Monday, November 30, 2015

poem of the day 11.30.15

i was thinking about nashville
                        --for dan fante

i was thinking about nashville back in 2007
when i was looking for a word or two of wisdom in your emails
something that told me how to survive it
a little tip from the years of hard boozing and bad jobs
some tidbit from those novels and poems
that i sucked up like cheap wine
and you wrote atta boy, atta boy keep going
like blind faith would save and anoint us all
i was suffering in nashville in the grand opulent library
almost nine hundred miles from new york
traveling coast to coast on unsubsidized student loans
and the embers of a savings account
no job prospects no home a future on hold
over a decade out of college and my own sketchy resume
that made me look like a career drifter
but all you could ask me was if i had an editor
and, if so, could i give you his email
i was dying in the library trying to find a cheap hotel in memphis
writing shitty haikus next to budgetary woes
in notebooks that weren’t bound for glory
thinking about the honky tonks on broadway
full of blonde southern women shaking their asses
at men who weren’t concerned with poetic immortality
as i sucked down pabst blue ribbon at layla’s bluegrass inn
feeling less like a gin-pissing-raw-meat-dual-
carburetor-v8-son-of-a-bitch from pittsburgh
and more like a complete failure
with thousands of miles left to go
thinking that if you were still hustling for the word
how in the hell was i going to make it in the writing game?
i was thinking about nashville last night
half drunk on vodka when i heard about you being gone
another shooting star  another outlaw
no longer spitting raw juice on this scorched earth
guts and blood and brain turned into dust
i was thinking about nashville
how bright light builds only to fade away
oh, dan, i think that i was thinking about you.                                              

Friday, November 27, 2015

"best of" poem of the day 11.27.15

black friday 1991

seventeen years old
pressed against the wall
in a sports retail store
to try to shield
yourself from the masses
a hangover from pilfered beer
on thanksgiving
it seems that these customers keep
coming from out of nowhere
demanding hats
and jackets
trinkets to shove into stockings
on christmas morning
discarded items marked down
treated like gold found in a pan
packs of teenage girls
who don’t have to work
coming in to give you a look
or to laugh at you
arm in arm with your wealthy classmates
who don’t have to work this shit either
as the store manager runs around
targeting you and only you
pull up your pants!
tuck in your shirt!
you better shave tomorrow!
why aren’t you selling anything, you bum?
knowing that he’ll be
cutting your hours come january 2nd
as he roams around
his little kingdom
kissing ass
and taking names
an inept drill sergeant
fifteen years older than you
but in the same clown outfit
and you’re supposed
to take orders from this guy?
as the old beer beer
and turkey dinner
rises in your stomach
like a harbinger of doom
you wade through the crowd
past the t-shirts
and sweatshirts
and sweatpants
that have fallen from their racks
trampled on
mounds of goods you’ll spend
your twilight steaming
so that they are as good as new
before another day of this hell
to reach
the staff bathroom
needing sweet vomitus relief
but finding it occupied
with another fallen soldier
so you have no recourse
but to head out into
veins of the mall
secret gray corridors
smelling of rotten food
from the food court
echoing silver bells
silver bells
sil-ver bells
it’s christmas time
and i fell shitty
an open garbage can
outside a taco bell
into which you hurl
bile and turkey
and mashed potatoes
and beer
like a roman
wiping your mouth
as some pimple-faced
pokes his head out a doorway
shouts at you
hoping that he didn’t see
the logo of your brand
on your right breast
as you
start to run away.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

"best of" poem of the day 11.26.15

my niece in her thanksgiving dress

looking at the picture of
my niece in her thanksgiving dress
fifteen months old
and smiling without a care

i think she looks
just like my soon-to-be

which somehow
softens the blow of not seeing my niece
in over a year

but really
only just a little bit


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

poem of the day 11.25.15

all i like to do is drink

which might be true
otherwise you wouldn’t have said it

i mean i don’t like many people
and i most likely don’t like children or dogs

i don’t like saying good morning or have a nice day

i don’t like going to work
or paying bills or paying rent
or spending over ten dollars for anything

i don’t like how low the minimum wage is
but i’m too lazy to try and change it

i don’t like restaurants with happy waitresses
hungering for a tip
and i no longer like going to bars

i don’t like the infirm
and i get nervous around the mentally handicapped

i don’t like car horns and traffic
i don’t like people walking up my ass on the street
construction work blocking my path

i don’t like parades and picnics
going to parks to stroll around on so-called beautiful days

i don’t like christmas or thanksgiving
and i fucking loath the fourth of july

i don’t like texting, the internet and cable tv
smartphones and video games and men that say bro

i want to strangle people who talk about art in art museums

i don’t like religion or the tenants of eastern thought
so you can have your jesus and allah and buddha and mickey mouse too

i don’t like capitalism, america or american flags
i don’t like exceptionalism and vanity and red states vs. blue

i really don’t like war all of the time
because while it makes some rich it just makes most others dead

that means i don’t like politicians talking like politicians
and i don’t like fascist charlatans telling me
that they’ll make america great again

so this means that i don’t like being lied to

you know that i don’t like racism or xenophobia
but i’ve had my dark moments of thought

i don’t like the sun and summer
and pop music blasting out of some asshole’s car
but i hate a fucker who’s pretentious about music

i don’t like warm weather when it’s supposed to be cool
or people who deny climate change

i don’t like watching football, soccer or hockey
or, for that matter, any millionaires playing games like kids

i don’t like onions on my pizza or anything else
light beer or coffee that’s too weak

i don’t like umbrellas or scarves

i don’t like genocide or murder
but i have a mental list of people i’d take out

i don’t like being a hypocrite

i don’t like alarm clocks or blockbuster films
the upstairs neighbor who’s always dropping shit

i don’t like a lot of poetry
but i’m a sucker for a great line

i don’t like him
and i don’t like her

i don’t like the mailman
and the kid who works the deli
the one who sighs when i want a pound of meat

all i like to do is drink, you say
well, i love you more than you know
more than you could possibly imagine

still i don’t like lulls in the conversation
and i hate to interrupt

but i don’t like it when my vodka glass is empty
so if you’ll excuse me for a moment…

i’ll be right back

because i don’t like it
when people don’t keep their promises

and i never like it
when i’m going to be late.


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

poem of the day 11.24.15

some panic

there are mornings
where i wake up wondering
less about my own day
than maybe the end of someone’s life
there’s some panic in my heart
but little fear
the noise of a city will wake you up into reality
the way some civilizations are just meant to rise and fall
like lumbering giants or explosions in the sky
each one of us a cog
a galaxy stretching itself to the end
disengaged and ignorant by their ease
tethered more to little failures than the big picture
but still playing their game
one pitted against the other
make the other man fall
it’s very hard to look around
and in the brief moments that i do
it might just be better to shield my eyes
avoid the ideologue chewing up oxygen
at the end of the bar
the abject racist who lives up the street
on the news the bloodshed can be tremendous
it can look like a film set if you let it
really, you don’t have to face anything at all these days
no matter what’s coming in the end
this life can be for getting lost
amidst the shattered bones and charred flash
the endless war and animosity
live online and prosper
or it could be best that there are people out there
trying with violence and rhetoric to suck up all the gray
forcing us to pick a side
but which one when they both seem so the same?
there’s some panic in every decision
in moments like this
i’m anxious for the very next line
but it will get written
as this history of alienation gets written
murder upon murder
tragedy heaped upon tragedy
genocide around every corner
a whole love-starved world of us

waiting only to drown.                          

Monday, November 23, 2015

poem of the day 11.23.15

grand opening

there is never a customer
in the liquor store when i pass

two months and they still have
the grand opening banners
going across their marquee

people in this neighborhood
maybe they don’t drink

i was in there once when it was under old management

the russian woman who owned it
sold bottom shelf vodka that tasted like water
so i never went back

they’ve got the place fancy now
this young asian couple

full shelves and wine tastings on the weekend

but they have no customers
save this one dark skinned chinese dude
who tried to steal from them

they have his picture taped to the window
with the word theft written at the bottom like an autograph

people in this neighborhood
maybe they need to steal more than drink

still i feel bad for them
i’m empathetic at odd and random moments

every day when i walk by
to go to the other liquor store closer to my home
i watch them sitting in there
two lonely people on their cell phones
trying to make something for themselves in this world

i wonder if they’ve noticed
that the grand opening signs are starting to fade?

well, yesterday i finally went in there
thought i’d be the good samaritan
and throw a little hard earned money their way

they really have improved the place
they don’t even sell that bottom shelf vodka anymore

they’ve got wines from france
with write-ups telling me they’re bold and juicy
with write-ups that make me want to believe

i grab a cab-heavy bottle and take it to the counter
try to hand it to one of the young entrepreneurs

but he waves me off
starts screaming at his wife who’s playing on her cell phone

she pulls the bottle out of my hand
rings it up like she wants to go twelve rounds with the register

slams the bottle on the counter
tosses my change like it’s infested

then goes back to playing on her cell phone
while he keeps shouting and i gather my things and leave

thinking, gee, i hope this wine tastes as good
as they made it sound

otherwise i might have to go back
to the place i usually go

where the guy doesn’t even acknowledge my existence
and he’s been around for at least eight years.


Friday, November 20, 2015

poem of the day 11.20.15

talking travel with the verizon man

i watch the verizon technician
set up my new internet behemoth
a large router and cords galore
this upright console that looks like a video game machine
all this machinery
just to send out poems and look at porn
he tells me that i can get cable through it
looks suspect when i say i don’t have cable
well, you can stream movies anyway, he says
with all of this increased mbps
but all that i notice is that this set-up
has taken up an entire outlet
and i have nowhere now to plug in my fan
new york city apartments in late autumn
and you still need a fan most days
i want to tell the verizon man
that new york city is depressing in the fall
that it’s not like in the movies but still too warm
i want to ask him about climate change
point to my fios that’s lit up like x-mas lights
and ask him
how many of us really need this shit?
but instead i sit there and watch him work
like everyone else who has nothing to do
he talks about the mets, the war,
and how expensive it is to pay for college for his daughter
the verizon technician looks at the pictures on my walls
he says, christ, you sure travel a lot
which embarrasses me
makes me want to show him the broken windows
and the student loan debt
prove to him that i’m still the salt of the earth
but when the verizon man points to a picture
of the leaning tower of pisa and says,
hey, the eiffel tower
i nod and say yep
then like an asshole tell him
that it looks even better
when you get the chance to see it live and in person.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

poem of the day 11.19.15

i am the great unknown

built this beautiful
marble countertop
for this dickhead in a big home
in the buffalo suburbs
it took two of us to carry the thing
me and len
not the dickhead in the big home
who walked next to us sideways
his arms outspread
like we were carrying his first born
a man without the decency to tell us
that there was a step up
from the driveway to the garage
and when i tripped
landed so hard on my knee
that i heard it pop
but still held on to that motherfucking
marble countertop
that len made
for this dickhead in a huge home
who said
jesus christ, who are you guys hiring these days?
a man who wouldn’t even take
an end of the counter
so that i could grab my knee
and roll around on his garage floor
in immense pain
which is exactly what i did
after len casually set his end down
came over and took mine
i don’t know, jer
man, i just don’t know
while i writhed and writhed
and knew as good as i knew
that i was heading straight to the bar
with the want ads
not the emergency room
and that i most certinaly
wasn’t getting a tip
that miserable afternoon.                                                          

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

poem of the day 11.18.15

the poem in which i wonder

just how many
current chicken-hawk
those newly minted allies
of our so-called friends
the french
were sitting
self-assured in the capitol cafeteria
chomping down
on freedom fries
back in the year
of their lord

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

poem of the day 11.17.15

winning the war on terror

the douche bags
eating pancakes at 3pm
at a sidewalk café
they’re winning the war on terror
better than i am
with every sip
of a mimosa they know they’ve
got god on their side
today i had a banana
some chicken and i watched a lackluster film
i almost died running five miles
almost hit by an ice cream cone truck
careening down the road in the bike lane
trying to drum up business in november
okay, so i guess i’m
winning the war on terror too
mornings like this when the radio doesn’t work
and my head feels like someone is pressing down
i wonder if i’ve drank up
any and all inspiration
i should’ve asked the ice cream cone truck driver
what he thinks about climate change
instead of spitting in his window
although i’m sure he thinks it’s good for business
i should’ve asked him
if he thinks a seventy degree day in mid-autumn
could be construed as winning the war on terror
or i should give up the poems
this silly novel that simply won’t write itself
use the better part of the grocery money
to start drinking top shelf
fund some rebels in the middle east to support
or i could become one of those dudes
who sleeps in until noon on sunday
sunglasses and a permanent five o’clock shadow
the dude forever in sweat shorts or pajamas
who proudly reads less than one book a year
who meets his douche bag friends
at some café in manhattan for brunch
talking about how great the weather is
how much i love pancakes with syrup or jelly
while everyone around me talks about how bad war is
and how the mimosas here
are simply killing it today.                                                        

Monday, November 16, 2015

poem of the day 11.16.15

her world

she shouts across
the comic book store
to her husband/boyfriend
cisgendered plutonic maybe special someone
he just yelled at me because i was sitting on the floor
although everyone within earshot
knows that’s not the case
how he politely leaned over and said
miss, you can’t sit on the floor
as if he were saying excuse me for belching
like it was him not her
sitting there in the middle of the crowded comic book shop
queen of her own little world
feet stretched out like she was getting ready for a run
knock-off louis vuitton bought in chinatown bag scattered here
red starbucks cup with no discernable holiday symbol
empty and upturned there
playing on her cell phone like a good automaton
but maybe she’s tweeting something
heartfelt about paris
telling everyone on facebook that terrorism
happens in beirut too, you know
while changing her profile pic to blue white and red
perhaps she’s instagramming a photo
of homelessness run rampant in new york
starving kids….that kind of pull at the heartstrings stuff
i mean you can’t just stand somewhere and post that shit
being profound i.e. equals sitting the fuck down
be it a comic book store
or the curb round the block
most likely she’s posting something mean
about her boyfriend/husband/cisgendered
plutonic maybe special someone
dragging her ass into a comic book store off all things
on their one and only trip to the big apple
so he could pick through batman comics
instead of going to the top of the rock
times square or the 9/11 memorial
and this effete, bearded maybe gay/bi/poly
wispy, bearded, big glasses, plaid shirted geek
nerd, looks french, probably knows where
beirut actually is know-it-all with his soft voice
picked the wrong time to tell her to do anything
save go and find someone to kiss her ass
who then has the audacity to apologize
and tell her that sitting on the floor is a fire hazard
i mean, what the fuck, she says
to her friend
who says, just stick out your belly
and pretend you’re pregnant
because america loves expectant moms
as she crawls up from the floor
yoga stretch pants showing the top of her pale ass
clutching knock-off louis v bag
yet somehow still playing away on her cell phone
like some kind of anatomical anomaly
leaving boyfriend to his comics
leaving comic book store employee to his measly salary
and leaving the red starbucks cup behind
in silent protest
as if to say simply
i am