Wednesday, October 6, 2010


like most men
I find great pleasure
in telling stories

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 23, 2010


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

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

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

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

but rather because
in many other ways

I am one lucky motherfucker

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


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

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

long afternoons
drinking white wine on porches
and talking about their

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

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

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

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

I smiled and snorted
as I sat there drinking my tea

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

but it seems the way of the world
has other plans

Monday, September 20, 2010


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

next Saturday

Friday, September 17, 2010


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

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

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

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

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

ah, the good old days

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

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

Thursday, September 16, 2010


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

what more could a person expect?

Sunday, September 12, 2010


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“do you know where you are?”


“do you know what you’re gonna do?”

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

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

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

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


they lived four blocks
from downtown
Wilmington, North Carolina

and almost every night
one of them would get so drunk
out at the bars
that he would not be able
to make it
the last block home
to their apartment on Market St.

whichever one it was
would jump a wrought iron fence
and go to sleep
in the graveyard next to
the church

when I would talk to them
on the phone
while I was living out
my own joke life
800 or so miles north
on a godforsaken island off the Cape
they would not sound bothered
by the near nightly event
both seemed to have accepted it
as a simple fact of life

of living the way we were all living
drinking lots and caring little

finally, one of them
the one who wasn’t the Marine
packed off to rehab in the fall
and I moved down
to take his place

I arrived late in the morning
with fresh bourbon on my breath
and after waking up the Marine
we went strolling
out to the bars
laughing about how much fun
we would have
living together once again

the following morning
after waking on a patch of soft grass
surrounded by tombstones
I jumped the wrought iron fence
back onto the sidewalk
and stumbled home

when my friend came to the door
to let me in
he asked where I’d been
and whether I’d gone home with a girl

walking past him
towards the bathroom
I said, “I woke up in that graveyard
down the street from here. So that must mean
that tonight is your turn.”

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


after every set of exercises
she completes
on her purple exercise mat
she stands up and views herself
in the wall mirror
of the gym

she looks at herself first
from the front
then from each side
and finally over her shoulder
she surveys her backside

oh, pretty girl
in tight blue shorts
and your pink spandex top

with every set of exercises
do you think you look even better
or still not good enough?

Sunday, September 5, 2010


when he contacts me
he says , ‘I have some green pepper pizza
and my cousin Molly is with me
and if you want
we could also get mushrooms
on that pizza, and if you’re looking
to party, I could help you out with that, too.
Just calling, because I’m in
your neck of the woods.”

but what he is saying
is that he is outside my house
and he has a bag with him
and in that bag
he has probably a few ounces of grass
a few grams of pure MDMA
probably an ounce of mushrooms
and more cocaine than I could do in a week

but I’ve gotten pretty good at telling him, ‘sorry, man.
I just ate dinner and I’m gonna take it easy tonight.’

Saturday, September 4, 2010


the rule of the house
is that
you put your dirty dishes
in the dishwasher
after you
are finished using them

but there is a single spoon
in the sink
this morning

and I have no doubt
that soon there will be another
then a plate
and a drinking glass

and nobody will put them
in the dishwasher
because doing
would be a sign of weakness
and defeat

so the dishes
will go on
piling up
like dominoes fall down

oh god
the battle has just begun!

Friday, September 3, 2010


in Market Square
there are people picketing
and all of them
are elderly
or at least baby boomers
now retired

they wave and hold signs
and smile
and they shout at you
to honk your horn for their causes

they are against
corporate greed
and never-ending wars

sometimes I wonder if
they really care
or if maybe
they are just bored
looking for a reason
to get out of the house
or even out of bed
on a Monday morning
or Friday afternoon

but when I see their faces
when I get up close
it seems they have true concern
for the fate of this country
this world

like they still believe
in hope
or something

but when I see them later
sitting around a table
at a coffee shop
mingling and having fun
content with their day’s work

I wonder if I should tell these people
about this younger generation
how we just don’t care

Thursday, September 2, 2010


at the bar
when I am working the door
if it is very slow
I get so bored sometimes
to pass the hours
and the minutes
I stand
uncomfortably close
to a couple
who appears to be out
on a date

and I watch
with much greed
as they eat their food
and drink their beers
and try to ignore my presence

and when it gets too awkward
for them to go on
with their date
their lives

I clear my throat and ask,
“is everything ok?”


these cabbies stand around
outside the bar
all night long
occasionally getting fares
but mainly smoking
and drinking coffee

talking about how well
their little venture
is going
and how
come summer
they will be rolling in money
just carting it off
in their Crown Vics
to the bank
or the casino
or the after hours nightclub
they want to start

these cabbies
are not from around here
they don’t share the typical cynicism
that one develops
spending long winters alone
freezing your ass off
just trying to make it through
without swallowing
a bullet
or a bottle of pills

no, these cabbies
are definitely
not from around here
and for that
I think they might survive

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


there are some mornings
you lean over
in your bed

wrapped in dirty sheets
and you puke
right on the floor

there are also mornings
you get up
and piss
in the trashcan
just for the hell of it

then there are
those other mornings
when you don’t get up at all


after a few beers
we’d look
to one another
and use that old
adage, “finally,
I’m starting to feel
like myself again.”

about a decade later
it takes a few
more beers
and feeling like
old boys
we instead
growl, “fuckin’

Monday, August 30, 2010


right now
is another time
I have to get up from my writing
to do something
much more necessary
while living here on this earth

I have to use the bathroom

plenty of people
alive today
and throughout time
have gone their whole lives
without scribbling a word
without putting together a sentence
or even a single line of poetry
and they have done fine

but for some of us
poetry is a type of addiction
a thing we are hooked on
like crack
or alcohol

so my hope is that
when I get back from the bathroom
when I get back to my addiction
my words will have
more meaning
than they have had
all night

because right now
I can say
that in a literal sense
I am full of shit

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


what a little joy it is
when looking for a parking spot
to find one
with time left on the meter!

it’s like receiving a gift
from a stranger
while at the same time
pulling down your pants
bending over
and saying, “KISS MY ASS!”
to the Man.

it allows the individual, for once
to feel like he’s gotten away
with something

like he’s finally slipped something past
the system, the city, the machine

like there’s not always a price to pay
for being a human

for being alive


on his way in and out to smoke
every time he walked through the doorway
where I sat on my stool
checking IDs

he left behind the smell of a hospital
the odor of cleanly doom

finally, I said to a friend of mine
who was drinking inside

“man, come here. Do you smell that?”

my friend came in
sniffed at the air and scowled

“oh, I HATE patchouli! Fuckin’ hippies!”

he went back inside
and for a while I sat there wondering
why this hospital worker
maybe a nurse
or physical therapist
smelled so strongly of patchouli

or why the smell of happiness and love
so resembled the smell of death
and gloom


we were passing each other on the street
me and the old man
and the sun was beaming down
first time in a while

the old man smiled at me
and said, “what did you do, give an Indian
war dance, to get the sun to shine?”

I grinned as though I had
looked up at the sky
and said, “I’ll take it any way it comes.”

“I don’t blame you,” he laughed.

his dog squatted down and began to shit everywhere
all over somebody’s garden
then the sidewalk
and eventually the street

the old man kept smiling
looking from the sky to me and down to where
his dog was shitting all over
it all seemed to matter very little to him
when the dog was finished
they walked on

I thought about all the times I’d stepped in dog shit
all the angry mornings
I’d staggered through
a terrible smell following me
with every step

I thought about saying something
to the old man
something like, “hey, what do you think this is?
You think your dog can just shit anywhere?
Clean that up.”

but a moment later I laughed it off
and watched the old man continue down the street
with his half limp and his dirty, little dog
who he probably loved more than anything in the world

now, recalling the shit on the sidewalk
and on the street and in the garden
it doesn’t bother me
not at all
it’s actually nice to be reminded
that there are still careless old bastards out there
geezers with one foot in the grave
men that will never change

that not everyone of us
has been completely whipped
broken into submission
unflinchingly obeying every law
that’s been given to us

that somewhere out there
whether they know it or not
there are soldiers
whose expertise is experience
whose uniforms are graying hair and wrinkles
whose fight against change
is to the death


as I spend many hours each day
out walking dogs
I frequently run into people who have lost theirs

they walk up to me
or pull over in their cars
and they ask me, “hey, have you
seen my dog?”

many times
I have seen their dog
or I end up seeing their dogs
and I reunite them with their owners

but this one time
last Monday
while out walking dogs

an odd-looking man
with thin, graying hair
and thick glasses
pulled his truck
over to the side of the road

and he said to me, “excuse me,
have you seen my dog? He’s big and black
and looks very mean.”

I shook my head
told him that I hadn’t seen his dog
but that I’d keep an eye out

and as the man drove off
he shouted out his window
towards the woods
at the side of the road, “Psycho!! Hey, Psycho!!
come here, Psycho! come here, boy!”

I reeled in the dog I was walking
looked all around me
and said quietly, “well, buddy, it’s been fun,
all the time we’ve spent together
and just know, we’re not going out
without a fight.”


when the living gets easy
as it sometimes does
when there is money in the bank
good food in the fridge
and a few bottles of wine on the rack

those are the times I always think
of running away

the times when it sounds very romantic
to hit the road and wander
live out of a backpack
and bum it from town to town

but I’m quicker to remind myself
these days
that it’s not all
that it’s cracked up to be

eating a single meal a day
trying to find work that isn’t there
ghosting around cities
while everyone else sits in restaurants and bars
not even noticing you pass by

there’s nothing too special
about being broke
and wondering where you’ll sleep at night
plenty of people have been doing it
for time immortal

most will tell you
it’s scary and frustrating

and at it’s best
you become used to it

at its worst
you starve slowly and die

but then, there has always been something romantic
about death


there were three of them
not bad looking
in their early forties
if I had to guess

they stopped in front of me
where I was standing on the step
outside of the bar

and the loudest one asked, “you got dancing
in there? We want to dance! Where the
hell do you go dancing in this town?”

they all looked at each other and laughed
and the other two said, “yeah, dancing!”

I told them there was a place
about a block away
with a dance club in the upstairs
and that it was the only place in town
where they had a dance floor.

the louder one said, “why don’t you
come with us? Come dancing with us, okay?”

“I wish I could, dear, but I’ve got to work.”

“oh, screw work! Come dancing
with us instead. You’re a good – looking
young man.”

she looked at the others
who nodded
and she said, “come on, you young buck!
Let’s go dancing!”

the three of them were jumping around
having a hell of a time
and I considered leaving my post
my stupid doorman job

considered going out dancing
with a few older ladies
who could probably show me
a little bit about dancing
and a lot more about other things

but I knew it wouldn’t fly with the boss man
and I couldn’t stand to lose the job

“I really can’t, but I wish I could.”

“suit yourself!” the louder one laughed

and after they took a few strides
she looked back at me
then at her friends
and said, “shit, I’d hit that!”

and that’s how it usually goes for me
the wrong place
wrong time
wrong answer

wrong everything


my jeep turned over
on the first try
and later that morning
an email came in
from a small literary mag
saying they wanted
to publish
one of my poems

what a day
it was shaping up to be!

I didn’t call anyone to brag
not even to tell
it’s important
at times
to keep things to yourself
to suck up all the enjoyment
you can
before the world
gets its rotten teeth clamped around it
and breathes its bad breath
onto your little windfall

I went to a house
to take a dog out for a walk
because that’s how I make my money
to pay the bar tabs
and the bills

the dog had shit
all over the carpeted stairs
diarrhea galore

after cleaning it up
as best I could

I drove to a few more houses
walked a few more dogs
called it a day

then, on the way home
a man in a big, red pickup truck
rear-ended me
not bad
but bad enough

he wasn’t such a terrible fellow
he had insurance
and after the policeman arrived
twenty five minutes later
we went our separate ways

he, back to his life
with his children and his wife

me, back to my third floor room
with my beer fridge
and myself

luck can turn on a dime
picked out of a beggar’s hand
of spare change

I’ll try and remember that
next time I throw my two cents
down the storm drain


(published online 4/22/10 @ Bijou Poetry Review)

dear editor
please consider my following poem
for your literary magazine

thanks so much
for putting up with me
and my incessant submissions

each time I cut and paste a poem
into the body of an email
and click SEND

I feel like a gambler
placing a bet on the roulette wheel
rubbing his hands together
closing his eyes
and thinking, ‘hell, maybe
this one will hit.’

then afterwards
I sit back in my chair and smile
imagining the day

when I finally take down the house


oh, sleep!
you fucking prude!
why won’t you bed down with me


why do you taunt and tease me
with quick caresses
and pecks on the cheek?

I want to grab you by the dreams
and lie on top of you
pin you down
arms raised above your head
legs spread eagle

I want to open you up
come inside you

and remain there
in that missionary position
of unconsciousness
that delicious state of rest

for days


you should keep me company for a month
you fickle little prig!

let this sore body heal
let the black and blue and yellow cells
let the dead cells be born again

scrub me off
and rub me down
with that magic you possess
that ability to rejuvenate a tired body
a tired soul
in a tired world

and finally, sleep
do this for me: rid me of my habits
that keep you so far away


on the days
when I think I’m finally losing my mind
all I have to do to feel sane
or at least somewhat better

is to go outside
go for a walk
and talk to people
the ones raking their leaves
walking their dogs
or sitting downtown on the park benches

I go out and mingle
with the citizens of this town
of this country
this earth

you don’t have to look hard these days
to see that everyone out there

is bat shit crazy


she was cutting a client’s hair
and I was in the salon
with Lola
the owner’s French Bulldog
and then without looking away from
the client’s hair

she said, ‘we heard some real horror stories
about you.’

I took a step back
and tried for the hundredth time
to recall what the hell happened to me
on Sunday night

where I went
and who I was with

and I said, ‘uh oh.’

then Lola jumped up on her leg
and she said, ‘some real horror stories
about eating window sashes
and car seats.’

I looked at her
and with a big sigh of relief

said, ‘oh, you mean Lola. You heard horror
stories about her, not me?’

she stopped cutting her client’s hair
and laughed

we all laughed

and after I left with Lola
after I walked down the stairs
back out to the street

I still had many unanswered question
about Sunday


she texted me

and what can you ever say to that?

she was too drunk to drive
so I got into my jeep
picked her up and brought her back to my place
where the heat and electricity were
still working
despite the storm.

we sat in the living room for hours
until maybe 3 AM
she, with her flask of whiskey
me, nursing beers.

we talked about writing
and newspapers
casual sex
and ex girlfriends.

we talked about the days on Edgewood Drive
when she hated me
because when I came over to hang out
with my buddy, her housemate
I’d come blasting through the door
shouting and laughing
and we’d ravage the fridge
trash the place
and go back out into the night
shouting and laughing.

we talked about an old friend
who now and then
would try to kill himself
and we wondered if he’d since succeeded.

we talked about everything.

and after we were finished
she walked home
and I laid down in my bed
closed my eyes
knowing sleep was either
days or a bottle away
and my stomach wouldn’t take the liquor.

so I just remained there in bed
thinking about our conversations
about our past.

about her.

thinking about how maybe she was the one
who got away

even though I never had her
to begin with


Life is one motherfucker sometimes.
Due to an insanely busy month,
full of open mics,
a poetry festival,
work work work,
birthday parties and birthday bar-skip-and-hops
and a testy computer
with even more fickle internet,
the posts have been slow.
but do not fear, dear readers!
I have a few dump truck loads of writing to update
and as I've had another close call
with losing work from a crashing computer,
I think I am going to start uploading the poems
as they come out,
instead of waiting my usual month or so.

So, here we go...

Also, thinking about putting together another chapbook.
Any comments on the last one
are welcome and appreciated.

Thanks, Jackson

Saturday, April 10, 2010


on the counter
of the house
in which I am a visitor
there is a canister of pepper spray
and on the side
it says:

BEST BY 12/13

I read this statement
this brief warning
and feel the floor tremble
below my feet

feel the whole world

as the great blob of humanity
nudges itself
just a little closer
to extinction

by its own stupidity

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


something was wrong with the internet
this morning
so, as is normal at these times
I went into a wild rage
punching my desk
the ceiling
kicking the walls

smashed an umbrella against the floor
then threw it across the room

grasped my computer
picked it up
set it back down again
stormed into the other room

anything I could do
to avoid putting my fist through the screen
to avoid doing that again

(a third time, actually)

went downstairs
made a cup of green tea to relax
get my mind off things

came back
and tried the web browser again
no luck
Safari, my ass
I can’t even get online
never mind go anyplace exotic

in the top right corner
the Airport icon says I have a full signal

but when I click refresh on the page
the message that loads tells a different story
like two kids
in separate rooms
explaining why the family cat
is covered in paint

so I yell and swear at the computer for a while
and it just stares dumbly back at me
probably laughing to itself
in its electronic way

sending signals out to the other computers
the other robots around the world:

I think we’re nearly there, boys
it didn’t take long to get these humans hooked
turn them into a big planet
full of internet junkies

Saturday, April 3, 2010


some people wear flip flops
others don high heels
some squeeze their feet
in leather dress shoes
combat boots
or Nike Airs

whatever you wear
I say, walk like you’re barefoot
and act like you’re naked

like you’re the first human
walking out of the dark cave of existence
into the light of modern times

why, you may wonder?

it’s just another way
to manage what others expect from you

a way to get people to leave you alone

Thursday, April 1, 2010


at the check out
in Wal-Mart
I had the idea
that I’d like to buy some gum

it’s nice to have an idea
and then be able to realize that idea
instant gratification
and for not very much money, either

but as soon as I had the thought
and looked over the shelf
I found myself lost
with how many options there were

some gum came in little squares
others in long sticks
some had crunchy shells
some soft

there were packs of 12 pieces
and others of 14
some even contained 16
(strange how there were no packs
with odd numbers of pieces?)

all told
I counted over fifty varieties
of chewing gum

enough for each state in this country
to have their own flavor
enough for a different pack
for ever week of the year

enough for there to be
way too many choices

I didn’t buy any gum today at Wal-Mart
instead, I went home
sat on my stoop
and smoked a cigarette

Monday, March 29, 2010


he gets up from the couch
body aching
full of exhaustion
from living as fast and hard
as he thinks necessary

in the bathroom
in front of the mirror
he looks at his own reflection
his black eye
fucked up haircut
and somehow eager smile

and when he feels
good enough
like the reflection has given him something
he brushes his teeth
and pulls out a spool of floss

he hopes
that it has been long enough
since the last time
that his gums will bleed

because there’s something about it
something he really likes
about blood

it makes him feel
like he’s giving back to the world

Saturday, March 27, 2010


in the morning
while lying in my bed
I hear the church bell in Market Square


I count the tolls
and with every one
wish it would stop
so I could keep sleeping
and remain hidden from the day

then in the afternoon
when I’m sitting down at the coffee shop
taking a break from work
I hear it bang out the time again


and with every toll
wish it would stop because
I would rather sit there
at the coffee shop
than go back to work

then in the night
after the day has run off with the sun
I am again lying in bed
reading myself to sleep
and there it goes


with each toll
I wish it would stop
that it wouldn’t be as late

that I just had a little more time

Thursday, March 25, 2010


read, read, read
if you want to be a writer
that’s what they all say
the editors
and the masters
of this craft

read everything you can get your
hands on, everything
contemporary and past
read everyone
and all genres, too
from greek mythology
to chick lit
to the expiration dates
on coupons or gallons of milk

only by reading
will you gain the ability
to create your own words
words worth reading

well, it all makes sense to me
it really does

but when I am lying in bed
and I open a book
it’s only a matter of minutes
or pages
before I must get up

and begin to write

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


the clutter builds up
right here on my desk
headphones and sunglasses
baseball hats
and books
keys, pens and a roll of toilet paper
to blow my ever-running nose
corks to wine bottles
stained purple
and a comb
to replace my last comb
which I broke
because on the side it read


and I didn’t believe it.

two brands of chapstick
receipts and papers
W-2 forms
a pile of coupons
that will grow and shrink
as every few weeks
I weed out the ones which have expired
and add ones newly acquired
never actually using any

but the typewriters, hell
they’re everywhere!
I could have chosen methamphetamine
or murder
but instead I am addicted
to buying typewriters!

I rub my dry eyes
blow my runny nose
and watch the pictures
get more crooked on the walls

the walls that are closing in
the ceiling that is coming down
with every breath
every blink
every cluttered thought

that’s right, the clutter is on my desk!

get up!
get up and go out there
and fight!
never stop fighting
to make your experience in this world
exactly as you’d like it to be

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I can now enjoy blackberries

but there was a time
when I could not

they reminded me
far too much

of August

the end of the summer

the start of a new school year

with homework
and classes
and papers and exams

good god!

How I detested school!


when we get together
all we do is laugh
we make weird sounds
and say strange things
that nobody else
would ever understand
let alone
find humor in.

it’s like we are each other’s
one man audience
and one man comedian
at the same time

when his laughter slows
he catches his breath
says, ‘I only act like this when you
are around, but I bet you act like this
when nobody is around, too.’

and laughing still, I say,

‘that’s true, it’s not as much fun
when you’re not here
because when that happens
my audience
for these jokes and shenanigans
is the whole, empty world

and their applause is only silence
and the odd dirty look

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


after a few beers
we’d look over to one another
and smile

use that timeless alcoholic
adage, “finally, I’m starting to feel
like myself again.”

now, about a decade later
it takes more

and at times

in the midst of the bigger
and longer benders

we look over to one another
after maybe six or eight beers

and we growl like a couple miserable
old men, “fuckin’ inflation.”

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


now is another time
I have to get up from my writing
to do something
much more necessary
while living here on this earth.
I have to use the bathroom

plenty of people
alive today
and throughout time
have gone their whole lives
without scribbling a word
without putting together a sentence
or even a single line of poetry

and they have done fine

but for some of us
poetry is a type of drug
a thing we are hooked on
like crack
or alcohol

but my hope is that
when I get back from the bathroom
my words
will have more meaning
than they have at the moment
because right now

I am full of shit

Saturday, March 13, 2010


it was the summertime and
we’d been drinking
on the back porch
for a week
when one of us had the idea
that maybe that night
we’d take it easy.
go out to the bars and
only have a few
try to meet some girls
or at least remember the whole night.
so we had a couple beers before leaving
then walked over to the bar
it was early and the bar was empty
so we got a table
and ordered a round of beers.
after that round we ordered another

when I woke up in the morning
all I could remember
was finding a skateboard
stashed in the woods
and riding it home

from bed
I yelled out to my friend
who did not answer
then around ten o’clock
he came walking in
looking like he normally does
after spending the night
in jail

after a brief discussion
he said to me that the only thing
he remembered
was that at the end of the night
he crawled out of the bar
on his hands and knees
right into the feet of a couple cops.

‘when they saw me,
they told me I had three options: call a taxi,
call a friend, or go with them.’

‘so, what’d you do?’

he smiled big and laughed, ‘I stood up,
put my hands behind my back
and said, ‘let’s go.’’

Friday, March 12, 2010


I’m at the end of the tube
but I won’t quit
each night
if I try hard enough
I am able to squeeze out
just enough
for one more brushing

but I can't toss
the rolled up
emaciated tube
into the trashcan
I am too frugal for that
too environmentally conscious
too against waste

and I know
that tomorrow night
I’ll be able to squeeze out
just enough
for one more brushing

so the only thing
left to do
is go on squeezing
and brushing
and wondering
when the fuck will it ever end?

Thursday, March 11, 2010


not only do they sit around
sniffing the corks
from dead bottles of wine-

and they do more
than simply
love and suffer
feast and go hungry.
they work in auto repair shops
and science laboratories
walk your dog
or check your ID at the door
of some bar
sometimes they get in trouble
with the law
or donate time
picking up trash from the roadside

but in addition
to these noble feats
more important than
the day to day

poets remember
our dreams for us
our nightmares, too
and they put into words
the thoughts we almost had

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


he was at the bar
as he always did
about the fucked up state
of his life
his mountain of debt
his lack of employment
struggle to find a sane woman
his drinking problem
and affinity for pills and cocaine


the general shapelessness
and meaninglessness
his life had taken on

now and then he’d stop
delivering his vomit of despair
to look at me
raise his glass
and say, ‘well, I guess
it could be worse. I could be you.’


John was the man
who worked the cover charge
on the weekends
when the bands played
in the upstairs bar.
every now and then
he’d come outside
where I was checking IDs
and keeping out the drunks
and he’d smoke.
if he’d run out of cigarettes
I’d give him one
we’d stand around
and blow smoke at the night.
I liked John
because he’d take a drag
and then begin a story
with, ‘this one time,
I got drunk for a year
and lived inside a cardboard box,’
or ‘that was during the time of my life
when my girlfriend would sit around
and watch me grind pennies
on the pavement, until they fit
in the same slots as dimes
as the laundromat.’

it was clear that he’d lived a tough
goddamn life
and it was very nice
at the end of the night
to see him smile and leave
with his shift meal
and say, ‘so long, Jack. I’m goin’
home to smoke dope and eat ice cream.’


it was the winter and I was sixteen
there was shitload of snow
on the ground
and I wasn’t in school.
instead, I was working for a farmer
earning five dollars an hour
to ride with him out into the woods
and throw brush on a burn pile
while he drove his skidder
tearing trees from the frozen earth.
once he’d cut up a few logs
he’d drag them over to be split
on the splitter
and at this point it became my job
to stand at a distance
then run in and grab the split logs
once they landed.
when the work became monotonous
to the farmer
he’d place the logs on faster
so that I had to really move
to get in and get out
before the next one split
and flew off
and when this also became boring
he’d position the logs
so that they’d split and shoot off
at my head.
when it got to the point
where I was so far behind
that I had to run in and pick up logs
while others launchedfrom the splitter
over my head
the farmer would smile
and say to me, ‘isn’t this great? Out in the woods
enjoying nature at its best?’
I’d look back at him
question his sanity
and think about how I only had two more weeks
until I could quit the farm work
and go back to school
years later, I learned the farmer had died
been opened right up
by a rebellious chainsaw
and bled to death in the woods.
now, here I am, a writer
and a poet at that
earning less money than a farmhand
but still feeding the burn pile


during the days
we relaxed
swimming and kayaking
cooking our lunch
and dealing with our dysentery.
in the evenings
we swatted mosquitoes
and watched
giant cockroaches mate
on the concrete floor
at our feet.
over dinner
which we ate
across from one another
at a plastic table
lit by two candles
we talked about women
and life
the recent death of his father.
but without fail
at some point in the night
we always came back to arguing
about which one of us
had a larger head

Sunday, March 7, 2010


every day
I walked a dog past a driveway
on Lincoln Ave.
with a black Dodge Dakota
parked in it.
on the back was a decal
that read, ’10-11-09’
it was early October
and I was staring wide-eyed
down the barrel
of another lonely winter.

days passed
just like I passed by the truck
then one day the truck had cans attached
ribbons, too
and written in big letters
across the rear window
the words, ‘JUST MARRIED!!’

I thought, ‘good for them,’
and walked on by

a few days later
before leaving in the morning
to walk dogs
I was perusing the online police logs
of the local newspaper
and I read this: ‘police responded
to a Lincoln Ave. residence for a domestic
disturbance involving a toilet seat
being left up. Both parties cooperated
and said that they had just been married
and were ‘getting used to living
with one another.’”

I took a bite of my toast
a sip of my beer
and smiled
down the barrel
of another lonely winter


when I woke up
the room was dark
and the air thick
and in between the gentle snoring
of my friend in the bed
next to me
I could hear steady sipping
from one corner of the room.

I closed my eyes
and hoped to hell
he didn’t hear me
but sometimes
if they’re waiting for it
a person can hear the bow
of your eyelids
at the end of a dream.

‘are you ready to do this?’
he said softly

I remained quiet and hopeless
that one of the others
would wake up and climb the cross
lay his neck on the butcher block.

‘I know one of you is with me,’ he whispered
‘and I bet I know who.’

I took a good breath
and swallowed
sat up and squinted into the darkness.
he was in the corner
sitting on a chair
I could see the outline of his body
wrapped in a blanket
surrounded by 40 oz bottles of beer.

I got up quietly
and went into the bathroom
he followed me in
and we lit the pipe.

shortly after
we were in our borrowed junker
driving north out of Ensenada
leaving the other two friends
in the cheap hotel room
sleeping soundly
until they would wake up alone
the next morning
with the only clue
as to where me and Brian had gone
being a bible
which we had taken from the bedside drawer
and on it’s cover
in big letters
carved with a with a Swiss army knife,


but when my intoxication level
is anywhere in between
I busy my mind with thoughts
of killing you

short changed
today in the supermarket
or the ‘food store’
as my roommate
more correctly phrases it
something was askew.
the cereals were named Tide
and Wisk and Bounty
and the salsas were labeled
Hood and Oakhurst.
the produce section
included items
like Breyers and Dryers and Edys
and the water was bottled
by Pepperidge Farm and Oreo’s.
the red wines came from companies
named Tampax and Snuggies
and the white wines went by Skittles
and Baby Ruth.
the coffee and teas were imported
by General Electric
and the fabric softener was made
by Planter’s and Worther’s Originals

and when I went to the check out
all the registers had signs
that read, ‘140 items or more’

in fact, the only thing that seemed normal
was that the old woman
in front of me
who was paying for her bill
was counting out $784.14 in change

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


it was 8 o’clock pm
she asked if I was around
because she wanted to apologize
for what she said to me
at the bar
the night before

but sometimes
enough is enough

there are as many truths
a person
will admit to
when they are drunk
as there are lies
they will tell when sober

I told her she had no need
to apologize
or try any longer
to maintain a friendship

sometimes it’s better to forget
a person ever existed

you deal with a lot
less bullshit
from a stranger on the street
than a woman whose bed
you shared


the last time I went
to my dentist
I paid her nearly $200
for x-rays
and a routine cleaning
and that seemed very expensive, to me

luckily, I had no cavities
because who knows how much
those things would have cost?

but when she asked about
my oral hygiene
and learned that I only
brushed my teeth
more than once a day
and probably only for a minute
she recommended that I
brush them twice a day
and for two minutes each time

I did some quick math
and calculated that
by following her advice
I would be spending more
than an ENTIRE DAY of each year
brushing my teeth

at first I was appalled
to think of so much time
being spent in front of the sink
just scrubbing away

but it seemed justifiable
after I considered
how much time I spend at the bar
with a big smile on my face

and even more justifiable
when considering how much money
I spend there, too


when the plane landed
in Bogota
the people clapped
as if the pilot
had just burst out of the cabin
done a triple pirouette
and followed it up
with a double back flip
and curtsy

then, in the movie theatre
when the film finished
the clapping started
and continued
for many minutes
as if the director
sound engineers
costume designers
CGI techs
and all
were each getting up
to take a bow.

Colombians, god bless ‘em
are a very enthusiastic people

Monday, March 1, 2010


in the old days
which are never so long ago
you’d walk into the airport
with your ticket
check your bags
and go your departure gate
wait for an hour or so
and then board your plane.
not so anymore.
today you go into the airport
with your ticket
wait in line to have it verified
leave your bag in a pile
of bags
walk over to a different station
have them verify your ticket
and your identification
walk back to the line
wait a bit longer
check your bag
get your boarding pass
go through security
which includes
removing your shoes
walking through
a metal detector doorway
having a wand waved around
in front and behind you
and if you’re unfortunately selected
get patted down
and taken into a little booth
to answer questions
then you put your shoes back on
walk to your departure gate
go through another checkpoint
where they open your bag
and root around
and then you wait for two hours
and board your plane.
I do not feel that any invention
any technology
or anything at all
is making life any easier


was on his back
on the sidewalk
surrounded by groceries
that had fallen
out from plastic bags.
people kept leaning over
to look down at him
ask if he needed help
but the old man
would just flail his arms
and growl
and shout curses
up at the standing world.
old man
why would you do
such a thing?
had you given up?
were you drunk?
was the punishment
you would receive from your wife
for dropping the groceries
worse than the shame
of dying on the sidewalk?
old man
you are the creator
of many unanswered questions


when you’re young
and you have your whole life
ahead of you
you care very little
about the future.
and when you’re old
and you have your whole life
behind you
you realize that
no matter how hard you try
you cannot
change the past
and in the middle
when you have your wits
about you
you know that whatever
you do
you’re fucked
either way


there’s a certain feeling
you get
a distinct satisfaction
sensation of glee
when you
bend down
to your knees
in front of the door
close your eyes

and give thanks
to god

or to fate
or if you’re of a more rational
to the fruits
of your own labor

and then rip open
the cardboard box
and one by one
stock the beer fridge

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


when I saw him
down the jungle path
a large load
of sticks
lashed to his back
I thought
poor donkey
you were born a beast
of burden
but your eyes
are shaped for crying


I was in the back seat of the bus
jammed between a mother
and her children
and an older woman who
although sitting right next to it
never once
looked out the window.
in front of me there was a man
with a live rooster
clenched in his hands
and at each stop
some new solicitor
would board the bus
give his spiel
and then come around
to ask for money.
first was a young boy who sang
and had a nice voice
the next was a skinny, little man
who was pushing vitamins
that supposedly made you live forever.
after he sold quite a few bottles
he got off the bus
and nobody new came on
and I thought, finally, some peace
and quiet.
but as soon as I’d shut my eyes
I heard a voice in front of me ask,
‘hey, man? Man? You, gringo!’
I opened my eyes thinking, “oh, shit.
Now what?”
the man in front of me
with the rooster
he leaned his greasy dark face
into the aisle and said, “black whore,
for you?”
I didn’t understand him at first
so I said, “what?”
and he repeated, “black whore, for you?”
I shook my head and said, “no, thanks.”
turned to look out the window

to see what it was
the old woman was now looking at
or if she was just looking away


there’s a strange feeling
you get
when you’re riding
along in a passenger bus
and you look out the window
and see that
you’re passing
an ambulance and
a fire truck
on their way to some accident
where injury or even death
might be the verdict.

it’s that feeling like
shit, what’s the rush?

Saturday, February 20, 2010


another line
my father liked
to recite
when he entered
a room
full of people
who looked to be having
a good time
was, “someday,
you’ll find out the hard way,
that nobody gives a
everyone in the room
would look at him
and then look at my mother
who would shrug
and after a little time
everything would go back
to normal
life would go on


on many of the buses
in Colombia
the headrests of the seats
have covers
that look exactly
like upside down pairs
of brand new underpants.
I am deadly serious
about this
but when I mentioned
to my friend
that I might steal one
as a souvenir
she gave me a dirty look
and the bus drove on


when I met up with my buddy
in Bogota
I met the girl
who he had gone to visit
and then her friend
and then I met both the girls’
three of them
and then I met all
the sisters’ mothers
two of them
and suddenly I’d gone
from eating crap
and sleeping in a shitty hotel
to eating gourmet
home-cooked meals
and sleeping in a nice, clean bed
after a few days
I looked around and realized
that I had quickly acquired
seven new mothers
without even having
been born again


it just occurred to me
twenty some years afterwards
that the companies
selling socks
when I was in middle school
were scandalous fucking pirates.
because, as a student
you learned very quickly
not to wear the socks
with the stripes whose colors were
brown, yellow and green
(shit, piss and puke, obviously)
and out of a pack of six pair
two pair would be colored that way.
even at a young age
you instinctively knew
those were the ones
to tuck way back in your drawer
or hide underneath
your bureau
or feed to the dog
so that your parents
would not force you to wear them
and you would be spared
the ridicule of being that kid
who was wearing shit, piss and puke
and because you couldn’t wear those socks
you’d go through four pair
in 2/3 the time
you’d go through six pair
sending your poor parents
out to buy socks
that much faster

Thursday, February 18, 2010


over the rooftop
of the mechanic’s shop
across the street
there is a field
that is still green
despite the drought.
but all day long
as the grass goes on living
there is something there
that goes on dying
but will not actually die
I know this
because a hundred
feet above
in the blue sky
the vultures
keep on circling


a problem
that many people have
is that
they cannot enjoy themselves
they will not
allow themselves
any sort of happiness
no matter where it comes from.
but I get by pretty well
because I love
to have a good time
and hell, I even
kind of like
to have a bad time


a dog limps by
and a horn is honked
an ambulance drives through
a red light
with sirens screaming
while the young girls walk
and scowl in the afternoon sun
but the mariachi band
is nowhere to be seen


sometimes it’s important
to stop everything
take a deep, long breath
a good look around
and remind yourself
that you’re not the only one
with a bad tattoo

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


she worked in the little cosmetics booth
in the grocery store
but I doubted that no type of makeup
could make her any prettier
that she already was
and because of this doubt
while I sat on a stool in the café section
not ten meters away
eating a cup of fruit and granola
I found it incredibly hard
especially in the moments when
our eyes collided
and she smiled that galactic smile
not to smack my food right off the table
smash down my fists
and shout, ‘sweet fucking lord! How
can you be THAT beautiful?!”

The GOOD, THE BAD, and the GREAT

good poems
are like love letters you write
but never intend to send.
bad poems
are like love letters you write
and regret sending.
great poems
are like love letters you write
and immediately
have to crumble up
and throw straight into the fire.
and after watching
them burn
you can get up
and get on with your life


in the late morning
after a cup of fruit and yogurt
I walked the streets
to find a bar
that wasn’t still closed.
most were locked behind steel doors
and others
behind gates which
if you looked through
you could see what was presumably the staff
sleeping on the floor
under tables
or on pathetic foam mattresses.
after much searching
I found an open door and a lone man
about my age
sitting on a stool at the bar
a half drank beer his only companion
“abierto?” I asked.
he looked around for somebody else
to tell me no
so I said, ‘only for beer. solo cerveza. no comida.’
he nodded and slowly got up
went around the back of the bar
and I ordered a Pilsen.
he pointed to the speakers and said, ‘musica?’
and I shrugged and said, ‘I don’t care,’
and took a seat at one of seven
empty tables.
I watched the people go by
started in on the beer
while sweat poured from my forehead
and condensation grew
on the bottle
and I smiled to myself
to all of Colombia
and thought, ‘hell, I could do this
for a long, long time.’

Monday, February 15, 2010


the mistake
you made
was to come back
for more.
now look at you!
on the palm
of my left hand.
little mosquito
big mistake


she was always planning
two meals ahead
her mind
always stirring thoughts
of what to combine for dinner
with the leftovers of lunch
or the other way
she kept constant mental tabs
of what was in the pantry
what was in the fridge
what juices were old
and what fruit was ripe.
my mother was a damn good cook
and she still is
and while rambling around
some foreign country
a knot in my gut
and my ass a faucet
I think about a home-cooked meal
oh, how good that would be


where the river meets
the sea
and the moon shivers overhead
smirking in his own
dying light
where without notice
or planning
the lizard drops his tail
and the pineapples rot
where the earth hums a horny tune
and the virgin pleasures herself
with a dull butter knife
where the men play five card stud
betting their sins
and the waitresses choke
on splendid measures of musical notes
where the night dies slowly
and the dawn is
born still
and the steel toed jackboot
meets the ass
with too much zeal
where the giant butterflies
their wings still flapping
are pinned to the cell walls
with electric stingrays
where the insect corpses lie sweating
in black piles
and the empty bottle
still yields wine
the human being crawls out from his bath
of brackish birth
and by the reproduction of his thoughts
he causes the world to exist


makes his tail
into a fan
and walks four steps
while sweeping the sidewalk.
then he turns around
and picks out another snack
from the pile he’s swept
smart pigeon


death is an elusive woman
who can one day
fuck you
when you least expect it
leave you lifeless
like a rock
or a speck of dust


about every four minutes
the lights
in this little café
become brighter and brighter
before there is a sound
that goes, “click!”
and the lights get darker
very fast
and what I am wondering
is that
on a different scale
of time
is this the story of the soul?

Friday, February 12, 2010


she moves from room to room
emptying the trash bins
sweeping the floors
cleaning the bathrooms
and wearing a look of tolerance
to her lot in life.
and every afternoon
I sit in a hammock
the sun shining down from
a blue sky.
freshly showered
and with a gut full of food
I read a book
and try very hard
with little success
to not stare at her young, round ass
when she bends down
to pick up
a piece of bedding
and fold sit neatly for the next traveler
to sleep on tonight


what are the chances
the likelihood
what stars must be aligned
what virgins
must be fucked
what buildings bombed
what shirt must be stained
with vino rojo
what the hell is it
that must be done
for me to be obliged by the hells
and allowed by the heavens
to lay my eyes on the well-traveled
yet still unseen
four legged beast
who has walked every block
of this part of town
leaving a bloody paw print
to remind me
that bloodfoot is out there?


as a man
I enjoy walking the earth
this time in Bogota
past the plaza
to the park
I see a playground
and I go there
do pull-ups on the monkey bars
then down Avenida Jiminez
and there I am
in a seedier part of town
where the old couple
stagger around the passed out drunks
and the men sit in the shade
and the children sift through piles
of trash
I watch a little boy
pull out his wee wee
and water a dusty car tire.
nobody notices me
my pink skin
my clean clothes
nobody knows my name
because just like them
just like all of them and everything
I’m not really here

Thursday, February 11, 2010


at the police museum
in Bogota
in La Candelaria district
a police guide brings you around
and points
to various objects
such as a desk
or a military jacket
and he gives you little blurbs
little bits of information
regarding the items
and their relationship with the
capture of one
of the world’s biggest drug lords
and towards the end
he starts to smile
and he says
in heavily-accented English
after pointing to a faint smudge
on a Spanish tile,
“that is blood, of Pablo Escobar. “


this trip is of a different
from my other
not a raving dash
towards everywhere
or a knee-splitting sprint
from everything
I’ve ever known
just a casual dip into South America
Colombia, Republic of
just a hammock swinging
lazy dog
I think I deserve this
a vacation
these things are amazing


in La Candelaria
a district of Bogota
I sit in the shade
of an empty bar
listen to the clock on the wall
‘tick, tick, tick’
time dripping by
out the leaky faucet of life
I watch a shadow
move across the street
pushed by an afternoon breeze
and finally I lean to one side
of my barstool
let it out
look around
and wonder just how far
it travels
the sound of a solemn
gentle fart

Friday, February 5, 2010


I hadn’t asked
or overheard anybody talking
but I was pretty sure
nearly positive
that while I was sitting there
seatbelt fastened
tray table in an upright and locked position
waiting for the plane
to take off
or for the end of the world
whichever came first

was that all of them
passengers and flight attendants alike
maybe even the pilots


and were discussing the possibility
or probability
that the guy sitting in my seat
the guy wearing my clothes
and my hat
and listening to my music
was some sort of


at most airports
these days
they have lounges for smokers
and bars for drinkers
shops for shoppers
for those who hunger
bathrooms for using the toilet
and freshening up
special VIP areas
where the rich can hide from the poor
and duty free stores
so you can buy something expensive
and feel like you’re getting
a very good deal.
but what is lacking
in our modern airports
what might be very beneficial
for people like me
is a room
a place to go
some little sanctuary
away from everybody else
where you can feel free
to just pace around
and scream at the paint on the walls


I’ve learned
by now
that I do things
than other people.
for instance
when I’m going to fly somewhere
I go to the airport early
check my bag
head straight to the bar
and I don’t leave
until over the intercom
I hear these words: “paging passenger
Jackson Warfield. This is your last
and final boarding call.”

there’s something I really like
about that little threat.
makes me excited
like when you’re young
and your babysitter says, “you
will put that knife down
on the count of three. One…two…three.”
and you try to time it perfectly
so that the knife is down
right after “three”
but right before you get in trouble

so after I have been paged
I walk down to my departure gate
whistling Dixie
and feeling like a winner.
I smile to the flight attendants
and board the airplane

with a very generous buzz.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


after I boarded the plane
and sat down in my assigned seat
the flight attendant lady
came up to me
and said with an eager smile,
“do you speak English?”
I blinked and nodded
and she said, “are you willing
and able to assist
in the event of an emergency?”
I looked away for a minute
organized the words in my head
deciphered the meaning
and said, “yes.”
because that is what you do
in those situations.
but in reality
I was just very excited
and pleased
that, unlike how I felt
and unlike
how I imagined I looked
everything was apparently normal
and in fact my body
was not even on fire


what happens after writing
shitty poem?
do you go back out to the bars?
call an ex girlfriend
and tell her you still love her?
get a haircut
from a bald man?
run into the woods?
try again?
who knows?
anything can happen
after writing another shitty poem.
it’s the good poems
you need to worry about.


it had been cold
so fucking cold
that when the sun returned
from a two week
unpaid vacation
and the temp reached 25 F
we were all walking around
with big smiles
instead of face masks
and scarves
and when we passed one another
on the streets
the only thing we could say
through our toothy grins
was, “feels like summer, huh?”
(or for the retired Massachusetts couple
who I often ran into during the week
“feels like summah!”)


if you go outside the bar
for a smoke
around 8 pm
you can see him approaching
like a giant bowling ball
pushing through mud
down the cigarette littered sidewalk.
depending on the time of year
it’ll be day or night
but all year round
his eyes will be great slits
above a steam-rolled brown nose
and slobbering purple lips
that smile with more meaning
than Mona Lisa’s cunt.
as he passes by you’ll notice his shiny black hair
pulled back in a pony tail
and after he babbles something to you
always indecipherable
he’ll ease on by
and one or two people
also outside the bar
will mutter, “there goes the chief.”


they are there at the coffee shop
all the time
if they are not at a table
talking about their past addictions
to drugs or alcohol
they are just outside the door
sucking the life
from one cigarette after another.
they talk about how many
days sober they are
or months
or years
and they talk about it
as though it is the only thing
that means anything
to them.
as though they are great warriors
in an epic battle and
for all I know
they probably are.
but every time I see these kids
I wonder which of us
has a harder road ahead


to live like this
sometimes just making it
day to day
or drink to drink
but still maintain efforts
however small
of making something of yourself
becoming somehow great
or even just doing something significant
with your life
you have to be very good
incredible, even
at being ready to buck up
hunker down
and fully utilize
the rare moments of sanity
when they pop up
like dandelions
from muddy snow banks
on a cold, sunny day in January


there are people out there
who can tolerate
a tremendous amount of bullshit.
they can wake in the morning
and go off to some job they despise
get told what to do
by some boss who they hate
go home to a place
they’re stuck
to the company of a partner
who they feel
is ruining their life
stunting their growth
or otherwise driving them
towards madness
and they can do this all
over and over again
day after day.
while for some other people out there
waking up in the morning
is bad enough

Sunday, January 24, 2010


we were brothers once
years ago
not by mother
or father
but brothers in arms
not atomic
or nuclear
but in the arms of him
that spiritual giant
who used to smile down on us
until we looked away
and went our separate ways
from each other
not from him
you can only run so far
from infinity
and eternity
and a love which
if you sneak off into a dark corner
you can still hear
just barely whispering
or maybe those are just the voices
of madness
and maybe we were always crazy
but brother
whatever we were
whatever we are
and whatever we will finally be
you will be missed
keep on raising hell in heaven
if there is such a thing