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