Wednesday, October 6, 2010


like most men
I find great pleasure
in telling stories

old stories
new stories
ones that I’ve borrowed
from friends of mine
ones that may have never even happened
and ones that have changed so much
over the course of their
story lives
that the originals
would be unrecognizable

for the purpose of storytelling
among a handful of other reasons
I don’t fear having kids as much
as I did before
and I especially look forward
to having grandkids

because I can see myself very clearly
sitting in a rocking chair
on some back porch
a yard full of kids
playing amongst each other
everyone very content
everyone having a good time

until I stand up and roar, “all right, kiddies!
Get your asses over here!
RIGHT now!
You may have heard this story
a thousand times
but you’re all gonna sit down
and listen to it again, you hear me?!
And by god, you better like it!”

Thursday, September 23, 2010


let this be known: I have never
not once
in my whole life
found a four leaf clover

but this doesn’t bother me
not even a little bit

not because I haven’t tried
not because I haven’t spent
plenty of afternoons
in my youth
searching the ground
with the rest of the school children

and not because
even still
when I find myself
passing through a patch of clover
I keep an eye to the ground
and walk through
with no success

but rather because
in many other ways

I am one lucky motherfucker

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


they were walking by
a gaggle of them
maybe in their late thirties
and very much upper middle class

you could tell
they’d been bred for cocktail parties
and ordering nannies around

long afternoons
drinking white wine on porches
and talking about their

they were not from the area
and were therefore
trying something new
they’d gone to some farm
with their children
and their children’s nannies

and caught up in the moment
maybe feeling young
like a child again
one of them had bent down
and goofed around with a goat

and afterwards
when the goat was slaughtered for them
and prepared as a meal
the one who had bent down
and goofed around with him
was not hungry for goat

“I had an issue with eating the goat
because I was playing
with the goat! I was playing with
the goat! How could I have eaten him
after playing with him?”

I smiled and snorted
as I sat there drinking my tea

how many animals
would be saved from slaughter
how many people saved from murder
if we could just learn to play
with one another?

but it seems the way of the world
has other plans

Monday, September 20, 2010


it was another
five dollar an hour job
but this time
it was bailing hey

the farmer told me
to show up
on a Saturday at 1 PM sharp

I showed up early
by ten minutes
and earned a quiet nod
the highest form of flattery
known to a farmer

in a gruff voice
coming through a mouth
which never opened
the farmer
explained the work: follow behind
the dump truck
and throw bails up onto
the back

he motioned for me to get to it
so I jogged off
to where a few other boys
were grabbing bails
and tossing them
up onto the back of the truck

with two virgin hands
I grabbed my first bail of hey
by the two pieces of twine
that held it together
and swung it up towards the truck
it fell back to the ground
and while the others laughed
I picked it up
and tossed it again
this time just barely making it

after a few attempts
I got the hang of it
and after a few more bails
blisters began to grow on my hands

hours later
my hands raw and cut open
my clothes invaded
by stray pieces of hey and dirt
itching in places I never knew could itch
we finished the field
and stood around the truck
slugging water
and smiling the tired
worn out smile
of the good ol’ boy

the farmer pulled out a wad of cash
doled us each a twenty
nodded a thanks
and told us to come back

next Saturday

Friday, September 17, 2010


when I send you a text
asking you how you’re doing out there
in the desert
and you respond four days later
with, “huh?”
I don’t get the impression
that you have been rehabilitated

instead, I picture you running
terrified and strung out
through a cemetery
where all the headstones
are empty bottles of Jim Beam
and each is wearing a pink
and green sweater-vest

(like the kind that you wore
that used to make me beat you
back here in Port City)

and you’re back on the phone
with the cops
telling them I won’t leave your house
because you drugged me good
that I won’t even move
at all
with every single twitch
you spray pellets all over me
with your goddamn Airsoft gun

like that time at your dad’s place
when we were all fucked up
on everything

ah, the good old days

buddy, I’m not gonna lie
I miss you
and the times we had
but you do what you have to
to make it through
this world
out of the hospital
and far away from jail

I hope the water’s wet out there for you, Kid

Thursday, September 16, 2010


we were teenagers
in high school
and it was the wintertime
in New Hampshire

two days a week
as the sun set over fields covered
with snow
my friend and I would drive
back roads to Tilton
where we worked as packers
at a veggie burger manufacturing plant

our first order of business
was to unfold the boxes in which they were
to be packaged in
and glue the tabs of one end together
with piping hot glue
on which we often burned
our hands

then, after the burgers came out
from the kitchen
and cooled
our task was to set two
side by side
place a sheet of wax paper on top
set another two burgers
side by side on top of them
then shove the four into the cardboard boxes
and seal the second end with glue

this was our job
and that was our life
from 5 to 10 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays

to make the job more terrible
there was a CD player with a radio
which didn’t work
and there were only two CDs from which
to choose: Neil Young’s Harvest Moon
and some other classic rock album
which I cannot remember
even though I probably listened to it
hundreds of times

as the winter went on
and we got more sick and tired
of our job
packaging burgers
burning our fingers on the glue
listening to the same two cds
over and over again
making five bucks an hour
and having to beg to actually get paid
we lost interest in remaining good employees
and started in with adolescent shenanigans

soon there were burgers being tossed around
arguments with other employees
and to amuse ourselves
we’d write swears with the glue
before closing up the tabs on the package
so you might open either side
of the box
to find FUCK U or SHIT or BITCH or CUNT
or occasionally a small, messy ASSHOLE

not long after
we began showing up late
we stopped showing up at all

I mean
we were teenagers
in high school
and it was the wintertime
in New Hampshire

what more could a person expect?

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I called Whit at 3 AM from the ledge
of a building in New York City

“don’t jump!” she screamed
into the phone

“no, no. Of course I’m not going
to jump.”

“well, what the hell
are you doing up there?
Get down!”

“I can’t. I’m stuck. I shimmied up a drainpipe
for some reason, and now I’m stuck
on top of this stupid building!”

I heard her laugh
and say in the background, “my friend
is stuck on the roof of a building
in New York City!”

there was more laughter on her end
while I circled the building
looking for a way down

how or why I’d climbed up that drainpipe
was a total mystery
and was fast becoming
a total pain in the ass

“isn’t there a door or something you can
go down through? There must be
a fire exit, like in the movies.”

“oh, shit.” I growled. “this is another on of those
times where it feels like I’m in the movies
except it’s the fucking movie
of my life.”

I looked over the edge again
it was maybe four or five floors to the ground
there was a steel doorway in the center
of the roof

“I see a door. I’m going to go through it. Stay on the
phone with me, will you?”

“of course I will. I wanna hear what happens!”

I took one last look
over the side of the building
and moved towards the doorway

in the movies and in real life
a character has to sometimes choose between
a visit to the hospital
or to jail
and for some reason I wasn’t any longer
feeling invincible
like I was back at the wedding
when I had stripped down and jumped in the pool
in front of hundreds of people I didn’t know
and to the supreme annoyance
of the security guards

“I’m about to open the door
if it’s not locked.”

the door opened smoothly and silently
and I stepped quietly
down the stairs

“I’m only going to speak if something awful
happens, okay? Otherwise I’m going
to try and be as quiet and sneaky
as possible.”

Whit laughed in acknowledgment
as I reached the bottom of the stairs
and began moving through large rooms
filled with piles of old chairs
you would find in a cinema
bolted to the floor

although there were dim lights on
I heard no movement as I ghosted through
the rooms and descended
flight after flight
of stairs

on the first floor
I took a deep breath and whispered, “this is it. I’m
going for it. If I hear an alarm I’m just going
to run as fast as I can, so I might have to hang up
the phone.”

with that I shoved open the door
and burst out into the silent, foggy darkness
of 3 AM
in some suburb
of what I hoped was Brooklyn

“I’m out!” I hissed into the phone, looking
in each direction and skipping off towards the street
lit with yellow streetlights

“oh, god. I’m so glad you’re safe! What the hell
did you climb up a drainpipe for?”

“I don’t know, dear. I never know why
I do these things.”

“do you know where you are?”


“do you know what you’re gonna do?”

“nope. But I think I should walk for a while,
get away from here.”

then there was the silence
of somebody
trying to help from a thousand miles away

“well, be safe, ok? And no more climbing up onto
building, all right?”

I smiled at the night
at my life
and my luck
and said, “I will do my best.”