Monday, December 21, 2009


wrestling with her cart
the old woman tramps through snow
is she crying, too?

Friday, December 18, 2009


beep beep
in the small towns
the little cities
of the world
you sit at some café
or on some bench
and you rest your tired bones
and observe the people
who are always interesting
in their conversations
and the way they go about their lives
then a driver honks his horn
and everybody turns
looks at the place
from where the sound came
and you all can’t help but wonder
what just happened
what warranted the honk
who was in the wrong
who was it that fucked up
because as a species
through nature and nurture
we are intensely interested
in one another’s business

Thursday, December 17, 2009


haiku # 4
enter December
stage right with the lights down low
better bundle up

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


# numbers #
on the Electra 120
Jim Beam 80 proof
249 6754 is the number of an old license plate
that blocks the single naked light bulb
on my desk with 1 curse
and 2 orders on it, “don’t” and “do”
14 sunflower seeds
just put in my mouth
at 7:27 pm
33 minutes ‘til work
5 hour shift
20 dollars an hour before tax
$92.35 after
29 years I’ve been alive
plus 5 months
and 5 days
1 more shot
makes 4 today
1 year ago
in Austin, TX
I was 3 sheets to the wind

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

HE TRADED ME HIS SOUL FOR A WHISKEY AND WATER (and now he wants it back)

he traded me his soul for a whiskey and water
(and now he wants it back)
while I was tending bar one night
the Kid had gotten drunk
and without any money
as was usually his situation
he offered me his soul
if I would give him a whiskey and water
I might have given him the drink, anyway
him being a friend and all
but it seemed a good opportunity
the investment in a thing
which is said to be invaluable and eternal
so I gave him the whiskey and water
and acknowledged receipt of his soul
but because I was very drunk, too
I quickly forgot about the trade.
eventually the Kid reformed his ways
been sober now for a long time
and he wants his soul back
it comes up often in our conversations
he’ll be talking about something
and then say, “oh, by the way, about
my soul…could I get that back from you?”
he claims it’s beginning to shine again
that all the layers of filth and muck and sin
are melting and dripping off
and that someday soon
it may have some real value. of course
the Kid is in it just for the money
the dirty, little punk
so when he brings it up I laugh
and sip at my beer
shrug him off, thinking
if my liver doesn’t give out first
it’ll be nice to have a spare soul around

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


sacred desert
it took me less than an hour
to pack my things
and head out of town
Las Vegas
that mindfuck in the desert
but then it took me
more than two hours
of bumper to bumper
to get past the Hoover Dam
and down onto 93
which was open and free
open and free
just like the surrounding landscape
and I hauled along
thinking, “goddamn beautiful.
it’s so goddamn beautiful out here.”
the ageless one shop towns
the faded billboards
retreating back into the earth
the scrub and broken rock
the dry air and the blue sky
the valleys that sink beneath you
and the mountains on the horizon, which
if you ever reach
will slice you open
a place as pure as death.
then my friend calls me
on my cell phone and I answer it
but don’t say, “I can’t talk
because I’m driving.”
instead I say, “not right now, man. I’m
watching the desert
pass before my eyes
and it seems to be something very sacred.”

Friday, December 4, 2009


after waking in the morning
I get out of bed
and hit the bathroom
do a piss and a shit
while flipping through a magazine
that tells me how I should be eating
how I should be exercising
how I should be fucking
and what clothes I should wear.
then, after getting up off the toilet
and washing my hands
the only thing left for me to do
to start the day off right
is look in the mirror
and laugh in the face of madness

Monday, November 30, 2009


thrown out
she was blond and big breasted
and I had been chatting her up pretty good
when the end of the night came
she wrote her phone number down
on a cocktail napkin
handed it to me and said, ‘call me.’
the following night
I started rooting around my room
looking for the napkin
checking my pants pockets
and my wallet
and all over my desk and floor
but then I stopped
and standing in the middle of my room
I remembered that just before I left the bar
just after I told her good night
and that I looked forward
to hanging out with her again
I had blown my nose right into the napkin
and after doing that
while she was standing there watching me
I’d thrown it right in the trash
along with the rest of my chances

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Muffin Stuffer
he went by the name Muffin Stuffer
and he was the head doorman
at the Irish bar where I worked
and most times when a girl walked in
he’d check her out
then look at me
and with his eyes open very wide
he’d poke one of his fingers
into a hole he’d made with his other hand
and make a loud kissing sound.
hour after hour we sat in the entryway
checking IDs and staring at the walls.
Muffin Stuffer was capable
of only very brief verbal exchanges
and most times his words were unintelligible
often just grunts and snorts.
at the end of the night
we’d sweep and mop the floor
take our fifty bucks each
drink our shift drinks
and listen to the bartenders bitch
about this and that.
then, tired and mostly sober
we’d lock up the place
get into my car and drive down Route 1
and when Muffin Stuff felt the time was right
he’d say, “here” and I’d pull over
to the side of the road
where he would get out of the car
and run into the woods
without even saying goodbye

Friday, November 27, 2009


here comes November
could be a fucking corpse
long dead and frozen
but it’s just another
cold seat
park bench
and above me
the near naked trees
with the remnants of bird’s nests
that slouch in the branches
while the north church
clock bell
clangs five times
welcoming the dark of night
which roars in with the trolleys
and the buses
that pick up and deposit
all sorts of mineral people
that grow together to create
the livelier aspect
of this town
but then a mosquito
a fucking mosquito
bites my face
and I’m stunned at the audacity of the thing
it being November and all
she should be dead
but she’s not
and I scratch at the lump
on my cheek
and daydream about
another woman to love
but I cannot picture her face

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


glory days
he was the kind of drunk
that never got sick
in the nights
but always when he woke up
in the mornings
while I was lying on his couch
my belongings crumpled in a nearby corner
I always came back into the world
to the sound of him throwing up
tremendous heaves
like he was screaming death
at the toilet bowl.
then his footsteps
pounding across his floor
back to bed.
I remained on the couch
watching the snowflakes
dive down and sting the earth
while I mentally planned out
another pathetic day.
this was my life as a dog walker
in January 2009:
living on a weak broth
of hope and pity
and doing just fine

Monday, November 23, 2009


she had a smooth face
pretty as hell
and a pony tail
of long dark hair

we shared a glance
as we pushed our carts into
the cheese section
and she continued on
while I stopped to pick out
a block of sharp cheddar

when I started again
I looked up ahead
and saw the backside
of her blouse
and her black pants
and what an ass!
it was big and round
and didn’t match the rest of her
but it all made sense somehow
like it was the sun of her universe
everything else
just gravitating around it

I lost distance
when I stopped for milk
and then had to go back for orange juice
but in the next aisle
I almost caught up to her
as she selected
a salad dressing, balsamic vinaigrette

for five aisles
it went like this
her gaining ground
me gaining it back
until I skipped the pet section
hoping to pass her
near the bagels
or the sourdough bread

maybe I would say hello

but she didn’t appear in that aisle
or the next
and by the time
I was picking out celery
at the far end of the store
I knew that tonight
like most others
I’d be eating alone

Sunday, November 22, 2009


for seven years now
I have had a little black comb
one of those little black combs
that has molded on one side
for seven years
I have used it daily
and doubted the truth in that claim
tonight I picked up the comb
and with a simple, easy motion
broke it in half.
I put the two pieces
back down on my desk
and with my head in my hands
stared at them for nearly a minute
finally, I looked up at the ceiling
and shouted at the top of my lungs,
“is it all a goddamn lie?”


before she went to sleep
last night
my housemate’s radishes
were in the fridge
yet when she got up
in the morning
they were lying on the counter.
our other housemate
is out of town
which leaves only me
as the culprit
can you explain
why I would do such a thing?
such a meaningless
absurd and odd thing?
to come home late at night
lock the door
leave my shoes neatly
in the entryway
tip toe around the house
as to not wake anybody
brush my teeth
drink a glass of water
and finally take out the radishes
and leave them on the counter?


pull the curtains shut
open the drawer
and pack the pipe
when you’re not out there
hittin’ it hard
you’re in here
taking it easy
pumpkin peezy
and the thoughts you have
and the fingers you use
to peck at the keys


the beast
the thing is a goddamn wolf
with hairy, black balls
the size of grapefruits
that swing between its legs
as its owner walks him
on a thick rope
around our little city
to remind the general populace
that machismo
however strangled
and so frequently shunned
is not yet dead.
you should see the people
run out of the way
when they notice this thing
or watch them jump with terror
when the owner
leaves him in his car
to bark at passing strangers.
just the sight of this beast
makes you ponder dragons
and warlocks and medieval curses
and on a cold, rainy day in October
with a running nose
and an exhaustion upon you
like a steel blanket
and your home bar
not yet open
what else is there to do?

Saturday, November 7, 2009


here in heaven and hell
there was to be flooding
in the northeast
and strong winds and fire
in the great basin
the snow storms
were to hit the mountain ridges
of the west
and a tornado warning
was given for much of the south.
160 people had been killed
in a car bomb in Baghdad
60 of them young school children
while 8 soldiers had just been
blown apart by a roadside bomb
in Afghanistan
a fifteen year old girl
at her homecoming dance in California
had been gang raped for two hours
while a dozen people stood and watched
and the Dow was up eight points
that was the brief bit of news I watched
on CNN this morning
before going out to walk dogs
and try to stay dry
despite the rain


legal limit
every weekday
I go into the Pizza Factory
get two slices of cheese pizza
and either a Dr. Pepper
or a Cherry Coke
and when the need arises
which it often does
I walk over to the liquor store
grab a handle of bourbon
and pay whatever it costs
which always is one cent
less than an even dollar.
and what is a penny these days,
unless many are acquired
regularly and steadily
and that’s just what MADD is doing
with their little plastic canisters
at the checkout
and every time I buy
a handle of bourbon
I reach over to put my penny in
thinking it’s for a charity to feed the hungry
or clothe the naked
but at the last minute
see that it supports an organization
that has long since become more
than mothers concerned about drunk driving
and is rather run by wild teetotalers
who would prohibit all alcohol consumption
if given the chance
and I turn and walk out the door
and throw my penny into the nearest gutter
before getting into my jeep
and driving home
still wildly hungover
and possibly still over the legal limit
for all I know


another thing
I’d like to know about
the birds
is where they go
when it rains


dinner guest
on my little wine rack
there are three bottles of wine
which must be drank tonight
so I invite over my only two friends
the sun and the moon
figuring one bottle for each of us
but neither of them show
and I sit at the dinner table alone
with a large casserole
some fresh baked bread
and a salad.
after I finish the first bottle
I hear a tapping on the roof
then on the windows
and finally at the door
I approach it cautiously
open it up and say to the rain,
“hello, there. come in, there’s plenty of food
and if you’re like me, I imagine you’re
going hungry.”


uh huh
the luck was on the wheel
the whiskey in the jar
and the leaves on the trees
were burning down the world
when I saw her in the parking lot
of a supermarket
we exchanged greetings
and she said, “so, you’re growing a beard?”
I looked away from her green eyes
and said, “I’ve been busy
with many things.”
a few geese flew overhead
outcasts from their flock
and there was a chill in the air which
served as a reminder
for those of us who didn’t like winter
that we were fucked for another six months.
when our eyes met again
she said, “you’re kind of weird, you
know that?”
and we both smiled
because we knew that wasn’t true
not that thing about me being kind of weird
but that other thing
about me growing a beard
and about being busy
and even the color of her eyes
that too, was a lie

Monday, October 26, 2009


straight and tall
it was easy to see
who wore the pants
in that relationship
when his wife
and the mother of his kids
was having them pose
for a picture in the park.
“stand up straighter!”
she barked, “now, suck
in your stomach, and
stick out your chest!”
the kids shifted on their feet
too young to know pain
from a band aid on a paper cut
“okay, now smile-no! Don’t
smile that big, don’t show
your teeth. You know you have
terrible teeth!”
the man reminded me
of a well trained Labrador retriever
with a little bit more zeal.
I was sitting in a lawn chair
reading Neruda
and occasionally looking up
to glimpse the pretty girls
tanning on their towels
but after witnessing that exchange
I kept my nose in the Neruda
and once again told myself,
“not for you, dude. At least not now.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


in and outers
the two girls approached me
and began asking questions
about what it was like
inside the bar
it’s too much for some people
to just walk in
look around
and leave if they don’t like it
they want to know
before they even go in.
first they asked about live music
and then about dancing
I told them they could dance
and listen to live music
then they asked if it was dead
and if so, when it picked up
I told them there were already
some people there
and more would be arriving
afterwards they asked about the crowd
whether it was a younger or older crowd
because they wanted a younger crowd
I answered, “a bit of both.”
finally they decided
that they’d go in and give it a try
and thirty seconds later
they came rushing out
and the shorter of the two
said to me, “ewww. You didn’t tell us
it smelled like BO in there!”
I kicked my stomped my foot on the sidewalk
spit into the gutter
and said, “well, you didn’t ask.”

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


idiotic career choice
I used to entertain the idea
of becoming a journalist
having a beat
and going out on it
coming home and writing stories
just whipping them off
making deadlines
covering the latest news stories
having a press pass
and a boss that could get me into places
and tell me where the action
was going down
then one day
while walking a dog
it occurred to me
that becoming a journalist
would have been one of the stupider
things I could have done
in my life
because deadlines stress me out
and more than anything else
I hate being told what to do

Thursday, October 1, 2009


midget know thyself
the first thing I saw
when I left my house this morning
was a midget
dressed up nicely
in her midget clothes
black slacks and a white blouse
and shiny black shoes
she stood across the street
smoking a cigarette
staring into the morning sun
for a moment I considered
how it would be
to go about life
at least a couple feet shorter
than most everybody else
to go to certain shops
to buy your things
and be the one who is obviously different
everywhere you go
but looking at her
these were not her thoughts at all
she, just like everybody else
only knows life
from their own perspective
we only know ourselves
and even the knowledge we have
about thatis very little, indeed


another glimpse out the window
in this room
I sit and grapple
with the truth
and the lies
and that wide open space
in between
that diminishes daily
until death
when either everything makes sense
or none of it ever did.
on the walls
are my maps
marked up with felt pen
all the places I’ve been
but there are so many more
left to see
then from the street
the clip clop of high heels
and here comes
a pretty girl
a petite little thing
in a pink dress
with blonde hair
and knee high boots
she slides down the sidewalk
like a teardrop
tearing a canyon into this moment
of my life
she doesn’t know
she’s the only woman
left in the world
but she is
in my world, anyway
and then she’s gone
around the corner
and I’m alone
staring at an empty street
an empty glass
the maps
on my walls
make me come alive again
wondering just where the hell
I’ll end up next

Sunday, September 27, 2009


morning would
sometimes you wake up
you’re on your side
and so is she
facing away from you
you take her by surprise
because she likes surprises
you snap down her underwear
and work it in
it hurts her at first
but that’s okay
because she’s in for the long haul
she’s there ‘til the finish
short term pain
for long term gain
my old boss used to
recite that to me
until I skipped out
on a business trip
and quit without notice
I guess I just didn’t have it in me
but she did
and after we both finished
I got up
and fed the dog


the red
whenever I could tear myself
away from the bars
from the streets
and all their glories
it was nice to sit at home
tipping a bottle of the red
revising a story
scratching the hair on my face
you know your time will come
so you just have to sit and wait
and do your thing
like it was the only reason
you were brought
bloody and naked
into this fallen world
it was nice to do my thing at home
because my girl had quit working
at the olds bars
where I could drink for free
all night long
sometimes I sit and wonder
how much I’ve drank for free
at all the bars around this town
from the many bartenders
I’ve befriended
over the years
certainly many thousands of dollars
but then I get to thinking
how much I have spent
how many more thousands of dollars
and I tip my bottle
congratulate myself
on another successful night in
instead of out
not that I regret a single round of drinks
they all had their place
even that round of ten Jaeger bombs
on my birthday
that was a hundred bucks
that disappeared in fifteen seconds
but I got something from it
a memory
all those glasses
twenty of them
lined up on the bar and ready to go
like watching the roulette ball
bouncing around and around
on the wheel of fate
but money comes and goes
like liquor in a glass
sometimes it’s full and spilling out
other times its empty
waiting for that magical hand of destiny
the hand of the bartender
the hand of some great chuckling god
to fill it back up again
I feel at peace right now
a man on vacation
it’s a good feeling
great, even
and I’m sure it’ll stay with me
at least until the end of this bottle

Sunday, September 13, 2009


the morning voicemail
on some mornings
the first thing I have to do
is listen to a previous night’s voicemail
left after I went to sleep
by a good friend of mine
whose sanity
has been questioned by everyone
from his mother
to his teachers
to his marine corps superiors
and even the FBI
a friend whose mind
has been submerged in alcohol
for as long as I’ve known him
except for a couple stints in the desert
where it was dried out and ravaged
by a war
and one stint in college
when it was dried out and ravaged
by a woman
a friend who
for whatever reason
I easily see eye to eye with
on the voicemail
he first complains about his life
how nothing ever works out
how he is a failure
a loser
and how everything is going terrible
after a while he muses
about how many good-looking girls
come out to the bars every night
wearing pretty clothes
and acting so nice
in search of guys
completely different from us.
finally he says
maybe we should change our ways
dress better
drink less
shower more
get good jobs
nice cars
find some sort of security
in our lives
and that way
we can maybe be with one
of these good-looking girls
who dresses so pretty
and acts so nice
I listen to the voicemail twice
delete it
and let out a snort
because I’m doing all right
with the women
and have a job I don’t hate
and know that in only a few hours
I will speak to this friend of mine
and he will tell me
as he often does in the daytime
after his first few beers
that he is doing well
dressing better
drinking less
showering more
and that although
not working a great job
he is employed
and has found some sort
of security in his life
and that he has
a good-looking girlfriend
who dresses so pretty
and acts so nice
and when I ask him about the voicemail
from the night before
he’ll tell me as he often does
that a lot has changed since then

Friday, September 11, 2009


bill stevens
I met Bill Stevens on a sidewalk
on a sidewalk in Mexico
he was arguing with a senor
about the price of his tacos
claiming he’d been charged more
because he was an American
claiming he’d been ripped off
and most likely he had been
for he was like us
another gringo trying to make
our way through the dusty streets of ol’ Mexico
without getting the shit kicked out of us
or harassed by the military police
when Bill Stevens gave up his argument
and walked off swearing to his van
I said to him, “hey man, any
chance we could get a ride with you?”
Bill Stevens laughed a might laugh
and said, “of couse. where are you going?”
I told him we were heading south
and he said, “you can have a ride
as far south as I’m going
or until I die, whichever comes first, ha ha.”
we realized then that he was not like us
Bill Stevens was from upstate New York
he was in his mid fifties
and he had terminal cancer
so instead of rotting away in a hospital
he spent his last dollars on a van
and a sleeping bag
had driven southwest from New York
and on down into Mexico
“to enjoy myself until the bandidos
rob me and kill me and throw me off
a cliff to rot in the jungle.”
Bill Stevens had a very direct
way with words
and he had this certain way about him
this doomed man living out his life
as an excited child until he found death
or death found him
so we got in his van
and he drilled along down the highways
looking out at the horizon
and pointing to anything there was
fields of grass
plots of vegetables
mountain ranges or city lights
and he’d say, “JEEESSUSSS, would you
look at that? We don’t have mountains
like those up in America! look at those fields!
that must be cabbage! we don’t have
cabbage fields like that up there
in America! JEEESSUSSS!”
he drove into the night
ripping along mountain ridges
and long winding uphill drags
he kept his foot
stomped on the accelerator
and he’d make wild passes
cars, vans, tractor trailer trucks
he didn’t car what it was
as long as it was in his way
he’d just go straight around it
death-kissing passes
that made us close our eyes
and wait to see if we made it through
while he tore along
hellbent on getting to
wherever he was going
as fast as he could he would laugh
and shout to my friend Gerard
who was sitting in the front seat
“I bet you shit your pants, Gerard! I bet you just
SHIT YOUR PANTS! Ahhh ha ha ha!”
he'd roar with laughter and then say
“me? I’ve lived my life. but you, Gerard? I bet
you just SHIT YOUR PANTS!"
in the night we arrived in Puerto Vallarta
and he pulled over to the side of the main drag
I woke up and opened my eyes
to throngs of tourists and travelers
pretty girls in tiny skirts
and vendors selling just about everything
Bill Stevens looked around
for a moment and said, “all right, boys.
I think this is what you were probably
looking for. some good looking girls
and some bars to drink at. it was good
to meet you and have a good time
on your trip. this here, this isn’t for me.
this isn’t my style. too many people
and too many tourists, but you young bucks,
I’m sure you’ll do just fine here.”
we popped out onto the street
said our goodbyes to Bill Stevens
and watched his van rattle off
down the main drag
maybe to a quiet campground
or a whorehouse
or on and on through the night
or over a rocky cliff into eternity

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


making men
I have this pair of prescription sunglasses
plastic frames that are super glued together in the middle
where they’ve broken numerous times
they’re scratched to shit
and have little grooves carved into them
where I once attached a cord
so that I wouldn’t lose them
when swinging on a rope swing in Laos
they’re nothing special
except that they help me see better
but everywhere I go
people see me and say, “hey, nice sunglasses.
where’d you get them?”
and I laugh and tell them the truth
“Wal – Mart Vision center.”
and then I go out at night
and I wear another pair of glasses
and people say, “hey, those are really nice.”
and we go through the same rigimarole
I was sitting on a curb one night
smoking a cigarette with a guy
who I know to be keen on all the modern styles
he looked at my shoes and said
“hey, those are really nice. what brand?”
“I don’t know, but they cost me $18 at Target.”
he frowned, as though he’d been duped
then I have this old brown leather jacket
I found in the free section of my local dump
when I was in tenth grade
the thing still fits me and when I wear that out
I get all sorts of compliments about it
“hey man, nice jacket! vintage! where’d you get it?”
now, I didn’t come from poverty
and nor did I come from wealth
but I did come from frugality
and can recall my mother using duct tape
to mend the holes in the hand-me-down jackets
I used to wear in the wintertime
and from an early age
I realized that clothes do go far in man making
and that it’s better to just wear what you like
whatever you feel good and comfortable in
and that above almost everything else
not giving a shit goes a long, long way

Sunday, September 6, 2009


one of my battles
I am not against technology
unless it isn’t working properly
that is when I go to war
my battle with electronics, especially
has been long, terrible
and at times
extremely violent
it started when I was sixteen
with a portable cd player
which stopped playing cds
I gave it two love taps
tried once more to make it work
then threw it out the window
where it was no match for the asphalt
passing below at 80 mph
then came the televisions
some I’ve smashed with sledge hammers
or lawn stakes
one I even cut in half
with a table saw
which I viewed as merely
a demonstration of power
with the advent of cell phones
my rage spiked
and more than a dozen
I have drowned
thrown at walls
thrown at people
or thrown out into busy streets
to get run over by cars
and all of this
for simply dropping calls
or otherwise misbehaving
there was also a vcr
I laid to rest
in an autumn field
with a 12 gauge shotgun
on what could be termed
a very successful hunting trip
my last computer
a laptop
I crushed with a dumbbell
very late one night
just to make it aware that I didn’t need it
I’ve had sore fists
cut fingers
bruised knuckles
and large gaps of time
during which I was unable to be reached
but those things do not deter me
and nor does the money
I’ve spent in replacements
still I fight on
a brave or insane warrior
in my battle with these electronic devices
a battle which cannot be won
but must be fought
on and on
in fact, just this morning
I caught myself gazing around my room
at the cast iron tea kettle on my shelf
and the large buck knife next to it
I looked out my third floor window
at the pavement below
and considered my next plan of attack
because lately
at the most inopportune times
my printer has been acting up

Saturday, September 5, 2009


bad timing
I have this friend
who has impeccably terrible timing
when it comes to hanging out
we’ve known each other
for nearly a decade
and used to raise hell together
for many years
until he settled down
found a woman
and left the raising hell
up to me
but every now and then
he’ll get the itch
to go out and get rowdy
but every single time he calls me
it’s after some long bender
some holiday weekend or such
so I have to tell him that no
I can’t go out with him
not tonight
I’m taking a night off
I’m in recovery mode
I really need this
to which he responds
“oh, come on. don’t be a pussy.”
that’s when I get all serious and say
“listen, man. just because you went
and grew up, just because you settled down
just because you don’t go out
and tear up the town
nearly every single night
doesn’t mean that I don’t anymore
so give me a break.”
there’ll be a short silence
and then he’ll say, “well, okay…”
and it’s at that exact moment
when he’s accepted defeat
that I have to break down and say
“all right, fuck it. where to?”

Friday, September 4, 2009


five cents a mile
every time I go to the gas station
on my little Honda Rebel
I get a smile on my face
because filling up the two gallon tank
is kind of like a joke
told to me by the fuel pump
I pay five dollars and change
to fill up the whole tank
now, granted
I can only ride maybe a hundred miles
on that one tank
but measured out
that’s about a nickel
for every mile
and the feeling I get
from every mile I ride
on my little Honda Rebel
is worth a whole lot more than that


not human
it came to my attention
last night
that one of my dear coworkers
(I won’t mention her name)
believes I am not a human
this is not the first instance
of a person doubting my humanity
but it had never come
into question
like this
she came up to me
and said, no-
rather demanded
that I be nice to her friend
because it was her friend’s birthday
and that being nice
meant making out with her
so I said, “listen, Ari- (oops!) don’t treat me
like I’m just a piece of meat. I don’t
just go and make out on command.”
she replied, “shut up. you are
just a piece of meat.”
“Ari, I have feelings, too.
I’m a human being, too.”
she was walking away
when I was saying this last part
but she stopped in her steps
turned back to me and said,
“you do NOT have feelings
and you are NOT a human being!”
after she finished scowling at me
she went back to her table
back to her friend
the birthday girl who I wouldn’t make out with
and I went outside and lit a smoke
smiled at the moonless sky
the rain spitting down
and got to thinking
if I am not a human being
just what am I?
and what can I get away with?

Thursday, September 3, 2009


she aliens from another planet
I was sitting outside
at a table
editing my to – do list
when the first one came up
she was with a friend
and they were talking
and laughing
but then she saw me
and she stopped talking and laughing
stopped moving all together
except to put her hand over her face
her friend
who I also knew
smiled and said, “no need for words.”
I nodded and gave a snort
but whenever
there is no need for words
that’s when people
feel they need to speak most
the first one took
her hand from her face
and said, “I’m so sorry. I’m such
as asshole.”
she thought she needed to apologize
for coming up to me
the previous night
when I was working the door
at a bar
where she had kissed me a few times
asked me to move with her
to Lake Tahoe
gave me a Pall Mall
and had agreed
that before she left
we should have a two month long
wild love affair.
then she went inside the bar
and later that night
left with some other guy
“I don’t care.”
that’s what I said
and I really meant it
because it wasn’t the first time
that she had gotten drunk
and confessed her love for me
asked me to go out with her
and I was sure it wouldn’t
be the last.
there are things in life you have to
get used to
and not taking to heart
the words of drunk women
is high up there on that list
so the two of them left
and a few minutes later
somebody put their arms
over my eyes
and I said, “could be anybody.”
there was some laughter
and this one removed her arms
and smiled at me as she walked away
saying, “we’re in search of a couch,
for the employee lounge.”
I watched her go
looking absolutely gorgeous
in a purple dress
that covered a body
I wouldn’t mind
lying next to again
goofing around and tickling
under the sheets.
“try Craigslist,” I said as she bounced off
then another came walking by
one I’d met years before
through a friend in passing
and she didn’t look at me
didn’t smile
just kept walking by
and I went, pheeww
and looked around
at all the women
the young and the old
the ones with babies inside of them
the fat ones and the skinny ones
the ugly and attractive ones
the ones with red hair
the blondes and brunettes
the ones with thick ankles
flat asses
bad posture
the ones with big frowns
and big smiles
furrowed brows
the ones with bright shiny teeth
acne – scarred faces
nail polish on their fingers
the ones smoking cigarettes
with short hair
and leather vests
and after looking around for so long
the only thought I could have
in my tired brain was
what the hell is it with them?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


get outta my bar
when I go into a bar
and there is a television
I watch it
why do I do this?
the volume is always off
and the programming is usually
sports highlights
or commercials
neither of which I care for
yet still I watch
and I hate that I do
I hate that it’s become the fad
to have as many televisions as you can
inside your bar
there are some bars out there
they have twenty or thirty televisions
in a single room
all showing the same three channels
maybe it’s become a competition
between bar owners
who can have the most televisions
who can broadcast the most shit
from the walls of their bars
whatever it is, it’s crap
the bars used to be holy places
where you’d go to drink the nectar
and confess to an unbiased ear
a place to forge bonds with strangers
make allies and alibis
or where you could hide out
and be left alone
but not anymore
now there’s some asshole
up on the wall
trying to sell you a magic mop
and next to him is another fool
telling you how to lose weight
I didn’t come in here for this
I can drink beer and watch television at home
or if I want to watch sports
I can go to a sports bar
I came in here to hunch over a beer
and dream about the future
or lament about the past
I came in here to do nothing
but with all these televisions on the walls
I can’t even do that


he commanded lighting bolts to strike me dead
an old long-haired man
who liked to come into the bar
around midnight
and joke around with everybody
he once said to me
between cigarette drags
as I was standing in the doorway
after having to refuse entry
to a group of drunk girls
celebrating a bachelorette party
“man, I don’t envy your job. People
come up to the door having fun
and then you have to tell them
they can’t have anymore fun.”
“almost,” I said. “I just have to tell them
they can’t have any fun in here.”

and so last night
another Friday night on the door
a man in his mid twenties
with long, sweat-soaked hair
came up and stood a little ways away
an earphone in one ear
the other dangling down his chest
music from his iPod
blasting loud enough for me to hear
ten feet away
while he grunted along with it
and finished a cigarette.
after he’d tucked the butt
into a Red Bull can on the sidewalk
he came up to the door
and looked at me through his glassy
bloodshot and wandering eyes.
he began to fumble for his ID
but I thought I’d save him some time
so I said, “sorry, man, but
you look like you’ve had too much
to come in here.”
he tried to focus his eyes at me
one earphone still blasting music
into his head
the other hanging by his shoulder
“what? what do you mean?”
“I mean I think you’ve had too much
to come in here.”
we went around a few times
as is customary with the drunks
or otherwise fucked up would-be patrons
him asking first if I was serious
then if I was joking.
after enough rounds
he stepped back
and said, “man, I’m a fuckin’ Nazi!
you better let me in there!”
I didn’t have time to say anything
before he raised his arms to the sky
and began to command lightning bolts
to come down from the sky and strike me dead
this went on for some time
and other people came up to the door
and gave me their IDs
along with nervous looks
as the Nazi began to speak
in some guttural, slurred German
I continued to greet new customers
and bid goodnight
to those that were leaving
while I kept an eye on him
standing a few feet away
when the lightning bolts
didn’t come down and strike me dead
he began to roar about the things
he’d do to me
the ways he’d kill me
if I kept refusing him entry
and so on
so during a slow moment
I removed my glasses and set them aside
assuming that a physical confrontation
was a great possibility
but just as soon as I had
he ceased his communion with the sky
wiped the sweat from his forehead
and put out his hand to me
saying, “whoa. wow, I’m sorry about that.
I’m just really fucked up right now. You have
a good night, okay?”
I shook his hand and he said, “peace.”
and then he walked off down the sidewalk
one earphone still blasting into his head

Monday, August 31, 2009


more for my money
let’s get this straight
right now: I do not enjoy
my free refill.
I’m not a big coffee drinker
and one cup is enough
almost too much
but when I go back
for my free refill
and start in on it
I begin to feel sick
as though I’m going to throw up
but still I choke it down
as much as I can take
because I want to get more
for my money
by drinking my free refill
I get two cups of coffee
for just under two dollars
which brings each cup
to cost a buck
the exact amount I feel
that a cup of coffee should cost


given a platform to express themselves
people will eventually start to complain
there’s a new section
in the online version of our local paper
where readers can give reviews
and it’s become very clear
that some of the locals around my city
are not happy with the service
at a certain major coffee shop
one complains that the service is not delivered
with a smile
and another muses, “it seems the baristas
would be happier chatting amongst themselves
than making me a latte.”
my favorite was this:
“it’s as if the staff there don’t love their jobs.”
what I’d like to know about these people
these reviewers
is where the hell they came from
and if they don’t like the way things are going
around here
why the hell they don’t go back?
I find the service at this particular corner coffee shop
to be exceptionally acceptable
and without being a cocksucker
that’s all you can really expect from people
who have no reason to love their jobs


our secret
when I brought her home
the first thing she said
was, “you have no sheets
on your bed!”
as though I didn’t already know!
“they’re in the wash!” I laughed
and they really were
or maybe it was the dryer
nothing matters after midnight
“let’s drink the tequila!” I shouted
so we drank the tequila
and jumped into bed
my bed with no sheets
and in the morning
after asking for a pledge of secrecy
she took a cab home
later in the day she texted me,
I just threw up at work. Thnx 4 a fun night!
I smiled and thought,
what a babe! I hope we can do it again

Sunday, August 30, 2009


the big concern
it’s a big concern
in a certain neighborhood
where I walk a dog
when the household cat
does not come along
the neighbors come out
and give me nervous looks
and ask things like,
“but where is the cat?”
or, “oh, no! Is the cat okay?”
or, “nothing happened to the cat, right?
There’s usually a cat that follows you.”
but the truth is
the cat really just does whatever
she wants.
on some days she comes along
and some days she doesn’t
and most days
she pops up for a little bit here
a little bit there
just coming and going
and doing her thing
just as she damn well pleases
and for that I’m jealous of her
because I, too
would like to come and go
and do my thing
just as I damn well please


dollar plan dream
I just bought a bagel
and a cup of coffee
came to $4.10
about two dollars more
than it should have been
see, I’m on this dollar system dream
where everything is only a buck
I’d be willing and happy
to spend a dollar on anything
a bagel, a coffee, a beer
a shot of whiskey, fuck it!
I can only imagine
the life I could live
if everything was just a buck

or rather
the life I could have lived
before my mechanic
called me up this morning
and said the work on my jeep
would cost over eight hundred dollars
leaving me just enough money
to sit here on my ass
in my room
for another week
eating a bagel a day
drinking nothing
and wondering where it all went wrong

Saturday, August 29, 2009


the chair
I have this chair
I bought at GOODWILL
for $5.99
it’s an old rocking chair
with a wicker seat
and no armrests
it rests in the corner of my room
usually supporting a few dirty shirts
or a pair of jeans
with the belt still through the loops
it’s one of my favorite belongings
this old rocking chair
and sometimes I lie in bed
and gaze at it
think about the places it might have been
the asses it might have rocked
the chair itself
seems to hold some wisdom
like it’s been around for long enough
to have overheard some secrets
then just the other day
while lying in bed
and feeling like I knew nothing
nothing at all
about myself
or the world around me
I realized that since I’d bought that chair
I’d never actually sat down in it
and I considered that maybe
if I sat in that chair
I could absorb some sort of wisdom
gain some knowledge
or have a revelation
but instead of getting up
I remained in bed
because it was comfortable
and I was warm
and because I’ve already learned
a thousand times
that ignorance really can be bliss


no ma’am
she was middle aged
with brown skin and black hair
and by her looks
she’d never gone hungry
she sat on the curb
smoking a cigarette
as I walked by with a dog
“cute dog,” she said
reaching out her hand to pet it
the dog, Sal
sniffed her and stood there
kind of not knowing what to do
that was how she was with strangers
“I’m not from around here,” the lady said
and the way she said it
I could tell she was waiting on
a lot more than a bus ride
she took a drag and looked away
blue out a nice, big lungful of smoke
watched it disappear
and said, “but then, none of us
asked to be brought here, right?
Nobody wanted to come into this world.”
I smiled back at here
and gave a little tug on the leash
and before walking away said,
“no, ma’am. I guess not.”

Friday, August 28, 2009


just one
the AC blows
while I sit on my bed
and suck at beers
I’m good at this
so very good at doing this
when the temperature tops ninety outside
and the bars don’t interest me
and there are no women
pestering my mind
while I sit around
and suck at these beers
I smile at my contentment
for I used to think I’d never tire
from the bars
and the rampages
the weeklong benders
but here I am
only 29
hiding out on a Tuesday night
while I can hear the music
while I use the pisser
the music coming from the patios
and the screams and whoops
of the nighttime revelers
I snap open another beer
and slam the door shut
content to be sitting back on my bed
wearing only a pair of boxers and a smile
maybe clothes don’t make a man
but a mood sure makes him different
and right now I’m just not in the mood
to do anything
I could blame it on the heat
or my back which has all but healed
I could say I’m getting older
growing up
but it’s not like I won’t go back
it’s not like I’m throwing in the towel
hanging up my belt
it’s not like after I’m a six pack in
I won’t pull on my pants
sneak into a shirt
lick the still stifling air and say,
“fuck it, maybe I’ll go out for one. Just one.”


my little game
it has become like a game
my little game
to submit a poem a day
to a certain online literary site
whose editor has decided
to play a little game of his own
that being
to reject my poem each night
I copy one of my little works
paste it into an email
and write, “Dear Editor,
Please consider my following poem
for publication in your online journal.
Thanks so much
for your time and consideration.
Sincerely, Jackson Warfield”
and each morning he replies
in a less than personal manner
“Sorry to inform you, we will not
be using your work. Good luck
with it elsewhere, and please be aware
that we publish less than 1% of the entries
we receive.”
I’ve decided that if I submit one poem a day
even if I never wrote another poem
I would be able to bother this editor
for at least a few years
and hope and believe that
either one of my poems will hit
and be published because he likes it
or maybe because he just wants me
to stop submitting.
whether I finally get one published or not
it is a fun little game to play


it was 92 degrees out there today
invoking various terms such as
hotter than hell
or hot as balls
or it’s a fucking furnace!
but not so in the grocery store
in the grocery store
where you could see your breath
it was about fifty degrees colder
people hunched their shoulders
as they jogged up and down aisles
pushing frost covered carts
you’d see somebody
standing in the cereal section
hands to their mouth
blowing on their fingers to keep warm
as they contemplated whether to buy
granola or maybe something
more fitting to the climate
like oatmeal or mittens
I went in for a Powerade and some chips
but was soon perusing
the hot chocolate section
envisioning myself in front of a fireplace
with a warm bowl of soup
a blanket wrapped around me
and slippers on my feet
I stomped the floor as I walked along
to keep the feeling in my toes
and on the way out
after paying the cashier
who was shivering behind her register
I looked into a mirror
at my red nose and purple lips
and wondered, “what the hell is it all about?”

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


man of few words
I was twenty four
and building a house
with my father
when I told him
that I was going to be a writer
he nodded casually
didn’t look up
from a board he was measuring
and said to me,
“I also used to think
about being a writer
but then I realized
I didn’t have anything
I really wanted to say.”


reverse psychology
it doesn’t bother me
when I go into the Pizza Factory
over in the 800 Islington Street plaza
that the same man is always there
and when I walk in the door
he smiles and says, “two?”
assuming that I’ll be ordering
exactly what I order
every time I go in there
which is two slices of cheese pizza
but for a friend of mine
it’s a different story
he calls in for delivery
and when this man answers the phone
he recognizes the number
and after receiving the same order
so many times in a row
assumes the usual and says,
“the usual?”
but upon hearing this my friend hesitates
and suddenly changes his order
he told me he does this
because he doesn’t like
when somebody tells him what to do
what to eat and drink
and he also doesn’t want people to think
he’s becoming predictable
when I think about this I laugh
and wonder if maybe he’s taking it all
a little too seriously
or maybe he’s just been smoking a lot of pot

Monday, August 24, 2009


nobody likes it
when I wear my short jean shorts
I come out of my room
and my housemates grunt
and sigh and go, “ugghh, come on.”
and when I go out to the coffee shop
people see my white spindly legs
and if they know me
they come up and say, “really, man? Really?”
and because of this
because nobody likes
my short jeans shorts
or ‘jorts’ they’ve been called
I like them even more
and I like to wear them more
strange that way
how something that brings others
irritation and misery
can bring me loads of glee
strange and also very amusing


the smudge
under the seat
of one of the toilets in my apartment
there is a large and terrible smudge
it can’t be determined
what the smudge actually is
but it’s there and it’s sick
and nobody will clean it up
it’s like this silent test of will power
between the three roommates
and none of us are giving in.
I believe that they
like me
feel that whoever created the smudge
should take care of it
wipe it off the seat
and sterilize the area which it covered
make it somehow disappear
but day after day it is still there
and I can feel the tension mounting
none of us have spoken of the smudge
it’s too awful a subject to bring up
what with loathsome jobs
bad backs
and the utility bills now due
there are bigger and more pressing issues
like rent coming up
the toilet paper running out
and the Sox being now six games behind the Yankees
but this smudge
it remains
day in and day out
growing longer and wider each night
driving splinters of insanity into our eyes
filling our ears with whispers of insanity
filling our minds with accusations and curses
oh, help me god!
I can’t stand even being here any longer
I run now
I run away from it all
and back out into the night


dodging raindrops
on and off it rains
these days
like we’re in some fucking
tropical forest
it’ll pour for an hour
and be clear blue sky
five minutes later
or it’ll be clear blue sky one minute
and then be drizzling for hours
little gobs of spit
flying from the mouths of the gods
as they sit upon barstools
in the skies
haggling over riddles
of dead souls
the gods
I laugh
to live forever must be so boring
what a pain in the eternal ass
so what can a man like me do
but go out
and dodge the raindrops?
see this little city of mine
in a damp, shiny mist
I go into the bar where I work
and look for my paycheck
at first I can’t find it
so I shout
the bartender
a friend of mine
he comes over to see what it’s all about
he looks on the same shelves I’ve looked
and says,
I don’t know, man
goes back to pouring beer
I go behind the bar and check the other place
where it might be
and the first thing I grab is my check
I rip it open to make sure
it’s for the right amount
and it is.
I make off towards the bank
the ATM
with my work check
and one other check
it feels good to make a deposit
in my short life
I’ve already spent long stints
only making withdrawals
one, two, three, seven, eight months at a time
yes, it’s nice to be making deposits these days
I leave the ATM and round the corner
to the coffee shop
I’m not going in but I like to walk by
like to see who’s at it
who’s up to nothing
of course he’s there
the phantom of this goddamn town
or at least my version of it
the one who spends every night
wandering in and out of every bar
searching for the action
the girls
I want to grab him by the shirt
yell in his face
I get a hold of myself and slip past him
sitting there in his chair
starting to warm the burner of hope
maybe I’ll check out the bookstore
pick out a few books and flip through them
of course I won’t buy
but it’s fun to look
I open up the door
and some jerkoff
is standing in front of a large group of yuppies
telling them how to make HARD MONEY
all their eyes turn to me
and it’s like by complete accident
I stole his thunder
but I’m not in the mood for being stared at
so I turn back towards the door
hobble out into the night
the raindrops are coming down faster now
harder to dodge
they remind me of teardrops
but whose
I cannot recall
they belong to everyone
as though each was a pearl
which we passed around the world
hot potato, wet teardrop
I pass the parking garage
remember the night I woke up in the stairway there
or the night I met a friend and talked for hours
blowing smoke out over the city
I head back towards my apartment
make an assessment of my journey
I walked out with a check for forty nine dollars
picked up the check from work
that one was for a hundred and eighty five
I deposited them both
a two hundred and thirty four dollar gain
the rains come down harder
so I walk close to the buildings
under the awnings
I open the door to my apartment
and make for the third floor
remove my shirt and pants
lie back down in bed and decide
yes, I will leave again
I will stay as long as I can
save up as much as I can
and I will leave again
South America, this time
Columbia, probably
I have a contact down there
I will stay on his couch until I find a place
with a corner bar
then I will find a girl
a gorgeous native beauty
we’ll have some train wreck love affair
which will last maybe a month or two
then I’ll either leave in the night
or stay
and see what it feels like
to have her brother’s knife against my neck
I’ll promise to stay
and then I either will or I won’t
and I will do that until the money runs out
and after that
who knows
it feels strange to tell you this
like I’m impersonating some prophet or seer
like I actually have some insight into my future
like I’m some sort of night time mystic
rubbing a stone to know the truth
but I’m not
I’m just another drifter
in a world of coming and going
where you can either be afraid to leave
to go at it alone
or be afraid to stay
and go at it alone

Thursday, August 20, 2009


form of prayer
twenty nine and strong
always been strong
not jacked
no muscles ever bulged
from my shirt sleeves
more the fit type
you’re a lot stronger than you look
that’s what they’d say
after a little friendly scuffle
I was that kinda guy
but not today
no, no
today, like yesterday
I take in one of my lessons in humility
and mortality
every few months
my back goes bad
I can never really pinpoint an action
or occurrence
maybe it happens by sleeping the wrong way
or maybe it’s because I thrashed too much
playing the sex game
or got all twisted up
in a wrestling bout
whichever it is doesn’t matter
I’m reduced to my bed
any flat surface
to sit in a chair
or the seat of a car
or on the toilet bowl
is to invite pain
to walk is to rely on the puppet strings
of a laughing, maniacal puppeteer
I stagger and scream
grab onto a railing
a table edge
anything solid and within reach
I only walk when I need to
for work
or to get to the bathroom
after hours upon hours in bed
I tire
I get bored
so I kneel
Jesus Christ
I’ve never kneeled in my life to pray
not once
have I knelt down
at the edge of my bed
or in some churchhouse
I was raised to meditate
to sit on my ass
cross my legs
stare into the middle of the nothingness
and wait for god to pull up the shade
make me see the light
not now, though
the back won’t allow the Indian position
now I can only kneel
and I kneel for salvation
in front of my desk
my bare nipples level with the keyboard
the only light I see
is the light from the computer screen
it is not holy
not to them
but once speckled with words
my words
it becomes holy to me
so now I pray
now I write


he rode a brand new black Harley
and wore a black t shirt
above a pair of jeans
and black boots
his head was shaved
and around it was wrapped
a black bandana
and he had all the looks of
being a real baddass
except that his fly was down
and he didn’t know it.
people he knew came by
and they’d speak for a few minutes
but nobody had the balls to mention it to him
that his fly was all the way down
so they’d go on their way
after awkward conversations
which they spent
trying not to glance down at his open fly.
every time he looked over at me
I’d bite my lip and look away
try not to let him see me laughing
not because I was afraid of him
or what me might do
but it was really the only good thing
I had going on in my life at that moment
while I stood in the doorway
spitting out sunflower seed husks
and checking the occasional ID card
waiting around for one o’clock
when I could go home to sleep the dead sleep
of a bored, exhausted, dog walking poet

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


garbage man
I want to be a garbage man
to spend my days
hanging on the back of a truck
jumping off now and then
to toss trash into the compactor
oh, to be a garbage man
to wear one of those neon jackets
and swear and growl and laugh
with the other garbage men
as we accelerate and brake through the days
disposing of the people’s refuse
if only I could be a garbage man
smell and feel
the stinky wind in my hair
the grime on my face
maybe a tin of tobacco in my pocket
yes, I want to be a garbage man
with good benefits and holidays off
paid vacations and security
I could be happy
leading my humble life
and every shower
would really mean something
I could go home in the evenings
to a clean apartment
a couple dogs
and a dozen beers
and the beers would mean something, too
I could sit on my couch
and enjoy the stillness and the quiet
and every morning I could get up
and throw it all away

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


rough wood frame
on my wall
near my desk
there is a picture frame
that I built myself
it contains four postcards
which I bought in Maui
when visiting a lunatic friend of mine
at least once a day
or more likely once a night
the picture frame falls to the floor
either it is bumped by my chair
my rolling desk chair
or it is knocked over
by some drunk friend of mine
or sometimes
even a strong wind is enough
to reduce it to the floor
but ever day
more likely every night
I pick up this picture frame
this collection of postcards
all trapped in rough wood
which I salvaged from an old pallet
and I put it back up on the wall
I could move it
this picture frame
tack it into the wall better
maybe use seventeen nails
and forty one screws
or I could be more careful
in my rolling desk chair
or more careful with who I invite over
but I don’t
I do not do this
because I like the ritual
the somehow sacred ritual
of the falling of the picture frame
like the ritual of sleep
of breakfast, lunch and dinner
of falling in and out of love
these things that you just do
because it seems they are supposed to be done
because they have been done forever
since the start of your life
holding on and letting go
this collection of postcards
framed in rough wood
is the story of the human spirit
knocked down and rising back up again
and again
and again


the moments of my madness
in the moments of my madness
I stand and acknowledge the sun
it’s golden rays punish me
scrub me with the idea of god’s grace
grace like the light from distant stars
which existed long ago
but are now extinct
strangled by the procession of time
murdered and butchered into intervals
minutes and hours
days and weeks and months
years and decades and centuries
light years
a cloud blocks out the sun
in the moments of my madness
and I am again aware of this world
the screaming baby
being dragged along by her mother’s arm
the roar of a motorcycle over there on the street
the sudden commotion at a table
when a cup of tea is knocked over
and the hot water splashes legs and laps
the man standing over my shoulder
pretending to be looking away
he could be a narc or a horse thief
for all I know
or the single black kid in this scene
dancing to the beat in his headphones
as a dog barks and snarls at him
the young mother
who bends over her son’s stroller
suddenly stripper-like
revealing the bottoms of her ass cheeks
the lump of her muff
all these things that happen
these flashes of images
moments of sound
that fill in the seconds and minutes
the days and years that make up a lifetime
I take them all in
absorb them like so many soldiers
retreating from a vast opposing army
I do this all
while sitting in a chair
on a sidewalk in the world
before that cloud passes by
and I stand again
to acknowledge the sun
in the moments of my madness

Monday, August 17, 2009


think of you
I never thought
I was doomed
than the next guy
just that maybe
I was aware of it
a little better
or sometimes a lot
on the next guy.
I never thought
I was cursed by women
than the next guy
and I knew they were equally
cursed by men.
I never thought
I would die
or live forever
but goddamn, baby
I sure did think of you


I’m writing this to remind you
when I’m fat
an old
and have given it all up
I’ll think of this moment
this exact moment
sitting up here in my attic room
137 High Street Apt C
Portsmouth, NH 03801
on the fifth day in August
the year of 2009
half past ten
I’ll think back and remember
me sitting here
sweating in the night
a pair of cut off jean shorts
covering my ass
my thick, curly brown hair
growing wild from my head
these cheap beers my companions
who come and go
like the moments of my clarity
I’ll think of the sand
on the soles of my feet
and the burrito still in my gut
the dogs that supported me through this
and the family and friends
who didn’t try to stop me
I’ll think of the girls I loved
the ones who might have married me
had I been insane enough
for that institution
I’ll think of the road
that was always calling my name
sometimes whispering
sometimes screaming
and I’ll think of the flickering light
the fluttering flag
the insects crawling across the computer screen
I’ll remember writing this poem
to remind myself
that whether driven mad
by whiskey or women
or sitting cross legged
under the forgiving gaze of a living saint
whether on some yacht in the south pacific
or in the drunk tank or the sheep fields
hungry and thirsty
broke or rich
whether basking in glory
or rotting in the gutter
I’ll only be living
just living and passing through
the various stages of life
in a world forever changing

Sunday, August 16, 2009


the flood
the people are hustling about
their sandals go CLOP
and SLAP against the brick sidewalks
they speak in various languages
and carry shopping bags
from designer stores
and all are acting
as though it is about to rain.
but when I look up at the sky
and when I sniff at the air
I can’t decide
whether it is really, actually the rain
that is coming
or if maybe
it’s not just the end of the world


if I believed that life should be fair
I would have made a bigger stink
this beautiful Saturday morning
when I packed my things for the beach
went down the stairs
and outside to my driveway
to find the back rear tire of my jeep
completely flat
and if on this morning
I believed in the gods
which I sometimes do
I would have been sure
they were laughing
up in their clouds
or on top of their mountains
on golden chairs
I would have been sure
they were mocking me
because they caught me
when I was feeling pretty damn good
sober and rested and excited
filled to the brim with enthusiasm
for the day
and how quickly that dissipated
as I dropped my things
got out the jack and the spare tire
wrestled with the lug nuts
(which seemed to have been tightened
by the world’s strongest man)
and went through the ordeal
of loosening the wheel
which was rusted to the axle
knocking the whole jeep off the jack
while sweat poured from my face and my hair
and I cursed fate
damned fate
until I’d gotten the tire back on again
pulled out a long screw from the rubber tread
fixed it with a home repair kit
and went back on my way to the beach
with the reminder that sometimes
many times
things just cannot go the way you wish them to

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


she came out to drink
and sulk
about the man who’d broken her heart
ruined her life
and the friends
who weren’t acting up to par
who weren’t there when needed
only there
when they were in need
and when she left
in the morning
it was in a bad mood
and with a bad hangover
and the quiet knowledge
that she owed money or favors
to all the hotdog vendors in town


passing by
I pass by your window, friend
and hear you inside
with the others
laughing and talking
for many years I’ve wondered
what it was all about
what it was that you were talking about
laughing and cheering and celebrating
but I know now
that you do not know
that your thoughts are like maimed animals
limping around the forest
of your mind
simple and humble things
struggling to stay alive
and they
like you
do not know, either
but still I wonder
and this wondering is obnoxious to me
like being nagged by your mother
to do the dishes
vacuum the floor
and take out the trash
you just want to turn and roar,
“enough! SHUT UP already!
the dishes and the floor and the trash,
they don’t matter a fuck!”
but rather than answers
I would give up the questions
in the space of a vole’s heartbeat
I would do this
and it would be something done so genuinely
with so much determination
that I would never have any regret
never again a thought about why
when I pass your window
why you are in there
talking and laughing
and celebrating
I would stop in front of your door
and put my hand on the doorknob
I would turn it
without knocking
and walk right in


just another day
the humidity today
is like a great big wrestler
who has your head
locked inside his armpit
while he rocks back and forth
choking the life out of you
and because of this
the animals are lazy
yes, the animals are lazy today
lazier than ever before
the dogs won’t even lift their heads
to go for a walk
and the cats sprawl out in the shade
meowing curses at the sky
as I pass by sweating
sweating from my face
and my arms and my legs
and my balls
they sweat, too
I loaf along
too hot to complain out loud
I keep my thoughts to myself
occasionally letting out weak groans
deep sighs
crossing the road
I see a squirrel
and the squirrel is not
moving how squirrels move
it is just ambling along
no hopping today
no bounce in this little squirrely’s step
just one paw in front of the other
left right
left right
moving like some tiny grizzly bear
shambling along
doopty doo
doopty doopty doo
just another day in the steam room
another hellish day in July
in New Hampshire
now that the summer has finally come
another day
just another day


more on runners
apparently running
is not bad enough
for some of the bastards
who dwell in my little city
more and more now
I see them running
plodding down the sidewalks
the streets and the roads
inviting misery
beckoning in pain
like some long lost exceptional lover
what the fuck is wrong with these people?
what are they thinking?
on the sidewalks
the streets and the roads
there is broken glass
and rusty metal scraps
there is shit and piss and puke
blood and semen and snot
spit and phlegm
for fuck’s sake
for fuck’s sake! I want to yell at them
as they jog through their delirium
put on some goddamn sneakers!

Monday, August 10, 2009


around this town
there are plenty of people
who think they know my name
but they really don’t
they call me by various deviations of my name
thinking that it is, in fact
my name
but I do not correct them.
the days go by
and the weeks
even years
there is this one fellow
who’s been calling me the wrong name now
for nearly seven years
he just hasn’t realized it
hasn’t picked up on it
and nobody
including myself
has ever bothered to inform him
that for seven whole years
he’s been calling me a name
which is not my own.
it is a neat feeling
to have that over somebody
almost like a secret
like you know something they don’t know
and armed with that knowledge
you are a better man


the anti kiss
I rub her elbows
and her forearms
and massage that perfect ass
I squeeze her knees
and tickle the soles of her feet
with my big toe
my hand runs up her thigh
and over that spot
warm and inviting
and I make circles around her navel
up to her breasts
her large, taught beautiful breasts
which I play with for a while
cupping them like softballs
or flicking her nipples
and giggling
burying my head into them
every now and then
I run my finger
over her lips
and then again
with my big toe
I slip off her underwear
but as I’m closing in for the kill
she asks, “are you ever gonna kiss me?”


humanity lost
down in Florida
in community college
I once took a class
in environmental conservation
the professor was a cynic
or maybe a realist
it’s hard to differentiate these days
but he was hellbent
on the idea that the human race
would not survive
another hundred years.
throughout the course
we learned about ozone depletion
global warming
the end of natural resources
and throughout the course
girls would leave the class, crying
having been assured of humanity’s demise
“if things don’t change,” he’d shout
“in fifty years we’ll be the living dead,
zombies walking around
bleeding from our eyeballs
and every other orifice in our bodies!”
“if we keep going down this road
we’ll be doomed. DOOMED!”
I found the class mildly entertaining
a little glimpse into the future
or one possible version of it
but now, ten years later
it doesn’t seem that things have changed
all that much
sure, we’ve got some ‘green’ products
and some hybrid cars and trucks
but we’re still living
like this earth is our ashtray
which can be emptied or discarded
at a moment’s notice
we’re still living for the moment
caring little about the future
but that is just the nature of the beast
the beast of humanity
the nature of laziness, greed and procrastination
I’m not as hellbent on destruction
as my professor might have been
I try to take it as it comes
but I do keep an eye out for the tears of blood


when death dies
who will know
when death goes to die?
the mailman
the crane operator
or the gymnast on the rings?
who will be here
to see the end
of all the little things?
the mind is lost
the brain is lazy
and the soul is too terrified
to come out of the dark
so who will be here
when death goes dying?
the ants in their mounds
or the birds diving under the water
or what about the snow fleas
on the melting glaciers of the world?
who will it be, my dear
when even death, dies?


right place at the wrong time
today at the supermarket
again my luck ran out
because in the parking lot
I began to push a cart
with a badly broken wheel
at first I thought
to hell with it!
a broken wheel
cannot stop me!
and as I pushed and pushed
towards the building
I began to feel superior
to all the other customers
who were pushing their carts
in from the parking lot
because I had a bigger heart
I accepted the cart with the broken wheel
accepted it for what it was
a broken cart
yet still I felt compassion for it
more compassion than I would have felt
for a perfectly fine cart
I wanted to grab men by the shirt collars
and flick old ladies in the ears
and say, “look at me! The merciful
on the poor and beaten down!”
but as I made my way inside
my thoughts began to focus less on myself
and more on my cart
my crippled, bastard cart
it swayed to the left
when I pushed it straight
and when I tried to correct it
the wheels went haywire
and the cart wanted to go nowhere
it just skidded along
as I traversed the aisles
then came the people
watching me push my gimp cart
laughing and talking and yelling
like the poor often do
and a woman came up and said,
“hey, what’s that tattoo on your arm say?”
I told her it was a secret
and she said, “is that why you got it? So that you
could tell people it’s none of their business?!”
she was ferocious and angry
but she buzzed right
past because she had a cartload of kids
who wanted a cartload of groceries
and whatever the tattoo on my arm said
it wouldn’t change that
and so I traveled the aisles
tossing in a box of cereal
a tub of dip
a bottle of hot sauce
when I made the checkout
the bagger boy recognized me
from one other single encounter
and he started heckling me about walking dogs
how many I walk each day
whether or not it was my only job
how much I charged
this little prick couldn’t have been more than 14
and he was slow as anything
about transporting the groceries
from the conveyor to my cart
my bunk cart
my feeble and pathetic cart
but when he did
and when I’d gotten my change
I tore out of there like a bat out of hell
and when I got back to my jeep
I wrote this down: Wednesday, 4 PM
another dismal time to go food shopping
try much earlier or much later
and be sure not to go to the line
with that specific bagger boy
oh, and also
no more pity on the carts
in the end they always bite you in the ass


they do not come
I sit here
and scratch the backs
of my fingers
but still the words
do not come
I read an article
on masturbation
and pour myself a glass
half water and half orange juice
but still the words
they do not come
I contemplate
love and hate
life and death
men and women
cats and dogs
but still the words
they do not come
I comb my hair
and blow my nose
dig up a little tin of black shoe polish
which my house mate had asked about
but still the words
they do not come
I look around
watch my flag shiver
in the breeze
of a window fan
I get bitten by a little fly
swat at it
and end its life
but still the words
they do not come
so I give up
not forever
but for the night
and I lie down in bed
my head on the pillow
my flesh on the clean sheets
and then the words begin to come

Saturday, August 1, 2009


all at stake
I lost my shirt
to the owner of the night
bet it all on black
silly me
to think I even had a chance
punished with exhaustion
I lie in bed
there is nothing for me out there anymore
except an empty fish bowl
full of skeletons
and so I dream
though not asleep
my eyes wide open
I dream about that which I know
cannot be found
and when I’m done dreaming
I blink my eyes
get up and piss out yellow water
and brush my yellow teeth
I should be out there
warming some barstool
giving a speech to an audience of cheap beers
and warm bourbon
I should be looking for god
or at least a tidy piece of ass, but no
here I sit
shirtless now
sweating in the glow of a naked bulb
which flickers on and off
leaving me sometimes in the darkness
and sometimes in the light
I am disinterested now
but still I watch this world go by
like a roulette player
watching the ball spin round and round
when he has nothing riding on it
no wager at all
except the thought
of what could have been

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I’ve decided to try and find god again
not through church or religion
or hallucinogenic drugs
(I’ve never believed in those pathways,
however dreadful or entertaining)
but through a simple practice
of meditation
trying to still the ever wild mind
maybe it’s not god that I’m looking for
but something other than myself
something that has no connection to this chaotic world
it must be silence that I’m after
and maybe god
not man or woman or beloved child
is just silence.
so I got into bed
leaned up against the wall
and crossed my legs
closed my eyes and looked into the blackness
and I tried to think of nothing
but you can’t really think of nothing
because even that is a thought
so I found myself fending off thoughts
protecting a thoughtlessness that
for all intensive purposes
I have never known
only when you try and sit still
and you tell your mind to quiet down
only then can you really understand
that there’s an ever present whirlwind
of bullshit thoughts
spinning around in your head.
first I thought of the bathroom at the bar where I work
I pictured the tiles on the walls
decades old
how terribly hideous they looked
blank and bland and with no sort of style
I thought about how the bathroom would look much better
if there were a few markers left in there
and people got to write graffiti on the walls
if the tiles were just covered in little ditties
rhymes and curses and warnings
like the bathrooms in old rock venues
back when free thought was not only tolerated
but almost encouraged.
then I thought of writing
I thought, Why am I sitting here doing this?
Why am I trying to still my mind?
I’ve already determined that writing is my ticket
the words are my way to mental salvation and freedom.
from there I went onto rock climbing
I’ve never completed a 5-10c
suddenly I was picturing myself bouldering
when suddenly the boulder seemed right in front of me
right in front of my mind’s vision of nothing
no problem
I simply thought my way out of there
I thought about a cross country motorcycle trip
and then about patriotism
how mine compares to the average American
I don’t leave my flag out in the rain like some people do
but then I don’t have it hanging outside, either
it’s inside by my desk
and it flutters in the breeze of my window fan
wait, which Patriot was at that party yesterday?
the one with the motorboats and the slip and slide
where the rapper named Knuckles
was supposedly going to perform
and what about the girl on that couch
was she single?
she sure was pretty with those nice tits
and then that girl who came into the bar last night
I could have looked at her license picture for fifteen minutes
I wonder how long I’ve been sitting here
trying to still my mind- shit!
stop thinking!
no thoughts!
and in this way a thousand thoughts
went through my head
trying to still my mind was like going out into a thunderstorm
trying to stay dry by holding a paper cup over my head
and the thoughts continued
because that is what the mind does
it thinks
and as soon as it thought of a frozen raspberry margarita
my alarm clock went off
and I got up
went down to the kitchen
and now here I am
with the margarita finished
the thoughts of god and silence still only thoughts
and the words
as always
my best company


hope is a drunk asshole
he threw his glass over his head
and it landed behind me
bounced twice on the carpeted stair
and tumbled down another two
before he turned around
and asked me what my problem was
“you’re my problem,” I say to him
guiding him towards the door
“I keep seeing you around and it’s always a drag.”
“what ever happened to you?” he asks
“you used to be a nice guy, you used
to be fun and we had crazy times.”
“I know we did,” I say, continuing to walk
to assist in his departure
“we did have some good times,
but that doesn’t mean I’ve ever liked you.
I can have good times with friends or with people
I don’t even like. You’re in the second category.”
“I can’t believe you, man. I can’t believe
you’re kicking me out of here.”
“it didn’t have to be like this. If you weren’t
a cocksucker, I wouldn’t have to kick you out.”
he turns to me and I’m ready to fight
but then he turns around and walks out
shouting over his shoulder how the place sucks
and how I suck and how everything sucks.
once he’s gone I take a deep breath
and just like after all the previous encounters with him
this person who thought I was his friend
this person who I’ve never liked
I hope that I’ll never see him again


a run
today I went for a run
it wasn’t a jog
it was a full on run
not as fast as I could possibly go
but pretty close
and let me tell you:
it did not last long
over ten years have passed
since my days
as a champion runner
and let me tell you:
I am out of shape
I ran a few blocks
over to my friend’s place
but he wasn’t home
so I ran across the bridge
and turned around
luckily the bridge was going up
and I got to rest a good ten minutes
shooting the breeze
with a local bartender
and catching my breath
once I started again
I ran into the park
up onto benches and along curbs
that fun stuff
then I ran to my hairdresser
to pick up some money she owed me
for walking her dog
so I got a good breather there
and after I ran over to the bar where I work
picked up my paycheck
and told my friend
the bartender
to watch out
because I was having one hell of a run
and I’d be back in shape
in no time at all


for the birds
these birds down in Market Square
they have no respect
for public etiquette
in flight
they brush past my ears
or the top of my head
caring little for my personal space
they sit down at my table
wholly uninvited
not looking for even a glimpse
of permission
their chatter can be heard
above everybody else
and they shit wherever they want
any human acting in such a way
would warrant a call to the police
they’d be handcuffed
stuffed into the back of a cruiser
and brought down to the station for booking
but not these birds
not these birds in Market Square
they don’t give a damn
they bicker and flirt
and eat right off the ground
and for some reason
which I cannot quite understand
everybody likes them for it
and so do I


the weekly incident
every Saturday night
I stand outside the door
to the bar
where I work
spitting on the sidewalk
and looking up and down the street
checking out chicks
and watching for stumblers
every Saturday night
without fail
around nine PM
I see a brown skinned
little girl
speed across the opposite street
and disappear again
she’s always dressed in black
matching her long black hair
her eyes are dark brown
and her smile is broad
and I always think, “hey,
look at that cutie. What a babe!”
and just as I begin to wonder
who she is
whether or not I’ve seen her around
she turns to me
and gives a quick little wave
and I wave back and think,
“shit, I know that girl.”
and the reason I know her
is because I slept next to her
for two and half years
we shared rent
a bed
a television
and a dog
until it all went down in flames
and I fled the country
for seven months
to put enough space between us
but still
I can’t help but wonder
what she thinks
every Saturday
as she walks past and waves
on her way to another night’s work

Monday, July 27, 2009


I can’t hide it anymore
I’m a sucker
a great big huge sucker
for a girl in boots
country western boots
tall stilettos
even boots that look like
they were stolen
from the filthy feet of Robin Hood
I don’t give a damn
I’m a sucker for them all
the clip clop sound they make
when a girl walks down the sidewalk
a big smile on her face
wagging an ass
strutting up a storm
forcing the sun to come out
from behind the clouds
making the old boys hearts
skip a few beats
while the young boys hearts
thump like jackhammers
on the construction site of love
and there I am
leaning against my shovel
constructing a monument
and dedicating it to
all those boot wearing girls out there


the Landing
back in my college days
I spent a year-
no, wait
I wasn’t in college
and it wasn’t a year
it was everybody ELSE
that was in college
and it was more like four months
but anyway
I lived in this mad house
where most of the tenants
were drunk all the time
and the ones that weren’t
were in the kitchen
carving up 200 lb pigs
or in the basement
smoking weird herbs
and hiding under beds
the house was just up the street
from a river
with a parking lot
where people parked
to go boating or fishing
or to hide out for a while
when things weren’t going so well.
on the riverbank
at the edge of the parking lot
seagulls gathered in droves
and for some reason
this really pissed me off
I couldn’t handle the fact
that while I was busting my ass all day
climbing up ladders
and painting houses
and dealing with the weather
the employees
and the customers
these seagulls were just standing around
watching the time go by.
so one day
when driving home with a friend
I drove past our driveway
down to the parking lot
and I gunned my old truck across the sand
right up to the riverbank
honking my horn
and screaming out the window
“gahhhh! Get outta here! Ahhhh!”
the seagulls took flight
and I did a couple donuts
pumping my fist in the air
then drove back up the road
back into the driveway and home.
my friend asked me what it was all about
and I told him about the seagulls
how they’d been getting on my nerves
and how I’d finally snapped
he didn’t say a thing
and we left it at that
but then the next time he was driving home
and I was in his passenger seat
he drove past the driveway
down to the parking lot
and together we yelled out the windows
and did donuts
and scared the seagulls away again
and this soon became our habit
that every chance we could
we’d drive down there and scare away the seagulls
now six years have past
my friend is thirty years old
and I’m less than a year behind
but sometimes we still get together
maybe on some errand to fix the front axle of a jeep
or get falafels in that college town
and we make it a point
to drive down past our old driveway
back into the parking lot
to do a couple donuts
and remind those seagulls
that we’re still around
and we’re still not happy
about them sitting on that riverbank
all day and all night
just wasting their time away


cheese curds
we had gone out all night
and again that morning
and here we were
in the middle of the afternoon
across the bridge
over the river
the Piscataqua
at another table
in another bar
another juke box
the two of us
telling the same stories
the same jokes
what a couple of young fools
we were
who someday would only amount
to a couple of old fools
we sat at there laughing
when the boy from Wisconsin came up
he held out a bag of cheese curds
and said, “they normally squeak
when you bite into them, but I opened them
this morning and the squeakiness has gone away.”
I reached in and pulled out a cheese curd
and my friend did too
we chewed them down
and I said, “wow, that is some good cheese.”
the boy went on to tell us about Wisconsin
how they had the best cheese
in the world.
“I believe you,” I said to him, “because I once
ate a grilled cheese sandwich there
and it was the best I ever had.”
he smiled and held out the bag again
and said, “help yourself. I just got married
and I’m the happiest man in the world.”
he returned to the bar
where two men had ordered beers
he said to the bartender, “put those
beers on my tab, please.”
then he looked over at us
and he pointed and said to the bartender,
“their next beers are on my tab, too. Please,
I’m so happy because I just got married. I’m the happiest
man in the world right now.”
in this way he went around the bar
offering the other men cheese curds
and paying for all their beers
after a couple rounds my friend and I got up
we thanked the boy for his generosity
and wished him the best with his marriage
and after leaving the bar
I turned to my friend and said, “man, those
Midwestern boys, they’re some of the nicest people
in all of the whole wide world.”