Tuesday, August 30, 2005

House of Talk

There are many voices I have
for every moon rising on a mood
which splinters into issues about
the weather and everything under
the atmosphere of that's tense
as white knuckles grabbing
the edge of the kitchen counter,

I am fine and you are so lovely
in your gloves as you new that axe,
your eyes are the softest gaze I've
ever had laid upon me as you scan
my neck, imagining brilliant pencil
dashes that come to resemble
perforation marks, wear every tears
in your outstanding order of dead things,

You piss me off royal and it's all I can do
to stop my fist from flying with an intent
of it's own to make your chin meet knuckles
or have your head meet a boot heel,
all that remains of the sunset is blood red
and the flushed rage of a setting sun that
sets screaming mutely as it sets off to scorch
another side of the planet, it's a car I want
to steal and drive into western towns where
motels rest at the edge of the desert, whiskey
and cigarettes on the bed stand, a revolver
on the pillow, a full box of bullets,

I hope you forgive me and let me
go somewhere to die, just to don't hate
me as much you might be inclined to,
I want only the best in the name of the Savior
and interest rates are good, it was all for you
and yours, but I fucked up, I fucked up bad,
I am worthless as candy wrappers, gum
stuck to the light pole, you are happier without me
calling you up at three or four in the AM and hanging up before you could take a breath, don't
hate me, let leave, I'll find some place to die,

My mouth is dry and tired from
all this talking, and the earth turns
on it's celestial wires all the same
despite protests, the choruses of
denial and rants, the rooms of
this house are full of talk with every
personality saying a line affixed
to the walls, the dry wall, the electrical
lines that go out into the world,
I practice each tone, each attack
and apology, there are no mirrors
in the hallway, no glass in the windows,
wind blows amid hisses and whistles
through the cracks in the brick,
I am silent again, I am voiceless.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Cop Poem

Cop Poem

Police men have a way of
dividing the world in half
with every hour they walk
the beat or grind it as they drive,

It’s about who they will
or will not put in jail,

Whose nose is arched
like bridges spanning
skylines over grievous waters
or flat and elegant as a small  pocket
on streamlined suit,

It’s about where they can park
when there’s nothing but
trouble on the radio,
or where they have to
drive away from when
the street comes up short on
bricks that were there the day before
and ugliness was an old house
junkies live in and not
the crowd that gathers on the corners
and will not stop glaring
until the glares become sharp sticks,
iron pipes, broken bits,

It’s knowing where your backup is
and where the shortcuts  come out to

and just how far
a dollar will go
on Saturday night.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Snaking under the ri

Snaking under the river to Canada

there were three moons in the sky
in the middle of the day
when darkness fell before
pants did the same,

the world just seemed to spin
like a bicycle tire, spokes
blending in motion against
the racket made by a baseball card,
and I remember something like a smile
on my face as uncut grass and
candy bar wrappers caressed and
pelted my face,

sounds of boots walking over
gravel, coming up the drive way,
the flower bed in front of the porch
where Dad stood with his tie loosened,
hands in his pocket, laughing out loud,
Mom smoking cigarette after cigarette
until it killed her thirty years later,

the officer says
it was a party they raided
that was full of high school kids
drinking beer around the pool,
I was wrestling with a lawn chair
before collapsing
into a giggling puddle of useless water,

Dad keeps laughing
and Mom has a scotch
with her cigarette,
fretting on the porch
about the future and
every bottle I might open
until the end of days,

“give me a kiss” says Dad,
and they argue until
I fall back asleep on the couch,
sawing logs loud as air horns
in traffic tunnels snaking under
the river to Canada.

A City Was Magic in Black and White Magazines

In a hurry and half dumbwith love, he walks through an alley,scratching his scalp,and whistles another country's anthem
in an age when TV headlines have itthat the sky never stops falling,He stops, sings a stanza in French, "My Cherie Amour", and skips mightily passed all the rear entrances and trash bins Simon and Garfunkel would have waxed and waned about in a language that made the obvious things in the city oppressive with meaning secreted among the rheumy lines of grime and gunk,
he laughs, thinks bunk, I need her armsand a good meal with amazing bread,
bottled water, baskets full of cheese, and thensomeone screams in the city,
a woman on a corner screams for life and more money
from whatever carpassed on a wet street, the night was filled
with screams and the hiss of tires slithering up back streets
and alleys that used to be short cuts in another decade
when a city was magic in black and white magazines,
there are many hours until the sun comes rises over the river,
light rays poking between the suspension cables
of sleeping bridges,days to go before something falls from the sky again
with all the heaviness assembled weight can bring on the length of the streets,
minutes away one of our own leaving the coil
that binds us as another joins the chorus,
too young in the first moments to hold sheet music
or know what we're attached to in these blurs that
come alive from their darkness and approach him in the dark,
he sings on,too late,he's asked"Where you from, "and he singstoo loudly to heara metallic clickand a bark of large dogs,he was expecting everyone to join in the chorusbecause love is all that matterswhen everyone knows the words,but instead the nightblackens all at once,a curtain drops,every line is unhingedas doors would bein a fast, devastatingheat coming acrossa flat Nevada desert,a city of jewelsburns high on amountain top,there is onlylight to follow,cordless , stringless musicat the end of corridor filled witha very white light.

Gatorade don't do it

Someone has to be the one
breaking the bad news over old bread,
catching us when there’s one arm in the coat
and chewing stale toast.
Seldom do you expect that
the length of the shadow
following you might possibly
be only one of many such shrouds,
all with names and families,
black or grey streaks falling across
sidewalks and brick fences,
each taking turns keeping you in line,
waiting your turn, motherfucker.
It’s getting so bad
that we’ll take a meeting
behind bars and resolve
that this is the year
we will throw away.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

She said go deep

She said to “go deep”
as she handed me a football
which I dropped then
while I wondered out loud
how and why these goal posts
were erected in our store
to which she said
that she refused to
take her work home
but it was simply wonderful
to bring home life to the job.
As usual, I shrugged
and answered the
phone in my best
late night
and found myself
speaking to
a woman who had a book
with a yellow cover
that reminded
her of the dress she wore
seven decades ago
on her first communion,
in the spring,
when flowers bloomed
and relatives started sneezing.
She paused and
then hung up the phone,
and as I put my end down
a kid from the neighborhood
was at the counter
asking me the price
of every book and
pencil in sight
in between segments from
his gasping saga
of buying a tombstone for an
uncle who once got funny with him
in a closet
two holidays ago.
the kid laughed nervously, fast,
breathless, as I said,
and ran out the door
onto the cracked, pricey sidewalk.
My coworker
was doing drum solos
with number 2 pencils
along the glass shelves
that displayed the
heaviest books in the store,
she smiled and riffed,
pinged, rim shot her
way out of a tight
rhythmic problem,
the phone rang again,
she tells me to
get that,
but I get nothing at all
except a headache,
looking up from the counter
after I pick up the receiver,
some middle aged guy
in an MC 5 t-shirt
holding a mounted moose head
over the cash register,
a long stretch of Bullwinkle
waiting to be kissed,
it’s all I can do
not to look up
from the small holes
in the receiver,
it’s still three hours till lunch.

At noon all the cats

At noon all the cats
behind the bushes
and yowl for their rights
to milk and stiff fingers
scratching their heads.

Such faces they make
when there is one can left,
squinting under the sun
that’s not even blinding
the visiting team’s outfield staff.

She learned how to
read when the cuffs came off,
signs in hard English explaining
basic hygiene as it doesn’t get
mentioned in stacks of Elizabethan smut.

One bullet was all he needed,
one clear shot,
a gun would help, he joked,
and then a car pulled out
from a parking spot and
he stepped on the gas,
turning hard with a squeal,
gravel flying.

It’s just another
rumor of fires
behind the hills
where there are still trees
to clear for our houses
and meals with families
from other states.

Cats leave the pool alone
but sing to the moon instead
as jets make their way in
formations ready for desert blitz,

These are nights when
no calls get through,
cell phones go out of range
in the back of your pocket,

Emergency operators are
standing by as you stand there
staring at the phone and trying
to watch the ball game at the same time,

Did you say you’re from Detroit?
Great. That’s where Jimmy Hoffa
was sliced into a dozen Sicilian pizzas,

Karl Marx wrote his wife
love poems for each daughter
who died waiting for him to
change the world.

San Diego is a home
that makes sleeping
seem a crime against
drugs and their use.

Goddamnit, I say
move the mountain
to Arizona, to hell with the Cross.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Every Floor Gives Way

You are a card carrying
waste of time
and I am
a prince and a punk
whose words make
noise like coins
falling on marble floors,
a rattle and a snap,
and then silence
like a big room after a wake.

One of us
talks too much
on right-turn radio
where opinions
are all you have
when the facts
are no where
in the vicinity.
The other of us
packs a lunch
every morning,
and by 4pm
notices the
long shadows of
buildings draping
over the park bench
where they
nap until quitting time.
The paper bag
clinks with
the rustle of
broken glass,
a police radio
repeats the name
of another child gone
missing from the
a child reads the names
of those who died
somewhere at work,
over a city that was
getting ready for lunch,
afternoon naps,
both of us
stare at each other
when the bad news
reaches our table
at the bar,
news stations
offering their best
screaming headlines,

All we ever do is scream
at each
I say,
And you
That's the only time
we hear each other

I scratch
where it itches
before asking
you for a kiss
like you gave me
in the days
we were younger
and full of the future.

We'll meet for dinner
at eight you say,
we'll line our pockets
with knowledge
and bread,
together to the news, weather, sports.
all notes
about forms of battle,
we'll raise our
and yell the worth of
our lives and anxieties
into the mix
we'll pass between ourselves
while the
earth turns, cracks, splits apart
and the cries of the night
merge with the sunlight
and becomes a part our day
of yelling and screaming
and every floor
collapsing from under our feet.

No Birds

So much depends on sunlight,
a head turning the other way to
avoid a crash of sight lines,
long sails on the bay during
still water days,
hotel keys dropped in the sand.

God is dead asleep
in the hills
along paths the coastline,
the philosophy of dust
contravenes conventional wisdom
those beautiful things
last forever in the shapes we gave them
because the roads to the beach
are lined with abandoned houses
and farm equipment left
from another decade in arid fields
that turn into mire and mud
every time it rains.

Nothing grows here.

Catholic to the bone, look,
there are no holes in my hand,
Jesus must have dirty fingers
after he arose from his ales,
I baptize myself with layers
of deodorant soap, water circles the drain
in a funnel, and then is gone.

The tornado pulls itself
over the land and reconfigures the
towns and farms it ploughs through,
this land is matchsticks and glass
blowing over the hills,
windows blow out buildings,
everyone ducks into cellars
and door frames,

The shoreline boils and churn,
waves are white,
there are no birds in the sky.

A Wild Rotary Blade in his Pants

"I am tired of drying the goddamned cat by hand."

That was what he said. Drying the cat by hand and all he could do
was rant and spew about how much he hated being alive in a city
where no one knew the meaning of the fine phrase "get down." It was enough
to make a man wish that none of the riots of sixties had taken place
if only because it was time for a man to be a man and cram a wild
rotary blade in his pants.

"Why don't we go into the other room where we can can
figures some shit out and shit like that?"

"Fuck you, I want a copy of Commie Grelb Pants magazine
on my coffee table right now..."

I picked up a copy of Gravity's Rainbow and hit him over the head with it,
and kept hitting him until there was nothing to swing at.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Change for a dollar

Most of the change from the dollar
For the newspaper falls to the floor,
It’s all you can do not swear and smile instead
As the cashier with the greased fingertips
Widens her eyes, eyebrows pitching in
An A frame of worry,

A tiny smile on her face trembling as
She fights back the fear, her mouth
Shrinking to an ‘o’ of ‘oh my”, she giggles, she sobs,
Everyone stares past the candy bars and magazines
To see who made their angel cry,

Oh my back creaks like
A door on a corroded hinge,
My knees crack when I bend,
Snapping twigs are what
People remember for

Every penny is flat at your feet
And red faced as you stare hard
At several Lincoln copper tone beard
Tarnishing under the fluorescent light,
Round taunts lying on two tone tile,

You smile at her, you bend over,
Knees make the sound of snapping twigs,

Oh my goddamned back

Every dime, quarter and nickel
Has rolled under the counter,
Out of sight, having scurried
To some dusty corner
The janitor’s mop couldn’t reach,

I’m making the sounds my father made

And you swear you see him as you stoop
Walking out of an elevator and out the street,
Wearing a nice suit and fine hat from fifty years ago,

Around the time you were born
When all this wear and tear began.