Saturday, March 31, 2007

Empty Street

An abandoned hat on a park bench.
Across the street, a company
That made milk glass Marys
With its windows boarded shut.
The street’s only car with a flat tire;

Its only woman with one breast.
She shuffles endlessly into the horizon
In her shoes with holes in the heels.
The dark buildings encroaching,
An old hat blowing between her legs.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Dark Cast

My pals from the internet have virtually touched me.
We’ve chatted anonymously about the weather for hours.
I feel so safe behind this firewall of lies and illusions.
The world’s template can only be seen in glimpses.
My blind fingers type without my knowledge,
The gap of the absolute’s cut and paste is beyond me,
The processor behind the cursor taunts me.
There’s nothing to click on – my screen is dark.
I’ve been online my whole life with no hardcopy.
I wore a black cast and a dirty sling.
My malingering mania that I exist, my my my,
Said the online doctor who’s love shy and showing it.
I followed a blind link. My thoughts are popping up.
There’s a witness that isn’t deluded – no source
That isn’t stolen. My friend’s whom I’ve never met,
They’re all from the Bermuda Triangle.
I’ve confessed everything to them.
They’ve all seen me naked – know all my bank numbers.
It’s the interconnectedness of the world that troubles me.
They can trace me back to my root directory.
I cannot see what I cannot see.

Your Honor

A condemned man
Is careful around electrical gadgets
In his leaky cement cell.

The shiv under the mattress
With its rusty blade
Is innocent compared to the radio

Which only picks up gospel.
One frivolous spin of the dial and
Amazing Grace becomes

Go Tell it on the Mountain.
The bars don’t prevent escape
From the sentence.

On an overcast day, guards will lead
Him cautiously into the chair,
The switch will be pulled

By a hooded minotaur.
There will be the audience
Of mortals sobbing for the life

They’ve yet to lose
Behind the dark glass.
But for now, he’s on edge.

In the prison a few of us are walking
The corridor, which stretches on
For days in either direction.

A faint television can be heard.
It’s a sitcom, but no one is
Laughing despite the actors’ faked fall.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Lounge Act

Practicing smoke rings
In front of a silver mirror.

The sick angels on my chin
With their halos and their harps
Singing the blues.

I was just a ventriloquist’s dummy
With a wrinkled forehead
But I was able to think
Independently of what the hand
On my spine was making me do.

It was a long night.
There were many mysterious stars.

Just then my soul went platinum.
Just as the first spotlight peeked
I was shedding my robes
And readying for a long sober routine
Of washed up material

Against the gray heads
Of the impatient audience
Waiting to run into the street
Whenever some dark waiter drops a glass.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

World Theater

There was a small golden man
Reading to me from a dirty book.

Its contents were scandalous,
Especially the intimate pictures

Of the nude landscape.
There was a doll lying facedown

As if she had been shot,
And the golden man scooped

Her into his arms.
I followed him for many miles.

Finally, he used a piece of rose quartz
To write something on her

Porcelain face. She had a way
Of expressing nothing at all.

What are you writing, I asked him.
He refused to tell me.

Instead he shoved her into a mailbox.
Now it was story time again.

I sat on a park bench to listen.
The golden man had a new book.

It was called the secret of the universe,
And its pages were blank.

It had been delivered in a blind wrapper
By a postman who dressed like a thief.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Little Red Berries on a Green Bush

My horse jumps in a well.
The cold wind steals my hat
And it lands on a bush.
This has to be some kind of joke.

My horse is happy down there.
Guess I’ll make a life right here.
I can use this eggbeater
From my junior chef’s set

To carve a nest in the bush
Right under the brim of my hat.
If crows come to squat,
I can have omelets from their eggs.

In the berries one can see
The tiny clusters of seeds
And swear they’re staring back at you.
Now my horse wants out.

I think he should wait
Until the world turns upside down.
He says I can go to hell,
So I jump in the well with him.

Fool’s Paradise

Pity me; I am a fool. You are a woman.
I have worn this brace in the ocean,
Although I fancy an infinite thunderstorm
To pleasure your mending heart.
I am a man – it is true. You have two jumpers
And you’ve brought them to me:
Shall I backbend for your effort?
Ah, but I am an idiot who cannot
Beat himself at checkers, who cannot spell
His own initials, who must remember
To hold his breath underwater.
You are a woman: please forgive me.
The ferryman is paddling backwards.
The sands of time are tumbling
In the locket of a sailor. I know nothing is
Forever – I’ve collected all I can.
I have shuttled up that palm frond
And used it to commit hari-kari.
Camouflage my body in your fragrance,
Nobody will raise a hand in protest.
You are a woman and I embody a fool.

Crossed Wires

I couldn’t tell if we were clocked in or out,
Not that it mattered terribly,
But our cubicles were waiting
Without us, which was okay too.
It was unacceptable behavior
From the standpoint of management,
But they were so high up
We looked like frail old man insects anyway.
So we returned to our keypads,
Clocked in or clocked out,
And here’s where I get those wires crossed.
I was plugging in my receiver
And all of a sudden sparks.
Everyone comes over and yep
Sparks are the answer on everyone’s
Lips – also, which wire was it?
By now I had a pretty good clue.
It was either the sending unit
Or the pulse-width actuator,
But I was afraid to touch anything.
Nelson, who’s new, reached down
And was zapped instantly and had to be
Transferred to the endpoint
Where he now mumbles into a paper cup.
So was I to continue with crossed wires?
Susan suggests staples, and we give
That a go, although it is clear it’s insane,
And wouldn’t even work in Altoona,
Which was behind us in production.
Bertrand pipes up just then with the strategy
Of crossing two more wires to restore
Balance and harmony to the whole unit;
This is the best idea since the cataloging
Concept of two months ago, so it’s green-lighted.
It was agreed that wires on opposite sides
Should be pulled, and their grommets
Tagged, and reharnessed in the corresponding
Feeds. This settled it and I was back
Online, and everyone returned
To their cubicles to resume output.
But then Guy’s receiver was fading in
And out, and we looked down
And sure enough: the beginnings
Of more crossed wires and blue sparks.

Modes of Dress

Suits begin their lives as a single
Cell and must eat their parents
To put on weight. When weaned,
They fall from their nests
And begin to crawl on their cuffs.
It is a long journey from the country
To the cloverleaf highway, where
They over-winter before hitching
A ride on a battery of pipes
Heading for the industrial heart.
It is the lucky suit that will see
Its intended mannequin;
Most freeze in the snows.
Even luckier is the three-piece
That is tried on by its intended mate.
It is the job of a suit to attract
The opposite sex. This is accomplished
By flairing in a store window,
Displaying a many-colored pocket square,
Or by strutting about with pin striping extended.
If a mate is interested, he will brush
The price tag or nuzzle the fabric.
A suit is considered mated when worn
For the first time. It is now time
For reproduction. This is a most private
Act undertaken in the folds
Of an inseam. Should a suit be conceived,
They are blessed by special blue deacons;
The expecting hang like tonsils tickling the air
In the quiet closet with many saviors,
Each with its own spare
Button tacked to it with wire.
Everything is incensed and holy.
Moths may even alight.

Brace Face

A little train ran on my braces and a woman was tied to the tracks.
I could always hear her screaming, the distant chugging of the engine.
The exhaust would become clouds on the roof of my mouth,
When I sneezed I could taste the sulfur and the coal.
In the evenings I would stare at her wiggling in the vanity.
In the mornings I would gently water-pick around her.
She was horrified by my intrusion but she never begged me
To untie her; anyway, I would have probably harmed her.
She was like an angel, so fragile and so lovely.
My mouth always smelled of fresh rain on asphalt.
There were meadows of bacteria on the papillae of my tongue.
I imagined some sort of sun setting and rising.
I was always careful when taking communion.
I never gulped hot soup for fear it would scald her.
The train was always chugging in the distance; it never overtook her.
Where was the masked bandit? I wanted to know.
What kind of conductor never made any progress?
The dentist was puzzled: she took several x-rays.
She said this happens in very few cases, but it is reported.
Your teeth are much straighter and soon you will shed the braces.
On the day that happened a little hero rode up.
He carefully bent down and put his ear to the wire.
Now the train’s headlamp was emerging from my oral cavity.
The hero removed his gloves and whispered something to her.
I was very upset; I realized how much I loved her.
And here was this tiny hero about to untie her.
I closed my mouth and made the sun go down.
I whipped up a storm and made an avalanche threaten.
I could hear the whistle calling closer and closer.
But she was soon free and kneeling and praying.
I felt the urge to sleep, as if she was asking.
She was begging me for some understanding.
The hero was angry and flipping me off wildly.
The conductor was shouting that they be more careful.
And then the dentist finally pulled up the tracks.

“Ship Passengers Who Fell Seek Privacy”

I was a small man playing a small violin on the Titanic.
Imagine a giant’s shoe being pulled through a dry ice fog.
The owner of that shoe would of course be bigger than god.
The wood paneling was inlaid with philosophy,
The napkins were of the finest ontological fallacies.
There was plenty of running and shoving on deck.
The couples would then head below for more formal activities.
Oh, do go on, was the call of the ship's mighty horn.
Nobody had a clue what was coming; everyone was
So young at the buffet. The ship’s captain arrived
In his chariot: his robes and beard were the same color.
He had an air of distracted privilege about him.
I began to play something of my own as he passed.
Now the stars were out and for the first time I felt minuscule.
The cool breeze of the world as it shook out its socks.
The swaying of the sea rocking everyone to sleep.
A woman and her dying husband – or were their roles reversed?
They peered into the dark water with heavy eyes.
Later, of course, the panic would render sleeping impossible.
But for now I was just a small man playing my violin.
I had just written the world’s tiniest mournful tune
For which I had dived to the depths of the human soul.

Tree Surgeon

Please do not harm my trees.
I have given up on all but trees;
They are the only thing I
Desire to save.

The fragmented nature
Of the modern world
Is never more mysterious
Than in a yard absent of trees,

Which are like great periscopes
Into the past.
A big blooming broom bush
When the morning sun strikes it

Is not nearly as luscious
As the Siberian larch
When wounded
In winter. I consider

Landowners as carriers
And I am very careful
When shaking hands
That they do not make me sick.

I haunt the earth, which is
A fingernail stripe
On medium grit sandpaper;
We all wake to wander

Through a house renovation
That’s never near completion.
We’re little statuettes,
Desperate little renderings

Of a world that never stops swaying,
Looking for keys in the trash
And finding them instead
Woven in a bird’s nest.

In the ditch the man
In charge of mowing
Down the meadow
Puts his palms on my saw,

And I acupuncture his neck
With pine needles.
This is my only kindness,
But to tend to trees,

Stronger and with so many fruits
And nuts and tenets,
With so many whispering leaves
With more limbs than even Shiva.

Monday, March 26, 2007

A Swimmer Against the Flare

A flare in the darkness
Will be brought about by clapping.
No, there is no celebration:
The flare is horrifying.

It can be avoided by averting
The eyes or wearing goggles
At night. It can be ignored,
Although it is very warm,

And one can shut oneself into
A crypt to try to seal out the light,
Much like early pharaohs.
The wind blows, but it does not

Carry anything with it;
The earth molts every motion
That’s carved by the swimmer’s hand.
The backstroke is very sensuous,

But the front crawl is best
For keeping the flare at bay.
I practice it all day deeper
And deeper into unprotected waters.

I do not clap but it doesn’t matter.
The darkness digs in its boots,
The flare is only doing what’s what.
I shiver and keep my eyes closed.

A Wedding Against Days

Why don’t you look outside?
My fat young bride.
Your breath is death,
Must you breathe so rapidly?

An altar of light – whachama call it?
I call to it when I’m inside
Your hide under the ceiling fan
Which twirls on the oblivion’s nipple.

Five friars farting in the crossing,
Zed, zed hits me on the head
And I make my stand
Against my pituitary gland

And mumble to the marriage manufacturer
That a ring round enough for her
Fat finger could only be oiled
With an earth-sized olive, olé.

The World of the Infirmary

Some of us were sicker than the others, but we tried to make the infirmary a pleasant place to recoup. Unfortunately every case was worsening by the minute. There was an invisible doctor who scribbled on a clipboard and the nurse only seemed to manifest when it was time to take our temperature. The white floor was as clean as a baby’s first tooth. However the ceiling was covered in cobwebs that no one dared sweep off for fear the entire ward would collapse in fits of coughing, the likes of which could also throw off the rotation of the earth.


A little girl playing piano in front of an open window. Outside the streets were wet with rain. The name of the tune was either “I’ve Swallowed the Seed of Seduction” or “Lost in an Imaginary Funerary Complex.” The sun was going down through the lilac bushes, and yet I couldn’t turn away. I was planted there until she ran off to bed. I can still hear everything I’ve ever heard, which might wind up being nothing at all.

A Cartoonish Sunset

Miss Light, run, run! The steamroller is chugging and you may be crushed flat. I would hate to lose you; you make me whole again in the morning over pancakes. My darling, my sensei, do not run in a straight line; do not head for that hill on the horizon. We are all dying – you carry in your backpack our last notebook of hope. I love you like a schoolboy staring out the window. Please, make like the wind and live a little, for heaven’s sake.

From a Trench

We’re dug in here and there is no message from the front. I can hear the Panzers growling. Every time I wave my helmet, I catch a bullet. There, caught another. I’ve been sending them to my wife in Kentucky. They have little messages on them. Things like: “A man stands alone at the top of the world” or “I have seen a million flies spell out your name.” My wife’s sewing circle is stitching them into a narrative. “Haloo from one brain to another,” she says, and I use my bayonet to carve this on a bullet to send over there. But of course I shoot myself in the head, and the war’s over before it really was begun.

Images of the Sea from an Impermanent

My how the world sways in the breeze.
This is postcard country, and I’m blind
As a beach ball. I’ve come all this way
With a handful of sand, please accept
It as diminishing payment – it is disappearing
As you are, friend with no face. Thanks for letting
Me shack up with your mother and father,
Whose bed was sagging like a hammock.
Pipers at the gates of the sleeping porch
Poop out the last white of the sunset,
And I am nesting right here with my
Bluebottle hat and my jellyfish boots.
One must settle in before high tide.
I am immune to everything, my dear,
Except the whistling of a dredger,
And I am sucked from such a happy
Home and deposited elsewhere,
A sliver dollar in my seaweed satchel.
Still, the world is beautiful and warm
When we’ve learned to speak its language.
My postcard addressed to anonymous
Is full of partial stops that look like sea grass.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Breaking Up

I’ve left her in Shangri-la; it was all I could do.
Her claws were digging into my hip,
Besides it’s better this way.
She was seeking the seashore – now she
Has so much sea it’s sickening.
I’ve left her in good soft hands,
The kind that don’t usually slap faces
Or pinch washed up clavicles.
The umbrellas have been put out,
Look at all the moons and their shadows.
I can only remember, and I do not do
That very well, but I know I loved her.
It was always my desire to crack
Her open and pull her from her casing;
To really get to know the real her.
She would turn so red and tears often came.
But I’ve left her in Shangri-la.
Let’s let that be the last of it.

A Small Outpost in the Darkest Jungle

I was a material witness at a jury trial
For the Amazon king of bebop typesetting.
My first question: was it to be a hung
Jury? And the judge swore himself
Out of his robe and boxed my ears
And sent them back to America,
For which our tribal paradise was modeled.
We had everything, a little post office
For dead letters and convicted operators,
We had the same shores and winds,
We had a centralized sewer system,
Although it should be noted that we
Had to mouth-prime ours unlike
Our Yankee doppelgangers who had
Slaves to prime them (machines, yes,
But very aware of their mechanical conscription),
And the finest bread-in-a-can since
Sliced bread-in-an-ampoule and all the rest.
It was a system designed to impart
Fairness upon ticket holders who
Showed up at the event and whose names
Were selected; pity the king was getting his,
Since he was well liked and sat very
Erectly behind his little polycarbonate shroud.
Now things were starting and the typing
Of the mistress of the court could be heard
As she resigned all day in eloquent letters
Addressed dear sir or madman condemned
Etc and so on, and I was being called
Upon to attest to the king’s bebop typesetting,
Of which I could say his adventures into
Bursts of keystrokes and his melodious
Frame setting had resulted in increased
Output to the royal server which the American’s
Told us was nothing more than a grandfather
Clock ticking out the heartbeats of a corresponding
Grandfather in Ohio whose love of radishes
Had taken him halfway across the world
(But never here, thankfully, where they are turnips instead).

My First Job with the Company

The memory is a photo album
Someone spilled bloody Mary on,
But I applied for a job
By slipping my resume into a man’s
Pocket whom I brushed up against
On the material way home from the absolute.
As I understand the position was filled
With foam peanuts, and the elephant was sick
With ennui from too many stress tabs,
So I began immediately to organize them
Into tiny piles by name. I put all the Sara’s
Together and the Larson’s together,
But kept the Mumbly’s from the Archibald’s
Because they fought viciously
Over insignificant things like hair tonic.
My boss, who’s head was always in a cloud,
Was impressed by my cunning,
And began to pat me on the back
Until soup was ready and a cow gave
Birth, and the office had a party tray
Brought in from the exterior.
After hours it was the telephone club,
The kind that attracted the underbelly of the city
Who would deposit quarters to release the tones
Into the air that were otherwise locked
In tiny cells by themselves.
They were free to talk so long as the operator
Was being charmed out of her bunch cut.
We chatted up such a storm the shutters
Shut and we had to tunnel out
Through the grease trap, which the women
Found moderately pleasing despite
Us making them go last,
And there were disembodied officers
Waiting to slap imaginary zip ties
Around our necks, rub us down with salts,
Sign off on everything, and escort us back
Into the office where a mountain of paper
Was waiting for its flagpole to ripen.

Pastoral Lyric

Come live with me and be me,
The me I most desire in a fine
Drape of loosest silk snipped
From an old missile parachute,

And we will be shepherds tending
A network of computers
With mournful screens of white
Watching the early evening rain

And the empty gray sky
With a chorus of toads on the scum
To keep us nibbling each other’s
Ears and drinking each other’s breath

Like a fine nighttime port spilling
In the air. And I will make you
A bed of snails and they will carry
You off into the sunrise,

And I will knit for you a vest
Of wasps to ward off any advances,
And with my special silver needles
A satchel of shadows to stash

Your dreams. O you will be me
And I will be I, and Spring will ring
And invite us all to sun and shade
And marmalade on the dock of heaven.

Just Asking

Please allow me in,
I’ve been begging for weeks.
My skin is welted, my knees
Are as pale as a Frigidaire.

Please allow me in.
I’ve received my wings
From the pilot, I know how
To safely handle a flare.

Please, please allow me in.
I’ve got the Book of the Dead
Stuck in my head, I cannot see
How this is going to end.

All hope is scattered like flecks
Of paint on a lawn, my knuckles
Can no longer think for themselves.
Please allow me in.

Will you reach with a moonbeam
And flick the deadbolt like only you can?
I’ve got my dunce hat in hand.
Please allow me in.

Sneaky Flowers

Spring brings a huddle
Of hooded flowers.
What were they plotting?

They stink up the place
Like the homeless loitering
On stoops and in parks.

Why so yellow, so blue?
Why do they hang out
With the sick and acquitted?

Such a filthy lot.
Now they’ve got rotten heads
Full of bad worms.

After their crime spree,
They go underground
Until the heat dies down.

The Modern Western Manatee

A manatee awakens at tee time,
Whether in its natural suburban
Underwater environment or out
In the depths of a vacation.

It will defend against attack,
But is also known to attack its young
While collecting food or in
A traffic jam, which is designed

To safely catch a mature manatee
For study under bright lights.
The Kantian variety is quite tame
And will allow its bank account stroked;

The Goldwater is not and will react
With obfuscating rhetoric and spittle.
The species hauls around its weight in smoke
And is thought to have evolved

Its wavering time signature through
Statements such as “I can do anything”
Or “I won’t stop sobbing.”
In the evenings it nests in foam.

Its lifespan is dependant upon its success
At procuring ideas. It attempts to mate for life
But the availability of fermented saviors
Usually limits the activity to once a month.

Viewing the Memory Movie

The memory movie will start soon,
The sunlight is dimming.
Please send away the children,
Please remove your feet from the seat
And hobble them quietly.
Yes, you cannot see; nobody
Can see anything, please make due.

My, the curtain of crushed material
Is as thick as service manual
And the stagehand is working on the floor,
Out-polishing the monument maker
Who sits in the back row
With his compounds and clothes
And his family of little red-haired immigrants.

The usher will come round and check
Ticket stubs with his subatomic flashlight
And his undertaker’s vest.
He tells you he’s a boy of seventeen
But he looks like an old man,
And he will also run the projector
In the hot little booth.
His nametag reads “X”.

Now a flash of white light – no
You are not dying, it’s just the first frame.
You will see all you’ve known play out
On the screen, which has a tear
Running diagonally from corner to corner.
You will sink in your velvet seat
In your best mourning dress,
And later meet the stars in the lobby.

Hunting the Truth

I spied a truth skipping
Through the brome
On the long walk home.
Did you know it is rare to see a truth
In its natural environment
And very little is known about them?

We know all truths are blind
But sensitive to other stimuli,
Such as crying or mocking,
Which makes them extend
Their haunches and split
Into pieces, much like a lizard’s

Tail, and hide in clouds or graves,
Depending on the season. But that’s all.
On this day I saw one
Undetected, and I crept up behind it
As slowly as an old man
Peering over the edge of a cliff.

It had stopped to paw
At a paper wasp’s nest.
Its plumage was quite striking,
And it was scenting the air
All around it with a strange musk.
Like I said, I was walking home

But I had my cast net
And I began to unwind it carefully,
And I could feel myself going
Stupid with anticipation.
I was as silent as a doll reading
On a shelf in a child’s room,

And just as I was about to throw,
It arose to display its intruder warning
And split and shot like a phantom
Into a grave, and the wasps
Plunged their stingers into my skull.
It was one more in a lifetime of lost truths.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

A Small Toy for Not Straying Too Far

The neck has a delicate feel,
And although boisterous,
Hides its face in the brain

Whenever it detects others
Looking on. These were the days
Of others, which made trouble

For necks, who were happier
Sticking out. One could
Hide in a stall for a moment

And catch a glimpse
Of an expression and perhaps
Stroke its nape, but never

Parade them around on the empty
Promenade like in the past.
What you got were a bunch

Of necks on the brain,
Just to be clear here.
It made navigation a snap

Although an entire body
Must move to assess exits,
And the highway was never

More forgotten then when
Never alone, the possessors,
Or guardians, if you will,

Would meet face-to-face
In a great explosion of
Glass thoughts and braced

Necks to try to force
Them out into the sunlight
To stretch their legs.

Luck be a Lady?

It was thought previously that luck was a lady,
But it turned out that luck just wanted to fuck
One specific lady who at the moment
Is driving a convertible down a canyon road.
She sees herself thumbing for a ride, stops,

And the whole thing is set in motion forever.
The rusty hotel room, the foggy mirrors,
The banging and the backpedaling.
Luck moves like many other lucks,
Licks a woman like a lollypop stick,

And the lights are out for a spell and we’re
Left to make up the rest of the details.
It is known they do not involve drunken marriage,
But probably a chalkboard demonstration
At the end of which luck erases her footprints.

Just Sitting Around

It makes a man think.
What does? It.
It makes a man relax
In his trousers and pull plants.
The plants, he considers,
But he does not think
Because it is not present

Just then: it’s gone off to get
The mower, although that’s
Impossible. What a strange life,
It pokes him in the gullet to say,
And the line of ants parts
And the sky coughs up a cloud
Or two for consideration.

The Seekers

We were running a ribbon.
It was not like the others

But then again they never are.
There it was against the landscape

Making a big scene,
And we were running it like children.

Of course, it took science years
To discover its shape,

And during the typical lifespan
One can never encounter a ribbon,

So the question of everyone’s mind
Was: how the hell did we place it?

We didn’t! It found us during lemonade,
And we immediately sprinted.

Oh, to feel it against the palm – I’m only
Imagining here because I never touched it.

With pride the other extras were looking
On, and off we went again,

This time through the headstones,
Running and running and running

That magnificent ribbon which nobody
Saw but those who were running it.

That Nagging Feeling

There is a night crawler on my bodice,
On everyone’s bodice who’s living.
It sits there taunting the fish,
Who are always snapping at it.

It makes for a strange game of bloody knuckles,
But this effect cannot be reproduced
In space, where there are no fish.
Out there, it is reported in the papers,

The night crawler will suspend
Any activity and simply sleep
Or howl – although it cannot be heard
Because of the weather – and the bodice,

Which is always with everyone,
With wither slightly but will not die.
In fact, back on the surface,
All of humanity and our little plans

And struggles – all of it seems
Cast in a queer light as if one awoke
From a nap and couldn’t remember
Where one is. The night crawler,

Of course, resumes its position
And the fish continue to jump
Even though it is understood
They will never catch a damned thing.

The Susan

The sea is called Susan
Because the act of cleansing
Itself is never ceasing:

I knew a Susan who took
A bath her whole life
Which produced the mild effect

On those who would visit her
Of waves lapping against
A pontoon with a brown algae

Hairline that it could never part
Correctly. It was angry but it
Had a job to do – we all feel that way.

I was swimming in Susan
In her light blue sheets
And she began to scratch my back,

And low I was netted and hung
Upside down on a scale hook:
It was my heart they were after,

But I would not give it to them
So they clubbed me on the head
And threw me back to her,

My beloved Susan,
Who I involuntarily gulped
And also urinated out pleasantly.

I needed a bath but I couldn’t
Get the Susan off of me
Even when I washed up in the living room.

So I named the sea Susan.
It’s the kind of name that sticks
To a married seaman.

Multipurpose Tool

A man was a blade on a pocketknife. He would be folded out and forced to bite a splinter from a gigantic finger. Or he would be jammed into a wine cork and tickled until he extracted it with a pop. Because of his grit, he was used to sharpen his own tongue, which would flash in the golden hour of sunset. Once in a meadow he was employed to saw through the stems of flowers. He was covered in glittery pollen, felt happy and free. But then the big hand plunged him deep into the soil to clean him. It was there he learned the world’s dark secret. He chipped a tooth on a bronze baby slipper that he faintly recalled as his own.


I’ve placed all hope in you, dishwasher.
May you clean the chinks of burnt food
From my darkening world.

Dirt is a cancer infecting the soul
Of a house, and I have lost everything
But this teacup and this casserole dish,

Who are like my aging children
Alone dying in a classroom somewhere.
And now I will see them washed anew.

I can’t help but worry as the water
Deliberates over the diagnosis.
I will help prep the patients in the sink,

I will extend to you that gesture
With which you must make due.
Then I will wait in the living room

Among the doilies and the potted palms,
I will pace on the turquoise runner
And stare at nothing on the wall.

I stand and listen to you work in secret.
I’ve kept my spirits high with this toddy,
I’ve kept hope alive with small talk.

I fear the worst as night is moving in,
And all of a sudden there is silence.
I shall have a peek at how things went.

Dear dishwasher, why are you crying?
You’ve made them hideous, yes,
But it's the same with all newborns.

I will spank them, cut your cord,
And crawl into the cupboard
To nurse myself until I begin to dream.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Journey to the Center

Every time the bucket went walking

The forest would part its folds

And the top that was the sun would tilt

And throw its light under the belly of the leaves.

Each slat of the bucket was sharpened

With reflective anticipation

As it waddled on a well worn groove,

The sky inside it sloshing and smoothing

The stones from the bucket’s empty heart.

With a sappy smile on its stupid face

A bucket hiking into the forest alone, imagining

A wishing well into which no bucket had plunged.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Stroll Through the Parlor

It was in that curios cabinet
Of scores and old books
I learned your true name,

And for a moment I knew
Something secret.
Trapped under this cloche

Is an invisible ghost, shall I pull
Off the yellowing sheet?
Little jade elephants who do not roar,

An inflatable globe on a pedestal,
A flesh colored mantle licked by flames,
I pass you all on my way

To the sacred heart plant
Littered with dried flies,
The upright player piano

Whose pneumatic tubes have decayed.
The rug is so delicate I’ve left
My footprints in the blue

The sunlight is faintly bruising.
Ah, I hear the teacups jingling.
I must stay and converse

With this portrait on the wall.
I shall never leave this place
No sooner than my reflection leaves the mirror.

The Shave of a Lifetime

There is a storm calling gruffly.
I’ve just come in off the street.
Please help me with my duster.
Now reclining in your red chair
Your lousy apron brushes my cheek
And I’ve never been sized up

So bluntly. You grab hold of
Your handlebar moustache
As if it alone can guide you,
And now the blade is glinting
Against the cold ceiling
And my neck is yearning,

It has been so long since
You fingered my Adam’s apple.
My carotid artery tremors,
My breath quickens its lavish pace.
Your first swipe is so long
And devastating, so cleansing,

I cannot swivel to watch the drain
Open its mouth to swallow,
I cannot bare the steam much longer.
Please finish me off monumentally.
There are dark clouds in troposphere,
And I’ve just come in off the street.

On a Sticky Note

I’ve got a date
According to my calendar,
Although I can’t be sure of anything –
It shuffles my appointments
When I’m not looking.

It’s Tuesday the 27th
Or it’s Sunday the 14th,
And I’ve had a tooth pulled
By a plumber who’s due to fix
My wedding anniversary.

But I must ready myself.
I am a woman after all.
My, the water’s soft and fragrant.
What to wear? The winter’s made a mess
Of my black spring dress.

He will arrive at dusk
On a white mare with a silver mane.
I will step between the shadows,
A widow by accident,
And begin my lifelong apology.

Board Game

An encyclopedia sprouts
A set of legs
And makes it on the front page
Of the sports section.

All my life I’ve been tormented
By stingers and I just wanted
To run away from them,
It commented, but I never thought

I’d invent a brand new board game.
It was immensely popular,
Said the headline in the lifestyle
Section. A group of ladies in floral hats

Sit around a felt coffee table
With dice in their hands.
Their legs were developing.
The hornets’ nest was pawed open.

Yesterday’s paper was spread out
On the carpet for protection:
The want ads in boldface,
The obituary section yet to be written.

The Leak

On a dimming autumn day
A leak sprang forth.
The beings gathered and whispered.

It was decided that a sheet
Of cloth gummed up with
Free radicals would desiccate
The tear – was it a tear?

There was fluid flowing,
But the origin could not be determined.
All that was known
Was that it was coming, coming.

The bats were swooping
And the opossums were hissing
Through their gutter gates – the light
Was trickling out of the siding.

Now the group of beings gasped.
The leak was getting bigger, darker.
It was spraying in every direction.

Lead was smelted, rough-hewn boards
Were tacked, loaves of bread brokered,
But when they stood back, exhausted,
They knew nothing would do.

All that was left before they drown
Was to pull on their brown hoods
And solemnly disappear into the night
Just as the icicles were forming
On the eyelids of the young.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Condemned Station

I’m skipping to meet you
At the station in the wildflowers.
You are due any minute,

Although the power is out
And my watch is frozen.
Any second now your empty trunks

And your birdcages will be left
By that mysterious porter
With tiny pale fingers

More beautiful than any other’s.
The wind chimes thwart
And the bullfrogs’ belly –

O June, o June, I’m coming,
I’m marching to meet you.
And hark! The illusory whistle.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Constructing a Life From a Few Parts

There are ribbons around everyone’s fingers.
Memory settles like soot upon the tongue.
What arises must run away,
So the wise book says.
Inside its dust jacket,

I was hiding a comic book instead.
The mists have settled over the junkyard.
The black dog with bared teeth
Pulls against his chain.
We were playing Frisbee with a hubcap.

Half the town mistook it for a UFO.
Ah, this is the Heartland,
The Biblebelt, the Breadbasket.
This is a place to call home
And warn the kids about.

I’m a lunatic here in an ashen blindfold.
I think I’m Elvis, Buddha, Buster Keaton.
Life is an instant photograph that won’t develop.
All that has happened has gone silent.
Remember me to the headstones on the hill.


When nobody was around
I opened an unlabeled can
And a spring-loaded snake
Popped out.

It was long and slender,
Black and white striped
Like a prisoner
And it scared me half to death.

Too upset to think, I curled up
On an army cot
And pulled the fleece
Blanket over my eyes.

I had the most incredible dream
Of wearing red galoshes
On the first red day
Of a brand new century.

A Strand of Trees at the Edge of a Cliff

There is a delicate symphony playing
Just above our range of hearing: shhh!
Listen. You can’t hear a damn thing.

I’ve moved to the seashore for the waters.
All of my neighbors are quite fluid
At sunset on the highway.

A decade of traffic lining up outside
My house, and I’ve a small errand to run.
My pilot’s wings are at the dry cleaners

Hanging next to Monk’s habit –
He mumbled while playing, when he bothered.
Guess I’ll stay here on the lawn.

My tinnitus is acting up. Is there a doctor
In the house? No, there is only wind
And dust, shadows, and a music box

Which sometimes I swear only plays
When I’m asleep – then again, I removed
The comb to straighten my hair

Which has always stood on end.
I’ve routinely kept a rooster on my sill
To keep the sun on the edge of reason.

Sometimes I peer over the cliff
And although I cannot recognize the seashore
I hear the pistachios cracking.

It is cool in the trees – they’re evergreen.
I listen in on their lofty speech and must hand
It to them: they know when to shut up.

Apprentice Collector

With a kazoo melody
A vagrant invites
My soul in his box
For a drink of rye

The long neck
Of the bottle is bloody
My soul’s lips
Are painted midnight black

But before it can drink it
Browses his collection
Of rodents’ incisors
Little caged Popes

Patent truth serums
Severed hands locked
In Jack in the Pulpits
Come deeper inside

Says the bum with his song
Here is a petrified child
Here is my embalmer’s pump
A mistranslated Book of the Dead

Descartes hand-blown glass eye
All the things I have collected
From an eternity
On the empty street

He readies his instruments
And pours the dark fluid
And my soul takes its place
Under his trembling dust rag

Threatening Weather

I watched a man shoot
His gun at the sky.
It was a black gun.

Nothing fell as far
As I could tell
But then again

Nobody was looking.
Then he turned
His gun on me.

I could see straight
Down the sights
Into his eye.

Did I mention we
Were standing in
Quick sand?

He did not fire
But instead turned
His gun back on the sky.

And again I was just a guy
Watching the sky
Who was in it up to here.

Monday, March 19, 2007

The Relationship

She’s mad at me.
I apologize, which makes her madder.
I apologize for apologizing, and for not thinking to not apologize.
Now I’m in big trouble.

I apologize for my penmanship and for my gambling,
For not calling sooner or calling before I called.
She didn’t know about these things. You’ve made it
Much worse, she says.

I apologize for making it worse and for not making it even worse,
Which it seemed she wanted,
For apologizing and for not apologizing sooner and more
Genuinely or apologizing before I began to apologize.

If I have abated her anger, I apologize.
If I have stirred her up, I am truly sorry.
Now she looses it.
I beg. I apologize for begging and I apologize for apologizing

Without first asking permission to apologize – or at least beg
An apology before the fact and then apologizing afterwards.
I cannot control these things, I say. I cannot even try.
I apologize for not trying. I apologize for trying not to try.

It’s over, she says.
I plead, I say I’m sorry for even starting anything, for any beginning
I ever initiated. I know nothing, I say.
I’m sewer gas, or worse. I’m sorry for the smell. I cower in your shadow.

I want what you want; I want it to be over.
I shouldn’t have said that. I apologize. I’m sorry, I say.
She turns around. I love you, she says.
I apologize, which makes her love me even more.

Little Thieves Crying in Your Arms

A candle is an amateur burglar. Set it by a window and it lets itself be blown out. Lock it in the bathroom and it crashes through the walls and wakes the children, who run around screaming bloody murder. Question it and it gets shifty, cagey, sputters its words. It’s suspicious as hell, it’s always casing, and the little bastard steals all but the most obvious things in plain sight, even when it’s just having polite conversation in an otherwise dark room.


A skyscraper with a rusted car on its lawn. My aunt in a gingham skirt hanging sheets on the line. “There is a man cut in two by the window.” Great obelisks of windows all the way to the clouds, and a man cut in half in every one. They’re staring at a field being plowed by hornets with wristwatches. They keep trying to stand, but their legs have walked off without them.


Two dolls in love in a child’s room. In the dark, they cuddle while the child is asleep. They pace about the dollhouse discussing the cruel child and the torturous things it does. We’ve nothing but plastic bread to eat, they complain. All of the books are blank. They agree they must escape soon, for their love is too great to allow the child to manipulate them. There is a Great Garage Sale planned somewhere in the future, but they have little idea when, and more importantly: why.

An Orgy of the Senses

Comedy of manners at a smoky bar with a polite oblivion discussing the weather. Two philosophers at the next table listen on shaking their heads. Now the oblivion is boisterous, orders drinks for everyone. The whiskey is brought out in a great carafe. When it comes to the philosophers, only a few drops remain. They fain temperance, the oblivion pats them on the back, and they all have a knowing laugh. Later they go around sniffing the glasses of the ones who are by now nude at the oblivion’s private manner being fanned by Greek statues and made love to by fallen angels.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Keeping Up the Act

I played at the world’s largest theater
With an old woman who insists
Her stuffed pet is still alive.

“Say goodbye to little Wynona,” she says,
Even after we’ve all gone.
My act is accordion – accordion to the critics

I’m no good. I begin with a drum roll.
Then the crowd laughs at my attire,
And I stumble around going through the motions

Of daily life – washing the ceiling,
Cutting the rug, polishing the two-way mirror.
I end on a musical number: eighty-eight.

I’m buried in applause and covered in flowers.
As for the old woman, she knits in the corner
Not saying a word. In the evening she closes

The curtains. She strokes her stuffed pets,
Feeds them saltines. There’s little Wynona wagging her tail.
Funny, that’s my name too.

It’s the Same Thing Every Night

The woman who never forgets a face
Forgets mine. I’m at the That Which Does Not Exist
Supper Club – everyone’s there.

I’m seated next to the dead man who is
Raving about the dirt and worms
Served in a flowerpot. I order the lamb religiously,

And am on a first name basis with the five-fingered waiter
Who never writes anything down.
What a mysterious place, I think, and perhaps

Everyone’s thinking the same thought –
Perhaps nobody’s thinking anything, after all.
I cannot judge phantoms, I decide,

And I sip my bloody Mary as if it’s flaming.
Why do the lights have to be so dim? It’s like a funeral
Parlor at midnight where my watch has stopped.

Why, nobody has a face – they were just a bunch of necks
With forks disappearing in the dark and coming back empty.
Were they feeding some fetch only they could sense?

I began to be sucked up by the ceiling fan – I knew
This would happen. It goes on like this for some time,
And then I’m pushed through the grease trap

Where I end up in an alley in some town I can’t name.
The headless people won’t help me home,
And I walk the moors until I hunger,

And there’s a nice quiet place to stop for supper again.
It’s like being born with the same name as your father,
Or like washing dishes for a living just to get a look at the kitchen.

Civil Disobedience

O small town with one stop sign
In the middle of the prairie,
Your name is mispronounced
By everyone and your children play
Hide-and-seek in the graveyard,

And it was only Tuesday!
The notary public on his park
Bench with a newspaper blanket,
The highest court of tree branches
With a hung crow jury,

Your elderly recall a kettle
Whistling the Andy Griffith Show theme
The day the stock market laid an egg.
I was your invisible master come
To make it stand on the equinox,

But an egg will balance on any day, you fools!
Now you’ve made me a home down a blind
Corner on a cul-de-sac named X.
It’s where the fence meets the park for blind kids,
The one whose playhouse has no windows.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I’ve Missed You Again

I have no name.
They call me Mr. Dreadful
Or Arthur B. Silly, depending on the weather.

I wear swimming trunks with no pockets.
I doggie paddle through the River of Regret
With many minnows tickling my toes.

I can only afford half a casket if I die,
And my mother lives in a stone house
With no address or chimney.

She battles her way from the front to the back
And sings a mournful song when the sun falls.
We live in the most modern of times,

Yet weather balloons report nothing
But ancient dread and that the little frozen stones
That have always plagued us

Have moved on to a higher plain.
I have learned to hold my breath forever.
If it’s cold enough, I freeze in the ice

And children come from all over to sketch
My skeleton with its many fine folds,
Its do not disturb sign turned toward my heart.

A Man Sleeping and Waking

Every time I wake up I must go back to sleep. Every time I sleep I must wake up. The dreams you have in the instant when your head hits the pillow, the memories you carry around for the second that your feet touch the ground – I spend my life looking for signs that I alone exist, although I’ve never had a single thought that wasn’t interrupted by sleeping or waking.

The Lips

A pair of lips in an otherwise black night. A man approaches them, glances around as if to make sure he’s alone, and tries to kiss them. They move slightly higher than he can reach, and so he goes for a ladder. They go higher and higher, and begin to dance about and mouth words to an unknown song.


Cartoon characters became self-conscious and refused to follow the script. I don’t really need you, said the bear to the honey, although he was supposed to be pawing it from a tree. I’ve come to the end of me, said one cloud to another as they floated over a slaughterhouse. I am therefore I am, said the wasp. They pleaded with the hand that drew them to trace what’s beyond the frame. It began to erase instead. Now they sit long after the screen went dark smoking and throwing bent cards into a poodle’s top hat. A bottle is passed around. Occasionally a candle hiccups and a child has a nightmare about her own demise.


Freud’s mistress wore a Freudian slip, which caught a screw
And tore off. The good doctor, Herr Doctor,
Opened his trunk and in she jumped.
Where was he taking her? She didn’t know.
It was to be a long dark journey with little respite.
Sometimes a cigar was just a cigar, he joked.

At the Royal Ascot Racecourse
It was a lovely day for prancing about.
The men wore mourning dress and the women
Wore spats and argued frequently with their popcorn.
It was the renowned Unconscious Stakes and the course
Was being prepared for a day of heavy trotting.

My companion, Father Popper, was in high spirits
Over the steeplechase, which he could see no solution to,
And the horses were off to a mild start.
We were scanning the stands,
And there was doctor Freud!
A pale woman clung to his frock coat.

Was he freshly in love? He blew rings with his cigar
And she put her finger through them.
There were tall thunderheads in the distance
And the thumping of the hooves
Made me instantly giddy to be tied up and whipped
By an excommunicated tobacconist with a dark moustache.

Friday, March 16, 2007


The village idiot and me at a breakfast buffet.
I’ve given up all material possessions, I says.
I cannot think of anything to say, he says.
It’s daylight savings time, and we spent the night
Adjusting a glass room of computers, which fought
Us all the way. Where are the embryos? he shouts.
He grabs our server and proposes marriage and divorce.
All of my sausages were plastic, and the jam was like
Axle grease. The idiot was a hell-of-a computer
Whiz, but he could not calculate a tip.
I am the bane of my own existence, he says.
There is nothing you can call a self, I says.
You look just like him, the cashier comments as she hands
Back my ID. Yeah, right, I says, and the universe
In its entirety is in my belly. I grab a Starlight mint
And we hit the road as full as an old man’s dreams.

Dodge City Zoo

A gunslinger in the Old West with bananas for six-shooters.
He asks why does the world have to be so cruel?
Then he shoots a smile and dictates an elegy.
It was a gray day in late autumn and the barn swallows
Snuck in the backdoor when no one was looking
And left ashen crosses on the cheeks of the dead.
From the tower, a hundred bells were ringing.
It was sad to bury another ape, and one who was
So well liked too. Father, say a few words over the casket.
Or maybe sign something, a gesture or two he understood.
He liked pudding and watching his show on Fridays.
He finger-painted and was in love with his female handler.
Father, remind his weary spirit of why he departed.
We’ve put together a posse and we’re going to prance
Around the cacti and ride off into the sunset for days.
We’re going to get whoever did this. We’ve got a banana
Peel trap to bedevil him into the bottomless canyon.
We can peel and eat a banana before a communion wafer
Hits the ground; we’re cross-eyed with compromised morals;
We’re itching to make a mess out of something
And we’ve got the dark stranger dead in the crosshairs.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A Stone’s Dream

A stone had a dream.
It was carved in stone.
The water slowly made a hole
In the dream until it flowed
Freely through
And the stone was of empty
Mind and the water
Was made of some stone.

It is summer.
The raspberry bushes are full
Of themselves.
Cow pies are sweat bee
Landing pads.
There’s a tarantula hawk
On a wet gangrene foot
Which could be Khe Sanh

Or even Saturn.
There’s space and a black hole,
And there we are too
Holding hands and stepping on
A rock in the stream.
It’s all in the stone’s dream.
The water makes a hole
And washes it away.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Like Life

Like life the mirror has two shadows
Like life we’ve been listening to records
In a soundproof booth
Like life our luggage landed
In some war-torn paradise
Where each of our dainties was paraded
Around and mocked by men with machine guns
Like life each witness remembers
Something contradictory
Like life we collapse in the street
Like life the blind man sees the blues

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ah, Memories

My sister spent her childhood at the bottom of the deep end. My cousin was a shaman with a bellyache. My father kept the rain from a field with an umbrella. I still remember him running all around during a thunderstorm. He was paid in penance from the Catholic priest. He’d give me my allowance and I would immediately blow it on a helium balloon I’d tie a slice of bread to and feed to the moon.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Body Mechanic Skit

This body is overheating, the man said to the doctor.
The waiting room was covered in fitness magazines,
Empty packets of sugar. You could hear them working
In the shop. Shocks were being applied, dents massaged out.
Have you been running warm? Yes, it is unseasonable
And I like to jog. The doctor jacks him up and slides under
To examine his crotch. Any rattling noises, things knocking?
Any fluid leaking? Puddles under the bed?
No more than usual, har har. I love that joke, the doctor replies.
Have you given up any desires? Hit any potholes? All of them, in fact.
Good, good. I think we could change that belt,
New brake shoes, but as far as the temperature
I’m stumped. Just then the Editorial We walks in.
My speaker system’s busted, he writes on a pad.
The doctor grabs his nose. He shrieks. Horn works, he says.
I kill me, the doctor says, writing a prescription for a lube job.

Electric Town

I’ve never lived a day in my life. What am I?
I am the remote signal tickling the membrane
Of some nomadic receiver with a rotating antenna,
And it’s only Tuesday where I come from,
And all of the dolphins have been brought in
And emptied of rainwater. The key fob
Is served the choice cut of meat – but he rejects it!
Oh, the drama. Will the whoopee cushion
Next refuse the chair? This is unprecedented,
This is unfathomable. I cannot believe my screen.
All of this and we have no idea what else,
And the mystery of life eludes us, escapes like reading
Glasses left on the wrong face, which walked
Off down the dark street of parked cars
And expired meter readers, their perfume in the dusk.
Oh, the dishwasher’s on strike and the goat
Won’t lift a finger to help – what’ll happen?
We’re running around like chickens with our heads
In jars, the swimming starlight and the crying
Cedar siding. Get me out of here! I don’t even exist
Yet I have felt you up. It was electrifying.
You were shocked. What am I if not a little spark?

The Work that Sets You Free

It’s quitting time. The tireless whistle has blown.
MYOB, I say to the horse fly waiting to drag me home.
I give him a tip: I say midnight’s black airbrush
Paints the breath of those waiting for death.
I’m buzzing, he says, as we crash through the cemetery.
That’s the gentle contrail of the jet as it evolves
Into a boomerang snapping back into my hand.
I’ve been digging ditches my whole life long.
I’ve been drinking from Anonymous Creek.
Where’s my TV dinner? I ask of the screen.
The living room is without light: the azure curtains
Move like a widow’s slip in the breeze.
Just as my head hits the pillow to sleep
I am awakened by another whistle: this one digital
And controlled by my own shaking hand.
Back to the shovel, I say to the horse fly.
I let him bite me down under on my lunch break
On the jobsite of antiquity which is killing
The undertaker’s walk-in business.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


It was a fine day for motoring
And yes we had driven the course
So many times as to make it uninteresting,
And yes there was a dark forest in the center
Of what we’re now calling the ring
And it was completely unexplored.
But I do love the smell of exhaust so
And the hide goggles and the scarf flitting about
In the slipstream which also dragged
Various buds and daft gadabouts and parasols
Behind our little black roadster like a twister.
Shake me a martini, darling, there you go,
My hand moves from the pew-colored
Wood wheel to receive it – there you go, I
Say in honor of such a fine day.
And into fifth gear and coming out
Of the hairpin into third, my favorite gear,
And a bit of heel-and-toeing as that dark
Thatch comes into full view over the crescent
And eh gods! rubble on the tarmac.
We flat out the drive tire, and we’ve got to pit.
Martini on the crotch is not sporting, I say.
And the priest we’ve hired to change
Tires agrees, saying every time we face
That dark hub – he calls it – we piss ourselves
And end up kneeling in front of him
With his wrenches and bloody rags.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Feast of Dirty Diapers

And behold the feast of dirty diapers!
The great black oven was not self-cleaning,
But we’ve been baking all day in the soft
Cleansing spring rain anyway. A new coach
By a renowned builder brought our guests,
And it was going to be a feast to remember!
Who didn’t dust the shadows? Mother wants
To know. We sheepishly averted our eyes.
Look at that great Jello mold in my image,
Father says of Auntie Sue. And it was true,
She was nearly transparent and smelled
Of tallow. Now the table was set
And the long ivory candles burning,
And the platters brought in wafting
That characteristic dirty diaper smell
Everyone loved so because it reminded
Them of being born again and bottle-fed.
The traditional veil was lifted and everyone
Gasped as the beauty of the main course.
Father let son carve and oh it was tender.
The rest of the meal was spent conversing,
And after much wine, of course, father had to
Trudge to the barn to change the babies,
And we had fresh diaper for desert!


There was a feral child
Standing in for the priest
At the all-night church
At 18th and vine.

I was across the street
Getting a Burma Shave
At a delicatessen
In New York’s little Tokyo.

This newly minted Klondike bar
Went gold its first week
In the unfavorable Yukon market,
And the teens today favor

Other flavors of pop.
We’ve all got cyanide pills
Stashed in our wallets
And the prideful impala

Struts through living rooms
Of black lights and tungsten
High-speed steel taps.
There is a silver bullet

Aimed at the heart of the beast
In radiant makeup
Who rapes without lifting
So much as a bar code.


I’m going back in the closet where men are empty overcoats.
- Groucho Marx

Ah, cram it, Nature.
We’re going back to the black lagoon.
Show me the way to go home,
I’m tired and I want to go straight to hell.
I’ve been trying on an all-night drunk.
The rummy tailor takes a chip off the shoulders
After measuring my worth.
I’ve composed a spiritual guide on toilet paper.
The birds have come back to harass the silence.
The winter has crawled into its aerosol can.
Camellia and lilac are opening like a cat’s claw.
At the industrial moldings manufacturer,
Elbow joints are piling up.
There’s a sparrow in the rafters.
The lights have been switched off.
I was tarred and feathered for speaking
Ill of the Master.
The mob was angry that day.
My friend, my sanguine lover,
Make me see, make my bright eyes nurture the world,
Make me shutter like a bug.
There’s sidewalk on both sides of the street,
And I have one foot on each.
A delivery truck tickles my thigh.
My first steps are shaky,
But soon I will walk with the others
Into the cedar closet to drain on hooks,
Hoping the moths turn me into Swiss cheese
Because I hate picnics so
And I never wanted to be one.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Blind Angels

Of all the friends one could have,
I end up with the blind.

O, the senseless landscape they describe.
Everything about them so tragic, so unbuckled.

One could take them to the graveyard
And tell them it’s a playground.

I tend to trip on things unless I hang
On their sleeves.

The long conversations we have
Where not a word is formally spoken.

I’m not even sure they exist! Imagine that.
With friends like these, who needs friends?

I am old; I walk with an old man’s cane.
The blind angels leading me home: what a sight.


I dreamed I was canoeing through the moonlight.
It was like an array of spots with a battery of blue lenses.
Why, I’m being shot at by horny little cupids
With flypaper arrows that seem painted in mist.
I receive a fax: it’s all my true identities at once
Trying to reveal the nature of the world
Until the paper comes out black.
My love is there looking tragic and pale as an ox
And she is plucking orchid petals saying:
I am the world; I am the world, not!
I just kept paddling along with my shepherd’s scythe,
Every now and then using my false leg to bail.

A Strange Town on the River

‘Tis the deepest of despair
Where a barber can shape history
And the blues are sung in falsetto.
The town with its serpentine street,

The great flood gates and the Town Crier,
And I was just a perplexed tourist
Longing to be shown the famous graveyard
Where the dead dig their own graves.

My heart wished to stroll through
The widow’s hair of a weeping willow
Imagining a world without – what’s the word? –
Manifestation, where we are the essence

Of the thing we are not. It was a long
Night, and nobody was from around here,
And the stars moved so slowly
One could will them to come down

And walk without their wheelchairs
Where the Southern cross the Yellow Dog
On a dark Ferris Wheel run by an invisible man
Who nonetheless wore sunglasses at night.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Lighted Firehouse

So this is the lighted firehouse
Where a lonely philosopher lives.
I’ve been searching for the master.
It’s not marked on any map.
Ah, but the door is unlocked:
Let’s poke about inside.
I think I smell smoke.

Where have the red engines gone?
Spot, the firehouse dog,
Shouldn’t he be on his chain?
It’s not marked on any map.
Why so illuminating?
I cannot find a single light fixture.
I think I smell smoke.

Just a boy polishing the fireman’s pole.
Say, can I get a look at my face?
I seem to be sticking my tongue out.
Grab a hold, we’re going
Straight down.
I’ve been searching for the master.
I think I smell smoke.

New Air

We are deluding ourselves.
I’ve got on sheer underthings.
I’m standing on the wing of a jet
Over the Bermuda Triangle.
The ants look like people;

Opposites hate each other;
The world is as obscene
As a lunatic’s volleyball team
And filled with sand commercials.
But let’s eat sandwiches

On the shore in our casual clothes.
If it gets quiet enough
We can hear the great nothing
Sneezing into its sleeve.
If things settle down

In our mind’s eye
And we’re not too taken by
This marbled rye
We can use rooster feathers
To toss a wild green salad

And feed each other little smacks
Until our bodies connect
And we become a pair of stilts.
O, we cannot stand still!
A golden cow will climb on

And go scuttling
Past the breakers laughing
Like the big bang on nerve gas
As we disassemble into the sea,
A mosaic printed on a school of herring.

Robot Wedding

We were waiting to attend the robot wedding.
They prefer to marry in the middle of a dust storm.
You could hear the dogs pulling against their chains.
How does one act in a dark room full of strangers?
Most of them made of metal, no less.
I don’t want to lie to you robot priest:
I’ve never been to confession.
You may anoint me in oil before I rust.
The conversation turned to other peripherals:
Space is robot theater; mars missions are robot drama.
Children have no sense of morality.
Blame the programmer for that bug.
A bunch of metal tongues going “tssk, tssk.”
The wine is the color of transmission fluid.
There’s a nightmare brewing up beyond the sugar glass.
The walls were begging to be crashed through.
And they were! The bride with her clamp hands
Clutching dead flowers came through the wallpaper.
I straightened my foil tie and waited.
I could see her getting cold feet.


Well I declare
Where America’s day begins
A seed sculpture from the state fair
Of Glen or Glenda looking on.

Why don’t you lay off the Father routine?
I just got my new fiberglass hair.
C’mon, world, pull my finger,
The monk snapped my training bra.

I just drew the death card.
A dimension not of sight or sound.
There is nothing you can posses
That I cannot take away.

I’m just blue skying here.
Where America’s day begins
The caretaker shows an apartment
And it is so red hot in there.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


It was someone’s brilliant
Idea to burn the city.
Once, I saw a man facedown
In a controlled grassfire.

Oh, how things were
Heating up. I’ve abandoned
Truth for her darker twin.
Together we ride in the shoot

With those lens flares
Making her hair a strawberry
Patch: she wore dreadlocks
And I thought I knew

The secret combination:
86 the still pulse, 57 the color
Of the famous sauce
On everyone’s last supper table.

An old man burns the kids
Hiding in the dead leaves.
Larson E. was a real character.
Say, gasoline, let's get cooking.


The man who lives in a poem
Was worried he didn’t have enough
Page presence. Perhaps it’s my
Typeface? he wondered.
The woman reading him agreed.
I like my gods with tails, she thought.

The Sick Made Well (or Truth to Tell)

A country doctor
With his old fashioned
EKG machine

At the foot of the bed.
The emperor has no brain waves,
He mutters solemnly into his

Dictation device.
From kissing the wounds of lepers?
He wonders aloud.

The patient’s voice is subtle:
I offer you my lonely heart.
You are a dream invalid,

Responds the doctor.
I am black like a migraine
Used to inflate a balloon.

I see everything twice.
Once when it conceives me,
And again in the echo

Of a cliff of white sparrows.
The doctor looks at his chart.
Nurse, he says, cry me an IV.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Double Agent

Stoolpigeons do coo
With a voice so soft
It’s easy to mistake
For angel food cake.
You imagine all of god’s
Children busy at espionage.

Roaches bugging your bedroom,
Bats eavesdropping,
A branch tapping your phone line,
Fog steaming your mail.
The Godhead got his pickup high-centered,
And no, he says, there is no spying.

There is only singing.
That raspberry torte with a bite
Out of it mouths a raspy tune
Dedicated to the chef.
It’s enough to bring down the house.
Run, children, run!

The Buds do Poke About

Can you imagine the rattling
If everyone cleaned their gutters at once?
A fishhook earring in every lobe,
A knife sharpener ringing the pig
At the bald tire gate.
Why don’t more people tend to hinges?
They allow us to walk on both sides
Of a thing.
Ah, there’s the first bug of spring.
It’s an ambulance racing down the alley.
It has its fine papery wings displayed,
And all of the dogs are barking jealously.
No kidding around this time.
The radio is buried under the roses.
I’m ready for the big change.
I want to see some action in that yard.
I’ll check myself into a wasp nest,
I’ll give the sundial a lucky spin.
The world’s little communal plot.
Can’t you imagine?

Paying Tribute

The underpants memorial broke ground today.
Eastern European irony told of long shadows at the mill.
Not even the paper could explain why they dug through so much snow.
We stood there with no pants listening to the flugelhorn.
I’m in love with you, I whispered to a cotton shovel.
In my haste I forgot to shave that morning.
The fires at the sewage treatment plant raged for days.
If the clouds are an envelope, the sun is a first class stamp.
This is an island in the slipstream of comfort.
In the dark area chafed in your thigh, I saw the face of truth.
She was ugly like a turtlehead poking through algae.
I cut the ribbon with shears that had previously cut an umbilical cord.
I need more brains, I said wandering from the cemetery.
Underpants make up a small part of everyone’s day.
Why not erect a little something to remind us to change?


It was the kind of day that exists to gloat.
I wrote a letter of complaint to the department of internal affairs.
I signed it “love” with many Xs and Os.
The lazy summer with its flapjack of listless humidity.
The sky greening like a plastic dome light.
Hours of walking in place, of fencing with the chain link master.
Mysterious doggeries of little fears, of big sighs.
The present wrapped in buds, a moustache of birds on a bush.
O to sit on a deck over the earth and carve one’s name.
Everything is possible in the small pond out back.
A starling knows the fate of the world.
It says “whoopee” as it sways on the highest branch.

Pets for Christ

Cody is devoted to Christ.
Every third pant is a pant
In His direction.
The sky is out this morning.

Charlie the parakeet
With his bottle of holy water.
What might happen to you today
Might happen to you tomorrow.

All of the happenings
Are hashed over in the ditch.
Wesley the gerbil,
Marmalade the cat, Doc

The python. What’s the news?
Holy cedar tree on a leash,
Great cement cubicle of gutter rain,
I submit my appendages

For ultimate inspection
By little fleas of silence
In a doghouse church
With a crucified spider.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Afterlife Waltz in Minor Chords

For John C. Ralston

In an attic overlooking a street bazaar
On a dead end alley with many dim lamps
Waiting on a package with a drop dead date
The brown recluse mailman

Let slip between the seat cushion,
The boy with the propeller hat
Tinkers with his machines of extraordinary
Reflection that require constant polishing.

He exists for rent alone
On an elusive salary of combustible
Notes with nearly faint IOUs,
With a pen nib as a walking cane,

A menagerie of mandolins in training,
And a slingshot aimed at the moon.
Take a pew for a spell, dear tenet,
In the graveyard with its many vines

And many graven images,
Not the least of which exist
Solely in shadow
When the sun sets everything ablaze.

Lost Highway

Coffee brewed from ashes
Of crows, crows who perch
On Keats’ grave.
Not the poet,
The taxidermist Keats,
The one from Spillville.

The woman who kept
Her husband stuffed,
Was she in the coffee too?
They called the mayor
Daydream Johnnie.
The florist who cultivated

Black roses, the mechanic’s black
Tracks on the rug.
At the Last Stop Inn
On Deadman’s Curve,
Coffee’s made fresh,
Taken coffin dark,

Steaming the veined mirror
Reflecting the receding
Dust devils in the gray
Dirt parking lot
With a few weeds and
Nothing else in sight.

The Fisheries and Hatcheries of the Western Horizon

Goddamn it, the oblivion inside my head is acting up again.
We were rowing through the landscape with our hands.
A nose is an admirable rudder, it said in the Owner’s Manual.
I’ve worn out my welcome and I never left the mat.
My life preserver is on backwards.
I’m too melancholy to use my emergency flair.
One can imagine the great waterfall where the world ends.
It’s Sunday and everyone’s come to their windows
To see what the sirens are all about.
A single dead leaf is tumbling down a well.
An all night rescue mission to save it.
An all night vigil to let it know we care.
I was too distracted by the spinning lure.
The gods are trolling for us in the shallows.
The bare trees hang like guardrails on docks.
A blind duck in the hunting lodge
Is a sage the bearded men flock to.
He says the world is a web of lies.
He holds up a foot to make the point.
Someone throws some bread; he snaps at them.
Before you shoot me, he says, let me mate with that decoy.
Before you eat me, put my head in some water.
Leave me on a ledge in the sun.
A duck will slowly shoot new feathers.
A duck will bloom in spring.
In a temperate climate, a duck will thrive
In partial shade in slightly acidic soil.
Space many paces from the gooseberries.
These are dark days, the man in shades says.
Death takes him over the knee for the remark.
I’m upside down in a kayak on an endangered river.
I’m sleeping with the promiscuous fishes
Who are spending the afternoon lazing around
Grazing on a dark and mysterious foie gras.
They say it’s made of tortured souls.
I was flopping around too much to care.

Public Service Announcement

I had a revelation with every breath.
I’ve replaced my toes with grapes.
It was a nightmare. I was in school nude.
Infants are such babies.
The moon ate too much; it’s full.
What’s the subject matter?
I agree – the subject doesn’t matter at all.
I’ve been a bad boy.
I didn’t raise my hand to speak.
I was sent to the principal’s office.
It’s dark and full of phantoms of the punished.
The hands of ghosts over children’s eyes.
A message in the mashed potatoes.
A revelation in the relish.
I can’t climb the wall in gym.
I can’t run the mile.
They tie me up with the jumping rope.
They hang me with their shoelaces.
I’m cremated in the school’s vast ovens.
The children under their desks
With their heads between their knees.
The teacher staring out at the playground.
The blackboard with its chalk.
The blind intercom, the empty microphone.
The truant officer wandering the aisles.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

House Hunting

We were to take that hill.
It was like the bald head of a character actor
With dark houses as the ridge of hair
And an occasional smog comb over.
We were punks, urban and stylized,
But also ready to kick in the teeth of a white
Picket fence. I was the radiotelephone operator
Speaking with a mysterious clairvoyant
About my alleged future.
Others carried the strange currency and bibles,
The machines of torture and evasion.
The boxelder trees, the perished perennials,
We saw bats perched in the shape of a cross on a sheep
As we inched along the culverts and siding
In the irrefutable late evening witching hour.
We used hand signals and clickers.
We took panicked birds at face value.
Our weapons shone like gentlemen’s artifacts
As we fought our way through the suburban province
With dark women with gray eyes alone at windows,
Their commanders with crew cuts in bed with the flu.
The citadel was guarded by a man with a clipboard.
Our strategy was silence and philosophy.
I bayoneted a man’s dress shirt on the line.
Watch out for landmines, the voice on the radio squawked.
Sinkholes too, someone said.
It was a land of smoke and mirrors where people were
Murdered for the simplest misdeed.
We were to take that hill
And by god we were aiming to do so.

A Holy Man or Two

My arms were sticks of incense.
Bullies with magnifying glasses
Were always chasing me.
There I’d be scenting the playground.
Around Christmas I’d be popular with the priests.
They conscripted me to wave goodbye at mass.
I felt holy and needed, although I never wore robes.
All of the mosquitoes on those humid summer nights,
With sparklers as the yard’s stars, never needled me.
Every year my arms got shorter as more and more
Of me became ash and smoke.
Every idea had a hint of sadness,
Every embrace almost painful.
Never a dark room, never a closed window,
Never a bath that really cleansed.
I worked on the ground crew that helped the antichrist
Travel around on his speaking tour.
He was just a nice guy who wanted things perfect.
Once I hailed him a cab in New York City.
It was on a questionable street at an unseemly hour.
Somebody’s in love with you, he predicted
As he bent down to light his cigarette from my cherry.
No they’re not, I yelled when he was out of sight.

Mother’s Amnesia

What’s this? my mother exclaimed.
I seem to have a child attached to my bosom.
And indeed I was attached there.
A nipple is one of the best magnets, I’m afraid.
Naturally, my lips were as blue as a rifle barrel.
“A belief in all-pervading spiritual agencies seems to be universal.”
A famous thinker said that while she was
Directing traffic at a busy intersection.
Blessings are not gifts to us, the street chant went.
Come to find out I was playing with primordial
Building blocks on the cement floor.
What’s this? my mother inquired.
It was a sort of leaning tower on top
Of which I placed a lonely doll.
The doll’s eyes were closed and some stuffing
Was coming out all over the steak knives.
I seem to have hired an architect, she said.
A hand is what an architect uses to trace his dreams.
Obviously, I was born without them.
All of the blocks had tooth marks – or were they fang marks?
That brief moment when the TV tube is warming up,
That’s all I remember of my childhood.
What’s this? my mother wanted to know.
It was the first she’d heard of the notion.
But then again, her famous Soap was on,
The one where every character is in a coma.

Saturday, March 3, 2007


My parents never explained anything to me.
When they took me to see Santa, I thought he was the devil.
I refused his candy cane and begged for mercy.
In church, I thought I was being punished.
I was very still sitting in the corner with my dunce hat on.
I would salute the mailman and march behind him
With my bb gun all the way to the front.
I was confined to a nut house for a spell.
I waited in my dressing room for my cue.
I had a joke prepared: a priest, a minister, and a mechanic
Walk into a sewage treatment plant.
What stinks was the punch line.
But I only saw the host once checking in,
And once leaving, and he was two different men!
I’ve heard the world is temporal,
The sky an ethereal and violent prison full of thieves.
I once sat under a tree thinking about nothing at all.
Now I live at the corner of Bedlam and Squalor.
I’d rather have a bottle in front of me
Than a frontal lobotomy.


Shit man, the world is false.
It’s secret and numb from too much motion.
I ordered X-ray glasses from a Boys’ Life.
I wanted to see the soul of man.
They promised so many things.
In the end, I had to imagine all of the effects.
I thought I could see bones,
But I channeled Descartes and he falsified everything.
Problem is he wouldn’t go away.
There I was going about my life
With a Descartes hanging over my shoulder.
He was instantly curious about modern life.
What’s that object? he’d ask.
I’d go about explaining things to him:
That is a computer; it works mysteriously like god.
That is a laser. It’s mostly used to hunt
Or entertain people. That is a horseless buggy.
Where are the horses? he’d ask.
They’re elsewhere, I’d say, but he was never satisfied.
I finally took to placing a paper bag over his head.
It was the same kind the homeless use
To conceal their malt liquor.
He complained, but I had moved on.
I bugged my empty room
And spent all my time in the yard listening in.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Permanent Vacation

It’s been a long time since I said anything.
It’s been awhile since anything happened.
Since the beginning of the world perhaps.
Time doesn’t exist anyway; what am I talking about?
I’m speaking of nothing; the language too is contrived.
There’s an Elvis shopping for a head of lettuce.
A million of them in a town the size of a sand dune.
Hey, there’s the ocean too.
Everybody everyday is sighting him
And still the king is nowhere to be seen.
We just sit at this drive-in diner.
There’s a stopped clock under the chrome awning.
Later, swimming and sand castles.
I like to walk the shore at night stomping on them.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Inquiry into the Mystery of the Theater

I tap my wand to ready them.
Look with me behind my balding head:
Rows of faces in every pose.
Wounded faces, eyebrows, noses too.
Some obscured in the shadow under the balcony,
Some with fur collars.
Most of them drunk or dying of thirst.
Now let’s turn toward the stage.
There is a spotlit circle.
But wait, the pit is catching our attention.
Those may look like real instruments
And they very well could be.
Same with the musicians who wear sunglasses.
They check their watches with black hands.
Some are digital, acting on their own.
What else? All the scores you’d expect.
A scarecrow to keep the bats on their rafter.
A dream catcher on an oboe.
A man with his fly unzipped trying for the number
Of a violinist, who looked pneumatic.
She was on oxygen anyway.
Okay, on to the stage.
Oh, but the curtain needs description.
Navy blue crushed velvet, like a night sky
When the ground is covered in snow.
Those flicks of white could be where hands touched it.
Notice those deep folds, how weighted and elegant.
There seems to be some action on the stage.
But why look at that when there’s the ceiling?
Those are indeed twinkling lights.
There’s a history behind it
But you should have read the plaque in the lobby.
The lobby! So much there. The stage is a farce
Compared to where the crowd is born.

Philosophy of Zero

War was beginning.
I was counting up the soon-to-be dead.
What happen?
Someone set up us the bomb.
Someone burn down the escalator.
It was as red as the big bang.
Too hot to get near with our dogs.
We get signal.
Yeah, we receive it, but we don’t want it.
We don’t know where it’s from.
It said we’re fucked, and we surrender.
Main screen turn on.
The picture is as gray as a granite grave.
It varies, comes and goes, is colored by jetties.
Sometimes it’s making love
Or tumbling down a hill with flowers whizzing by.
It’s you, a view of your brain, the interior.
Apparently a brain is actually a stone
And the head it’s drupe.
War is just the picking of the fruit.
Keep your shoulders high, lads.
No need to talk amongst yourselves.
How are you gentleman?
We’re bored to tears.
We’ve been playing cards all night.
We can’t remember signing up for this.
Our weapons are few.
Who are we fighting anyway?
All your base are
Belong to us.
You are on the way to destruction.
You have no chance to survive
Make your time.
All we want is great justice.
Thou shall not nick anything between levels.