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