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