wife

it was called the mica bar

the staff inside was wearing black
most of them looked like they struggled to take a shit

i was the only patron in the joint
and the bartender plied me with
green napkins, green coasters, green straws

she put a green hat in front of me and begged me to put it on

she said, erin go bragh, dude!
while the two of us looked at the piece
of conical plastic

when i asked her what that meant
she said she didn’t know

so i got up and left
and figured i’d try it again
come memorial day

Friday, March 13, 2015

poem of the day 03.13.15

rites of spring

i sit here
hearing birds chirping

the rustle of trees

feel the soft air
coming from the ocean

bath in warm light

still see the sun at seven o’clock p.m.
like a fat ball of gas in the sky

reflecting off of windows
and the remnants of dirty snow

chase the tussle of winter
as it loosens its grip

think about rome
and young women in short skirts

hear the people outside
talk the dumb talk  that keeps them alive

as i drink boatloads of vodka
to the sound of every fucking dog
barking its return

leaving their mounds
of incredible shit

my living room


Thursday, March 12, 2015

poem of the day 03.12.15

two oranges

we are no hungrier
than any other two people on this train

although i think about peeling the two oranges
one in my bag one in my wife’s

feeding on them like everyone else seems to do
when in transit in this city

some mornings these trains look like full catered breakfasts
when not disguised as a hair and make-up salon

we were just at the oncologist’s office

my wife checked out good
like she has for the past six months

but all of that worry while we were there
it felt like hunger

going over cancer again and again leaves a hollow ache

it’s strange being the two youngest people
in the doctor’s office

strange and it can bring you down if you let it

my wife and i lose the fine art of conversation
when we’re in that office
and only regain it after when we’re back on the street

the doctor has a ton of picasso prints on his walls
the cubist stuff that i really don’t like

if we were looking at them in a museum
i’d tell my wife that i’m not a fan of cubism
and then we’d move on to something else like degas

this has nothing to do with being hungry
or the two oranges in our bags

but my wife and i still aren’t really talking on the train

so i pass the time focusing on picasso
and how hungry i am

there is only one other person on the train
an old woman eating a bag of peanuts

she’d just finished a bag of barbecue chips
and a bag of pretzels beforehand

she’s not helping things along

a few stops before we’re supposed to get off
i see my wife turn to the woman

i lean in, catch the woman say
i said, do you have anything to eat?

my wife looks at me, shows me her salad
says, i have enough money in my wallet for something else

i look at the bandage on her hand
where they drew blood like they draw blood every month

i take the orange out of my bag
give it to my wife to give to the woman

my wife takes her orange out too
although i don’t want her to because of blood sugar levels

although we’re probably way past that worry

the woman takes both oranges
and only says, both? after they are in her bag

yes, my wife says, both

god bless you, the woman says
as we’re getting off the train

i wish that i could say it felt like a benediction
but we’ve both got eight hours of work to get through

and by four in the afternoon
someone is going to be emailing someone else
about being hungry and depressed

wishing they had a big juicy orange to eat.                   

AND....because it would've been Kerouac's 93rd birthday today

 at jack’s grave

i always feel
like i just missed you
if we go to one of the houses
that you lived in
the apartment where you wrote
on the road
if we find one of your old
frisco or new york city haunts
i like to think
that we’ve just missed you
that you were just at the bar
in a red flannel
with a notebook on the table
shouting, red faced
talking brilliant gabby-gook
pushing your black hair back
on that french-canadian head of yours
piercing the room with your sad eyes
or maybe you’re taking a piss
and i think that i’ll just sit here
and wait eternal
restful and content
like walking down your shrouded streets
on october nights
daydreaming the soul of the nation
jack, i know i’m being a child when i do this
i’m being hopeful in my own way
but it’s been forty-one years
and the heavens haven’t spit you
back to us yet
i’m laying down next to your grave
in hot lowell, massachusetts
my brother watching the blue sky
my wife and sister-in-law
snapping pictures of me
coming here has taken me too long
it’s taken me thousands of miles
to find myself and this piece of home
i am helping ally run paper and pencils
over your name to preserve it
but i don’t know where i’m going
to hang it in my room
we are fixing the debris around your grave
adjusting a small maroon buddha
putting the cigarettes and joints
back into perfect rows
leaving tickets to paris subways
and poems given to us by friends
we no longer have
at the base of the faded granite
you honored life
and i finally have to accept that you are gone
i am thinking of roads and rivers
of mighty veins stretching down the back of america
spools of highway and interstate
of apple pie in diners that no longer exist
like lowell isn’t really a mill town anymore, jack
like america isn’t what you painted her to be
i’m at the end of the illusion
but it’s all right
you and i
we’ve always been good at pulling the wool
over our eyes
seeing what we want to see
it helps paint the picture
it always helped us to vomit out the words
those precious words, jack
our gospel
those heavenly, pooh-bear, holy words
are what it always came down to
despite the reality
what it still comes down to
those rocket words that you could never hold
in for too long
the ones i’m suddenly finding hard to spill out
on this hot, brooklyn morning in late june
forever your disciple
mosquito bites from a new hampshire carnival
sprouting up all over my body
another morning in america aching over the ocean
like a poem
like a novel whose first words hit your tongue
then unravel on into the infinite


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

poem of the day 03.11.15

band-aid wrappers

mornings of death
caked toothpaste and cat litter back rubs

toilet rings that elucidate decades of deep thought

bath tub stains of misery
with empty shampoo bottles loitering

a thousand soy sauce packages
and rotten tomatoes

antarctic freezers
full of vodka kamikaze ice cubes

broken blinds to keep the world out
a man could do much much worse, i know

dust ball racetracks
yellow paper hoarding and snot rag piñatas

memories nailed to the wall like crucifixes
and calendars marking off the days

the traces of last month’s meals
make splattered pollock’s on the kitchen floor

coffee grind fortunes
tea bag mountains and beer can havens

cracked floors, drawers that have given up

mounds of clothing strewn from porno daydreams
mingling with loose change and chapstick

an everest of poems unsent and unwanted

broken screens
and cracked window panes
bookshelves of failed genius

thin walls full of fetid breath
and other dull lives

static radio and cigarette smoke
wine bottle chimes

telephone horrors and internet virus ghosts

nights alive like suicide
with bloody feet splintered from decaying wood

and nothing left in the medicine cabinets
but empty boxes

and band-aid wrappers
stuck to the floor.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

poem of the day 03.10.15


romeo comes in
with his girlfriend who is seventeen
but looks twenty-five

they kiss discretely behind bookshelves
sometimes they go into the bathroom together
when they think no one is looking

at the tables, she always has him show her his muscles

the girlfriend takes pictures
as romeo sits there with his arms flexed

she snaps away like it’s a photo shoot

when she’s done the girlfriend
kisses the altar that is romeo’s biceps

then she puts her finger to her lips
warm and wet to press into his dimple
before she plays with his long, slick hair

it’s only a matter of time before
they take off behind the stacks again
or rendezvous in the public restroom

romeo likes to look around like he’s got it made

he has a gaggle of sycophants
that he only speaks spanish to

when his seventeen year old girlfriend
walks away with her twenty-five year old body
to get some water or a book

romeo says something and all of his boys howl
they slap five like a pack of lily white boys at a football game

to everyone it looks like romeo has got it made
he’s probably getting more ass than half of brooklyn

or so it would seem

because just yesterday the girlfriend came in
with a different guy

this one was short and stocky
with neck tattoos and a little punk goatee

he didn’t pose for muscles shots
he just put his tongue down girlfriend’s throat
and fondled her ass while she checked out exercise books

he still had his hands on her cheeks when they left

ten minutes after, romeo waltzed in
like he owned the place

he sat in his usual throne and waited on his lady
after forty minutes he got the hint

and our romeo left with his head down
those muscled arms flat and at his sides

to wander alone in the late winter sun
like any other young tragedy in the making.


Monday, March 9, 2015

poem of the day 03.09.15

young women at the symphony

tchaikovsky is no match
for the lure of cell phone light
status updates and the ubiquitous selfie

he doesn’t hold a candle
to the gleaming shining presence of the now

it comes with the territory of being dead

not even two visits from the usher
is enough to stop you
from chattering in between each movement of the fourth

coming on the heels
of destroying one by gabriel faure

yes, sweet young ladies,
all of the looks over the shoulders are for you

it doesn’t matter if most of the audience
looks just like the walking dead

a sea of pasty, white haired corpses

maybe it shouldn’t matter anyway
everything is silly if you think about it

tchaikovsky was a head case
and  in no time the world will be yours
to forget all about him if you like

so when the music ends
no needs to get up to applaud

just whip out the phones
young heirs to this crooked and wasted empire

snap, snap snap away
until your lion heart’s content


Friday, March 6, 2015

poem of the day 03.06.15

hand soap

was always ruined
by the smell of hand soap

dial hand soap to be exact

i’d get finished and it would be great

the breasts on the female news anchor
the nude scene i had frozen on a vhs
featuring some actress astride her male co-star

sitcom mothers and madonna
mtv v-jays with their leather minis

the cuban-american one
and the black one who spoke in a british accent

the women in short skirts
from another make-up infomercial

living breathing fantasies
that i manipulated into writhing flesh in my head
doing ungodly things to such a young boy

at least until i exploded

for some reason i always did it in the underwear
this was a result from doing it the first time

rubbing one out to my old man’s playboys
after my parents had left for work

ejaculating into my underwear
and then thinking

holy shit!

i didn’t think to take it out
and just shoot it into a napkin or tissue

there was no one to ask about how to do it right

not my old man or the other boys in school
who were talking about jacking off all of the time

how to even broach the subject?

i thought this was how it was done
just sit there rubbing until you came

i can’t begin to account
for all of the chaff marks on my prick from the friction

but after the joy was over
it was always the hand soap

the dial hand soap in a clear plastic tube in the bathroom

a golden tan goop just waiting for me to come in
with those soiled underwear in my hand
to run warm water and pour it all over the mess that i’d made

the smell of that hand soap
the clean stench of my indiscretion 

my bare ass on a summer afternoon

wringing out the underwear
and then throwing it under my bed until laundry day

where it became a crusty mess
a sign of my budding manhood

but more than that one more embarrassment
in a continued, bungling youth

that seemed so never-ending.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

poem of the day 03.05.15

little by little

the faces on the train tonight
look cold, damaged and dead

in this city we are killing ourselves
little by little every day

this afternoon a twelve-year-old asked me
what i’d like to do for a living
if i didn’t have my current job

in that way twelve-year-olds have
of asking the right kind of dumb questions

i told her that i would’ve made a good
unemployed son of a wealthy family

she laughed, told me to be serious
asked me why i took this job in the first place

i thought about the years working
in warehouses, retail and white collar offices with no windows

the clerk jobs that allowed me to live part-time

i told her that this was an easier death
that now i was only killing myself little by little
instead of in big chunks

the twelve-year old laughed at me, snapped her gum
and started playing with the pens on my desk

like the little flirt she’s becoming
she winked at me and said, i think i understand

but sitting here tonight
on another train ride full of the dead
that smells like the world’s bathroom

going home only to gear up for another tomorrow

little by little i begin to think
that she just didn’t get me at all.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

poem of the day 03.04.15


she came in
blowing stacks of paper
to the ground
she marched over to me
with her magic phone
pointed it like a gun
and said, i need to print this
whatever it was
when i told her that i couldn’t
print from a phone
she rolled her eyes
looked at me like
i said the world was flat
said, give me a computer then
but she couldn’t remember
the password to her email
the phone remembers it for me, she said
she showed me the phone again
as if i’d somehow forgotten its chrome
i said, well, that’s the trick with those things
she said, you know how these phones are
actually i don’t, i said
smug, like i was the only guy
left on the planet who could
recite his telephone number by heart
then i watched her sit there
phone in her hand, computer at the ready
the whole technological spectrum
rendered useless
as she pushed buttons and sighed
eventually she said, well, what do i do now?
remember things, i said
like passwords
she got up from her seat
made to leave
carrying that phone like a limp appendage
gave me the finger at the door
as i got up to go
and put those stacks of paper
that she’d knocked over
back into a neat pile.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

poem of the day 03.03.15

written on paper

i assure you this poem was
written on paper

but how can you be so sure?

most likely we don’t know each other
or if we do you know
i’m not the most reliable thing out there

you’re probably reading this poem
on a computer

or at the very least on a phone

but i guarantee you it was
written on paper

at best i made a few changes
when i was typing it into the machine

the line: but how can you be so sure?
was originally just: how can you be so sure?

i added the fourth, fifth and sixth lines just now
and the line breaks i did the next day

but for the most part this poem was
written on paper

i can even describe the notebook i used

it was a tan boardroom series
seven inches by five inches
stamped american made
for all of you patriots out there

i have poem notes and movie times

and even a new york city address for dvorak
written on the cover

there’s a smudge on the second line of the poem

the one that conveniently reads
written on paper

it was made by a thick 1.0 pilot g-2 pen that i’m using

and helped along by the shitty driving
of the B4 bus driver

i don’t write so many poems on paper anymore
almost all of them used to start out that way

these days i read on the way home
listen to neil young
or just zone out and take stock of my life

i’m less the go-getter than i used to be
i think that comes with age

but i’m feeling lonesome this evening
lonesome for something tangible

it might be the american made stamped in me
that’s making me feel this way

but i wanted something solid tonight
something concrete and real

like these words
written on paper

that only took up two pages and half
on this notebook

whose metal spirals are starting to give
from age and a lack of use.


Monday, March 2, 2015

poem of the day 03.02.15


manhattan is full of musicians
hocking their cds

they hang around the tourist areas mostly
hitting up the stiffs from out of town

the musicians shove their cds
into people’s hands before they realize it

then they’re asking for twenty bucks for their art

you see it all of the time
some poor sap in times square
with his red sox hat, his camera and backpack
a silver disc held limply in his hand

surrounded by five or six of them
each holding their own stack of cds

the cops don’t do anything about this
not when there are terrorists in brooklyn
and jaywalkers in the bronx

so the musicians are free to solicit
whatever money they can get
using an old school kind of persuasion

some of them will follow you for blocks
telling you how much you’ll love their music

they’ll say you look like a rap fan or a rock fan

i’ve been called bon jovi, aerosmith, and john lennon
as a form of flattery

the musicians say, hey, rod stewart,
you look like you dig music, man

then they’re practically throwing cds at you

if you don’t say anything to them
the conversation turns belligerent

you’re no longer rod stewart but some fag peckerwood
who thinks you’re better than they are

by keeping your hands in your pocket
staying silent and going about your business

you think if those guys were really good musicians
they wouldn’t have to be selling their stuff on the street

but, of course, just turning on the radio proves you wrong

instead you wonder
if there’s actually anything on those cds

whatever passes for music these days

then you turn the bend
and there’s two or three more of them coming at you

shouting, yo, jim morrison, jim morrison
you a rap fan or what?

then you don’t really fucking care at all.