Thursday, May 17, 2012




I grew up a boy believe it or not.

Hit me back if I make you cry
if I lean too long
on your wind
hit me back
but don't tell
because I'm sorry
we both agreed to the rules
and I did not break them. Okay?

This is what you wanted.


The flying knee to the soft of the back
that dropped him on the field,
a receipt for the cheap shot
(but less that than)
the hang-jaw What'd I Do
and Hey It's A Game, Baby
as he jogged off.
Baby, I'm Just Trying To Win.

So, now you. Now you. Now I'm you.

Running in circles in a cul-de-sac
from a friend
until we're tired and bored
and ashamed.
It wasn't anything.
He wasn't a friend.
We got high in the car.
I was sure he would reach over
and throttle me.
But nah, nah, nah. Whatever.
It's whatever.


On the receipt,
she said to me
You should hit him.
He's a pussy.
You should just hit him
in his fucking face.
She laughed and said this until I was hard
for her.


Broken, as follows, out of order:
the bedframe
the clock
the photographs
the wall
the ring
the necklace
the other wall
the laptop
and two mirrors
because anger lends itself to cliche 
in that way.


Under stale covers
swollen knuckles were compared.

This is not love
to be sure.
This is not--

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Dead Heart by Anne Sexton

After I wrote this, a friend scrawled on this page, "Yes." 

And I said, merely to myself, "I wish it could be for a 
different seizure--as with Molly Bloom and her ‘and 
yes I said yes I will Yes."

It is not a turtle 
hiding in its little green shell. 
It is not a stone 
to pick up and put under your black wing. 
It is not a subway car that is obsolete. 
It is not a lump of coal that you could light. 
It is a dead heart. 
It is inside of me. 
It is a stranger 
yet once it was agreeable, 
opening and closing like a clam. 

What it has cost me you can't imagine, 
shrinks, priests, lovers, children, husbands, 
friends and all the lot. 
An expensive thing it was to keep going. 
It gave back too. 
Don't deny it! 
I half wonder if April would bring it back to life? 
A tulip? The first bud? 
But those are just musings on my part, 
the pity one has when one looks at a cadaver. 

How did it die? 
I called it EVIL. 
I said to it, your poems stink like vomit. 
I didn't stay to hear the last sentence. 
It died on the word EVIL. 
I did it with my tongue. 
The tongue, the Chinese say, 
is like a sharp knife: 
it kills 
without drawing blood.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

“I prefer the absurdity of writing poems to the absurdity of not writing poems.”

We have a principle that all poems about spring are automatically disqualified. This topic no longer exists in poetry. It continues to thrive in life itself, of course. But these are two separate matters.
Wislawa Szymborska

The First Season

Dirty-foot souls’
dirty foot soles
blossom into calves, of all things,
on the first afternoon in the first season
of nothing but afternoons.
Socks oughta be outlawed.
A pervert’s paradise, here, on sidewalks,
where white sundress silhouettes
stoop, ass-on-heels
to smell shop flowers.
I sing,
God damn Spring!
God damn.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

INTERLUDE (Under Construction)

Still quilled and beaked you lay leathery eggs
in mud burrows and sweat thick milk from your pores to
nurture your young. Your legs are too short to run but
that's okay, nothing is looking to eat you

Let's sit around and put cigarettes out in each others' eyes.
I'll get fat, but you don't have to.
We can say, these cups are for vodka and those over there, coffee.
We neither of us can make omelets, so.

Wake up some mornings in a fist fight;
fists tight down under
down pillows
need to explode somewhere. 
Bruises. Apples cut into quarters with a big dumb knife.
Boxes of rags worn in fits of manic disinfection, of whimsy;
boxes of clementines,  People magazines, of whirring metal toys,
unusually shaped root vegetables,
empty jewel cases
Wood carvings hung off-center, leaning low on one side.
Sloppy black and white glamor prints stuck under dead flowers.
A whole hist'ry
a fake ancestry on the walls.
Horns and feathers, blood (or soup? probably soup) on the floor,
and tissues and hair and fingernail slivers, sometimes gobbed all at once
on the bottoms of your socks.
A gleaming bronze spitoon.
We can say, these bowls are for cereal and those over there, wine.

I'll wash you.

We'll wish ourselves full with tumors and stones, left lonely in place to sink into the ocean
on nights when the addictions churn or the serotonin drops or the money's low or
you know
(we'll visit the beach, I mean).

Then one day,
wet up to our forearms
chilled by the mountain lake where we drowned the children,
it will hit me:
You probably get this sort of thing all the time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Ballad of Lula Del Ray - 8


This was not quite it.
This was
a bit darker.
A bit taller.
A bit dirtier than she had come to dream
in the short time she had her own dreams at all.

She crept along through the thunking valleys
of industry
ducking in and out of crates
like a barnmouse,
the thrum of moths.
following her steps.

An old steam whistle
she recognized from cartoons
blew a furious note
she knew she had never heard
and the streets filled with shadows.

Long ones
short ones
cast about recklessly on stone and concrete.
Sliding around corners,
flickering across one another.

They swam over her
passing numbly across her skin,
business in hand.

One stopped.
She noticed that he wasn't a shadow at all.
He was a man—
or as much of a man as a monster ever was--
but mostly a man,
wrapped head to toe
in the ugliest sweater she ever saw.

She asked him about the spectacle sticking out of their peculiar hamlet.
The immaculate ladder she could stepstool into the stars.

"Why that's the Biggums Building.
The tallest tower in the world.
Home to eight million people
(give or take two million on holidays).
It's what we're here for."

"It's what I'm here for too," she said.

His empty eyes narrowed into pity.
"Tourist," he hissed, slithering off.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Ballad of Lula Del Ray - 7


When she awoke:

He looked as sheepish as an armadillo could.
He explained to her that this was just how it was.
This is how it had always been.
This was not quite how he planned it but.
Thing is.
He could go, no problem.
He went all the time.
He just wasn't sure where, exactly.
Or why.

And the where and the why of the moment
he reasoned
was a fork in the road.

Forks had more than two prongs
she reasoned
but here she was,
One pronging thataway
one pronging thotherway.

She eyed them both close.
They weren't the same, she could tell that much.
Though she couldn't quite see what was different about them.
They just felt...
well she didn't quite know.
Just different.
(You know how it is.)

She tapped her toes
snuffed at the dirt
rolled it between her fingers.
She did everything short of licking the ground
to try
and pick
a path.
But she couldn’t.

She spun on her heel.

“How could you get us so lost?”
“We’re not lost.”
“We’re lost.”
“We’re not lost,” Tatu’s eyes rolled around in his head,
“We’re just not any place in particular.”

She sat herself down in the dust
and embarked on a world-searing pout
most often reserved for ice cream-related disappointments.

Armadillos being notoriously quick thinkers,
Tatu waved his stumpy claws around
and his little black eyes began to sparkle.
He explained to her about the ends of the roads,
having seen a few in his day.
About how at the very far end of that fork
lay a gnarled wood
and former Pick Your Own Apple Orchard
thick through with unknowable unknowns
with thousands of rows
of sharpened teeth.

And at the end of the this fork
there was a city
and in this city
there was a great lion-prowled library propped up with columns
an underground bookstore full of subversive literature
and a coffee house on every corner
where rogue intellectuals undoubtedly disagreed
with established norms.

It was just how she had imagined.
Now that she squinted a little bit harder
she could see it.

The messy angles hooked and wheeled overtop of each other
the steel, the concrete, the sheer weight of it all.
Nothing sagged. Nothing drooped. Nothing soft or bowed.
The thickness only made it
somehow more jagged
and in the center of it all, peaking up over the twisted glass city below was ---
it was a pure ivory rhinoceros horn spire on top.
it was three hundred marble floors if it was a dozen,
each perfectly matching the one beneath.
It was immaculate windows beaming down at you
like cop sunglasses.
It was a holy temple
a testament to humanity
a feat of strength.

It stretched right up into the stars.

That was all Lula needed.
She saw the path before her
paved, lined and neat
grass trim and green on either side
and with one little boot in front of the other
she strolled down the street
making sure to step
on each dotted line as she went.
For good luck.

Tatu watched her go
a little sadder than he meant to be
knowing full well
even if he had tried to follow her
he probably would’ve ended up someplace else.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Ballad of Lula Del Ray - 6



They rolled and rolled
and with every rock in the road, they pitched into the air
and tumbled back down.
To and fro
round and about.
She stopped noticing after a while.
Like the gentle rocking of waves
the prairie lulled her to sleep
bump by bump
tucked tight into Tatu's armadillo crook.