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.”

Saturday, July 25, 2009


tree of love
while walking the other day
I came across a tree
it was tall
and broad
and full of leaves
I stopped and stared
at that tree
and sat down on the grass
I quietly dedicated that tree
to us, my dear
I solemnly and thoughtfully
dedicated that tree
to our love
and I did it
with a great calm in my head
and in my heart
and in my lungs
a deep breath in
a deep breath out
then I stood there
and watched
as the tree working crew
cut down that tree
stripped it of its larger branches
cut the trunk into short pieces
and sent them
through the wood chipper
killing everything
which that tree had taken years to become
and when it was done
when the tree
was no longer there
I stood up and walked away


ghosts and memories
the night is cool
for July
and the silence
is nearly oppressive
the rain has stopped
the dogs are sleeping
and all the night dwellers
have given up.
serenity and terror
like half sisters
from the same mother
walk around my room
hand in hand
the phone is silent
the fan is off
and I have this grave feeling
that the world outside
is not the same
something out there has changed
or maybe it is something inside me which has
I would go out there
but I cannot
I am exhausted from this life
that keeps barreling on
down the mountain
over the hills
through puddles of mud
and lakes of blood
this is not the world
into which I was born
nor is this the body
I had called my own
the brain is already losing hold
it tells me to reach down
and scratch my thigh
but when I do
it tells me no, not there
a little lower, please
the knee
the knee is what itches
there you go
we’ll still be able to manage.
in my youth I spent plenty of time
in the woods
in the sun or in the rain
under fortresses of wood and earth
all the while
mainly just occupying my dreams
my fantastic imagination
was a factory for original thoughts
that have all
since proven very unoriginal
a siren rings outside my window
the bridge will soon rise to let
the boats pass through
it all seems very unreal
very dreamlike
and I can’t help but wonder
who are we
but ghosts and memories?


it is a game of tag
between two people
you are it
the one doing the chasing
and sometimes
you are not it
being chased by another
and for all the time
spent running around
the hours and days and weeks
spent dodging and ducking
cutting back and forth
and going in circles
there are moments
every so often
ever so seldom
when your bodies are touching
when a finger pokes a rib
or catches a heel
moments when the connection is there
when you are truly united
and those are the times
the split seconds
blinks on the face of eternity
when you and another are actually one
so I take it all back
all that I have said about love
because in those brief moments
love does exist


little nymph
with the quiet voice
not fully acquainted
with the English language
little nymph
with the face
as smooth as honey
but pale like a heavy cream
little nymph
whose eyes mine met
over and over again that night
little nymph
with your perfect ass
and your body
like a ballerina
why, when I asked you
if you would like to play
did you smile
and just say, “maybe next time?”
oh, yes
oh, yes
I remember now
it was because my friend
had already been getting to you
with free drinks
and offers of grandeur
even when he knew my game
oh, yes
oh, yes
my friend
it was my friend
who ruined it for me
that sand-dogging
son of a fuckin’ bitch

Friday, July 24, 2009


all day and all night
the fans up here
in my attic rooms
they rattle and whir
and thump
and churn the air around
in the morning it is cool
and I’m in my sleeping bag
and later in the day
the air is warm
but kept fresh
by recirculation
in the afternoons it is hot
and the sun barges in
through my open windows
and when I lie in bed
I push the sheet and sleeping bag
and still I sweat
but then the night comes
oh, the night
and the air blows in
not hot or cold
not warm or cool
just night air
smelling faintly
of a distant skunk
and the death
of another summer day
I remain in bed wondering
how long, my dear?
how long can this go on?


they were walking side by side
and the woman
maybe in her mid twenties
was saying to the man
about the same age,
“remember? Remember
when you didn’t piss me off? Do you
remember that?”
the guy trudged along
looking like a whooped dog
a beaten down skeleton of a man
he didn’t speak or nod or shake his head
he just made his way
one foot in front of the other
staring at the cement
still warm from a long day’s sun
“that was yesterday,” the woman continued
“that was yesterday that you didn’t
piss me off. But today? Today
is a different story. Today you piss off.”
I walked over to the edge of the sidewalk
spat in the gutter and walked back to my doorway
a writer friend of mine was sitting on a step
smoking a cigarette and smiling
because she’d heard it too
“did you hear that?” I said to her
she didn’t look up but she smiled and I said,
“there’s a poem in there.”


they were moseying
along the sidewalk
all five of them
mother, father
and three little bambinos
and I mean really moseying
they’d take a few steps
turn to each other and laugh
then take a few more steps
stop and talk a bit
laugh again
and continue on
when they came upon a flower bed
set up in a concrete slab
the father stopped first
bent down
and began sniffing
at all the different flowers
after satisfying his sense of smell
he beckoned to the others
who had been watching him the whole time
he motioned towards which ones to smell first
which ones were the best
which smelled the strongest
which weren’t as pleasant
one by one
while the others waited patiently
each member of this happy family
sniffed away at the flowers
and upon finishing
looked up and towards the father
smiled and laughed
and nodded their agreements
it was as if the Whos
had escaped from Whoville
to explore my fair city
and to wonder at its simple amazements
but soon after they’d gone
as soon as they were out of sight
my fair city went back to normal
when a pair of women walked up
to that same bed of flowers
and one put her hands on the cement slab
for support
and puked all over the sidewalk


it came in around four in the afternoon
and I drank with it all night
we got cut off at the bars
so I came home and hit the whiskey
then passed out in my bed
I woke up in blood and drool
and it was on the futon
in the other room
shivering under a small towel
I offered it a beer
and we started in again
then we went back out
to the bar that opens at 7 AM
it fed dollar bills into the jukebox
all sorts of great country songs
and I beat it in pool a couple times.
later in the night I had to go to work
so it went to a different bar
blacked out, threw up
and found itself drinking
with one of my ex girlfriends
one that had really bashed my heart in
it said this to piss me off
but it didn't piss me off
and after it stopped by the bar where I was working
and looked inside and said,
“this place sucks.”
it wandered off down the street
when I got back home at just past 1 AM
it wasn’t anywhere to be seen
and when I woke up to piss at 5 AM
it still wasn’t there
but then at 8 AM when I woke up to piss again
there it was
curled up on my futon
shivering under the same towel
all the lights were on
and trash covered the floor
and every horizontal space
was populated by a beer bottle
some empty
some full
most somewhere in between
I shook my head and said to myself,
“there it is, one of my best friends.
But, hell! When will it ever leave?”

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


the first shot of the night
I put it back
and wince weakly
it is like the feeling you get
at the movie theatre
when the ticket taker
tears off your stub
gives it back to you
while you think,
“there’s no going back, now.”

the second shot of the night
I send it down into the pit of my stomach
seething and burning, rotgut
it wants to destroy anything alive
including me
but not right now
I won’t let it
rather I’ll sit in this chair
and think my thoughts
here we are
men and women
wretched little children
what silliness it is
to go about hoping and praying
for what?
we get everything that we deserve
and nothing more

the third shot of the night
strong whiskey breath
blown onto the red coals of doom
a hunger in my stomach
becomes alive
it wants more than the thoughts in my head
the mind is a crazy tyrannical beast
the greatest of consumers
he wants more and more and more
and gets more and more and more
his thirst is never quenched
his hunger never satisfied
at times I wonder
whether the human race
was created
by the copulation of good and bad
whether we are devils
or gods
pieces of both
I turn to the bottle
and the empty shot glass
I pour from one into the other
it seems ridiculous
an extra step
why not suck straight from the bottle?
because by accomplishing tasks
man feels better about himself
and I cannot let myself forget
I am American Madman

the fourth shot of the night
I feel a little bit of something
a light seen from far off
across a desert
hope is granted to the hopeless man
and he doesn’t know what to do with it
I recall a day last summer
around the time I lost a job
I woke up and went to a bar which had an outside deck
overlooking the river
my girlfriend came along
after some time I sent her home
to feed my dog
the bar was empty
except the bartender girl
and one other patron
a truck driver man
he looked over to me and asked
“why don’t you go home and feed your own dog?”
I turned to him
then measured my drink
glanced out to the bay
and back at him
“because I don’t want to feed
my own fuckin’ dog. I’d rather she
feed my dog and I keep this barstool warm.”
and that’s how it is
just like that
we don’t want to feed our own fucking dogs

the fifth shot of the night
brings me back to these keys
and it’s not summertime anymore
not inside or outside
it’s cold and it’s dark
and the rains won’t stop
the night presses on
it never began
but somehow
it will always be
a cursed freight train
surging through a frosted razor hell
did I search for life?
at some point in time
was I searching for existence?

the sixth shot of the night
and time bends slowly
do not mistake
the measured movements of the whore
as some sort of practiced grace
she’s just doing that
to pass the time
delaying your satisfaction
nibbling away at your life’s limited moments
because you’re paying by the minute
once the sperm is released
the cash is collected
the door slammed shut
and you’re lying naked on the bed
wondering whether it was all worth it
and where to go from there
to the mirror or the toilet
you can see your reflection in both
I am a gambler
a roulette player
watching the ball
land on red
and spin around and around and around
when I bet my whole life on black

the seventh shot of the night
a fulfilled desire
I send it down to hell
and it comes up as a breath of static fire
the pyramid is crumbling
and the slaves look on with dismay
meanwhile the pharaoh jerko off
to his own reflection in a gold framed mirror
it was in the nights
that we truly became alive
running wild through the streets
climbing telephone poles
over the lines and the wires
screaming at the sky
from the rooftops of apartment buildings
in the night it becomes easier
for those who dwell in darkness

the eighth shot of the night
I pour from the bottle
and a long drop slides down the glass
I wipe it away with toilet paper
a bottle cries sweeter tears than I
there is no going back
I think about the options I had
with the night
with tomorrow
with this life
swollen with madness
my eyeballs are dry
my lips chapped
and I feel perfect; exactly as I should
it’s nice to think about dismay
and long walks down gray cobbled streets
a flask in my pocket as I skip along
while the world burns
out of nowhere I realize
I haven’t checked the mail in days
I get up and stretch and sit back down again
wondering why I’d just gotten up
forgetting about the mail
and the burning world

the ninth shot of whiskey
kisses me on the lips
before diving down to rejoin its lost siblings
a reunion of boiling blood
my face gets hot
my dog snores
and I feel like I could feel better
like the gears are spinning
the ball is rolling faster and faster
so I pour another
I could be looking for a job
or reading Anna Karenin
or I could be molesting ferrets
but the only thing that matters now
is that I’ve made a decision
not just to be, but to become
but to become what?

the tenth shot of the night
swallowed like it really means something
like the first time you fight a man
or poke flesh into flesh
these thoughts I have
remind me of my insanity
as though I could somehow forget
I could be out in the streets
or watching a movie
or standing on the edge of a building
but instead I’m here
chained to this desk
bound by bourbon and blind hope
I realize that I’m alone
and there’s been something I’ve wanted to do
for quite some time
but haven’t been able to
because of that girlfriend
who lives here with me
I’ve wanted to drink alone in the dark
in the pitch black
without sound or sight
there seems nothing purer
no better way to come to grips with yourself
and see which one of your many selves
is really doing the haunting
so I turn off the light
close the computer
put a shirt over the flickering control lights
put a rug against the crack under the door
return to my desk
and pour another shot
I close my eyes and slam it back
and I sigh
my, oh, my do I sigh
because this season of my life has just begun


in the morning
when I wake up
the first thought I have
in my blown out brain is this:
your pussy is a cemetery
where the lonely go to mourn the dead
it is a strange thought to have
upon waking in the morning
because the ‘you’ of whom I’m thinking
can only be god itself
and it is supposed
and would make sense
that god is neither male nor female
but again the thought comes:
your pussy is a cemetery
where the ghosts go to learn
that they are already dead
what a thought indeed, I think
because although sometimes lonely
I am not a ghost
nor am I already dead
or seeking death
not just yet
not right now
not today
and not like this
so I think to myself:
I’ve seen enough pussies
to know that yours
is different
some are simple
and straightforward
easy, and easy to understand
while some are complex
like terrible calculus problems
or finding your way
through a garden maze
drunk and in the dark
but your pussy
is like the kiss of death, yes
to venture near it
would be to invite death in for supper
and watch him carve out your heart for dessert
yes, yes
I can’t help thinking:
it’s true, it is so true
your pussy is a cemetery
where brave men go to kneel and die
and so I will be avoiding it
because you already know my thoughts
on death
this morning


I don’t give a damn
what anybody else says:
I am the fastest walker in the world
seven foot tall Nigerians and
speed walkers have nothing on me
I don’t even try to be this fast
but I am
I’m damn quick on my feet
and am continually reminded of my speed
when walking down the sidewalk
because I have to weave
in and out of other foot traffic
I have to go onto the street
around cars
because I cannot stand
being stuck behind the slow pokes
the ones that amble
and just generally putz along
window shopping or
stopping to pick their underwear
from between their ass cheeks
who do they think they are?
when I walk with friends
they say, “WHOA! SLOW DOWN!
What’s the rush, man?”
well, the rush is death, goddamn it
I have things to do
people to spend time with
drinks to drink
places to check off
on my list of places to see
I have women to love
and bar tabs to ring up
books to write
trouble to get into
and back out of again
there are all sorts of roses
I’d like to stop and smell along the way
but that requires actually getting
from one bush to the other
so when you see me coming
or hear me quietly cursing behind you
nearly stepping on your heels
and shoving you along
kindly, oh so kindly
move your ass out of the way


she feels
the problem is me!
can you believe
just because
I won’t give in
to her
she feels that
I’m the problem!
that was what
I overheard
at the coffee shop
and it put a smile
on my face
the battle of the sexes
so damn eloquently


he came barreling up
all twenty four years of him
for a man with Downes Syndrome
he was doing all right for himself
he had a license and a can do attitude
and he wasn’t a dick
when I told him he couldn’t bring
his coffee inside
“but I just wanna go in and watch the music!”
“that’s fine, buddy, but you gotta leave
your coffee out here.”
“okay, okay. Just don’t let anybody take it!”
“I’ll try not to.”
he enjoyed shouting everything
instead of just speaking
in a reasonable voice
it didn’t bother me though
because even when mid shout
he always wore a smile on his face
“where’s the music?!”
“does it cost money?!”
“five dollars.”
“but I don’t have any money!”
“you never do, but you seem to manage.”
“haha, that’s true. I’ll go to the bar!”
he went up to the bar and yelled,
“hey bartender! I don’t have any money!”
I turned to check somebody else’s ID
and when I looked back he was smiling at me
a beer in his hand
“the bartender is such a good guy!”
he shouted over to me
the bartender was looking over his shoulder
shaking his head and smiling
“yeah, he is a good guy,” I replied.
“I don’t have money, so he gives me beer for free!”
“I wish it was like that for me, my man.”
“I’m a pretty lucky guy!”
“I know it.”
we all had a laugh because it was true
he was one of the most cheerful people
that ever came into that bar
and I got the feeling
that he felt like that everyday of his life

Thursday, July 16, 2009


he had lost his job
been laid off
like so many other men
and so instead of going to work
he came to the bar
like so many other men
“I can’t tell her I lost my job,” he said.
“so I’ve got nothing else to do
but come to the bar
and have a few beers.”
the logic made sense
and I didn’t question him
“she’d just worry herself sick,
if she knew I’d lost my job.”
so he’d sit on a barstool
put back his beers
and step outside often
to smoke from his pack of cigarettes
after he’d had a few beers
he’d turn to me and smile
and say, “you know, I feel like I’m stuck
between a rock and hard place. And
hell, it really ain’t that bad.”
I stared at him
watched him drink
a merry twinkle in his eyes
and I reminisced about my many, many days
and nights of unemployment
but I could never fully enjoy them
when I was living them
too concerned about the rent due
the credit card bills
the money for groceries
so I admired that in him
his ability to sit there on a barstool
defeated and rejected
appearing to truly believe that
hell, it really ain’t that bad


I was lying on a friend’s couch one evening
tripping on mushrooms
not tripping too hard
or too deep
kinda just lying there
waiting for the whole thing to be over
because I’d been eating those mushrooms
on and off
for nearly twenty – four hours
my girlfriend
at the time
she was tripping, too
but it was her first time
she was in the other room
sitting on a chair
staring down at the floor
after nearly an hour passed
I turned to her
and saw this possessed expression
slapped there on her face
“hey,” I said. “you all right?”
she didn’t respond immediately
and when she did,
she said, “I’m staring right down into hell.”
I jumped off the couch
and rushed towards her
put my arms around her
and said, “no, no. Look away,
you don’t want to be looking down into hell.”
she kept her eyes fixed on the floor
for another minute
while I said, “hey, look at me.
Look here. Don’t keep staring down there
into hell. That’s no good.”
when she finally tore her gaze away
she turned to me and smiled
and said, “no, I like it.”


the rain had finally stopped
after nearly two months
and the sun was coming out in full brilliance
the temperature was perfect
75 degrees F
and the clouds moved lazily across the sky
but still the people
many of them, anyway
still they kept their car windows up
locked tight in their climate controlled environment
keeping out the fresh air
the beautiful day
refusing to be touched by mother nature
and it was always the wealthier people
the ones in Mercedes or BMWs
who practiced this absurdity
while the old boys in their Silverados
the poor families in their Dodge caravans
or the teenagers in their broken Fords
they drove around with big smiles
lapping up the sun
the wind washing their faces
seeming to have not a care in the world

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Money is good
for three things:
a bite to eat
a night of drinks
and the occasional tattoo.


the idea of going to the beach
or to the park
to do a bit of reading
is all well and good
but when I get there
I find it very uncomfortable
because I never bring a chair
I’m always shifting around
trying it on my back
holding my book in front of the sun
or on my stomach
with my back bent and arched
and aching
even on my sides
my head on my shoulders
but it’s just not that comfortable
so in my older age
I give up more quickly
and go sit on a park bench
and when I get too tired to read anymore
I so easily lean over onto my side
use the book as a pillow
and wait for the night
for somebody to have pity
and cover me with newspapers
because for some reason, to me
bums seem to be some of the most comfortable
people in the world
when you’re used to nothing
you learn to accept anything


in New York City
it seems
the people who are descendents
of immigrants
the ones who have been there
for a few generations
the ones who are some
of the proudest Americans
maybe some of the proudest people
in the world
they like to look at you
and make a split decision
about you
then they like to say, “you
are not from around here.”
and I like to look back at them
and then around at all the people
on the streets
behind the food carts
the deli counters
I like to look up in the sky
at the window washers
and the telephone workers
high up in their cherry pickers
I like to look at them
their styles
their expressions
listen to their voices
and their accents
and see how they go about their lives
and then turn back to my accuser
and reply, “no shit, Sherlock. Now,
how about a well toasted bagel
with veggie cream cheese?”

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


by the way
where is Ron, the fireman?
has anybody seen
this dear friend of mine?
he is fifty something years old
drinks like a man should drink
fights like a man should fight
works like a man should work
and saves lives
like it’s his job
because it is his job
he is Ron, the fireman.
never in my life
have I met a better man
and I want to know
goddamn it
where is Ron, the fireman?
he has a couple moles
on his handsome face
and his voice is soft and smooth
and when you speak to him
it is like speaking to no other man
because this one
he actually listens
so if you’ve seen my friend
Ron, the fireman
please tell him that I miss him
and that I am interested in meeting up
preferably at our old haunt
(he’ll know where I mean)
because as usual
there is a shortage of decent men in the world
and just to know that he is still alive
still out there kicking ass
and saving lives
well, that would make my day
and I really wouldn’t mind
my day getting made


when I was 21
I moved out to San Diego
with a late model sport bike
Honda CBR600 F4
to be precise
a Chevy Silverado
twenty-five grand in the bank
and the feeling like things
could not get any better
I returned home
not more than a year later
with forty-three cents in my pocket
the motorcycle
the car
the truck
the money all gone
and the feeling like things
could not get any worse
sometimes, my friend
sometimes, that’s just how it goes
and regrets?
fuck regret


it had gotten to the point
where the rain
was the only thing a person could talk about
because it was ruining lives
the restaurants were hurting
the bartenders were starving in their rooms
the painters had already drank
all their money at the bars
and so instead they just stood around
glaring at the walls
the landscapers and roofers
the proprietors of bicycle rental companies
the walking tour guides
and the party cruise ship captains
what could they do?
and what could they say?
“two days of sun last month, two days, but the rain!”
“twenty six days of rain!”
“a few days of drizzly fog, but the rain!”
“why won’t it stop? Who’ll stop this rain?”
“it cannot go on like this. Oh, this rain!”
there was no use in looking at a weather forecast
it would be rain for the next day
and the day after
and the following week
rain, rain, rain
so I bought an umbrella
and a new handle of whiskey
and got very used to being wet
because really, what can a person do about the rain?
he can smile and frown and curse the gods
but in the end
he is going to just be wet
and he must remember
that at some point
some day
he will once again be dry


there is a trend going around
where men and women
mostly young
put holes in their ears
and put in a special earring
that they replace now and then
with a bigger special earring
until they have these rings
in their ears
which you could poke your finger through
rings that will never heal
never grow back
and I like that
because it is a sign of the times
where more and more people
are giving less and less
of a fuck
and although I am not interested
in people poking their fingers
through holes in my ears
I am interested
in people giving less and less of a fuck
about what other people think of them

Friday, July 10, 2009


where do they come from?
I walk down the street
or sit at a bar
a coffee shop
or a busy bus stop
here they come
there they go
battalions of beauties
in short skirts
or tight jeans
in summer dresses
or flapping blouses
their faces so gorgeous
their smiles so friendly
their breasts and their asses!
and their legs
which strut along
or cross over one another
when they sit
pumping the valves of desire’s heart
a girl walks by
in a backless shirt
and what a back!
a terribly lovely golden tanned back!
I trip and almost fall to the ground
I catch myself on a telephone pole
and run away
grown men
should be crying on the street corners
banging their fists against the sidewalks
throwing bricks through storefront windows
clutching their heads
wringing their hands at the sky
there should be riots in the streets!
the girls of summer
they are too much
there are too many
I can’t think with my brain
my heart chokes me
I fall in love daily and nightly
hourly sometimes
I take a deep breath
and look the other way
but there are more
and those are more beautiful
I am reduced to a gasp of breath
and a machine gun heartbeat
I can see their bikini straps
beneath their clothes
sweet lord!
I should get onto my motorcycle
and drive into a wall
no amount of suffering
no amount of physical pain
can be compared
to the torment of desire
but wait!
take it easy, young man
hold your breath and close your eyes
for in a matter of months
they will have become ghosts
lost characters
in dreams you cannot remember having
and you will hole up all winter long
rubbing your hands to stay warm
watching your breath meet the frigid air
lying around alone
beneath the covers
wondering where, oh, where
are the girls of summer now?


maybe in the rebel days
the pipes were made to be that loud
so that the biker gangs
when they road into town
would alert everybody
of their presence
with the tremendous roar
of all those bikes
rolling together
daring anybody to mess with them
but nowadays
when the rebels
have all but died out
or sold out
the loud pipes seem a bit extravagant
a bit too over the top
who needs to be heard
from miles away?
only Thor
would enjoy pipes that loud
it seems to me
these people with these motorcycles
with pipes that startle the birds
ten blocks away
they are trying to make up for something
as though they don’t feel at ease
with their own presence
they must make it known
to everybody
of their whereabouts
by some other means
some other method
I am very glad
my little Honda Rebel 450
has a pleasantly hushed rumble
and even though I do enjoy
wearing my cowboy boots when I ride
the cloppity-clop of the heels
towards the coffee shop
after parking my bike
make for a much louder entrance
that I ever would want


Henry Miller once wrote,
“in my sober moments…”
and then
as he tended to do
went on some epic rant.
in my sober moments
I get to thinking about settling down
finding a girl
to make into a bride
and keep as a wife
maybe have a couple little turds
to raise up in our likeness
to inflict our values upon
I think about money and wealth
maybe really grind it hard for a while
put together a little fortune
I think about antique trucks
and weekends off
vacations to distant lands
which I’ve already been to
but this time with travel companions
other than poverty, drunkenness and misery
I think about a healthy body
a healthy mind
creation instead of destruction
but after enough of this thinking
after enough of these sober moments have passed
it all gets very overwhelming yet boring
then it becomes dreadful
and eventually utterly terrifying to me
then I am again gone
back to the bar
back to the bottle
back to the beasts with whom I run
and I run and run and run
with the wild herd
some male and some female
some weak
who will eventually get picked off
and some strong
who will run forever
until death snatches them up
to nobody’s surprise
some are leaders and others, followers
but no matter what we are
where we go
we are one
and together, we run

Thursday, July 9, 2009


while walking a dog
I almost bought
a camper van
I have no money
to buy a camper van
nor any place
for which to park it
but those things
those trifles
did not cross my mind today
while walking a dog
when I almost bought
a camper van
what appealed to me
about this camper van
was that it was parked
on some loser road
in some loser driveway
and I thought that if
just if
I bought that camper van
the previous owner
might let me hide out in there
for a bit
let me lie down to rest
amongst the mice and the mildew
with which this old camper van
was surely infested
might let me wallow away a few days
in this old camper van
that surely wasn’t going anywhere
but on a tow truck
to the salvage yard
and I was thinking
not even that deep down
that maybe I could go there with it
to the salvage yard
and be taken apart
piece by piece
until the only thing left of me was a frame
which nobody would recognize
and I could then finally
be at peace
with the world
and the gods
and the heavens and hells
but while gazing at this old camper van
the dog I was walking
the old mutt
he decided to take a shit
right there in the grass
in front of the camper van
and so instead of buying this thing
somehow, someway
I decided against it
and to instead
pick up the shit
toss it in a garbage can
walk the dog home
get in my car
finish up walking the other dogs
go back to the bar
drink way too much
wake up the next morning
and again think about buying
that old camper van
if not for any other reason
than it would be a good place to hide out
and weather through another day’s hangover


we were in the bar
and I was just killing it
on the pinball machine
I hadn’t played pinball
in over a decade
but I couldn’t miss the ball
I was the pinball wizard
and it felt pretty damn good
to just be kicking ass at something
but then there was a THUD
and everybody gasped and shrieked
and said, “holy shit! Did you see that?”
but I didn’t see it
because I was killing it
on the pinball machine
but I did know what had happened
I knew from experience
my own and by witnessing others
that a THUD like that
could only be one thing
it was the very hollow sound
of a man falling off his barstool
immediately there was panic
madness and chaos
that was soon relinquished
by some women in the bar
who were in the medical field
they spoke to the man
made him squeeze their fingers
made him look around
and talk
but his talk was sloppy
like he had had thirty shots of whiskey
but he hadn’t
or he claimed he hadn’t
and the bartenders agreed
“he only had four beers.”
he’d had quadruple bypass heart surgery
two months before
that was verified by his slurred speech
and the bartenders
and all the patrons in the bar
well, the ambulance came
and all the medics
and they carted him off
while I finished up my game of pinball
the whole time wondering
whether he was just drunk
or that he’d had a stroke
or another heart attack
anybody with any sense pledged
it wasn’t that he was just drunk
that it was a stroke
or a heart attack
but the following night
I saw him out at another bar
with a beer in hand
and I smiled and said,
“you’re still here?”
and he smiled back and said,
“I sure am.”
I walked away and laughed
because he’d gotten right back up on that horse
like any old fighter should do


there were two of them
hopping across the bricks
one found a crumb
a large crumb
he tried to wolf it right down
but couldn’t fit the whole thing
into his mouth
so he dropped it
and right afterwards
the other jumped in and stole the crumb
the first finch paid him no mind
the crumb already forgotten
like, “fuck it. That’s how it goes.”
the birds
the insects
all the animals
they have learned to accept every reality
that is administered to them
to take whatever life throws
or drops
to live in the will of god
or by the chance of fate
but man
we bitch and moan
hoping and expecting the world to move for us
in our favor
every time
at every moment
of every day
like gamblers on the roulette wheel
who feel they deserve to win every spin
I took a drink from my mug of tea and thought
“well, even the birds have figured it out
and someday, so will I.”

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


he was nice
and all
but when he came in
he’d order a bottle of beer
and a glass
he’d dump half the bottle in
with no grace
no class
so that there’d be one inch of beer
and four inches of foam
and then he’d drink
sometimes order food
and at the end of his first bottle
he’d look at me and wink
“there’s a hole in this bottle, ha!”
“there must be,” I’d wink back
snapping open his second
after his two beers
and listening to the live jazz
he’d swipe at his throat with two fingers
and I’d give him his tab
he’d tip me well
and say, “see you next week, Jack.”
usually I’d smile and say, “take care.”
but this week I just smiled
and thought, “no you won’t.”
because it was my last shift
behind another bar

Monday, July 6, 2009


she was one of those girls
who would make plans with you
get you very excited
to see her
to spend time with her
to maybe talk
or maybe play
both of which were nice
but then you’d get a text message
something about how she’d decided
to clean her apartment instead
or work on her bicycle
or go out with her friends.
after this would happen
you’d say to yourself, “fuck it, move on.”
and you’d try not to think about her
her pretty face
her beautiful body
her breasts that hung down nicely
when she was on her side
in your bed
her elbow against the mattress
her head resting on her hand
while you ran your fingers
through her hair
but after a little time
when you had begun
to get her out of your head
she’d resume communication
“where r u?”
“what r u doing?”
you’d ignore her at first
tell yourself, “don’t play the game.
It’s a game you cannot win.”
but then she’d start in with questions
about you ignoring her
giving her the silent treatment
this and that
you couldn’t tell if it was because
she was young and teasing
or just a little bit crazy
or more likely both
but whichever it was
you’d wonder just how
you’d gotten involved with her
and more importantly
how you could get uninvolved with her


it seems a common theme
in the bar where I work
for wives to lose their husbands
each night
without fail
a couple women
middle aged with rosy cheeks
and thick, pudgy bodies
wander in and out of the doorway
muttering, “I’ve lost my husband.”
some even ask me
if I’ve seen him
“have you seen my husband?
He’s a big guy with glasses.”
“have you seen my husband?
He’s a short little bald man.”
but I have never seen their husbands
and if I have
I wouldn’t know
because I don’t keep track
of husbands and wives
I have enough on my mind
with paying the rent
beating the hangovers
and trying to make something
of my life.
but each night
without fail
a couple women
middle aged with rosy cheeks
and thick, pudgy bodies
stop in the doorway
only moments after losing their husband
and say, “oh, there he is!”
and always
the husbands are at the bar
or in their same chairs
at the same tables where the wives had left them
taking their time with their last drinks
stalling and stalling that last sip
holding onto the moment
the night
the camaraderie of the tavern
enjoying the friendship of fellow men
before giving it all up
and going back home
to their castles
and their captors
and their lives outside the bar


on the weekends
in the nights
I stand in a doorway
and tell people
that there is live music upstairs
“how do you get upstairs?”
they often ask
“if you’re like me,
you put one foot
in front of the other.
If you’re like Superman,
put on your fuckin’ cape
and fly, bitches!”


of all the nights
in all the bars
I’ve spent drinking
in this drinking town
and all the nights
I’ve spent working
at the door of a bar
or behind a bar
in this bar lover’s town
the bastard has never bought a single drink
he comes in and out
in and out
he makes his rounds
and he must visit every single bar
in this pretty, little town
on every single night
of every single week
of every single year
he comes in
and looks about
does a lap around the bar
most times he just nods
but sometimes he says to me
“I’m looking for some action
looking for the hot spot
the place to be
and this sure ain’t it.”
the bar could be jam packed
or totally dead
it doesn’t matter
I shrug him off
whether I’m dead sober
or bombed back to World War One
but I silently wish
that he finds that hot spot
and stays there
because I am so sick and tired
of seeing him around
going in and out
in and out
of every single bar
in this fine, portside town
and never, ever buying a drink


sure knew how
to pinch a penny
she lived on Manhattans
and discounted groceries
which she’d find
at the local John G’s
where the cans were dented
or past their date
she reused the same wrapping paper
to wrap the same presents
that each Christmas
we would politely refuse
and then be given again
the following year
she never made outgoing phone calls
instead waiting for days
weeks or months or years even
for the person with whom
she wanted to speak
to spend the dime and call her
leftovers never went uneaten
lights were never on for naught
and even on the hottest summer days
down in Palm Beach
the air conditioner would remain silent
but one of the things
that amazed me the most
was that she could make use
of a single sponge
for years and years at a time
every night
the dishes were hand washed
and every night
the sponge would be worn down
just a little more
until a time
when it was only the size of her thumb
a ratty, shriveled thing
which I would throw out one night
only to live the next three days
scowled at
written off
and absolutely loathed
for being a wasteful youth
ah, my dear, old penny pinching Nana
bless her heart

Thursday, July 2, 2009


the funeral was running late
because the dead man
hadn’t shown up yet
you can have a funeral
without a dead man
but some people
like to gaze upon the dead
to be sure that they are really, truly dead
that they’re not just faking it
trying to get out of work
or going clothes shopping with the wifey
the funeral director
he was running about
asking at first
then begging and pleading
“where is the dead man? Where is he?”
but the dead man
he was nowhere to be seen
after nearly an hour
people started wandering off
scoffing and sighing and shaking their heads
“this was no funeral,” one woman said.
“this was a total sham.,” said another
the funeral director
he was now begging and pleading
for the grievers to stay
it was like his kingdom
was falling apart at the seams
like his funeral home was Troy
and he was watching it burn
the dead man
he was watching it all
from behind a tree
across the street from the funeral home
when everyone was gone
and the funeral director was seated
clasping his head in his hands
the dead man crept past him
stepped into the empty casket and smiled
“now, this is more like it!”


we’d been talking about
about how it could destroy
your memory
make you just sit
in the same room
or the same bar
saying the same things
over and over
introducing yourself
again and again
my grandpa was drinking
Ketal One on the rocks
god bless him
maybe the nicest man in the world
tied with my father
but my grandpa
his memory was going
not from drinking
just from living
just being alive slowly gnaws at your life
just being alive kills you
he took a hit from his glass
and turned to me
“Jack,” he said
everyone became silent
even the kids
they stopped playing with their food
stopped asking for more cake
“I have a very serious question for you.”
I blinked and smiled and thought,
“oh, shit. Here we go. Another
lecture maybe,
about how I should avoid
losing my memory
to drinking.”
I looked at my parents
at my sister and brother in law
they all stared back
I remembered a similar time
when my grandmother was alive
she’d sip manhattans in her apartment
and during dinner
she’d ask about my drinking
tell me that I was drinking too much
that it would ruin my life
wreck my body and my mind
she’d tell me
to basically cut the shit
god bless her, too
she meant well
but I didn’t take to the advice
so I looked back at my grandpa
my dear, old grandpa
he took another hit of vodka
and said, “now, answer me truly,
do you have a chick?”
there was a moment of silence
before I burst out laughing and said,
“oh geez. You had me worried
for a minute there. Listen,
I’ll send you some pictures, grandpa.”