Saturday, July 2, 2005

Bombs bursting in air

Bombs bursting in air

Something smells like gas
everytime he comes on TV,

our world in the political sense
is smaller and less comprehensible,

he does shadow animals against
the a map of the earth, making it

seem as if a vulture was swooping
where an arrow points to a California town

that reads "You Are Here!", black wings
and thumbnail talons ready to scratch

place names right off the surface,
a room mate lights a cigarette,

"That shit will kill you" I say while
I wave a hand in air that doesn't move,

he puffs, jettisons a hard white stream,
points to the set,

"Look who has an army and navy" he says
and walks out the door onto a dark street

where turntables and hard rock guitars
do tricks with the language that will not

address them directly, I smell gas
and get the feeling of having wings

suddenly and without reason, my drink is spilled,
more people with bombs are killed,

a vote hardly seems worth the chad that
hangs from it,

every state has something rotten
at the core, it's bombs in the air,

collapsing buildings, planes off their flight plans,
we can clean up this mess with enough gasoline,

who's revolution is it anyway?

Monday, June 27, 2005

off we go

when there is no daylight
at the edge of the bed,
my hair wakes up
before I do , ablaze with sunrise.

therefore, your orange juice
is precious, sweet and
quenching in the pulp,
light dims to a readable gleam,
my hair lies flat on my head,
you make lunch for your daughters,

there is still so much to do,
you say,
what shall we do
and where is the microphone
we were promised,
I mean, we need
to go off on a toot
and scream for justice
from roof tops that
will not throw us off
or collapse as we raise
our voice above the static,
here, wipe your chin, silly man...

Emily sneaks a doll into her lunch box
Violette looks unhappy
as only beauty could make
and I was on my third
cup of coffee, my second cigarette
when the earth
began to shake, the ceiling
began to shake
the walls began to vibrate
like engines raging in small rooms, door closed,
we scream and cower,
cuddly and ready for a quake.

trash pick up
you say,
I wish they
wouldn't push those
huge dumpsters against
the apartment building, not an earthquake?
asks Violette,
no dearest you answer,
we still have to go to school?
she queries,
yes you reply,
we all have someplace to be
with many important things to do.

I rise from the floor,
gaze in the mirror at my hair askance,
ready to
sit at my desk,
answer the phone
and ask everyone who
calls how there day has been so far.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

by the bay

my voice leaves me
and i breathe no more,

you are on wings
and on a prayer,

a memory with wings
that flies over the bay,

gulls that scud the surface
of the bay, picking up fish,

my voice sings with no words,
every note of my blues

ascends a register,
i clench my fists, i speak your name.

your mother cries, your father weeps,
yes, your eyes are the bluest

they've ever been,

boats with sails cruise to the horizon
in the middle of the day,

we eat fruit and weep by the bay,

expecting you to come along, somehow,
because you always did

in darkest hour or brightest day,
a cornerstone is gone,

our house tilts a little more,

but the skies are clear, i say at last,
they are the bluest they've every been...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

People Who Hang Up

It's love that breaks against the rocks
and not foam nor water of any kind,
it's a baptism of ire that makes the horizon

burn in coalish, motionless plumes.

Stained cotton from every beach front window.

We were smoking joints

in the guts of the canyons,
the mired trai1s to
the sea kissed shale.

All the blues from Chicago knife

and gunshot histories are folk lore
all the kids
destroy with their breathing.

Even at dinner time,
forks are next to plates
whose owners wonder
what's eating their neighbors
with all the strange phone calls
about what's going on the beach.

The armies of the night couldn't
scare up a quarter
of the beaches America
has landed on
searching for something
to talk about
on acres
of empty cable talk shows
where anyone in a tight suit and big glasses
can explain away the bombs bursting in air
with sarcasm
and ad -libs.

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Beside Ourselves

We cannot stop scratching
the skin where it itches

anymore than cars can't
but rust when parked outdoors
in rainy climes,

each dime I have goes to no
good purpose

which is to buy you
more things whose name
you purr with that slight tremble in the vowels,

here's a wooden owl for you
to sit next to, it has clock
where the stomach should be,

it's eyes move from side to side
like yours do when the drugs
are especially wicked,

there's dust the knees
my favorite slacks,
and there's a hole in an elbow
of my jacket from leaning
on lunch counters
as I ready magazines about fame,

you call me again
and it's been years
since I've seen you
and I leave the phone
on the pillow while
I leave the room to shave,

you've said it all before
and I heard it each time
you spoke your ills
into being ,

nothing dies in your mind,
your demons are arisen,

nothing is deadened
in any inch of my skin,

desire burns
for years dispite the cities
I've moved to ,

my demons
put on my shoes
and my best pairs of pants
to walk the earth
looking for a date
on the first calendar they find.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Part Time Heaven

I have been to heaven
on my days off
and just missed the ceremonies
and the best big band music ever
as a cadet angels finally earned
their wings and raised them
to fly in formation against
a sun that is never crossed by clouds,
all I could see were the workmen sweeping up,
emptying the latrines , and
ridding the clouds of evidence
of all that downy androgny.

Back on earth
I park myself
at the coffee house
because it was still
a day off and read the newspaper
between hot sips on scalding coffee,
making note of headline announcing
that the world had stopped going to hell
because we've run out of hand baskets.
"Don't get yer hopes up, boyo" says Josh,
a Swedish massage therapist
taking a drag from his third cigarette
in five minutes, " that ain't the good news
we've been hoping for 'cuz all that
bad faith and congealed karma is
all clotted and clogged and it's all
about to burst and before you
know it
it'll be 9-11 everyday".
I start talking about the weather
as Josh goes back to furiously scribbling
in his spiral notebook, I mention
that the clouds look very fluffy
and maternal, like the softest
place where a man could lay his
head and find that center of rest
that eludes him in the night
as he wrestles with the sheets
and argues with voices that
have no intention of going to sleep.
Josh lights another cigarette,
mumbles something about
vectors and dreams, death and devastation.

It's spring, I say,
flowers are blooming,
hormones are kicking into gear,
men and women and boys
and girls are exhibiting
an unnatural kindness
to one another in the streets
and I swear the water tastes
sweeter these sunny days
in May, but Josh grumbles,
his head in a shroud of fumes and disgust,
his knuckles white as they hold the
pen that tears across the notebook page,
his writing looks like tattoo scars,

I arise to get another cup
of coffee,
and happen to look up
when a feather
falls, there's a flock of unknown birds
flying in perfect V formations
against the sun emerging
from behind cloud banks,

all to make this
the best day to wake up to
if I'd been sleeping all this time
until now.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The hands of my watch have stopped

The hands of my watch have stopped
dead on the dial, frozen on the face of it

and the spoon full of steaming soup
is an inch from my mouth, arrested.

Anticipation is suddenly my middle name on
my license as the spoon drips back into the bowel,

clueless to how many hours have passed by us
like so many cars leaving the city once a factory whistle blares

or someone yawns the right number of times
as the sun drifts to the horizon, to sink beneath the sea.

The cat looks to be posing for cute posters of
cats knocking things over, like it's done tonight with

that drink that is stuck in mid air , in front of the TV
with the beer ad on where no can even lick the suds

from their mustaches because time has stopped for the time
because you're out of the room,

on a cell phone ,
smoking a Camel.

You are probably conspiring with a girl friend
to stuff me in burlap bag and leave me

on a corner in a bad neighborhood, thinking gypsies
or blues musicians will find me and give me something

to do besides moon over your image, holding my breath
until you come back into the room,

just like your doing now, coming through the door
reeking of filter tips, cell phone in your grip,

looking at me askance when you see me exhale,
blowing out candles in the process, oh yeah,

I mean it's okay, really, I'm just glad you're back
from the break you took in the middle of my proposal

which means that all the breakable things left in the air
in your absence can now come crashing down to the

hard tile floor, all the bric-a-brac and my world particularly
getting bruised, bent and shattered and breaking wide, wide open,

my heart is broken again
when it's time to swim

and there's nothing funny about this at all,
I mean,

you're kind of cute, the way you
reduce me to rubble
even in my finest
courting clothes.

Flight Home

I give you sun when it
should be cloudy all day
so now the mountains
are full of snow that
has fallen too long over
the slopes, the cliffs,
every ravaged turn of
twisted road.

Satellite transmissions cannot
penetrate the clouds that
have wrapped the peaks of
the highest Sierra,
I call all of your names
when I see the shadow of the
plane fleetly cross the field,
a speck of a car moves
up slim sliver of a road
that follows a huge ravine
of brown land, I cannot jam his radio,
my wings are stiff as my neck,
I call your name.

There's five hours of
thumbed magazines
and fast food wrappers
remaining where I sat
trying to control the weather
and flow of information,
but I can see that California
still looks the same
once we've landed ,
grey autumn skies
and mirthless cheer on every
face coming off the ramp,

Did you enjoy
the snow I gave you as I flew over your state,
did you miss your favorite shows,
did you read the books
you said you bought?
Some things are left hanging
and there's nothing left to say
or do except leave like they do
in bad plays ,
and it seems that everything for awhile
is suspended, free of intention
until you snap to as if from sleep
and see that
there are things
you cannot wake up from.


Thursday, April 28, 2005


Exciting Night

Exciting TV drama
and the sizzle of steaks
the monotony of having a
like in a roof that
just drips
as long there's a floor
and a old carpet to ruin
with a seeping, creeping rain.

On the set
it's a show about
at work who wave their arms
and raise their
voices in the interests
of what the right thing to do is,
so much yelling in
the face

of your co-workers,
so much insubordination
because there
is so much principle at stake
as to whether to charge the credit card number
for the guaranteed no show.
The desk clerk berates his manager
while the bell man looks on
while straightens
his lapels and
looks vaguely haunted
in the awful light of
valet parking...

"...Damn it, Dan, we held the room ALL FREAKING NIGHT
and they didn't show
even with two
telephone confirmations.
I coulda sold that room
a hundred times over
if I could have.
We gotta charge 'em,
we gotta pay for the night maid..."

The music rises while the three of them freeze in place
while they squint
and rotate their jaw lines,
and then the commercial hits
the screen, and then
I turn off the sound,
fixating on the drip,
the growing stain
in the rug, I grit my teeth
and look at you in the other room
listening to
all five volumes of
live Johnny Winter
on head phones,
I am trapped in a house
where only little things
having no
sane description
effect the course of the night, the mood it takes
even as the storm rages harder and there is
the sound of continuous applause
through out the house, down the hall ways,
up the stairs and echoing against
the tile
and grouts, bouncing off the mirror I stood in front of this morning
licking a lip with a tongue that
needed to taste something that
was lost in the stubble of
a beard turning gray completely
only after the new century
has wrapped its arms
around the house
and its storyline and made sure
everyone knows
that where they sleep
is a roof closer to the one
we die under

In however much time it takes,
assuming we're in doors, in bed, after sex with
a woman
you 'vet loved since
before the beginning of memory,
assuming a life that deserves applause
like the way the rain sounds now,
crisp and demanding and rattling the
chains of heaven's
rusty gate

A gun goes off after the commercial
and I see
the clerk, manager and the bellman
still standing behind the front desk
while a guest they'd been ignoring
holds a smoking gun on them,
screaming words to the effect that his continental breakfast
gave him the squirts bad,
a situation not helped
by hotel plumbing
that's old and
clogged with the evidence of strangers passing through town
on their way to better shows,

you are singing
to Johnny Winter
real fine
"...It's my
own fault, baby
treat me the way
the way

You slide down the seat,
you shirt runs up
your waist,
you rib cage
rises and falls
with the fluid rush of Winter's blues guitar,

I dream of smoking
after we make love,
I dream of you
dreaming of me
in all the rooms
where there are ceiling leaks
on a night that
hasn't enough
bowls or pans
to catch every drop.

cloud cover

there are echos of songs
we used to know which
become deadened with
age and too much polishing,
like bright forks tapped against
the stems of long wine glasses,

but i see nothing beyond
the curtains, the day is a blur
as notes of sampled melody
leak from headsets attached
to thin, twin wires, it's a men and
women lifting glasses to toast
a union, the rising moon in the
middle of the day,

cars stall too long
at the fork of the road
just as clouds take away the sunlight
and make the shapes seen through
the curtain lace disappear
like water stains evaporating on
white sheets, there is smoke
from behind the dumpster
where caterers lower their trays
and light up their desperate unfiltered brands,

i keep being kissed on the cheek
and called 'sir' by small children,
i smell aromas, burned match heads,
the smell of your hair crosses under my
nose, i cross the room and open a window,

the band packs up its instruments,
valet service hands back the keys they've kept,

something happened today
just as the sun reached the top of the day
and the moon gave a smile or a wink
before ducking behind a cloud
passing as if it were in a cartoon
that plays when you leave the room
for a drink or the bathroom,

something happened
and I was there in the thick of it all
going down,

and there's nothing to report
when you ask me
how my day was
other than a shrug and a grunt
that mean i love you
every minute you're not here."


there is not enough of you
to go around

even as the plane circles
airport a third and a fourth time,

a deck of cards in your hands
contains nothing but sixes and eights,

and there's only hard, dry land
under the wing span's shadow,

eyes closed, your head up,
head phones as usual, private music,

the rumble of engines fills my ears
that have just popped open

like corks flying
from carbonated bottles,

i wish i could sleep
as i imagine the city
does now as we approach,

i wish we were in an apartment
below us in bed and half awake
after making love, my arm coming
up to your breasts, complaining
in grating mumble that we have
to buy a house away from runways,
in the country or may be the mountains
they fly over,

my fingers grip the arm rests,
my eyes turn to the window,

the skyline comes on us too fast,
like everything in life,

it comes on us too fast.

Saturday, April 2, 2005

John Paul ll Arrives at Heaven's Gate For Processing
take off the hatand put on some pants
take a seat,pick up a magazine,
you don't need a menu, sir,this is much stays true.
yes, there is band practice around the clock.sorry, but we like our brass section.
says here you liked to ski and travel.
wait 'til youget a load of the wings/
no more sacramentsgiven through bullet proof glass.
we don't need clockswhere we are.
that's why it's calleda waiting room.
no, it's not passed your bed time,you're dead, remember?
oh, you can blesssomething if you really like,but it's carrying coals to New Castle, really,
yes, everyone has to fill out the paperwork, yes , I know who you are,
I know who everyone is.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Gossip Carpet
Smooth be the mood for answers

Always crying, the thick gossip carpet
Being rather than perceiving
The brunt of emotion landing flat ina lap, legs unfolding.
Tailored for just this minuteR

inds littered on the alphabet promenade
Lotions make the hands look years apart
From wear and wrinkles that worry the flesh,
What a wonderful remark
About liver stainsthat allowed us discordance and beauty.
From here’ we see Ron reciting

Boy, did he ring the wrong number
I thought it was blue, but the water’s azure
There are many trains to Tarzana‘
Though has the couplet that rocked the boat
Ted would never be intimidated
By people staring as he hammers,
Bleeding into the font on the page,
That shirt from India.
Tailored from her see the carpet’ promenade

Ron wonderful and beauty
Many trains to azure Ted remarking
Lotions in Tarzana discordant’
Wrong number and the ring on her finger

Don’t just starnmer, litter alphabet couplets
Cover your wagonsAnd wash your decks...
I am not moved by the Tarzan yellAs might be vines divining in

Dining rooms or from diving boardsAnd see judge holding up wrong numbers
Called on account of alphabets placedOn the wrong buttons on each phone
In the House of Cards decked with
Bounds of Holly Stevens who
Cuts a rug and calls me to the carpet
To insure her father’s idea of
Palm trees limning the last edge of earth.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

a cannon shot for Hunter S. Thompson

aim my ashes
to the mountains
and the cold, clear springs
pouring over polished stone
down to the towns
where my name
is on shelves
with other histories
of a peculiar species,

tell me i'm fired up
and ready to go boom
again in the night,
hold your hands
and interlace your fingers
as i cover the land
with the dark, dry essentials
that remain when
the baptism is over,
i will be the smear on
the stones, the soot
on the trees
as it rains
and i return to the
ground in converted joy,

remember me as a shriek
in the night
when alarms went off
and there was only
a rattling of typewriter
keys and ice clinking in a glass,
the deadline has been
reached at last,
i am here at last
under the wire,
son of a gun,
i made it.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Well, Yes

Native speakers are not the light
that brings the room it's glow,

going somewhere in time other than yesterday
will not make the mailman go away,

all your lovers have found something to do
with the lives you left them with,

well, no, I don't fancy a boot on my throat,
but would mind if I blew up one of your tanks?

As hard as I squint, shower curtains remain shower curtains
and somewhere a few thousand city worker vests are missing,

All anyone wants to do is walk with pride at some point in their
life time, which we pray is long and filled only with the routine
bad luck,

Yes, she says to me, this is another day that you haven't screwed up, have a hot slice of pie.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Warped Cassette at a Garage Sale

There are hours of old music
that needs to be heard again
that only decays into static
as the wound reel warps and writhes
around the plastic reels,
the longer these tapes lay
in the sun, in Tupperware bins,
priced four for a buck
the longer the drum solos
get in time signatures that
would baffle the sensors of Alien invaders,
Russians in missile bunkers at the fair edge
of the Ukraine would stop dreaming
of snow and vodka and rise themselves
searching for a red telephone,
Washington would shut down
as anguished saxophone improvisations
hobbled over the three legged race
of "Giant Steps" poured over the
radios and each broadcasting outlet,
mothers handed children toys and
told them to go to sleep,
ugliness such as this horrible screech
meant something was coming for us all,
there were naked people on the corners
reaching their arms to the sky
as if to grab a line, a ladder,
hitch a ride on a beam of light
that would come from cloud
you could not look into,
deliver you from static and screech, scorns,
the evidence of bad breath when reed players
don't ge their teeth cleaned,
the planet shuts down as
ruinous scraping of stiff Afro Combs on asphalt
continues until there is only quiet
save for moaning
and the odd car horn blasting in the distance,
the skronk has halted,
everyone rises their head, takes a breath,
goes back to work
as they take their seat with a notice
that no missiles for mercenary angels
are anywhere to be seen,
the cassette machine snaps off,
warp music ceases,
"Man , that is some funky stuff" my neighbor says
and I take his quarter
for the ruined Santana tape,
he says he can't wait to
play again
real loud.

Friday, January 28, 2005

4th of July

My love knows no spending limits,
the matter was always academic,
the lots from which fireworks were seen
could be viewed as check marks against
a scorecard that is invisible, behind the clouds,
the wind blows toward the land
you'd never get for a birthday.

Even if we stood here all night
the wind would taste the same as
it did last year as we light our fuses
with old Zippo lights, there were sparks
in the dark and flinty remarks
as the sulfur caught fire and the
curvature of the caved-in moon
gave us white, chalky light
to search for our eyes in the dirt
under the leaves and the blanket
we brought from home, the
threshold we carry ourselves over
like weight that shifts in assignments
of motion , water displaced and rising
as the moon leans to the shoreline
for a kiss and a sip of what we're drinking.

She rose a leg as though to dance,
he played a song the same as always,
you sang those words with those strange notes
that rustle the highest limbs of California fronds,
I am writing a novel with every pause in the chatter,
in my mind I'm at my desk laughing again as
all the words fill the monitor and fall off the screen
and onto the floor.

It was clear, this dream
I had, we stood here with our
friends with our sparkler
and glasses of wine
cheering the American Night
as rockets screamed across the sky,
risking our homes or at least car keys
that might fall from our pockets,
but there is only empty night
in front of us, a moon shining light
that ripples over the water
that moves toward land in
serpentine movements,
as I was saying,
"…if we stood here all night,
if we made a big, tall wish,
if we're good with ourselves
and our words we put into the world
that goes to sleep trusting
the rime of light to creep over
the horizon come dawn,
we can see where we might
live in futures where we all have our keys
and we all get to drive home
from the fireworks at the beach…"

Monday, January 17, 2005

In favor of steady work

Icing on the cake
was all it takes
to get me to follow
a rule rather than bend it
to what my moment of need
might happen to have been
if I were with a friend
who chided me
on losing my gravitas
in this tight circle
of rules and cash value,

just make it sweet
and neat
as a treat and
as if it were were
a cocktail at the end of a shift
of shuffling orders
and rubber stamping
receipts in big red ink,
rules as they are
are fine if there's a kiss
or at least a nod
at the end of days
when the light darkens
through our office
and retail windows,

pals sans skills
on pills
and copious quantities
of smoke and coke
can stand their corners
and thumb their nose
while they leave
their trail of
running hard luck stories
about how it
was a bit of bad luck,
a bad break
they couldn't shake
nor bake as truth fully cooked up
like it were a scheme
that was their dream of becoming,
it's numbing to think all this,
what's remiss in the speech
and dress and the place
where they stand
in a pride that guards
cracks in the sidewalk
as heads nod in sleep,
a respect for weather
that forgives them not
at all
because weather knows them
not all This Fall,

I argue at times
not a wit
nor a flick of
the wrist that
twists every bad note
like it were some
malformed melody
someone else wrote and played,
how long have
I stayed
above water
like an an adult
it's a voice, a cash register sense
of the world,
a sales floor
flooded with creme filled donuts
oozing underfoot,
zoo animals charge past
the register stands,
bosses and their assistants
asleep in the front seats
of company cars,

none of this makes
me star or delivers from the Devil
but I am above sea level
and have reveled in
the music of screams of joy
and been blinded by the
coin of the realm
as it it glittered and glinted
while all of us
and made plans to
go to movies
plays and
dinners our wives and husbands hinted
were the places
to let the evening's big hands
crawl steadily to
another calendar day
spent parsing
the history of
every rotating mystery
and solving this problem,
right now,
big or smaller fork,
fish or pasta,
Coltrane or Satriani,

benefits easier to take
myself to oblivion
on a corner where
i would be the boldest
among the coldest.

Thursday, November 4, 2004

Uncollected Grace

You see me large on the horizon
before the light dies behind me,
i look to be on fire on top of the dune,
clouds red with last bursts of sun
that turns my outline black, without
face or wrinkles, freeze flamed
on a the cold blue whispers of sky
that remain for mere moments
before my singing reaches your ears
and straightens your spine,
straight as a trapeze wire,
my arms are full of groceries
coming down the steps, my singing
flat like pennies after a train
has passed, there is no fire
this engine needs to be, I say,
handing you a bag, the television is
on the news and the sound is off,
the ocean before us goes black
and even the clouds are dark
with idioms and uncollected grace
as tongues of flame hang onto
their candle wicks just barely
as they bend to an upstart wind,
there is no food in the pantry
but there are cans in the bag,
actors making faces on the screen,
a plane droning over head,
oh those stars and the satellites,
you say
as you turn a key, open a can,
i wonder how much they hear,
what all it is they see...