Thursday, December 30, 2010

kept in

My steps stop, doorless
at the edge of the canal to watch

mallards in snow-coats, the egrets and snowgeese
all stopped for a moment on their trek south

or wherever it is that Arctic-Canadian ducks go,
the blackgreen-headed mallards arranged in a line

four and five deep and forty across wobbling
in a tugboat's wake; and I wake

looking! at them - we all clutch at the hinges sometimes,
don't we? mine were screwed in too tightly,

too tightly to stand and watch the mallards
for more than a minute, afraid the smoke

might get through the door and kill me -
suck, suck; but oh the stately geese -

they honk, attack, and harry the tired, cold ducks;
but I could be projecting(?), here, ashes;

yet I observe the egrets, the peaceful
bickering blackwater birds not weird enough

to withstand the oscillation or the onslaught of either,
but what happiness! that they have no

dank cellar door to open or be kept in;
by mallards, by snowgeese, even shotguns

blasting their hollow bones - a regular Greek chorus
of not singing-sung birds, a moveable blessing.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

merry christmas!

Hope tears its way into the world
from a womb! From a womb!
Gloria, Christ-child. Gloria.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

home is not a place to spend wednesday afternoon

"It's one thing to develop a nostalgia for home while you're boozing with Yankee writers in Martha's Vineyard or being chased by the bulls in Pamplona. It's something else to go home and visit with the folks in Reed's drugstore on the square and actually listen to them. The reason you can't go home again is not because the down-home folks are mad at you--they're not, don't flatter yourself, they couldn't care less--but because once you're in orbit and you return to Reed's drugstore on the square, you can stand no more than fifteen minutes of the conversation before you head for the woods, head for the liquor store, or head back to Martha's Vineyard, where at least you can put a tolerable and saving distance between you and home. Home may be where the heart is but it's no place to spend Wednesday afternoon."

- Walker Percy, from Lost in the Cosmos

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

just making conversation

I see the point you're trying to make
but . . . there is a grizzly bear
big and brown at my window.
He's howling like a dog.

Rococo, what an interesting French building.

What were we talking
about again?

Dear God I have grown
bored, drowny-downy bored,
baroque or no baroque.

I love Campbell's soup
but Warhol seemed rather sick.

Look at that bear! Look, how he
takes my trash
in his big black paws
and pitches it across the yard!

Oh world! Oh world, that thing
is hungry.

lighthouse at sunset, lol what, judas

The news comes that Thomas Kinkade is a prick.
I'm not surprised, but why?
He's been making grandmas happy
and happier for years now.

Don't tell me
my grandma can't be happy.
Just don't. She's unhappy enough.

I'd buy that mustached
painter a drink. I talked with Judas,
he said he would, too.
But shit, man, those pictures
old T.K. paints are so bad
he'd probably sue. Sure, I said,
but it's hard to rip off a real fool.
Hard to sell out when your art is in
the homes of every geriatric Bible
collector that'd cry wolf
if your lighthouses didn't
glow so brightly, or didn't inspire
the comment: Sweet Lord,
that sunset is pretty.

(I was loved once, too.)

Monday, December 20, 2010

were i the dog

It was a long way he ran me
out that day.
Smacking my
foolish dog's skull
with the buckle--he hit me.

No, my father said,
I've killed him,
daylight turning on a hinge.

(My coat frayed in its closet,
waiting for worse weather.
I needed to get out to the fringe.
Things, when I grew, would get better at last,
out there, away, not silent,

not quiet as cemetery flowers
growing through twilit evenings
before night-time ripe with rain.)

But that day he stained me
and I ran, chased my pate-broke
bewildered dog
around the shed, not knowing
if he was alive or dead.
His throat rattled down
to his lungs. I shivered
what rage would come
were I the dog and not the son.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I’d think your eyelids would blister

from so many tears,

your wet cheeks unwalked-on

rainy sidewalks

in a sea-side city. They’re natural;

no need for cement


You look intoxicating when you cry,


No deadpan jokes can alleviate

that pressure. Just kiddy-chalk,

in pastel measures. Your sigh

devastates a world within me,

hurls twirling stars across my selfish


my nervous twitch.

It’s because you’re it baby,

you’re it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

for sleep

You were so close to death that you prayed
for heaven to come down:
but you wanted sleep, to be buried
under a thousand grains of sand,
quieted by the falling-away of time.
(Real irony is always clever

but seldom sweet.)
You'd never be the same,
praying that prayer
for sleep, for
endless closed eyelids;
you were really waiting for winter
to end, for the sounds
in the walls to cease.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

telling you telling myself

With so much brine
to swim through,
why would you
pursue this salt-cured
body? I've been pickled
for years before
you found me. Relax,
I tell myself.
I'm not the Dead Sea.
Just a tired young man
who smokes too much
chasing a lighter
state of being,
a young man from
far away who loves you,
and is fucked up anyway.
There's a line
for both of us,
we can do more than float.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

tea for one

Put it in twelve/eight and
Jimmy leave it there, howl
a bit, black yankee lover you are
just show me, show me that lick
you keep licking, put it in
twelve/eight, keep it easy,
keep those blues howling all
night, the blues', blues, Jimmy
howl, howl, howl that swift-fingered
heart of yours, till it's just you,
the guitar, drums, and bass.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

rent is due

Papers lie in little (fuck-off) piles
waiting on me ambivalently,
like old people playing chess
(or something else mind-using
that can be done dispassionately);
no. No. No. I won't look at them today:
not the doctor's bill for my summer's strep throat,
not the notice for the internet, electricity or other invisible things
I seem to need, or the dishes, greasy red,
bowls filled with grey bits of rancid rice and meat.
This is the loveliness my roommate keeps leaving for me -
and only me - to clean.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I was thinking (not feeling)
all the ways iron
is cast and wrought,
bought and bound;
oh . . .

the Age of Industry
glittered with its
cutting cold sounds . . .

maybe how
that Bit in paul d's mouth
must've been
more poisonous
than any green
moccasin's sting
or any whiteman's
cocksure fist

even mine . . . oh . . . oh.

we defy augury

"Not a whit, we defy augury. There is special providence in
the fall
of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it be not to
come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come—the
readiness is all. Since no man, of aught he leaves, knows what is't
to leave betimes, let be."

- Shakespeare, from Hamlet 5.2.217-224

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

walker percy waxeth poetic on moses

"Explain why Moses was tongue-tied and stagestruck before his fellow Jews but had no trouble talking to God."
--Walker Percy, Lost in the Cosmos

Monday, November 29, 2010

the courage to be

"The courage to take the anxiety of meaninglessness upon oneself is the boundary line up to which the courage to be can go. Beyond it is mere non-being. Within it all forms of courage are re-established in the power of the God above the God of theism. The courage to be is rooted in the God who appears when God has disappeared in the anxiety of doubt."

- Paul Tillich, from The Courage to Be (1952).


I'd say -
Damn those plans I've made,
those ones I keep trying to make.
If I could wake up with you
for years on end I'd try and live
through this rain -
Damn that inward cowering,
those screeching-metal guts
tearing and wheeling
through my blood.

Damn it!
Bless this!

I'd grow something new.
You'd be the gardener,
I'll try to be the dew.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

policy makers, election edition

You (who are mostly) guys
are much like (or worse than)

men shearing
(ripping, tearing)
the ears off

small, large, red,
yellow, brown
poor, pale

(often friendly) dogs

for what do you call it,
life insurance,

the (phallic) (power)
of possession?

Blue ears and red ears,
makes the same
sounds . . .

this quixotic soup
tastes just as awful
by any other name.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

winter dance

God, I love the crispness of these winter days
when the sun cracks blonde chinks in the clouds,
sharply defining the edges of tree limbs,
howling to the trembling buds:
Sleep well, I'll be here awhile.
I love when the dancing branches
tremor against the sky
so pale with its fighting to be blue, when
I see each object truly -
each twig itself, performing each step
for this moment of my watching, this movement,
in the wind's harsh yelp and cry,
where I am finally allowed to be:
I suddenly exist, pulling my coat around myself,
the wind a knife
cutting the ears from my head;
I watch the dance and am one with the wind,
listening to what is the invisible.

Form is a father: when I looked for form,
I found a leaf, and on the leaf a worm.

- Theodore Roethke
from Straw for the Fire, pg. 89

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

the first section of a poem i'm currently working on

In the light of a blood-red madrona,
beneath a murder of crows holding forth like politicians,
my thoughts cower beneath what I feel,
in the place where the cut bleeds
beneath the bandage, a flowering of crimson life
flooding over dry, grey skin,
—I am, and I’m squirming.

My cell walls are thinner than wire threads,
the color of copper-flavored capsules,
without mediators or helpers.
My self, awkward as it may sound,
is like a sperm helplessly swimming
in hopes of an unknown
(but much thought-of) egg,
an intuitive disaster of a being.

Each day, now, seems like a blow to the head.
I can barely reach the end of my own sentences
before the crows call out their ridicule:
There's a red pleasure
in grim laughter.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

she who is named donna

Through the satellite lens
of my cellular phone I spoke
to she who is named Donna,
mother of my mother.

I picked up on the scent
of my granny's fresh-washed
skin, right before she turns
in for bed. A touch of baby shampoo.

(This was from over 2,000
miles away.) I smiled
as she said for me to enjoy
my youth and its vitality.

"Got a bit of rain, lately.
When you bringing that girl
of yours down here, Nate?
You excited?"

Trying to say Laura like
"or" instead of "are" was quite
a challenge. I murmured
a laugh and imagined

the smiles I've had at her
expense. Being a grandchild,
however, covers up
a multitude of sins -

she's forgotten all of them.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Ralph Ellison say:
Opalescence, contrition
that's all that lies upon life's way.
Do you, sullen poets, agree?

I feel, do not think, to be:
They're two such very odd
and natural
ways to be.

I'm diminished
finishing, finishing,
something of a polish,
a lacquer, a veneer, sacked
by salient divinity.


You sweat coal,
and I'll get sold:
growing less cold, we'll use the proceeds
to procure waste-paper baskets
for the heavy-but-well-set,
the shakers who put the salt on the table -
still insisting on silver -
and the movers in love with the meaty,
the thirsty, and the able - the ones 'got skills'
and 'got time' of day and no need
for time of sleep 'cause they got
someone workin' on that too, what's more,
don't they not know it,
got weed.

Dig it up, sweety-pie.
I'll not deny you no pleasure or pain.
But the one's got my name
has got me running.

for theodore roethke

Writing about the rabbits
caught in the mower,
their guts torn up
by the unfeeling
yet not quite consciously
cruel blades, he walked
through the high yellow grasses,
feeling the heads of grain
glowing gold on his nicotine-stained
fingers, sifting the seeds, heading for the waters
that rippled clear as the glassy stones
beneath the surface, he walked
and listened, waiting to feel
death's hands cutting the bright
green flower-stems, waiting
to feel those hands
wrap their long fingers
around his swaying body,
singing in the wind.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

jim harrison on sentiment in fiction

"I like grit, I like love and death, I'm tired of irony. ... The novelist who refuses sentiment refuses the full spectrum of human behavior, and then he just dries up. ... I would rather give full vent to all human loves and disappointments, and take a chance on being corny, than die a smartass."

- Jim Harrison

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

when art becomes religion

"I hate when art becomes a religion. I feel the opposite. When you start putting a higher value on works of art than people, you’re forfeiting your humanity. There’s a tendency to feel the artist has special privileges, and that anything’s okay if it’s in the service of art. I tried to get into that in Interiors. I always feel the artist is much too revered--—it’s not fair and it’s cruel. It’s a nice but fortuitous gift—like a nice voice or being left-handed. That you can create is a kind of nice accident. It happens to have high value in society, but it’s not as noble an attribute as courage. I find funny and silly the pompous kind of self-important talk about the artist who takes risks. Artistic risks are like show-business risks—laughable. Like casting against type, wow, what danger! Risks are where your life is on the line. The people who took risks against the Nazis or some of the Russian poets who stood up against the state—those people are courageous and brave, and that’s really an achievement. To be an artist is also an achievement, but you have to keep it in perspective. I’m not trying to undersell art. I think it’s valuable, but I think it’s overly revered. It is a valuable thing, but no more valuable than being a good schoolteacher, or being a good doctor."

- Woody Allen, interviewed by The Paris Review.

Read the whole interview here.

Monday, November 1, 2010

a long soak

Watching you weep today
quietly made me
hurt for you. Me looking
at you caused your water levels to rise,
and I laughed softly at the absurdity,
and wanted to smile at you, hold you,
to whisper:

You'll be on time again, love.
Missed appointments are inconvenient
to both those who missed them
and those that got missed
but your head doesn't need such shit
in it. You need a break. A rest:
A long soak in a tub
with a view of the colder waters
of Puget Sound, not to be in them;
and for an hour
not to think of sin, or of
falling face-first into the ground.
The warmth of being
held, for a whole day
of not getting
ran through the rain.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

a poem you are unable to write

"You should always be trying to write a poem you are unable to write, a poem you lack the technique, the language, the courage to achieve. Otherwise you're merely imitating yourself, going nowhere, because that's always easiest."
- John Berryman

Thursday, October 21, 2010

ice cream and its accouterments

Drowning in amniotic fluid,
I smiled.
I thought about dinner time
and had a kind of cheery
hope for fried chicken
or Asian rice noodles
with broccoli
And I ceased to mope.

I must remind you, however,
it was tough, very tough
to breathe through the motherless goo -
my shit had nowhere
to go but to float inside me.

(Thinking: That was very rough.
That was rather messy.)

However, I thought of food,
and that felt

good. So good, without thinking.
I tried to swim inside her private sea,
and found it would be
more healthy to get out
before I got lost,
there in the fluid.
It was so very very
(believe me!)
very good,
that is,
until I started thinking.

I wanted ice cream and its accouterments!
I wanted to feel cool,
feel calm.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

the plight of the work horses

If my head stays on my hands
and I mean to mourn for you,
the halter holds my head back;
my teeth grind against the bit -
there is no way, the Master will say,
to mourn at all without
being chemically off-balance
or a danger-to-your-fellows off-base.
There is no healthy mourning
for horses pulling carts - their hoof-beats
in the shit, the muck, the welter
of carcinogenic hours, chained against
the post with no room to move
their heads, no way to get their heads
to their hands, which they have not,
being only - merely - horses.
AND, if you break your leg, you're shot -
point-blank, eye to eye,
unwanted and unneeded to be dealt
with in any kind of other-than-dismissal
command or even comment,
and buried bloodily out of sight of
the Master's children.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

sea light


I woke
to the wall where you wrote:
"To the edge of the waters
we're going!"

I got a craving to smoke.
(And smoke, I did - a vaporous body!)
Your warmth still
pressed into the bed
from the night before -
a pleasant ghost, you are.


I think of the sea
and the light we've basked
in it, storing it
for the winter, for the long
lasting water coming with it,
grey and off-white,
hung in sheets.
We hid that summer sea-light in our bags,
drawing it out as we descended
Constitution Mountain,
and later, the heat
from the insides
of your legs - your life-heat
a white-hot sound of love
I could suffer for,
the lovely tingle
of your darker hairs. And our
birth-sheets warming
as the sea-light fades, as
waking fades
into soul-sleep - or something
like true repose
begins, your legs wrapping
mine in amber
morning light.

The sea
ever and again,
turning over
and under itself
in its own shimmer,
its own liminal
reflection -
I sleep in the water's sound.

Monday, October 4, 2010

home, maybe

Wake me
clean in your arms -
you're almost
like home to me.
The smell of your body
on my body
and the twitch
you make when
you're asleep
tell me I'm
here, not in
the darkness
of anyone else,
but, maybe -
home. The quiet
home when you
go walking alone
in the purple-grey
dusk, the tea-pot
gurgle-home of
and waking -
to you.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

just another wedding

This is from Jess Walter's The Zero, a 2006 National Book Award Finalist. I'm rereading the book for class, and this passage hit me hard, for some reason.

April's eyes narrowed then as if she were thinking the same thing. "So . . . do you ever think about what yours would say?

"My--" Remy opened his eyes.

"Your portrait in grief. They're not like obits--see. They're not resumes or tributes. They're more like crosscuts, a strobe flash on one part of your life. One moment. One theme. So what would yours say?"

"I don't know," Remy said.

"I know what mine would say."


"She saw death as just another wedding she wasn't invited to."

Thursday, September 30, 2010

here's what's up

So, I haven't posted much of anything of late, much less any poems. Very busy lately. And, to be completely honest, I haven't written any poems worth a-posting (or really at all). However! I did place the elegy I wrote for Tyler in The Arava Review - and there was great rejoicing in the land! So that will be forthcoming. I'll let you know when - it may be awhile.

Hopefully as I go through school there will also be some more words.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

my favorite sage

"I'm not afraid of death; I just don't want to be there when it happens."
Woody Allen

Monday, September 20, 2010

an artist and his words

"You remember I had a strong inclination all my life to be a painter. Under different circumstances I would rather have been a painter than to bother with these god-damn words. I never actually thought of myself as a poet but I knew I had to be an artist in some way."
William Carlos Williams

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

any number of reasons to want novels to survive

"There are any number of reasons to want novels to survive. The way [Jonathan] Franzen thinks about it is that books can do things, socially useful things, that other media can't. He cites -- as one does -- the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard and his idea of busyness: that state of constant distraction that allows people to avoid difficult realities and maintain self-deceptions. With the help of cell phones, e-mail and handheld games, it's easier to stay busy, in the Kierkegaardian sense, than it's ever been.

Reading, in its quietness and sustained concentration, is the opposite of busyness. "We are so distracted by and engulfed by the technologies we've created, and by the constant barrage of so-called information that comes our way, that more than ever to immerse yourself in an involving book seems socially useful," Franzen says. "The place of stillness that you have to go to to write, but also to read seriously, is the point where you can actually make responsible decisions, where you can actually engage productively with an otherwise scary and unmanageable world."

— Lev Grossman, from the recent cover article in
Time on Franzen and his new novel, Freedom.

I'm on my way to see Franzen give a reading at downtown Seattle tonight. After reading his controversial, sweeping novel The Corrections this past summer, I'm quite excited to see someone whose work is not only a part of the conversation of the literary world but of our culture as a whole! What, novels, relevant? Yes!

(Also, this happens to be my 100th post here!)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

stack your lines

Stack your lines
in a way that beats time!
Cobble them with pictures
to puncture holes inside homes
where the soul hides;

circumscribe the abstract thought
with a heavy green one

and somehow don't write
about fields or trees or for
Christ's sake
or a nightingale--
that one's done.

Keats did it well enough,
you should leave well enough alone.

But fields and trees are fixed--
silent silos of eternity,
and will feel when thought
is not enough--

when I first walked with Roethke
through his
fields I fell
and ripped open my knees,
but my eyes,
the things they saw
as I lost myself
in that living green--

All of this is a mystery.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

a boy's summer solitude

When I'm almost
asleep I dream
of evening sky
a blown-out
red, a ripe apple
colored wound,

a scene from older
drives I took
in my dad's truck,
over dust-brown
roads where
I clutched
at need,

to weep
near a pine-built
shed filled with tools
I'd tried
and failed
to learn to use.

(thank you.)

Yesterday you were here
where no one is
when I am there

where no one
was near
me before.

Here is where my skin
is always burned.
Where my belly

turns endlessly,
the wall at the shallow canal
where I

sit listless
watching carbon grey
cargo ships pass in and out

weighted with coal
and other
torched things -

they navigate
the thin grey
water-vein as I

as you sit near me

where no one
near me before.

Monday, September 6, 2010

a museum of american fathers

Kids in strollers will soon come up in the world.
Will soon carry cell phones to desk jobs and strange jobs,
and if the economy doesn't improve, perhaps no jobs at all.
The mothers in track suits will get older,
flabbier, crankier, too. Some will fawn over grandkids
and some still have some fondling
to do, perhaps.

This city will stay wet.
(From where I sit it doesn't matter,
under a coffee house roof,
well into my second cup.)
I'll come up in the world, too,
maybe in order to write better poems,
maybe to shatter and write no poems at all,
but I hope not. I just hope my only hope
isn't a desk job, a gather-around-the-cooler-job,
a ball-and-chain-yelping-through-the-day-job,
or any other Germanism you can think of.

Maybe I'll have a kid in a stroller
to bring up in the world, and maybe I'll name
him Dave or Bill or some damn American thing;
maybe I'll exhibit less and less control over him
until he practically doesn't know me or me know him,
until I've watched him leave my home
the one last time I could've embraced him
spoke to him with any kind of wisdom.
I'll lean on the porch-post and cough a smoker's cough
and light another and cough again.
My body'll shake an old man shake,
thin and grown more alone,
then shake no more.

Maybe I'll belong in a museum of American fathers;
a hall of fame of those who held-fast the remote.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Your taking my hand was a risk.
What change did you imagine?
Let's make story together. Later, a
story, if we make enough story itself,
on the way to the story.

That is the hard part,
my dear friend and lover:
we commit the sin of evaluation
and reevaluation on the subject
of safety, mostly during our aimless
internet-filled hours, clicking
and checking in on each minute.
There's where our anxiety
is, isn't it? But what if this

instead was the frightening part, as
I think it is - the risk
is in how good the story is,
whether the narrative's worth
the telling, of whether
it can tell itself,

whether the twists and turns
will drag us through deserts
or up crazily into the very hearts of thunderstorms,
or whether it will rain on our garden.

There's no safety in the icy clouds;
it's light-socket-love up there, for sure.
The risk is not whether or no there's no return,
but if you'll try to endure the weather
instead of hiding at home
when those thunderheads come.

journal-type entry (ugh!)

I'm tired of being scared shitless of the poems I'm not going to write, especially since the desire to write them hangs over me each time I think about poetry...

Too many posts I've made here would've been better journal entries than poems. A journal entry should be settled for, but not a poem. Or maybe my willingness to write and post onto the internet bad poems is a sign of strength, rather than weakness?

And here I am, posting a journal entry? Someone from my homeland, coming across the internet would say, "That young man ain't got no scruples, no sir."
"Before you are wild, you first have to be, not tame, but capable of being contained; or containing yourself, your psyche: that which is stored up."

- Theodore Roethke, from his notebooks.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

judas in the trenches

Judas sang a song of the gutter to me,
whispered line by whisper.
The grime, dirt, mud, and shit covered both of us
as the soil of the night was sundered;
Judas opened his mouth
and let me see him eat
the last tart he'd bought in Normandy.

We joked uneasily about the blood
between his teeth.
He seemed - almost -
as nervous as me.

And when the small echoing note
became a repeater
in that symphony in the unquiet dark,
when the quiet chorus
of water running in the trenches
between the starkness
of the stripped naked trees
sang in my ears, when what was once reloaded
became automatic: a pounding sore,
I began to know - as I quoted Homer and some of David's psalms,
that I would be
one of the dead ones
watched only by the salt-filled eyes of the night.

need coffee, please

Things I forgot this morning
include but are not limited to:
my bus fare, brown coat, my lace-up shoes,
the two rings I wear on my third and index fingers,
and a cup of black coffee
on my way in, resulting that this morning
I've been confused. God I need some caffeine,
before I commit some terrible sin.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

a little abstract wonder

With bodies that
are roughly

75% water
it seems odd

that the 2%
that gives

us God also
gives us so much

pain, pleasure,
suffering, light.

Monday, August 30, 2010

still small nothing

I wish someone could describe
for me why it is I can't believe that God
leads you anywhere in particular,
much less by the hand, as much as I'd like
to be taken by God's hand (or would I?)
alongside the shoulder of I-40
all the way back home across all those
desert states to Oklahoma
where the dirt is red and necks redder.
Tell me God is nudging you,
and I think perhaps he's poking you
as if he was cursed with Facebook
just like the rest of us, and had no
better means of communication
or other way to speak, and who other
than Isaiah or Jeremiah would say he spoke to them -
and look where it got them? On their sides
naked for weeks eating shit.
Are you eating shit, you young Protestants
Click-click-clicking your way through class?
The last time God spoke to me I quivered,
not a little kid but a (somewhat)
grown man, and feeling that, nearly died,
being (somewhat) lower than excrement.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

judas takes the women out boating

Judas, that working class (blue collar to the core) loose fisted man
who loves his selfhood and loves his fishing tackle,
what a man, smokes smokes his rolly's and drinks his brown liquor straight.
He slaps the mouths of the wicked children out of line, what a man,
takes the women out boating and gets the night-time spins,
bellows like Kerouac or maybe a more hellish Whitman, yawp-roar-yawp,
livid and alive, casting out line after line.

He's wasting your time, not his -
he's simply - no more - than Judas, watching the women grin.

a bridge

"The self must be a bridge, not a pit."

- Roethke, "Notebooks" (1945)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

oh white paper night

Oh white paper night,
I want to bear you up.
On your svelte shoulders hangs
lightly the coming day.

The steam that rises from the tubs stills us two in the warm waters,
our bodies listen and absorb

the warmth that must.
It must, tonight,
with the sight of salt waters ambient-blue before us,
when there is an exhale after pain,
must cleanse our shudder-racked eyelids.

Oh white paper night,
your clear back on which I write is a gift:

God does not let the lonely die but lets them drift
in loneliness, for a little while.

I while away with you, white paper night,
my bell-rung ears no longer jarred,

but in an exhaling night, a breathing
night full of steam and sighs. I watch you climb in and out
of the water, resting your thighs like Gary Snyder
in a trance across each other, a mystic

watching me drift for a little while, naked.

I want to reach out and grasp your hands
as we walk, strut, tithe our bodies at the beach -

you, the unwritten-on of nights.
Of all the nights I waited you were waiting with me,

hanging there in my future unknown-of
but when I feel instead of thinking

I wonder, --

did I hope for
you even then,
oh white paper night,
before you were
even a dream?
Were you already
breathing inside
my memory?

waking water

Take my fear in your hands.
The child in me will understand.

Yet the man within me could weep, too.
Could weep for your mother you're afraid
you'll be.

O, love. You'll be
& I will be,
with the waking water around us,
its surface clear, its depths tinged with green.

There can be a garden where we wake if you want.
We'll use our fear for fertilizer.
We'll grow the best tomatoes you've ever had
& make sandwiches with mayonnaise & avocados,
which you like & I like.

Pack your bags, love.
We'll throw them from the side of the plane
we'll watch them winnow away into the dark
we'll begin to start again,
sitting naked in a Doe Bay sauna-tin.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

judas, with a loaded gun

And I will say that Judas is a soldier
who stands all night in the rain guarding
a powder magazine -

he will begin . . . he will
think strange thoughts in the night,
soaked in the rain.

Who can blame him?
Not me.

judas becomes the beast

Endowed with wisdom,
Jenny is christened
in a little pool by an elder
fool with flowered robes.
Mmhmm, says her papa.
Her atheist mama
is quite skeptical.
They'll be held
to a silence elliptical this time
next year.

Watch out, you wee parental things.
Judas wants to eat that child.

Monday, August 16, 2010

oh, sun

For once I found the sun appalling.
Some days I do this. I get confused.
That happy blue is too much.
Too much for a funeral.
Mindful now, Sun - we're wearing black.
We, the smokers hiding
behind the church can't take such exposure,
we need a heavy rain
or at least the relief of loaded clouds
unloading themselves, releasing weirdly
sexual tension upon the earth.

Oh, Sun, you're waiting for me
to get around to discussing grief?
You poured yourself on us,
you saw it, you shouldn't need to hear otherwise.
Wisdom says let the dog lie. So let it.
We're going swimming.
That's the whole story.
First we're going to Safeway,
and then we're going to drink, or smoke
a hundred or so collective smokes.
(Come back when you're wanted.)
Soon you'll be a necessary light.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

elegy for tyler jameson

(May 29, 1991 – August 7, 2010)


Where you went, are there blue lights
on the runway? Did angels in jumpsuits—
without wings or flowing hair—
shoot you into the air with a metaphysical
black jetpack to fly you,
a jetpack outfitted with existential engines
colored red to hit the sky.
The angels there smoke cigarettes
to make you feel comfortable.
Offering you an American Spirit,
a bearded one will smile.

They’ll say look,
you exist, existed, and even now—
live, elsewhere.

—Are you now walking a dark path
among the blue lights of death,
more confused than when you left
that yes, in fact, you’re still awake?

I hope you’re bewildered to live.
I hope it begins to make sense.
I hope that love strikes you in the eyes.


Have you left yet?
The ancients used to say the soul
had trouble leaving the body,
like it was tethered to the bone,
a horse to a hitching post.

Maybe they’re outfitting you with books
there in eternity, some reading for the journey—
but it’s all poetry now, where your body goes through walls.
For us, all this talk of philosophy becomes useless.
Here, we need something more elemental than words.
You can’t be weighted any longer.

Or perhaps, like a ghost
you linger, but having lived,
having loved
all you see is beauty—
the trees, growing,
(you were
never a piece
of an infinite machine).

Your love for the world conducts the memories forth—
now you see electricity in all its currents
in colors our eyes never saw.
You can see a music in them.
Finally, some theories—even Sartre’s—
make sense, make love.

An angel whispers your name
before you take (life in) flight—
“When you tire of earth’s glory again,
the blue-lit runway awaits you.”

Sunday, August 8, 2010

to john berryman

You cut a fine figure
in my brain. Almost as bad
you were at college as me -
mostly of overwork, too much socializing,
and antipathy towards idiot-teachers.
Taught well, you bucked up.
Or wavered under your head
fucked-with by frailty,

sailing towards poetry like a compass
pointed north. But there was
mama's dominion & daddy's death
to deal with, and mostly you were
busy in love (not with your wife),
whiskey or white page-inking . . .

Somewhere off that
bridge you jumped -- I hope
there's hope.

Friday, August 6, 2010

riding route 31

I pull the hair out of my eyes
as I sit up in bed, the sheets full of sand,
emptying of me. The bus

comes later every day; I contemplate
not one but two prework smokes
but there's no time. My chest

is developing a hole anyway.
Yesterday, I shaved. The usual business
of turning into sandpaper has already begun,

a kind of madness. The hairs grow.
I cut them, the dark brown and red ones, and rinse the sink.
Sometimes the hole seems to be

growing into a kind of forever.
I watch the summer grass dying. I miss you.
And then bus comes, the scenery moves:

I imagine the touch of my lips to your ear
in lamplight, feeling the music of your mouth,
soothingly, -- and 22nd street rolls by.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

the worst possible ordeal

"I have . . . a feeling that endowment is a very small part of achievement. I would rate it about fifteen or twenty percent. Then you have historical luck, personal luck, health, things like that, then you have hard work, sweat. And you have ambition. . . . I do feel strongly that among the greatest pieces of luck for high achievement is ordeal. . . . My idea is this: the artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him"

- John Berryman ['The Art of Poetry XVI' Paris Review, winter 1972]

cloudy with a chance

Oh dear!
On the screen the world breaks apart. I'm believing:
A hailstorm of meatballs, spaghetti, burgers, and sauce
falling out of the sky. It was a children's book once.
I read it, eleven years old, at school.
Smithville Elementary, a long brick low-to-the-ground
building that met itself at a 90 degree angle,
the library in the hinge, my granny at the desk,
with a hill sloping down to the playground
still made of steel and painted
six or eight primary colors.
(Red green blue
red yellow orange red
blue green white?)
We dug holes in the ground
pretending to be archaeologists.
We ran around hollering. Shot each other with toy guns.
Fell to the ground, quite dead. Counted to thirty,
resurrected to live again.

The book - I loved it. Now I cry, stupidly -
watching an outdoor film in Riverside Park -
for what I'll never have again - a second innocence -
& perhaps the beauty of what I have now . . .
a second's worth of windlovereality,
but is it anymore graspable? I'm believing:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

sunburns are not all bad

Late summer eyes burn blue-lit
August skies from the dust,
I now sit in cool-skinned shades.
Red shoulders and redder
knees from sitting too long by the canal,
colored from water reflections
and from thinking about your paler
skin, skin unsunned, mostly
in classrooms, bookrooms, libraries
and busses. (It wouldn't take much
to be paler than this scorched
tomato shade.) I twist the cherry
from my cigarette in the yellow
grass, make sure it dies alongside:

no one appreciates an urban wildfire.
I slap my hands together
and glance up at the glaring sun.
It's feeling less like fall than Seattle
summer is wont to do, and I like that.

Monday, August 2, 2010

waking, i find you

Waking, I find you filling my day's song.
And full of rising winds, through my wild hair,
you toss me toward the light.

And perhaps one day, in wheat fields
you'll chase me,
or on sandaled desert planes
near Santa Fe,
or climbing the golden pine-scented hills
of northern Colorado.

We'll see, won't we? We will.
You, the best of my wild hairs.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

some will seek medicine

Some will seek medicine,
and some, to keep on going
will go to sleep.
I'll keep writing poems.

I'll stay up until there is a listener,
I'll wait for light until it comes.
And when dawn comes, a whisper,
I'll keep writing poems.

When my hands shake and my lungs ache,
when you're still
still gone and far away,
I'll keep writing poems.


David Bazan, on death: "It's gonna fuckin' happen."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

salt of the earth, redux

When the
the Salt
-Wound, you
for it.
-ly you
can't sing
or stand
to sit
with the
the fear
that the
(that is,
would speak
with you
on your
to the
You had
a nice
all laced
up with
lack of
the God-
I was
a tired,

for david bazan

Hey man, I love your narrative,
your insistent piloting toward
the sun and the stars, +
any black hole
you could get your
quick, sad eyes into.

You could sing for the "Vision"
or you could sing for the booze,
but shit, man - you
could damn sure sing.
Sorry you've had so many
bad diary days. Keep tripping.


Impatient with time, my hands open and close.
My fingers determined, my fingers ready to touch your skin
in warm yellow latesummer light, ready
to keep warm under the cold evergreen burn.

I distract myself with purchasing books, reading perhaps half at best,
stories by Dennis Johnson, poetry by Whitman, his disciple, Hart Crane;
and minimalist novels which speak to my slowed-down heart.

Inside my chest there's a dull thudding in time
with the opening and closing,
replaced by a latent smashing in the night

when you visit me in my sleep, when you crawl in bed with my sleeping self.
Your whispering floods my dreams with pages we haven't filled yet;
I wake only to knock an inkwell over on my sheets,

which is, with my morning cough-cough-wheeze, a true catastrophe.
You're not here yet. The calendar
has nearly a whole month to move. But the birds are singing.
The midsummer sky expands, a soft sailor's blue,
and the clear wind barely more than a breeze.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

two from stephen dunn

"I don't trust people until I know what they love. If they cannot admit to what they love, or in fact love nothing, I cannot take even their smartest criticisms seriously."

"Lovers are unreliable witnesses, which is why reliability is not always to be desired."

- Stephen Dunn

Monday, July 26, 2010


Sometimes I get this
insufferable idea
that I'm entirely illusory,

and barely that.

I'd rather be vague,
instead of so solidly

a hummingbird's wings

in a nothingness
of empty air -

no longer bird,

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Love expands to fill
the wounded space

You face yourself -
your own roadkill heart,

your fear to climb the wall.
That fear -

I use it as a stepping stone
to climb up to you now.

(rev. 8/18/10)

two years later, he speaks


I found your glasses under the bed this morning.
They'd grown dusty in the boxes you packed in those months of preparation ages ago, when I found them,
I was trying to clean up the dust that buried the bookshelves. Staving the rust off the windowsills. I was thinking about mowing the yard.
You can't blame me for finding your glasses, can you?
I admit that I looked for them. Searched for them. Yelped with joy when I found their tiny rectangle frames, thought about how beautiful you were when you wore them, your placid hazel eyes just above your silver nose ring so elegant and spare, the way you first made me sing. I wept then
as I shivered above the sink, drowning my face in the tap.


Did you know that I vacuum the place once a week now?
I pick up the place before I leave off for town,
take the rug to the cleaners every three weeks, mop the kitchen, take care to fix the leaks, make the bed; occasionally I trouble to change the sheets.
When it snows I shovel sidewalk, I make up the fire and drink the ginger tea you always told me you liked. (I finally tried it and like it a lot too, lots of sugar and lots more milk, just like you.)
Tomorrow I'll pick some of the yellow flowers you planted in the yard.
I'll set them in the inkwell and balance the accounts, I'll think about you buying the seeds for those flowers at that flea market in southern Maine next to the field with all the cows, and for a moment you'll flicker there, leaning down to smell them. I'd touch you on the breast if I could. Hold you again as you wept in that Autumn's sun.
I think about these things, cleaning the place up.
After all, you could be back any day now.

Friday, July 23, 2010

sometimes i with fear

Sometimes I with fear,
sometimes I with trembling go;
but to remember
what is, what was, what-will-be best
is the realest, the truest;
the road toward home.


Spiders crawled my face

this morning. Climbed my
neck with

ticklish speed,
eight legs at a time

skittering with shoe-shod feet.

Enough to crush me,
asleep beneath them.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

judas shakes

What if the metaphysical became unequivocally solid? The philosophers would be terrified.
Suddenly nothing to do. Professors worldwide, irritated.
Peter and John seek weaponry.
Judas smokes more and more.
His sides shake with agitation.
The stars begin to fall from the sky.

Monday, July 19, 2010

judas smokes

Judas smokes on the front porch after playing cards.
He whistles because he won, he takes deep full drags and smiles. The moon smiles with him. The off-white light is perfect.
He’s already counted the coins everyone expects him to count because he likes to count.
Peter and John are jealous. They shit themselves with jealousy.
Judas keeps the money and they do the cooking.
They think Jesus looks at him funny, but playing cards requires their full attention.
Judas flicks off the ash and smiles at passersby, especially the women. He likes them.
He thinks about drinking beer at the Fisherman’s Terminal because this seems like an honorable task. And it is.
He’ll go to bed on a full belly tonight.

a view of the world

I could call up my brightest green memories
to bring you to my heart's center.
I could love you in the spring again,
like I always wanted, free of my idiot-suffering
and shuddering arms, free from fear of ghosts.

I could kiss you
with a view of the world.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

not understanding

"Most of my life has been spent not understanding, and I can assure you, it was not easy." - Rilke


From my perch at the park
I watched city pigeons eating bread,
the tennis games in the heat below.
I was sitting in the shade.

Then my friend Wayne
hopped over the wall
the Eucharist in his hands
trailing the smell of stale beer.

(20 feet down I saw
his body in the blood.)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

heaven in hell and hell in heaven (a series of messages i sent myself or myself sent me or some other thing)


god i can feel your
absence in my guts

there is darkened mass
and there is no evening there
there is no jazz
and there is no water in the fields anymore
there is no morning to wake them

only the dark
only the red
at the burning barn

the sea vespers


there were fires the
oldened fields
the people in the galleries
became the pieces
watched and watched
by themselves in the
forms or the floors or the ceilings

from the white red lights of hell
speaks Judas i listen
are not both he and Christ
my liberators?

. . .

i take heaven in hell and hell in heaven
in my two fists + now
my back is iron between them


Thursday, July 15, 2010

after reading franzen and roethke


In the womb of the shade at the edge
of the walk at the riverside's park,
as I tremble and swing in the sigh
of the weight of a shameful frailness,

I watch the orioles, their feathers
orange, dirty, dusted brown, below
my knees. No one has washed them but rain,
they gather, sing and flit through the holes

in the wall; they hollow out the air;
I can barely believe this - so simple.

Sweat drips down the sides of my face,
salt-staining the printed page where frailness
guides Alfred to a safe-home - the floor - where the repairs
needed and not got, stack up under shame.

And the halting voice of his closest son subsides,
haunts him in the hospital. The changes.
The long failure-filled hallways with familiar locked doors.
No songbirds sing here.


Alfred, old and dying man, will I be like you one day?
Will this edged mind collapse on me,
leave me locked away from all?
Farther than the far plains, will I bury
myself in prairie grass? I need to know,
not let it pass unknown.


Will someone carry me down the stair
when I am old? When my bones are broken
and my mind withheld, when her name is
all I remember and all I want to be told,
will anyone be there?
Will her wind still
caress my hair? When I am naked and skin-spare,
when I am wet and drowning, in the tub and alone,
will she still love me when I am there, my heart
shot-through with cancer and age,
when I am nowhere.


When the blood quit turning in his heart
I left my book, my perch at the park.
I was lighter without his troubles,
without the image of Alfred's eyes.

Without the no-love that howled
in the meat of the book, I imagined feeling
again at the end, where his wife smiled, smiled and shook,
ready to "make some changes,"
or better yet, go somewhere.

Exiting, the birds around me
smothered my ears with wings
with their easy wire-walking feet:
I wished for all they'd never have to know.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

the silent hollering

To see your face is
to be pulled the

length of water
separating our bodies;

you're within, even
without you now.

Hang your hair in your
eyes, lover. Whisper

and feel my teal-colored
sighs turning blue, turning bluer.

Whisper hazel
eyes across the screen. Stay there

inside my ear - your wave crashes
against inside around within

my wave - inside is a silent
hollering in a conch shell,

smooth and pink,
vibrant, alive.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

6 haikus, senses


The last of the air!
Hold up your lungs; see it through.
It's all you've got now.


Smell the last of her
and imagine her body
in soft candle light.


But hear her after
all else leaves you; you're alone;
when love's the best thing.


Watch the west's last light,
look back into the coming
darkness: she is there.


Feel the old moss once
green, the new moss under your
feet. Life is mercy.


Or life is looking.
It's hard to say. To work and
eat, but mostly - love.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

i keep telling myself

Where were you love last night, when my heart

was pitching and whirling like a sailboat

in a high-break sea?

My dreams nightmares and nightmares dreams,

I woke up with Death in the sheets next to me.

He laughed and shook his scythe.

He knew it was a lie, he knew he was just being efficient

scaring the shit out of me, that fuckheaded bastard,

he made a face and said he was havin' such a good time,

working for free on his offday, no killing,

no taking-of-prisoners-to-the-great-blue-fiery yonder,

just scaring, like halloween.

But without the candy?

The candy is essential for shitless-scared nights,

nights when you're not next to me

but the nightmare is, when

it's not right it's all wrong and not real,

and then I wake to a pillow,

lime-green in a house I don't know

on an air mattress, hungover

or under my grandpa's dried open eyes.

(Everyone else's overseas somewhere.)

There's no punchline, just a harrowing arcing climb.

There are a million stars in the sky, lovely

stars, constant;

but too much humidity to find

them or sometimes,

to even breathe.

As I woke I started thinking about Rumi,

about weeping, about just wanting to exist.

I sat up in the dark bed and knew it was okay.

The shadow of the old man and

Death-on-holiday were invisible.

I cleared my throat and tried to think:

The stars are up there firing off,

making newer and better lights

and there's nothing I can do to

stop them, though I'd give it a go.

That's what I told myself,

and keep telling myself,

until this hibernation is over;

until my insides expand again and quiet this dull night roar;

or when at last the morning winks at me,

and I find you on the other side of the sheets, grinning,

a smile on your morning voice.

The terror
of the blank page
rests within me
foreign; needed,
like a stillborn child.

Monday, July 5, 2010

sunset after being alone

The light is thick, a substance here, golden
on the hills of my birth place.

It makes me miss these scenes . . .
yet I know it gave me the strength
to leave.

If only I could
bring it back
with me. I'd show you the mystery.

If only I could
carry the deep dark
of the woods on my shoulders
with love;
then - you would know the cost.

Friday, July 2, 2010

old beginnings

Cicadas, frogs, no people sounds,
I listen with all my ears:
The night is full;
coyotes howl in the hills
beyond my Papa's pastures;
the insects crescendo, climb to a monotonous, lovely roar,
and the old rusted propane tank still holds vigil.
I've journeyed far to sit on this porch
built with his hands and fine for summer nights,
summer sweat-heats and rains.

(I am here,
have journeyed far,
only to listen.
This blackness is a canvas singing;
I will sing with it.)

The moon hangs in the cleft of these green oak mountains,
full and huge and orange,
a childhood thing to be eaten
and savoured; savour I do, thinking of the mountain names,
Indian names: Boktukalo, Kiamichi, Ludlow, Zaffra,
and the moon, unnameable, watching them all.
My smoke hesitates in the air,
full in the humid warmth, winding
and expanding, expiring above me.
But this place has not expired.
The cows are in their pastures, silent
old dead Keith's house is still and empty on the hill.

(The insects roar and
the moon fills the sky.
The song I knew has not ceased.)

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Children in yellow tunics

run about on
thin chubby legs

kick a ball around

pictures of ecstasy.

the grand american expression

"The English language befriends the grand American expression . . . . it is brawny enough and limber and full enough. On the tough stock of a race who through all change of circumstance was never without the idea of political liberty, which is the animus of all liberty, it has attracted the terms of daintier and gayer and subtler and more elegant tongues. It is the powerful language of resistance . . . it is the dialect of common sense. It is the speech of the proud and and melancholy races and of all who aspire. It is the chosen tongue to express growth faith self-esteem freedom justice equality friendliness amplitude prudence decision and courage. It is the medium that shall well nigh express the inexpressable."

Walt Whitman, from the 1855 Preface to Leaves of Grass

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

judas speaks (fragment)

You skip ahead, skip ahead,
to walk among the dust and raise up the dead,
always over-head of us; can't ever buy bread.
Now hunger kills me, you skip ahead,
skip ahead - burn your bridges - wake the dead.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


I can feel the wait-time withering me -
it's the sum, the reel-rhyme,
the distance of that Atlantic
sea, that hole of whole blue and whole
green, the water I can't tread

or love or see. The time ticks,
turns at its fastest, slowly -
I sit with the night's clock,
sleep - dream memories and green
with slow growth, slower patience;
read Kerouac, at intermittent stays -
he's either too high
or too low - Buddhist? - for me;

but I like his simple monastic happiness -
it's like you, out there. Singing.

Rev. 8/9/10

Monday, June 28, 2010

she speaks

freezing on the
on-ramp of an
interstate, you just want
the warmth
and nothing but
elsewhere, to flood
through your chest
and your hands,
to get yourself
to the other side
of the looking glass
between you
and the whole
fucking world.
To cover you
like your sleeping bag
can't. Maybe just
to hide in
another darkness.
To not piss
in the rain where
the ice-wind
cuts your legs, cuts
up inside of you
where no one
should be you don't
Sometimes that's
all you want -
the warmth
elsewhere is;
might be . . . impossible to tell
with all this

Saturday, June 26, 2010

not inscribed by will

"I'm puzzled, not emotionally but logically, by the contemporary determination of women to write as women. Puzzled because this seems an ambition limited by the existing conception of what, exactly, differentiates the sexes. If there are such differences, it seems to me reasonable to suppose that literature reveals them, and that it will do so more interestingly, more subtly, in the absence of intention. In a similar way, all art is historical: in both its confrontations and evasions, it speaks of its period. The dream of art is not to assert what is already known but to illuminate what has been hidden, and the path to the hidden world is not inscribed by will."

- Louis Gl├╝ck, from "Education of the Poet"

Friday, June 25, 2010

week end

You sit with no lights on.
The city hums. Not to you,
but to no one and
everyone here. The day's
small talk is done with,
and you're thinking about sleep,
sleep is on your mind.
Not small talk. You can only
take so much workplace
banter, even if it's all right.
A day skipping over the
surface takes more.
More than you thought.
Now only the night speaks,
the lights sparkle slightly,
the fridge sighs, the fan
squeaks. The one roommate
is asleep. You wait for
a couple more seconds,
think about a smoke,
but simply closing the
eyes sounds like
real pleasure, almost
like hope itself. You smile.
How simple hope is
at this hour, and how
utterly uncomplicated.
The old monks said:
Go to sleep before witching-hour.
But you're too tired for
witching or even wishing
for much, other than sleep,
maybe a sandwich, or a
good night kiss. But you're alone
and too tired for witching,
so you smile, listening
to the soft static hiss.
The city hums,
the lights sparkle.
You'll probably even forget
to brush your teeth.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The rain rattles you
after awhile, after so many days
of the grey
spilling over your windows.

Then, the sun
comes charging into the sky.

look much better.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

impediment culture

In Oklahoma I grew up with Indians.
Didn't know that they'd ever left anything
but Florida, which at the time
didn't sound that bad to me,
as hot as it is there.
In Smithville
we were all poor
as possums going through the garbage;
it didn't bother me or my
Indian friend Steven,
who could barely enunciate because
of a speech impediment
but learned to say fuck long before
it ever occurred to me.
I'd always pretended

to be a cowboy,
riding right next to John Wayne,
where heroes wore guns, not face paint.
(And the ones that wore face paint
were usually white guys anyway,
so what difference did it really make?)
You would've figured I'd have gotten

a better idea of how things had been
if how things actually were
was not the normal human shit
every little no-light town has to deal with.

The sun comes up. Goes down.
People are poor, drive drunk,
go to jail, die alone or they
end up "killin' themselves"
in the seat next to Vic Hopper's dad, mysteriously,
and no one cares -
there were drugs in the car
because it's just "thugs killin' thugs," that's all.
And nothing about their color, nothing
about their color at all,
just the shit we were all swimming in,
and the stupid mostly-
white men running the school.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I keep wondering -
when the shit finally gets out of my head,
where's it going to go? Who's going to listen
to my babble when you're gone?
When you're across continents and oceans
and I'm still here, taking the bus to work.
Who'll hear me
when I read something funny
when I get up in the night to piss?

(for lg and tc)

Saturday, June 12, 2010

thoroughly persuaded

"No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth."
- Robert Southey

Friday, June 11, 2010

the present

"And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep."

- Kurt Vonnegut, from Slaughterhouse-Five

Monday, June 7, 2010

"Of all nations the United States with veins full of poetical stuff most needs poets and will doubtless have the greatest and use them the greatest. Their Presidents shall not be their common referee so much as their poets shall. Of all mankind the great poet is the equable man. Not in him but off from him things are grotesque or eccentric or fail of their sanity. Nothing out of its place is good and nothing in its place is bad. He bestows on every object or quality its fit proportions neither more nor less. He is the arbiter of the diverse and he is the key. He is the equalizer of his age and land . . . . he supplies what wants supplying and checks what wants checking."

- Walt Whitman, from the preface to Leaves of Grass