Sunday, September 27, 2009


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


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

Sunday, September 13, 2009


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

Friday, September 11, 2009


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

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


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

Sunday, September 6, 2009


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

Saturday, September 5, 2009


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

Friday, September 4, 2009


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


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

Thursday, September 3, 2009


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

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


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


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

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