Monday, June 29, 2009


in the world
has become "official"
with a girl
now she buys him beer
lends him the car
and answers his phone when I call
she pretends
like we're cool
but we're not cool
I'm jealous
and I'm not a jealous guy
I'm pissed off
that she's making it easier
for him
this friend and I
we've always struggled together
we've solemnly and silently
agreed to hate this life, equally
we built a fantastic friendship
off of our comprehensive self loathing
and I liked that
but I don't like her
I don't like anything about her
maybe I'm just angry
or drunk
or both
but this girl
this girlfriend of his
she's ruining my day
and I'm starting to like it


I went out last night
in a cut off tank top
I’d fashioned from an old t shirt
that read BEER FRIDGE
I went out last night
to my normal haunts
the Press Room
Daniel Street Tavern
the places where the people go
the people who have given up
lying to themselves
and have accepted themselves
for whoever they are
I nodded and mumbled hellos
to all the regulars
and the bartenders
but something was different
they all looked at me
with cold, strange eyes
until after many minutes of staring
each one said, “oh, JESUS! I didn’t
recognize you with that tank top on!”
or “fuck, is that really you?”
or “holy shit! Jackson?”
until then
I didn’t know
such a small change of wardrobe
could make you into a stranger
and now I’m thinking
I might wear tank tops
everywhere I go


they’re all out there tonight
having fun
drinking and laughing
smoking cigarettes and telling stories
remember when we crashed that car?
remember that time down in Cancun?
how about that blonde you banged
in that hotel bathroom in Vegas?
they’re all loving it
the night
the revelry
and I love them for it
because when everybody else
is out causing a ruckus
getting all smashed up
and joking and laughing and fighting
it allows me to sit in this attic room
the fans blasting against my sweating skin
the pictures flapping on the wall
my American flag whipping the wall
like I’m in the middle of some great hurricane
when they are all out cavorting
it allows me to sit in this room
at this desk
and play with the world
a nearly full handle of bourbon
which I have to share with no one


there’s this one house
on Highland street
in which live some owners
who must have really pissed somebody off
maybe they pissed everybody off
because it seems to be the theme
of this neighborhood
to throw all your empty beer cans
right on their great, big lawn
each day I walk by
the cans pile up
until one day when it has been cleaned
and the process begins again
I always think to myself
what a funny prank it would be
to pick some lawn
and always throw your empties there
I get angry sometimes
because it wasn’t my idea
but you can’t win ‘em all
so my best bet
is to start driving past this house
(way out of my way)
this house with the great, big lawn
and maybe add some of my own artwork
to it


I hope to hell
that I am never
caught in a burning building
the flames
the smoke
the heat
the windows blowing out
all that stuff would be real nasty
but the real kicker
would be when
you get to the bottom
of the fire escape
because for some reason
probably involving
and rapists
fire escapes always end
about two stories up
where you realize
that your only option
aside from burning to death
is to jump down
and likely break both your legs
or more
if you’re not so lucky

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


on the sidewalk today
outside a jewelry store
a sign read
“is your white gold turning yellow?
if so, come in for a new shine!”
a few days ago
I saw a headline on the news
said, “more than a billion people hungry”
around town I see Lamborghinis
Aston Martins and Maseratis
but people come into the bar I work at
ask for $2 PBRs and leave
when I tell them the keg is kicked.
I look up at the sky
and smile at the gods
because I don’t have any white gold
that’s turning yellow
I’m not hungry in the streets
an oil change on my jeep only runs me $20
and I have a beer fridge
full of fifty cent cans of beer
I look up at the sky and smile
and the gods smile back at me


I stood in that doorway
for five hours at a time
watching the pretty girls walk by
watching the drunks stumble past
breathing in the smoke
of the smokers
as they stood around and laughed
every now and then
a cockroach would fall from the roof
land on my shoulder
and crawl up my neck
keep going
I’d say to myself
just keep on going
as hard as you can
put your shoulder
to this great, big writing thing
find time outside the benders
or during the hangovers
find the time no matter where it is
to write down the words
poems and stories
find time to submit the stories
to try and sell the books
keep going
I’d say to myself
over and over again
just keep on going
young man
because some day
you’ll be an old boy
and all this bullshit will be behind you
but don’t get too carried away with anything
not the whiskey or the women
or with trying to figure it all out
and don’t get carried away with yourself
because wherever you end up
in the end
the cockroaches will be your only company
before the maggots eat you up


last Saturday
was Market Square day
and I went snooping around
all the booths
when I came to the tent for
the “Life’s Good!” clothing brand
I was amazed that everything
was half price
yet still there were only
a few shoppers
big, stupid smiles on their faces
looking through the shirts
nodding, sweating
just loving it all
but at the “Life’s Crap!” tent
with no sale whatsoever
there was a line of shoppers
a block long
with even bigger and stupider smiles
on their faces
sign of the times

Monday, June 22, 2009


five days a week
I take a Newfoundland named Ben
out for his lunchtime walk
five days a week
we pass by a funeral home
and I’ve been doing this same thing
for over six months
not once have I seen a single soul
coming in or going out
of this funeral home
and not once have I seen
any sort of funeral procession
leaving or approaching this funeral home
even on the weekends
I sometimes pass by
and see nothing
no action whatsoever
and I think to myself
that maybe it’s because of
the recession
the tough economic times
people can scrape by
make a living by the skin of their teeth
but nobody
not even the rich folks
can afford to die these days


he put on his new athletic shorts
and a clean white t shirt
he laced his shoes
and did some stretching
afterwards he got into his car
and drove down to the gym
he locked his cell phone
and wallet
into the glove compartment
and made sure the doors were locked
when he went inside
he took a sip of water
from the water fountain
and moved over to the free weights
he looked at the 35 pound dumbbells
then at the 30 pound ones
when he saw the 10 pounders
he picked them up
and raised them once above his head
he replaced them very quickly
to their slots
walked to the locker room
went into a stall and threw up
it just wasn’t a good day for him to go to the gym

Thursday, June 18, 2009


there was a time
in the not so distant past
when my guitar had six strings
instead of four
and I do not remember
it being covered
with strawberry margarita
but now you have identified yourself
as the culprit
and it makes me smile
to know that you have blisters
on your fingers


the poor, little girl
she was in that dark tavern all alone
drinking cheap beers
and holding her own
fending off the advances
from a dozen guys
who hadn’t had any
in probably longer than you or me
after enough time
they all left her alone
and muttered not so quietly
how she was a bitch
a tease
how she’d certainly ruin a man’s life
if she ever let one in
so there she stood
playing darts
all by herself
because that’s what she said
she wanted
I was standing at the door
checking IDs
watching baseball
and watching her throw the darts
wondering what would happen
if she hit a bull’s eye
what would she do then?
did it all really mean nothing to her?
after five more innings
when the Red Sox came out on top
after they earned three runs in the thirteenth
she actually did hit a bull’s eye
she stared at it a while
then walked towards the dartboard
for a closer inspection
upon seeing the bull’s eye
she immediately turned her head
to see if anybody else was watching
if anybody else had seen her bull’s eye toss
her exceptional throw
her winning hit
but nobody said a word
nobody even noticed
and if they had they wouldn’t have cared
she left the dart up there a while
occasionally looking around
you could see the desire for recognition
from the back of her head
you could see the need
for human interaction
but nobody gave it to her
it was like she’d never even thrown a bull’s eye at all
if you only care about yourself
little dart throwing girl
what does it really matter
if nobody is there to see?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


with all the words
we’ve been sharing, dear
as of late
with all the talk
about this
and that
and everything
let me make it known
that one day
I hope
we might be honest
with each other

and maybe even with ourselves


I am giving up on finding a woman
I had mustered up
a little tinkle of hope
a tiny flame
held my hands around it
to let it grow
but it merely flickered three times
then blew out
far too much of my time
is spent thinking about women
some in particular
one especially
and others just generally
I’d be much better off
thinking about shooting stars
or four leaf clovers
or friendly three legged dogs
because at least those things exist


the red keeps me company
the ballgame is over
and the Sox beat out the Yanks
in the bottom of the 8th
making the score 4 – 3
then they brought in the closer
the man could stand on a set of railroad tracks
and stare down a freight train
they went out one, two, three
I’m not a big baseball fan
but enjoy the rivalries
the duality of nature
the sick realm of reality
a girl texts me
wants to know if I’m at the bar
I tell her no
I’m at home folding laundry
twirling my hair
and writing poems about doom


it is not
in my best interest
my dear
for you to write
and share stories
about the infidelities
of my mind
during the love game
but go on writing away
little girl
because although
I am not always
a great lover
I have always been
a good sport

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


the men
were crazy
and the women
and the dogs ran rampant
through the streets
the homeless
were hauled off to jail
and the sex predators
and outside the courthouse
was a twelve mile line of people
holding their divorce papers
in their hands
the musicians continued playing
and stiffing the bartenders
and the writers in the town
hid in their attics
and drinking all the wine
wondering whether or not
it would be a good idea
to take notes about it all


on the way out of my driveway
this morning
I ran over
Satan’s big toe
he had to stop suddenly
and his tail shot back
to balance him out
then he stood there
lifting his foot
and shaking his toe
and waving his fists
when I looked into the rearview mirror
I saw him staring back at me
and I couldn’t help
raising my hand
and giving him the finger


he told me his wife
had been on a diet
for seven years
and every single day
she’d say to him,
“do I look fat?”
every day he’d say, “no”
and that was that
but then
after those seven years
she’d finally lost some weight
and was feeling better about herself
so good
in fact
that she thought she could do better
find a better man
a better life
so when he came home one day
there was a note in her handwriting that said,
“I’m leaving you because you never once
told me I looked skinny.”


he had big, thick glasses
and wore a ball cap
which covered his tiny head
and he had been sitting there at the bar
for an hour and half
staring at the same glass of diet Pepsi
he’d asked me three times
for more ice
and two times if I had any free bar snacks
first he wanted the AC turned off
then he wanted it on again
because he felt “warm in his skin.”
finally he ordered some food
and he said, “if I get full before I’m done,
can I get a discount?”
I went to the other end of the bar
screamed at the wall
and then returned and said,
“no, that’s not possible.”
halfway through his meal
he took out a backpack and started
organizing his things
all over the bar
he pulled out some needles
and electrical devices
and started doing stuff
that diabetics do
after four hours
he finished his diet Pepsi
packed up his shit and paid his tab
“see you next week,” I said
he stopped and turned around and shouted
“you’ll see me when you see me!”
and after he walked down the stairs
I realized that maybe
just maybe
I wasn’t the weirdest motherfucker in the world

Monday, June 15, 2009


I live up here
on the third floor
with the spiders
and the beer fridge
I spend my nights
delivering bouts of slimy, wild laughter
at my low, low ceilings
drinking strawberry margaritas
and eating spicy Cheez-its
the women love me
the dogs do, too
and the country music
plays nonstop
I don’t get picked on too much
the law lets me be
and in my moments of clarity
I think
sweet lord
I never thought I’d have it
this good


in the holding cell
in Milan
you stand around
with the other losers
hung over and wondering
where you went wrong
last night
last week
last year
you growl
while the smack addict
next to you
throws his shoes
at the caged light bulb
on the ceiling
trying to bring darkness
into your already dim world
and the whores
in the next cell down
reach out with their whore arms
and wag their whore fingers
and try to tell you
in their whore way
that as soon as they get out
their pussies will be open again
and ready for business


the problem with so many people
you meet out there
on the street
in the bars
at work
or while learning swordplay
is that they all want you
to be like them
to eat like them
sleep like them
and fuck like them
speak the same language
in the same accent
like the same music
the same brand of cigarettes
drink the same beers
it’s sick, really
all sorts of fanatics
obsessed with themselves
but then you meet somebody
out there
who says, “we’re very alike,”
and six seconds later
they want to fight you
they want to smash your skull
with a rusty shovel
they want to kill you
in seventeen different ways
because you’re too much like them
you’re too similar in your ways
you eat the food that they eat
sleep on your stomach just like them
you fuck like them
and they thought they were the only one
who knew how to fuck like that
it’s uncomfortable for them
to see somebody
who so closely
reminds them of themselves
it’s almost as bad
for these people
as waking up in the morning
and looking in the mirror


the problem with so many people
you meet out there
on the street
in the bars
at work
or while learning swordplay
is that they all want you
to be like them
to eat like them
sleep like them
and fuck like them
speak the same language
in the same accent
like the same music
the same brand of cigarettes
drink the same beers
it’s sick, really
all sorts of fanatics
obsessed with themselves
but then you meet somebody
out there
who says, “we’re very alike,”
and six seconds later
they want to fight you
they want to smash your skull
with a rusty shovel
they want to kill you
in seventeen different ways
because you’re too much like them
you’re too similar in your ways
you eat the food that they eat
sleep on your stomach just like them
you fuck like them
and they thought they were the only one
who knew how to fuck like that
it’s uncomfortable for them
to see somebody
who so closely
reminds them of themselves
it’s almost as bad
for these people
as waking up in the morning
and looking in the mirror


so much
of these lives
we live
we cling onto
we love
and hate
and hold so sacred
so much
of the time
is just spent



it seems it’s become
a popular thing
around my little city
for the public works dept.
to have police direct traffic
for a day
so they can
tear apart a road
and then leave it for weeks
ledges of asphalt
or drainage covers
that slam into your wheels
knock the life out of your car
until enough time has passed
when another cop
will be directing traffic
and they’ll put the road back together
and it’ll be just how it was
in the first place
and you wonder
was it really all worth it?

Sunday, June 14, 2009


today on the radio
they took a call
from caller number seven
the DJ said to her,
“well, congratulations.
You’re caller number seven,
so you’ve won the new Brad Paisley CD.”
the woman on the phone
let out a big sigh and said,
“oh, good. It’s about time. I haven’t
won anything in a while.”
I was stopped at a red light
and I looked down at the radio
the clock said 1:17
it was the afternoon
I stared at the radio a moment
and said, “really, lady?”
then later on
it was caller number nine
who won
after being notified
he said, “well, yeah. That's fine.
It’s been a while
since I won, so I felt I was due.”
I looked down at the radio
the clock read 3:42
still the afternoon
I said, “really, man? Well, fuck you, too.”
it was like these people
expected to win
like they felt
they were supposed to win
like they deserved to win
like they were just born winners
I could picture them waking
up in the morning
sitting up in bed
rubbing their eyes
and saying, “oh, geez. I wonder what’ll I win today?”
I drove home and switched off the radio
parked my jeep
and walked down to my local dive
I ordered a $2 beer
and assumed the hunch
screw with the winners
the losers are the ones for me

Saturday, June 13, 2009


he walked along the sidewalk
his head down
when he looked up
and saw me
standing there
I said, “how’s it going?”
he stared at me a moment
long enough to realize
that he didn’t know me
and he replied,
“slow and painful,
and this is only the beginning.”


he was talking on his cell phone
walking around a big
green mail depository
searching for a mail slot
that just wasn’t there
around and around he went
thinking maybe he’d missed it
on the previous time
after three times around the thing
he stopped and looked around the parking lot
to see if anybody was watching
he didn’t want anybody
to see him walking circles
around a mailbox
when he saw me I smiled and said,
“I think that’s one of the ones
where the mail carriers pick up the mail,
not where you drop it off.”
he said something into his phone
took it away from his face
and shouted, “well, what the hell?”
I laughed back and said,
“man, if I knew what the hell,
I’d let everyone in on the secret.”


in the winter
I hid out up here
in this attic room
the heater blasting
the snow outside
the wind tearing
through gray trees outside my window
trees that matched a gray sky
and a gray ground
cold as death in the morning
but now the AC cranks
and the leaves
are a terrific green
and the sky is blue
I lie on my futon
which really isn’t mine
just left behind
by a friend of a friend
like so many things I use
that are not mine
my phone rings
and it’s her
she’s ranting
something about her internet
not working
and the one at her work
not working
so she’s coming over
to pick up a hard copy of my story
“I want to read it now
and I don’t like waiting
to get what I want.
I’ll be over there in six minutes,”
she says, and hangs up
I jump from my futon
the one that is not really mine
and press PRINT on my computer
I pull on a pair of shorts
and don’t both with a shirt
I don’t have much to hide.
in six minutes
my phone rings again
and it’s her
she’s on my front steps
I bring down my story
open the door
and she’s standing there
tall and slim
and beautiful
beautifully insane
the sun is up high
behind her head
but there’s a squint in her eyes
I look at her face and think GODDAMN!
she pushes a large iced tea
into my free hand
and snatches my story
“Here. I got this for you.
I’m in a big rush,” she says
turning and stepping from the stoop
I close the door
climb the stairs
go back into my room
where the AC cranks
I slip back out of my shorts
lie down on the futon
which isn’t really mine
and think, “this cannot be love.”


it was well into the 21st century
and I was living in Las Vegas
earning six dollars an hour parking cars
crashing at a friends place
and drinking away the nights
at her kitchen table
with bottles of rotgut wine
and the occasional cigarette
the only humor I was treated to
in those days
aside from the ongoing joke of my life
was in the stories that my friend would tell
about the dates she’d been on
with different guys around town
this one night she came home
laughing harder than usual
said, “you won’t believe this one.”
I leaned back in my chair
took a slug of wine and said,
“all right, let’s hear it.”
“well, I’ve been out with weirdo poets,
guys who think they’re rock stars,
all sorts of bigwig business assholes,
but this guy!” she laughed. “all he did was smile!”
“he musta been happy about something.”
“no, I’m serious. ALL HE DID WAS SMILE.”
“no way. Nobody can do that. Not all the time.”
“I met him at a fancy bar for drinks. He was already
seated. I sat down and said hello
and he just smiled at me. Maybe there
was a faint nod. I asked him if he’d been there
long and he just kept smiling. Staring at me
and smiling. A big, crazy smile.
Finally the waitress came
and asked for our drink orders
she and I looked at him but he just smiled.
I ordered a bottle of wine
and she brought it over
and poured two glasses
and he just kept smiling
just sitting there and smiling at me.
And he did this THE WHOLE TIME!”
“bullshit. No way.”
“he didn’t say a word. Didn’t even touch his wine,
he just smiled! The waitress came back
and I ordered another bottle of wine
because it was so weird. He must
have been some sort of lunatic or something!”
I began to laugh and she began to laugh
and then after we’d had a good laugh I said,
“so what happened?”
she got a hold of herself and went on
“so after I drank that next bottle,
did some texting on my phone,
even made a few calls, and he just kept smiling.
Maybe an hour later, I got up and said,
‘excuse me, but I have to go.’”
“yeah, and then what?”
“and he finally SPOKE! He finally opened his mouth!”
“and what did he say?”
she began laughing again
and so did I
“he said, ‘I think we should do this again sometime.’”


there was a big band playing
right up there on the stage
fifteen of them
on horns and strings and drums
and at the bar sat one customer
maybe in his late fifties
a quiet, lonely fellow
who’d mostly given up on life
you could tell it by the arch
of his eyebrows
and by the lack of gusto
with which he drank
his Jim Beam and water.
well, I’d already achieved quietly and lonely
and wasn’t even thirty
and figured that giving up on life
was just around the corner
so I thought I’d make things interesting
and stand right across the bar from him
watch him eat his club sandwich
stare at him chew each bite
and see how he did it.
the first time we made eye contact
he jerked back a bit
because I was making it a point
to keep my eyes wide open, staring
after two more glances up at me
he started to sweat
and began to chew faster
then he began to swallow bites
which he hadn’t fully chewed
and he washed them down with his drink
all the while I leaned in closer and closer
until he devoured the whole sandwich
pushed the plate across the bar
and furiously wiped his hands
with a large paper napkin.
before he cleared the last of his drink
and asked for his tab
I leaned right down into his face and said,
“can I get you anything else?”


in Dublin
the bouncers stand outside the bars
and try to get you to talk to them
so they can gauge
just how drunk you are
before they let you in
well, Gerard and I
didn’t know that at the time
so when they asked us where we’d been
we looked at each other and began,
“we’re from the east coast of America
and we flew into London
to crash with a friend for a week.
After that we hitch-hiked over to Wales,
by way of Oxford, Carmarthen
to a little beach town called Tenby.
Nice place. Let’s see, from there
we headed back into England
to Manchester
to visit Strangeways Brewery
which we learned had moved.
Then it was up into Scotland.
Glasgow, Edinburgh and the Isle of Skye-“
“okay, okay,” said the bouncer
shaking his head.
“I meant where’ve you been tonight?”
I looked at Gerard
we shared a sheepish grin
and unknowing expressions
and I said, “hmm. I don’t actually remember
the name of the place.”

Friday, June 12, 2009


“it’s nice in the sun,” she said
standing across the table from me
“it’s nice in the shade,” I replied
“no, it’s too cold.”
“people are different. They like different things.”
“it’s too cold with the breeze.”
I took a long slug from my mug of tea
thought about it
thought about it all
the whole goddamn thing
it could never work for any two people
without sacrifices from both
but you can’t really make sacrifices
if it’s not in your heart
“babe,” I said to her, looking away
sadly shaking my head
“this isn’t gonna work out.”
and maybe that is the major difference
between man and woman:
some like it in the sun
and some like it in the shade


I could see from across the street
that he was drunk
and looking for something
so when he spotted me
and shambled over
and put out his hand
for a high five
I gave it to him and said, “what’s up?”
“you gotta lider?” he slurred
wavering in his shoes
“no, man. I don’t.”
“that’s good. That’s awesome.”
there was a little silence
before he looked down
at my pad of paper and my pen
and said, “riding a book?”
“no, just fuckin’ around.”
“I’m a fuckin’ sick, nasty rider,” he said,
smiling a big drunk smile
“I read like three or four books a week
so I’m a sick rider. I just wrote this one thing
starts off with a grandson
giving his grandfather a blowjob.”
“that’s pretty sick,” I admitted
he looked around
maybe searching for a person with a lighter
then looked up at the sun
high in the sky
it was maybe three in the afternoon
when he looked back down at me
he said, “I’ll smack a bitch, I don’t give
a fuck. I’m a sick nasty writer.”
“well, all right then,” I said
getting back to my own writing
“I’ll see you around, William.”


on a Tuesday afternoon
I was sitting at an outdoor table
drinking a pot of tea
and waiting for it to go down
then it did
a man about thirty came around the corner
his face red with rage
his eyes stern and concentrated
he looked questioningly at me
and then approached a couple of guys
who were chatting away the afternoon
he muttered something to them
and both shook their heads
and then the man turned and looked at me
I ducked in my chin and shook my head
and the man stormed over to the trash can
tore off the cover
and began rooting around
through the discarded coffee cups
and napkins and other odd junk
he was looking for something
and he wasn’t finding it
after a minute
with his hands still buried in the trash can
he looked back up at me and said,
“fuckin’ A!” and then stood up
and stormed off
back around the corner
back out of our little coffee shop world
leaving us all wondering,
“what the hell?”


I was working the door
and he came bouncing right up
his eyes blood shot
and breath thick with booze
he was skinny and pimple faced
and he looked very young
like he was barely just a man
when he opened his mouth
he spoke with a high slurred voice
in a strong accent
“hey, mayne. I’m just off the BOAT!”
“I can tell,” I laughed.
“mayne, I want women and RUM!
where’s the women and all the RUM?
I’m just off the BOAT from Norway
and I need RUM!”
“there’s a little rum inside here,
but not too many women.”
“I got the WEED, mayne. You smoke the WEED?”
“keep it down, kid. There are cops around,
and you don’t want to go to jail, right?”
“no, mayne, no! I want to go
where there’s women and RUM! Rum, mayne!”
“yeah, don’t we all.”
“can I go in this bar, mayne?”
“no, kid. You’re too young and too drunk
and you’re too fucked up right now.”
“aw, MAYNE!” he smiled. “that’s it! I’m going off
to find the women and the RUM! I’m just off
the boat, mayne!”
“all right, kid. Take it easy.”


they came into the coffee shop
all huffing and puffing
the fatter one unwrapped her scarf,
“I’m thinking about something warm to drink,
maybe a hot chocolate?”
“yes,” nodded her friend. “yeah, maybe
some hot chocolate or coffee maybe,
because it is a bit nippy out.”
“oh, yes. It is nippy out, that’s for sure.”
I looked out the foggy windows
outside there lay two feet of crusted dirty snow
I could actually see the wind
tearing through the night
ripping at the barren trees
and punching at the awning above the door
a weather forecaster earlier that morning
had said that if the temperature reached zero
we would be lucky
“nippy?” I snorted, frowning
pulling my knit hat further down my forehead
“fucking nippy?”
it was then I wondered yet again
whether I shouldn’t have stayed in Las Vegas
unemployed and broke and sleeping in flood washes
or in San Diego
leaning against the walls of the public library
with all the other bums
or maybe in southeast Asia
eating rice and swatting at flies
it was then I wondered yet again
what the hell am I doing back here in this place?


he’d been quivering silently all night
repeating the words softly to himself
deep, deep under his breath
for fear that somebody might hear him
“you’re all a buncha fuckin’ assholes!”
that’s what he would soon shout
at all the miserable patrons of that bar
where he’d been quivering silently
every night
for nearly two and a half years
he expected the worst
that he’d be beaten or flayed
or burned alive by those heathens
tarred and feathered and strung from a tree
nailed to a cross wrapped with barbed wire
he didn’t care
he wanted, just for once in his life
to tell everyone
maybe even just a single person
exactly how he felt
exactly what was on his mind
so he drank a few more beers
waited for that time in the night
when he felt it was right
and he stood up and shouted,
“you know what? You all listen to me!
You’re all a buncha fuckin’ assholes!”
as soon as he’d spoken the words
he looked around in utter fear
like it was the last time in his life
he’d ever be able to look around at anyone
but nobody looked back
nobody even noticed his proclamation
or if they did
they didn’t give a damn
he sat for another hour
at first wondering whether it had been a good idea
then wondering if that thing he’d said
had actually ever been said
finally he stood back up
and began to make his rounds
offering everybody his deepest apologies
telling them he meant nothing by it
that he was just joking around
but still nobody listened
nobody cared
and he came back to his bar stool
hunched over another beer
and mumbled sadly, “we are all alike.”


what can you do with a sad girl?
you spend your whole life
dealing with your own despair
your own madness
but then you meet a glorious little girl
who makes you dinner
and rubs your back
but then one day
that glorious little girl
wakes up with a frown.
you want to go out on the roof
and scream curses at the world
at the gods in the sky
and the worms under the earth
you want to take all the knives
from the kitchen
slash apart the furniture
put your fists through the sheetrock
that makes up the walls
you want to kick over
that great big flat screen tv
and bust out all the windows
because she is keeping that frown
to herself, she won’t explain it
won’t share her torment with you
but then, after enough prodding
after enough begging and pleading,
“what’s wrong, baby girl? Why is it
that you’re looking
like the saddest girl in the world?”
finally she rolls over
and looks at you with those soft brown eyes
and she says to you, “I really don’t like it
when I bite my tongue in my sleep.”

Thursday, June 11, 2009


it went like this:
in the mornings I’d start in
with the text messages and phone calls
and by the early afternoon
he’d give in and agree to meet me
at the coffee shop on the corner
for our daily game of Scrabble
as soon as we began
he would be losing
and I would be winning
and the margin between our scores
would only grow
he’d take phone calls and say,
“…oh nothing. Just getting destroyed again.”
and when friends of his
stopped by our little table
they’d look at the game
and then at our scorecard
and say things like,
“oh, wow. You’re losing bad.”
by the middle of the game
he’d become angry at himself
for agreeing to play another match
and soon after he would become angry with me
for getting him to agree to another match
then on this particular day
he said, “listen. I’ve got to stop playing against you.”
“why is that?” I asked. “it’s good to lose. It builds you
as a man and prepares you for life.”
then I related to him a summer I spent on Nantucket
banging nails into a house all day long
alone and depressed and full of hate
of how all day long I worked through my hang over
just to go down to the coffee shop each night
and get manhandled at my game of Scrabble
how I did this all summer long
until one evening I finally beat my opponent
and it was the happiest I’d been all summer
maybe even all of my life
well, my friend didn’t care much for the story
he said, “listen, man. When I lose to you here,
I go over to the bar and start in on the whiskey.
I get very drunk there and go home
and fight with my girlfriend. I wake up in the morning
and I feel like shit and then come your text messages
your nagging phone calls. It has to stop.”
just then I looked down at my letters
realized I could play the word PATHETIC
for a high scoring bingo
I put the tiles on the board and smiled
he stood up and smashed his fist on the table
sent the game flying
and since then we don’t play Scrabble anymore


every few months
two of them
sneaks up on me
from out of nowhere
suddenly they are there
one on each ear:
long, black single hairs
pointing straight out
from my head
I scowl and growl
and without any sort of grace
rip each one out and say,
“ha! Gotcha, you bastard!”
then I like look into the mirror
at my young face
my smooth skin
and I think to myself,
“when I’m an old man,
none of this shit will mean
anything to me.”


when life throws you a curveball
there are a few things you can do:
swing and miss
swing and hit
take a strike
or take a ball
and hope for the walk
or you can charge the fucking mound
and beat the shit
out of the pitcher


five or ten times each night
he’d call me on the phone
or send me text messages
to inform me of just drunk he was
“aww, I’m soooo druuunkkk right nowww…”
as a practice
we never answered each other’s calls
we had that kind of relationship
where we could only associate through
voicemails and text messages
on the phone or in person
we didn’t even really like each other
so each night he’d call
leave all those voicemails
send all those text messages
about how he’d thrown up
on some girl in the bar
or how the police were after him
or how that morning he’d woken up
in the hospital
I would listen to one or two
of the messages
then delete the rest
and go on with my day
when it was my turn
I’d go on some little bender
spend a couple days and nights
inside the bottle
leave him maybe forty voicemails
of which he’d listen to one or two
then delete all the rest
we were always competing
with everything we did
if one of us was in a bind
doing terrible with life and women
(which we both usually were)
the other would try to outdo him
do even worse with life or women
and in the rare times
when one of us was doing well
getting our shit together
avoiding troubles with life and women
not feeling like death
at every single hour of the day
the other would begin to brag
about how well he now had it
how great things were going with his life
and with women and so on
it was a strange relationship we had
and although it seemed fruitless and miserable
most of the time
he was one of my best friends
in the whole entire world


one night over dinner
she brought it up
how she liked to punch a guy
when he was sleeping
“that’s not really fair,”
I said, laughing it off
“of course it isn’t. It’s just like
kicking somebody
when they’re down.”
“not exactly, babe.”
she glared at me and snapped,
“nothing is fair!”
“I know, I know. It’s true.”
we finished up our meals
skipping dessert
made love on the couch
and then on the floor
in front of a warm fireplace
we brought it up to her bedroom
where I had to put a towel
between the bed frame
and the wall
to soften the racket
when we finished
and she had finally fallen asleep
I lied awake all night
one eye open
and the other swollen shut
probably from the night before


he was sitting in a coffee shop
looking out the windows
sweating from the inside
‘look at all those Christmas wreaths,’
he thought, ‘and it’s nearly March.’
a girl came in through the door
and he watched her pass by
he hadn’t had a girl in over a year
his eyes followed her with greedy interest
but just as quickly
returned to the wreaths outside
they hung from the light posts
and were still green
made from plastic and metal
after taking a slug of coffee
he set his cup on the table and said
very quietly and to himself,
“if things look the same
at this time next year
I will go over the bridge
buy a shotgun
and blow my fucking brains out.”
the girl who had passed by him earlier
walked back outside
a large paper cup of coffee in her hand
he watched her go out the door
her long legs supporting
a fantastic juicy ass
a moment after she’d disappeared
he jumped up from his table
leaving his coffee mug dancing on top
burst out the same door
and ran off into the night
around the corner and over the bridge
thinking, “why wait any longer?”

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


she called me up on the phone
the day after a big party over at her place
“you know you were eating meat last night, right?”
“no, I wasn’t.”
“well, some people said you were.”
“well, most people are idiots, babe.
and the ones who aren’t idiots
are usually assholes.”
“well, maybe that’s why you threw up
this morning, remember?”
I scoffed
then snorted
“do you not remember living with me
for two and a half years?”
“yeah, but…”
“remember how I threw up every single morning?”
“not every morning.”
“maybe not, but most. And it wasn’t
because I was sneaking meat, babe.”
I took a pull from my beer
steering the car with my knee
“I gotta go, okay?”
“what are you doing?”
I finished my beer and tossed the empty can
into the back seat with the rest of them
I didn’t know where I was going
or where I’d been
and I wasn’t one of those assholes
who claimed I was in it for the ride
“nothing,” I said to her,
looking at the call timer on my phone,
“I just don’t wanna use up all my minutes.”


love is just another drug
you get very excited
when you see it coming your way
you drool and yearn
then it comes into your hand
and you drop the pill
it doesn’t take long
not long at all
before you’re high as fuck
high as fuck on love
you’ve got that feeling in your head
that buzz in your cock
then you’re higher than the sun
and brighter, too
nothing can affect you
but then love peaks
you look around and she knows it, too
you start in with the terrible process
of coming down
the doubt and the worry
the fear of what it’s like to live
not on the love drug
you may try to ease it with alcohol
or maybe some other pill
but your tolerance for love is too high
you would just need more and more
so you give it up for a while, love
go off into hiding and sulk alone
stay in the shadows
in the alleyways
in the attic
shaking and itching and burning
and keeping one eye open
for another hit of love


there had been some confusion
in the hot tub
as to which guy
was hitting on which girl
and that was when
my good friend, the Big D
stood up buck naked and shouted,
all the girls screamed and jumped up
and the guys did too
even louder than the girls
and then everybody ran
every which way
while my good friend, the Big D
stomped around
swearing blood and death and murder
and all sorts of sick lunacy
the guys and the girls all ran to their car
piled in and locked the door
and as they backed down the driveway
my good friend, the Big D
pounded on the windows and roared,
when he fell to the ground
he was nearly run over
and after the carload of people sped off
none of them were ever heard from again
now every time I get drunk
with my good friend, the Big D
I bring up this story
and ask, “where did you actually bury them?”


it was the morning
and the sun was coming in
through the windows
but I was looking at the flames
licking up from the gas fire place
with the fake wooden logs.
she was staring out a window
sitting there in her pink pajamas
nestling a cup of coffee
when she turned gently
and said to me, “you know, babe,
there are times when I really
just want to punch you in the face.”
I reached out and pinched her butt
and said, “you know, babe,
there are times when I feel the same about you.”


the kid liked to call me up
see how badly I’d fucked my life
since our last shared words
I imagined that since he’d quit the bottle
the kid lived and died vicariously
through me and my grim ways
“how was the cocktail?” he asked
a snide little grin on his face
which I could see through the air waves
“I got my ass kicked, kid. Got a black eye, too.
Smashed a dumbbell
through my laptop
It doesn't work anymore.
I was found at the end of the night
wandering around the halls
with a hunting knife.”
“what were you doing with a hunting knife?”
“I was looking for you. And they said
I had a twinkle in my eye.”

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


you’ve come through for me
you sweet bitch
my four other typers failed me
along with a laptop
which I smashed to pieces
what for its ceaseless crashing
and freezing
and other attempts
to ruin my life.
so it’s you and me, Electra
me and you and these goddamn words
the whiskey is not even with us
right now, my girl
although the other night
it gave me a black eye
and a nearly broken back
Electra, my girl
you smell
you smell bad and you don’t
move too easily
but you’re doing your best
baby girl
and that’s all I will ever ask of you


what they were doing
it didn’t make much sense to me
these old men
standing around
in their old bodies
a shovel in their old hands
they’d raise it up slowly
and let it drop
breaking apart ice
large banks of ice
that had been growing all winter long
they were breaking the ice
then stomping on it
to make it melt faster
in the 41 degree weather
it seemed a strange thing to do
to fight nature
to go against such a beast
but then I realized
what they were really doing
they were getting their revenge
the ice banks themselves didn’t matter
they would most likely linger
another month or two
but they wanted their revenge
the wanted to feel the destruction
of the ice banks
beneath the wait of their shovels
their weapons
against the harsh
New Hampshire winters
I walked over to one of the geezers
reached out my hand and said,
“give me that. It’s my turn.”
I began to smash apart the ice
and the old man began to step on it
when there was plenty to step on
I joined him
crushing the ice into watery nothingness
it was our little jig
that we danced
and for the first time in five cold months
we felt like men again


the man at the table next to mine
says to the woman across from him,
“listen, this is what Mickey Mouse sounds like,
all hopped up on crystal meth.”
then he does an obnoxious impersonation
and I watch the rain slide down the window
washing away another dead afternoon
the woman at the table across from this man
she smells like a saint and acts pure
and when she speaks
her voice sounds soft and pleasant
but given the opportunity
I know she wouldn’t think twice before agreeing
to a ten man Mexican gang bang
she just has that look about her.
Mark comes over and says,
“which one of the ten commandments is your favorite?”
I tell him, “I don’t play favorites”
and he responds, “oh, so you worship them all?”
I wait a few moments
clench my fists and say,
“I’d worship that,”
nodding at the perfectly sculpted ass
of a young girl pouring cream into her coffee.
“oh, she’s not so bad,” he says
before pulling out a book by Samuel Clemens
with the cover torn off
after a few moments
he looks up and says, “where’s Tristan? I thought
that you guys were playing Scrabble?”
“he left. He couldn’t take the heat.”
Mark goes back to his book
and my stomach moans
before I go into the dark brick-walled bathroom
and shit in the toilet.
I think about the life of a toilet
how miserable it must be
to all day long be fastened to the floor
and shit in over and over again
I wonder how many shits
by how many different people
that poor porcelain bastard has seen
and after I wipe my ass a few times
and wash my hands
I walk out the door and outside toward home
thinking that things could be a whole lot worse.


the pretty girls sit together at tables
and talk about things
that mean nothing to me
things that mean nothing at all
but things which must be spoken of
complained about
rehashed and dissected
or maybe even celebrated.
at the coffee shop
the pretty girls sit together at tables
they sip their drinks
their coffee or their tea
or their double mocha blancas
and they look so good
so goddamn good
to me
and to all the other lonely assholes
who sit at their own tables
nursing free refills
and trying not to stare.
at the coffee shop
I sit at my table and hold onto life
and hope that someday
one of those pretty girls sitting there
one of those pretty girls who look so good
so goddamn good
to me
will be sitting at my table
talking about things that mean nothing to me
things that mean nothing at all
but talking about these things to me


it was a bad dream
the girl I’d recently been lovin’
she’d cut half my cock off
put it on the bedside table
and said, “make love to me.”
but the tip of my new half cock
it had already grown pointy
like the tip of a spike
and when I tried to put it in her
she screamed and said, “stop!”
we both looked over
at the bedside table
and at the cut off tip of my cock
it was shriveling up
and the skin was peeling off
“why the fuck did you do this to me?”
I asked her, on the verge of tears
“I don’t know, babe,” she sighed,
rolling over to face the wall
“I don’t know why we do anything.”


there are certain things
that happen
when you wake up
and get moving
in the morning
that you can take
as premonitions
as to how the day will go
this morning
I just blatantly
and purposely
blew through the first
red light of my day
with no repercussions
and am using that
to assure myself
that today maybe
won’t be so bad at all


when I woke up
in the morning
I was still very drunk
but also scared for my life
that fear you get
when you’ve spent time
in the blackness
lots of time in the blackness
you aren’t sure
what kind of damage you did
what relationships you destroyed
or laws you broke
crimes you were wanted for
I was very relieved
to be in my own bed
and when I looked at my phone
there were no missed calls
and no texts
from numbers known or unknown
I felt my body and aside from the normal
drinker's ache, not a scratch
but it was a more than a little disconcerting
when I went to my desk
and saw scribbled
on a pad of paper
“it was 4 pm for three hours
and then I quit existing”
and then below that
in barely legible
chicken scratch
“it was the topless sheChrist
that did this to me”


I was having it good
working part time
walking dogs
to pay the bills
and playing house
with a beautiful
little girl
who cooked wonderful dinners
and gave me backrubs
and kept asking me
“now isn’t this nice?”
I’d squeeze her breasts
and she'd suck on my finger
and I’d tell her,
“darlin’, this is the nicest I’ve ever had it.”
and all the time
I kept thinking that maybe
it was possible
to have a good run for a while
maybe there was no need
to be voluntarily suffering
at every moment
but as soon as I felt
fat on contentment
the writing would slow
and I’d be staring
at an empty screen
with an empty mind
until I’d smile at the memories
of long miserable walks
in the freezing rain
nights out in the cold
or being stranded
out on some desert road
throat as dry as the dust
with my thumb in the air
or of the times
when women
had only driven me
to the depths
of despair and insanity
after those fond memories
I’d think, “rest assured, my man,
there’ll be plenty more
where that came from.”


I liked to call him up
and tell him how good my life was
because I knew his was miserable
and that made me feel even better about mine
“hello?” he’d say.
“hey Nielson, what gives and what takeths?”
“that’s so stupid.”
“yeah, sure. Anyway, what’s up?”
“well, I figured out that
if I turn off the engine
at every red light
I can make it almost four miles
before the car overheats,
instead of every two miles
which is the speed
I’ve been moving at
for the last couple months.”
“oh, nice. I’m just sitting in my warm room,
drinking beer and whiskey
and listening to great music.”
“oh, it must be nice.”
“it is nice. That’s actually why I’m calling.
I wanted to make sure you knew
how good it was for me right now.”


I was living in a house
right downtown
an easy stumble from the bars
and a short step
to the coffee shops
but the money
wasn’t there for me
at that point in my life
so on a Friday night
I’d hide out in my room
on the third floor
and drink cheep beer
chased with Jim Beam
and nothing ever
seemed to matter much
but one thing I did like
was that a good friend of mine
who felt about the same
about everything
lived only maybe five miles south
hiding out in his house
in the woods
staying away from the public
keeping his distance
and drinking
maybe a nicer beer
followed by
a nicer whiskey
but all the same
cultivating the same
relationship with madness
as I’d been doing for many many years


I don’t give a damn
what people do with me
after I die
and I don’t have any weird requests
for my ashes
to be poured
over children’s chocolate sundaes
or for my body to be embalmed
and paraded around town
but I do hope
that when I’m dead
people don’t say that I’ve
“passed away”
or “expired”
or “is deceased”
or “left the body.”
because when I die
it means I “died”
and when I’m under ground
or splattered across a railroad track
or cut apart in pieces
and stuck in some
psycho killer’s freezer
it simply means I’m “dead.”
and there’s nothing wrong
with being dead
it happens to everybody now and again


me and my lady ripped through
a few shots of tequila
and then I checked my voicemail
there was my mother
sounding off like DOOM itself
morbid to the max
“blah blah blah…
we’re worried about your drinking…
blah blah blah…
your friend
said you were an alcoholic…
blah blah blah…
maybe you should check out AA
blah blah blah...”
after my dear mother
hung up
I put down the phone
and bit my lip
thought about my friend
and snarled,
“that fucking cunt.”
“what’s wrong?” my lady asked
as I poured us another shot
“nothing, darling.”
I clinked her glass
we tossed back the shots
and I began to pour another for me
“something is obviously wrong.”
“just lost another friend, babe.
That’s all.”

Monday, June 8, 2009


when I saw him around town
he always had on
a different coat
it could have been
an hour
or a month
since I’d seen him last
but every time
it was a different coat
and nice ones too
well, my kinda nice
yard sale specials
or ancient hand me downs
or red tags at the thrift store
fifty or seventy – five percent off
the coats that really count
the old beat up coats
who have already lived out
most of their lives
the ones that already have
their own personalities
and fears and grudges
coats you really have to fight
to make your own.
one day I was sitting at a table
out front of the local coffee shop
I was smoking a cigarette
and drinking a cup of coffee
heavy on the cream
and heavier on the sugar
(I always had a heavy hand)
he walked up to me and said,
“hey, man.”
I looked at him for a moment
and then at his coat.
“that’s my fucking coat,” I shouted.
it was this brown leather bomber jacket
with a fake fur collar
“no it ain’t,” he said, very seriously
“yes it fucking is! that’s my goddamn coat!”
“no it’s not, man.”
“where’d you get it?”
“it doesn’t matter where I got it
because it’s not yours.”
“like hell it isn’t!”
I jumped up
and tackled him to the ground
and got him in a good arm bar
with his face pushed
into the dirty brick sidewalk
then with one hand
I pulled back his collar
and looked at the label
“oh,” I snorted, loosening his arm.
“you’re right. Mine didn’t have a tag.”
he got to his feet
and brushed himself off and said,
“all right, you owe me a coffee for that one.”
“okay,” I laughed. “I guess I do.”

Sunday, June 7, 2009


not even the cranes
are moving dirt around today
and I’d much rather
go back to bed
but there are all these dogs
who depend on me
to let them out
so they don’t shit all over
their owners houses
and piss all over their couches
and then I too
depend on them
because if not for them
their owners wouldn’t put money
in my pocket
to pay the bills
the bar tabs
the rent
and if I didn’t have to do
all those things
I’d never get out of bed
in the first place
except maybe
to hit the bars
and bum beers off friends

Saturday, June 6, 2009


we were in bed
lying around
after playing the sex game
like we’d done
a dozen times before
I ran my finger
around her nipples
and kissed her ear
she let out a giggle
and said, “you know,
you’re very passionate
for an asshole.”


he got bored so much
and had dandruff so bad
that sitting there behind the
convenience store counter
he’d razzle his hair
until the dandruff
covered the countertop
and then with the edge
of an open matchbook
he’d cut the white flakes into lines
and then would you believe it?
he’d snort that shit right up his nose!

Friday, June 5, 2009


I came out of a strange delirium
after I’d passed Dwight Mission road
somewhere in Arkansas
I was screaming
at the top of my lungs
as I drove along
I tried but couldn’t make out
any of the words
so instead I just went on screaming
this was about two hours
after I’d seen a great big arm
come out from a hole in the sky
reach across the star studded blackness
and zip it shut again
“christ,” I laughed
more out of exhaustion than humor,
“you’ve gotta get a hold
of yourself, son. You’re barely halfway there!”

Thursday, June 4, 2009


It was 4:18 in the morning
cold and dark
80 miles north of Knoxville
and the road was mine
mine all mine
because some people
were home in their beds
and some
were in other people’s beds
some were passed out in alleys
and some were behind bars
and some were dreaming about mango chutney
on a good curry
some were breaking into houses
raping and murdering
the ones home in their beds
or in other people’s beds
and some were flying
on airplanes high up in the sky
and the truckers
well, for once
all the truckers
had all pulled off to rest
to do whatever it is they do
in the cabs of their big rigs
and they had passed on the crown to me
and finally, oh finally
I was the king of the road
without subjects or slaves
without land over which to rule
without anything
except the night to watch over me
and loneliness as comfort
I was the king of the road

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I was in the bar
drinking beers
staring at my glass
daring it to make a move
there was an old man
a few stools down
doing even less than that
when the bartender
came up to him
to ask if he’d like another beer
his answer was always the same
“I may as well have one more,
before I go outside and swallow a bullet.”
at first I was a little nervous
maybe the old bastard
might be serious
and he might try
to take a few of us with him
but he kept on with saying it
beer after beer
as the morning became the afternoon
I could tell I wasn’t the only one
who was becoming more than annoyed
so finally
when the bartender came up to me
and asked if I wanted another beer
I said, “I may as well,
before I go outside
and buy him a gun.”

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


it made news today
that a woman had broken her fingernail
but this wasn’t just any woman
or any fingernail
this woman had beaten out
everybody else to lay claim
to having the world’s longest finger nails
she’d been growing them
for over thirty years
“thirty fucking years?” I shouted
pounding on the steering wheel
of my jeep as I drove through a light snow.
to hear that her fingernails
were older than me
was somewhat disappointing
like losing a dollar bet
on the super six wheel
I just didn’t like to know
that there were fingernails out there
who had been around longer than me
had seen more
and were wiser in the ways of the world
it was disconcerting
but then, like most of the news today
it was soon overshadowed
by new and more terrible events
like a catastrophic landslide in Indonesia
or a newly discovered cureless viral infection
or the realization that it was February
and rent would be due
a few days earlier than usual


it’s strange to think about
what the animals think about
for so long
take a tortoise
living for a hundred
or two hundred years
having their little thoughts
in their big heads
for more than a half century
my childhood dog
is checking out right now
I wonder what she’s been thinking about
for the last seventeen years
probably not too much
my mother called me up
I could tell she was crying
“she’s stopped eating and drinking,”
she said. “this is the end for her.”
she was a black lab
but more than that
she was a thief
an outlaw
and a drifter
she’d often steal one shoe
and leave the other
to remind you
how you’d been robbed
she’d leave for days at a time
and as soon
as we’d given her up for dead
she’d show up
like everything was normal
go right to her food bowl
and sniff around
she sure as hell did march
to her own drum
even though she hasn’t been able to hear
for years
we’d have to pound
and stomp on the floor
to get her attention
then she’d come hobbling over
on arthritic legs
oh, Flora
with her fantastic snarling grin
which I hear she wears to this day
so that’s how I’ll remember her
a smiling, thieving, rambling bitch
grin in peace, little girl


we banged four times
throughout the night
and the rest of the time
I spent rubbing my stomach
and trying not to fart
we’d gotten into
some great conversation
and not too far
in the back of my mind
I was having the constant thought
which I was always having
when spending time
with a beautiful woman:
oh, hell. This one’s really gonna kill me
when things go south
so finally
in an effort to be honest with her
with myself
with the world
I just threw it out there
like throwing a stone into the water
I said, “listen, every time
I get involved with a girl
I go into it knowing
that eventually it’ll end
and she’ll probably be the one who gets hurt.”
but then my heart stopped
when she replied, “well, that’s fine,
because every time I go into a relationship
I know that eventually I’ll break his heart.”


I called him up on the phone
because I was about to snap open
a can of beer
I knew he shared the same affinity
for the sound of a can of beer
being snapped open
as soon as he answered
I snapped it open
and it went, “cccshhh!”
“pretty nice, huh?” I said to him
he pretended like he didn’t hear it
and instead said,
“I don’t drink anymore, man.
I’ve turned over a new leaf.
I’m gonna make something of my life.”
I took a pull from the beer
and waited a few moments, then said,
“well, your mother would be happy to hear that.”
he got very angry at me
for bringing up his mother
because he hated the woman
and wished he’d never have to see her
or hear about her ever again
so just before hanging up on me he snarled,
“fuck her, and fuck you! I’m going to the bar.”
I put down my phone
and raised my beer for a long sip
silently cheering to another job well done


I was punching it down
the highway
gas pedal making out
with the floorboard
cutting in and out of lanes
having a great time of it all
really admiring my ability
behind the wheel
then I flew past a terrible wreck
on the side of the road
and realized that with driving
as well as many other
things in life
the line between skill and stupidity
is often only sheer luck


we whispered
and we played
and we fucked
like the gods wished they could
and after a couple rounds
I told her
I had to be going
she smiled in the darkness
and said, “how does it go?
Wam, bam, thank you ma’am?”
I laughed
and kissed her forehead
and after pulling on
my clothes
and grabbing my things
I said, “something like that, babe.”


we were all walking down the cement path
that divided the beach
from the beachfront houses
and it was probably around
half past two in the morning
there were three of us and four of them
and I was thinking with those odds
I might actually get something
“hey,” one of them shouted to me
“gimme a piggy back ride!”
I smiled at her
stopped and bent down
and hooted, “jump on!”
she jumped up and I went straight down
to the ground
her landing with her knee
in the back of my head
and her face on the pavement
“ow, you fuckin’ asshole!”
I stumbled to my feet and reached down
to help her up
but she ripped her hand away and said,
“get the hell away from me.”
“okay,” I laughed
looking around at the others
everybody was laughing
and we laughed all the way to Denny’s
where we went inside and ordered random things
from the menu
all the while I was still thinking,
“I’m still in. I’m definitely still in
with one of these girls.”
before our food came out
the guy at the table next to us
started talking shit
and I told him to get lost
he got up and left and came back a minute later
with a tennis ball and he threw it
across the whole restaurant
and beaned the face
of the girl sitting next to me
I jumped up and raced towards the door
and in no time I was outside on the ground
rolling around and trying to throw punches
but more often
getting kicked in the head
by a girl three times my size
everyone finally backed off
and it was just me and the other guy
throwing punches
until another friend of his drove up
and tried to run me over in her car
when they finally left
I thought I’d go back into Denny’s
to see if I still had it
but the manager lady wouldn’t let me in
I was covered with blood
from a nose that wouldn’t stop pouring
I had lost my friends so
I went around the building
to where the girls were sitting
eating their food
and I began tapping on the window
to let them know I was still there
still interested in getting to know them
they looked at me through the window
and pointed and laughed
and after a short time
began to ignore me
so I stood there
for a few minutes
watching them eat my fries
and drink my vanilla shake
hoping maybe one of them would reconsider
but none of them did
and I figured it was time to go
after my friend found me and said,
“man, you just don’t get women.”


it really wasn’t fair to Skip Richards
he ran more
trained harder
and was more than
a hundred percent
but his body just wouldn’t deliver
he didn’t have the makings
of an athlete
and this really irritated him
he’d come over to my house
after cross country practice
after we’d been running up hills
and stretching
and sometimes lifting weights
he’d come over and yell,
“it’s just bullshit! I work my ass off
and still I’m the slowest guy
on the team!”
and it was true
Skip Richards just wasn’t cut out
to be faster or stronger
he’d pull up his shirt
reveal a smooth stomach and say,
“look at this! I don’t even have
the shadow of a six pack!
I do two thousand sit ups a day!”
“two thousand?” I’d ask,
supposing he was exaggerating
“I’m telling you, two thousand! Watch!”
then he’d lie right down
on the floor
and start doing sets
of a hundred sit ups
one hundred
two hundred
three hundred
it was incredible
fucking unbelievable
he was a sit up machine
he was born to sit up
lean back
and sit up again
around eight hundred I’d look away
finding it hard to watch the son of a bitch
do that many sit ups
nobody could do that many sit ups
I tried to figure out
how he was doing it
how he could do that many sit ups
and maintain such smooth abs
an almost baby-like stomach
but there was no trick
he had a body
that simply wouldn’t
respond to training
he’d run his ass off
all season long
but his times remained the same
and his body remained the same
and nothing for him ever changed
but a hell of a heart he had
because season after season
year after year
he stuck with it
kept busting his ass during the workouts
putting in one hundred percent
even though on the team
he was always number seven
when only the first five counted

Monday, June 1, 2009


I woke up more than an hour
before I got out of a bed
which was not my own.
when the dog I was sitting for
came up to the edge of the bed
and started in with a little whine,
I said, "tttsssstttt."
you can't let a dog boss you around
I soon got out of bed anyway, though
get a start on the day
it was cool but the sun was shining
and I walked the dog around our little city
him pulling and me correcting.
few people were out on the streets
drivers and pedestrians alike
the sun reflected nicely off the river
and the birds were singing in the sky
it's moments like these
I thought to myself
that really put the cherry on life
I rounded the corner into Market Square
right near my little coffee shop
I looked over at the bike racks
and without skipping a beat said,
"well, some fuckin' asshole
has finally stolen my bicycle."