Friday, October 30, 2015

poem of the day 10.30.15

human resources

i can’t help it i’m hungover on no sleep
upright in this hard wooden chair human
resources department lady telling me all
about my benefits i think what benefits?
last night was sunday night it might as well
have been friday night holy saturday night
for all of the drinking piss alley carousing i did
and now here i am stuck here for forty hours
a week because the student loan people
have come calling to collect on four years
of heartbreak and misery and missed chances
fourteen thousand dollars a year to shuck books
check out books return books give library cards
listen to old ladies tell me they pay my salary
not even enough to move out on my own
get a car get anything when i took the job
my old man said, well, at least you’re
gainfully employed gainfully? what does
that even mean? i can feel my eyes closing
here want to sleep maybe vomit should’ve
eaten something this morning maybe not
this HR woman’s voice drones on and on
tells me by thirty i’m going to have to opt
in for the pension or they’ll garnish my wages
thirty? what’s that? pension? bad dreams the
both of them i tell her mmm hmmm my
eyes lead weights i know they’re gonna close.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

poem of the day 10.29.15

the grand inquisitor

likes to ask a lot of questions
she soaking the essence out of me
on our first date
but maybe i don’t mind
since it’s taken us two months to get here
do you like michael chabon? she asks
what about matthew sweet?
what’s it like to be done with college?
she walks me around oakland and schenley park
weaving the streets
then all of these wooded paths
twenty-two years in this city
and i don’t even know where in the hell we are
do you like living here?
what’s it like working in a library?
so is it poetry or fiction that you write?
hell, i don’t know, marilyn
we finally sit down on flagstaff hill
pitt campus pittsburgh oakland
limestone and neon meshing in the night
marilyn is quiet
we’ve run out of things to say already
i haven’t asked her anything
i mean where to start?
i think this was all exciting back in april
but here in june i wonder what i was waiting for
let’s just sit here for a while, she says
soon the homeless take over the hill
you can hear them grunting in restless sleep
marilyn sits there like we’re having a little picnic
not smack dab in the middle of some hooverville
she’s showing her small town
i bet she’d meander through iraq
as the sun sets and shadows in the distance fade to black
she asks me what i think about tonight’ moon
anticlimactic, i say
to the turn of bottles burps
and vagrant farts in the humid night
anticlimactic? she says sharply
and though i can’t i can still see the look on her face
yes yes, i say
because i can’t find the secret romance in any of this.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

poem of the day 10.28.15

well fuck you too i guess

the article tells me
29% of americans don’t read the daily news
that’s 29% who are ill-informed
and another 71% who are most likely being lied to
it’s easy to see why things
are so fucked up here in the land of liberty
why those pasty-faced leeches
are getting away with murder down in d.c.
and the ones running for president
stack up the crazy shit they say by the pound
to the hoots and hollers of the hoi polloi
god bless america, somehow we’ve lost the plot
and have let the salivating wolves in to guide us
we may have never had it to begin with
so another black girl gets dragged across a classroom
to a dozen videos showing another brute cop
three cell phone camera angles like they were shooting a film
and countless memes and angry tweets later
ask 29% of americans what’s going to happen next
because i’m sure most of them are consulting god
instead of taking it to the streets
after all, religion is the last refuge of the coward
no, wait, i think that’s patriotism
if you ask me i’ll tell you ain’t shit going to happen
like shit never happens here in freedomland
i mean i didn’t just cross the rio grande, you know
it’s easy to go ahead and get disgruntled
even i want to jump ship most of the time
but, damn, there’s too much salt water floating around
a world melting like an ice cream cone in july
or maybe we should batten down the hatches
get ready for the next hurricane or super storm
a surge of all the bile we’ve managed to kick up
get ready for another black kid to get dragged across the linoleum
shot dead or suffocated or whatever these pigs in a blanket
call law and order here
i don’t have a cell phone so i won’t be there for the photo op
i’ll just grab a coke and stream the genocide online
and to the kid who told me to go and fuck myself
well, those might’ve been the kindest words
that i’ve heard in a long while
you got it right first time out the box, son
here’s to honesty, man, in a nation that so sorely needs it

oh….and the same goes for you.                                                           

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

poem of the day 10.27.15


she looks like
bridget fonda
calvin tells me
and of course she does
has that short red hair
that upturned nose of celluloid legacy
fair skinned
and of course calvin is in love with her
he brings them around
keeps bringing them around
never learns
she sips a cranberry and vodka
perfect girl drink
calvin sips cranberry and vodka
because its suddenly his new favorite drink
one more in a long line of women
that calvin will have stolen from him by somebody else
but i’m not in the mood to play thief tonight
i’m lovesick
i’m dwindling finances
in a go nowhere job
i’m a week of quarter draft nights ahead of everyone
and these holy saturday nights
are losing their luster
bridget she leans into me
perfume and cranberry and vodka all mixed
says, i have a new tattoo on the small of my back
a tramp stamp
someone said in a bar last week
as we drunk watched a parade of women
with the same discernable mark
wanna see it? she leans forward
has me pull up her maroon soft blouse
cream white back one little mole
i can’t make out what the tattoo is
celtic symbol
or something else that won’t mean a thing to her
when she hits forty
excusing myself i head toward bathroom
as calvin sucks down his drink smiling
checking myself in the mirror
i think that guy on the other side
looks like a crook after all

i’m sure i know he’s me.                                              

Monday, October 26, 2015

poem of the day 10.26.15

friday afternoon at froth’s tavern

american flags
in every corner of the joint

tv on full blast
to the dr. oz show

bar full of dead people
on a dead afternoon

where nothing is getting done

maybe this place
was full of life once

but now it’s like a morgue in here

short drafts sitting like statues
as we kill the hours

the hours we claim
we want so badly
while dying at jobs

and here they are spread out
these little gifts of time

as amber pitchers go untouched
as lovers play on their phones
heads down and alienated

as dr. oz shares a recipe
that will keep us living forever

while the jukebox sits dead
like some relic from a civilization

who once had the secret
on how to really live.


Friday, October 23, 2015

poem of the day 10.23.15

at least we’re not talking about guns

he says
maybe trump’ll make you all get hair
like his
imagine tha’?
a whole country of people
with tha’ monstrous hair stacked up on yer heads
millions of you
and what about his plans to build a wall?
i mean is he serious?
i don’t know, i say
i watch the other tourists looking confused
at finding themselves suddenly off grafton street
i’m not really interested in being
the spokesman for america
….but here we go again
he says
does he even realize
how much a wall like tha’ would cost?
i don’t think he cares, i say
that’s obvious, he says
i know he’s got millions in his bank but…
yeh see, the problem
with you americans
is that you still believe in your politicians
he says
here in ireland
we know they’re all arsehols
so we treat them like the arseholes they are
and then go off for a piss
in the local boozer
americans only drink on the weekends, i tell him
looking up at a portrait of saintly drunk brendan behan
they vote sober, i add
good christ, he says
well that explains everything
then we’re silent for a while
as the guinness settles for a second pull
then he laughs
it would still be funny though, he says
a whole country of yeh
walking around this lil’ world
with all tha’ fookin’ hair.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

poem of the day 10.22.15


comes in sometimes in his pajamas
when he still has his hospital wrist bands on
i know the night could go either way
he loves to chase the girls
the twelve and thirteen year olds
who are maybe just learning how to flirt
who could’ve winked at julio once or twice
before they knew the deal
now they run from him
squeal and hide in the bathrooms
have their moms come and give me shit about julio
but i have no idea who takes care of him
other people move their seats
because julio stands over them
sometimes he shouts about rape and murder
he pulls at those hospital wrist bands
while they’re trying to read the newspaper
yesterday his hair was blue now it’s the color of rust
i’m told i have to call the cops
when julio gets too out of hand
but i hate dealing with cops
so i’ll save those bastards for when he
tries to rip the women’s room door off of its hinges
or when he sits with a table of girls
giggling and slobbering on himself
ready to take it out and go to self-pleasure town again
the good nights are the ones like tonight
when julio comes in dressed normally
waves hello and just falls asleep at one of the tables
sometimes he snores too loudly
and it bothers the newspaper reading people
when they come and complain to me
i swear i listen to them and feign my concern
but on a peaceful night like this
i find it hard not to smile
laugh at them right to their faces
tell them about the shit that went down
only just last night
when julio screamed bloody murder
in the bathroom for fifteen minutes
and then came out smiling
like the newly anointed king of brookyn
to a kingdom of frozen and terrified subjects.                                                    

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

poem of the day 10.21.15

before sunrise

cat diarrhea
on the bath matt
my wife runs around
the apartment cleaning
cat vomit cat shit
off the carpet too
while i write letters
to oscar in spain
instead of poems or fiction
the bank account
has been hijacked
$300 to some camera company in manhattan
$200 to some online bonanza 
some poor disgruntled fuck
who put card scanners on the ATM
on the grocery credit slot
they can read your credit card through your pants now
someone who hates their boss
hates their job
decided it was worthwhile
to take it out on us
the bank says don’t worry don’t worry
but the charges have gone through
oh i hear my wife gagging
from within the confines of this little hell
we have going on
but i can do nothing
except shout
i got it i got it fucking cat shit
beg oscar in emails
to tell me something good
as the cat prances around the apartment
waiting to spew out of both ends again
like a roman
while i
dunderheaded gobmack fucked
sit shaky fingered
on the trigger of another day
and the ugly sun

still has yet to rise.                                             

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

poem of the day 10.20.15

pretty chinese girls at st. stephen’s green

the pretty chinese girls
are at st. stephen’s green
they’re standing in front of the iconic arch
taking as many selfies as humanly possible
they are forming karma sutra positions
one pretty chinese girl climbing over
another pretty chinese girl wrapped beneath
another pretty chinese girl
positioning themselves any way they can
to get that perfect shot
none of the pretty chinese girls
are even looking at the arch
i wonder if they even know they are in dublin
pretty chinese girls can be anywhere in the world
taking photos and complicated selfies
i’ll bet there are pretty chinese girls in manhattan right now
doing the same thing in times square
or i’ll bet they’re in egypt
taking acrobatic pictures in front of the pyramids
smiling in front of muslim brotherhood members
being carted off to die
honesty i don’t mind the pretty chinese girls
they’re young and cute and most everyone i know is old
and has something arbitrary to bitch about
i just wish they’d get out of the way
so that the wife and i could get a picture of the st. stephen’s arch
our own albeit less energetic selfie
so we can go into the park and then head to the pub
where i haven’t seen a pretty chinese girl
hoist a guinness all week
when my wife has had enough of the pretty chinese girls
she starts to wave at them to move
but the pretty chinese girls don’t understand
instead they think my wife wants a picture of them
in all of their asian beauty
so they line up like fashion models in front of the arch
waiting for the click and glamor of our outdated camera
my wife shouts at them, no, no, the arch, the arch
and the pretty chinese girls look back
at the stone structure like they’ve never seen it before
move but an inch out of the way
so my wife can get our long sought after picture
just as some asshole twink in a pink cardigan

walks right into the frame.                                             

Friday, October 16, 2015

poem of the day 10.16.15

the boys

the mets
have won something
not everything
but to fandom they’ve won
and this morning
i think about the boys in rooney’s pub
their frayed mets caps
drunk shouting at another loss on the tv
beer bellies in orange and blue t-shirts
the diehards the lovable losers
in the city that never sleeps
the second class kids
whose women were fucking their friends
behind their backs
using pocket change for another short beer
because they’d been stool-side since nine in the morning
screaming at the poor
unfortunate soul on the mound
in classic and current games
spilling whiskey
fist raised at a 52-inch
giving legends mex and darling the business
romancing 1986 mookie and buckner
that cocky team that used to menace my pirates
back in pittsburgh
benny and ivan talking 1969
like it would never get that good again
carter and straw and doc and the not-so-new kid wright
clendenon and hodges and seaver
and tug and piazza and koosman
a mix of history and names over the decades
golden ghosts over the dusty bar
giving hope to the hopeless sports fan
and this morning
now they have it
those old drunks from long-gone rooney’s pub
waking into hangover bliss
a new strut in their liquid steps
to wherever you’re hanging your sorrows
now my boys
for the millionaire kids playing upon your memories
here today
please lift your aching heads.                                        

Thursday, October 15, 2015

poem of the day 10.15.15

the kind racist

catches me and the wife
making a cardinal traveling no-no
pressed against a building
map open wide in the wind
he comes across the street
with his bike helmet and bike
asks us what he already knows
are you lost?
not really but street names in dublin
change on a dime
he says i’ll walk you there
the big kilmainham gaol
where ireland was born
in the puddles of revolutionary blood
we don’t really need him
but oh what a kind old man
and that irish accent that gets you every time
of course he asks about the guns in america
it always comes down to the guns
he hopes donald trump wins the presidency
trump is going to build a wall to keep the mexicans out
the idea makes his irish eyes smile
our little leprechaun guide says it’s the pakis here
and he points out a couple of young arabs kissing
the pakis and the blacks
nigerians littering st. stephen’s blessed green
the darkest person you used
to see around here, he says, was a bloody italian
yes, he hopes trump will win for us kids in the states
he’ll make america great again
maybe ireland too
and the mexicans and the pakis and the blacks
will disappear in a puff of magic smoke
like we and they never happened to each other at all
when we get to the gaol
i try to give him two euro for his trouble
for a pint or to add to his pot of gold
but he waves me off
points to my wife and says
buy the lady a cup of coffee
a true irish gentleman if ever there was one
biking off  down south circular road
and hopefully turning the bend

into the dustbins of history.                                                        

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

poem of the day 10.14.15

coming soon to a town near you

beer belly beached
in a dublin hotel room
where handel once played
his blessed messiah
the proper english newscaster
tells me there’s been
another mass shooting in america
at least nine dead in oregon
something in some way
i’ll have to explain
to any bartender, waiter, cabbie, etc
tomorrow in this fair old literary city
the custom of representing my people in europe
is not a burden i wear well
that is to say….this has all happened before
but they’ll be looking for answers
to this kind of nonsense
and on the tv my countrymen (and women)
are already lining up with pro-gun banners
crudely written poster boards
that are slaughtering the english language
one vowel at a time
bloated jesus fury crackers
the scions of generations who have raped and pillaged this land
drowning in a sea of waving flags
they are telling the president
to go back to kenya
a blonde grandmother cries into the camera
she says, the president is going to come here
to take away her guns
we need more and more ammo, she moans
we need to kill lest we be killed
if only those kids had been armed…
half-drunk in a dublin hotel room
where handel wrote love songs to god
i shut the tv off
because i’ve heard it all before
sip slow from my glass
thinking empathy is the way here
or there is no way
then i turn to my wife and ask her
hey, where do you think

it’ll happen next?                                   

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

poem of the day 10.13.15

a sort of disappointment

there’s some ruckus
in one of the rooms in o’neill’s pub
some drunk old broad
interrupting people watching the united states
get their asses handed to them
in the rugby world cup
the bartender calls the cops in
one cop instead of the riot squads
that descend on minor disruptions in the states
and he’s ruddy-faced
looks like he was somewhere getting pissed
before this happened to his evening
he gets her out of the room
this horrible yellow-toothed beast
who looks like she digested the whole of ireland
and is itching to fart it back out
she’s belligerent too and won’t go
he’s begging with her
says, look for the last time
you simply got to leave the bar
she spins and throws her heft into him
curly howard style
knocking his hat sideways
screams, you leave the fookin’ bar
as my wife and i sit there and wait for it
her pushed to the ground
flat on her fat belly
his gun out
knee to the back of her neck
choking out her sulfuric essence
as he calls for back-up
but all the cop does is grab her by the arm
and haul her drunken ass away
as people go back to the match
as the south african team scores
on america again
and i go back to my aspall suffolk cider
feeling strange
somewhat disappointed

Monday, October 12, 2015

poem of the day 10.12.15

party time

steve says
no negative
married chicks, dudes?
but calvin and i go anyway
and it’s as bad as steve thought
claire isn’t even talking to me
because we’re around her friends
her husband’s friends
their big house in the suburbs
with woods with a wooden deck
everything glossy and lacquered
photos on the mantelpiece
husband squeezing claire on mt. washington
at niagara falls with all that water behind them
i tell calvin,
look how big this motherfucker is
and he’s huge
could put me through a wall
and pull me back again
here we’ve been drinking his crown royal all night
like we’ve come for his kingdom and crown
here i told calvin in the car
i think i can get myself home
if anything happens between me and claire
but i don’t think they’ll be any after party for me
no merciful break from this sex drought
nary a tall-tale about the married one in bed
all those things i learned
calvin pours us more of hubby’s crown
as the door flies open
man, he’s even bigger in person
takes up the whole frame
as joyous cheers ring throughout the house
as claire comes into the room screaming
you’re here! you’re really here!
jumping into his popeye arms
he carries her off somewhere in the house
muffled laughter of the guests
turns into awkward banter
clockwatching blues
thirty minutes later

and they still haven’t come back.                                             

Friday, October 2, 2015

poem of the day 10.02.15

the coed

calvin just said
that they were older
but i’m trying to gauge the brunette
think maybe she’s thrity
or near thirty not above thirty
this shouldn’t matter anyway
because they’re both married
calvin and the way he picks women
he should just apply for an arranged marriage
get a russian who needs america
but she keeps looking at me
the way she keeps that straw in her mouth
no ring on her finger
christ, and here we are in a downtown bar
with no other action
save a pack of business bros
getting drunk on pitchers of beer
she says, well, what do you do? to me
what’s her name again, claire?
all of these c-names
carnie finally quit calling me
when she went back to school
autumn on pitt’s campus and i’m working
full-time at the library
still looking girls up on the database
still ducking cassandra behind the circ desk
still casing the campus like i belong
walking forbes and fifth with kris like we’re zombies
i tell claire i’m just trying to figure it all out
she says her husband drives trucks
he’s hardly ever home
and when he is i’m usually at school so…..
her ginger friends looks at her like
takes claire to the bathroom
a couple of middle school girls
while calvin and i sit there
nursing whiskey drinks we don’t usually drink
another shit-eating grin on his face
two nowhere men playing sophisticated
two nowhere women playing single
in this sad bar on a weeknight
he says, so. ski, man tell me

what do you really think  our chances are tonight?                                  

Thursday, October 1, 2015

poem of the day 10.01.15

trigger warning

jumps on tom’s back
rides him like a horse
says, i can’t believe i know
a fucking cop now
because tom’s a cop now
bob-cut red head
red top black skirt
black nylons bucking tom’s ribs
she laughs giggles
googly eyes
reminds me of mary
these women should come with warning labels
a surgeon general’s warning
like on the back of a pack of smokes
cigarettes julie steals from me
in tom’s car with a wink
but she’s meeting someone else tonight
some over-aged beach bum
who looks like peter tork from the monkees
who she just met this afternoon
officer tom says into his beer
julie’s just like that
she’s got a two year old, you know
twenty-one with a kid
i watch this scene
her hands in his hair
hands on her black nylon thighs
she looks at me and winks
what does she want?
julie and her wink wink winks
her two year old
actually two and a half, officer tom says
after we drop her off
bob cut red head
red shirt black skirt
shaking her ass up the stairs
another one of my cigarettes in her mouth
her phone number written in lipstick
in heaven
my god.