Wednesday, October 31, 2007

culinary guitars

she frets and types
another letter about
culinary guitars and their apron strings
as her man wears a toolbelt
as he vacuums a shag carpet
dirty as a musician's hair.

something is always
wrong with how he
parts his hair,

the hat he tips
to pretty girls is gross and
gauche as greasy cake,

static fills his ears
when he rattles his change,
he types himself a sweater
that he'll wear into the ether.

there is no weather
except storm watches for bad breath
where in the state she lives in,
which is Anxiety, sharing a border with Panic.

she writes that no one
will kiss her
but it's not all bad
because there is only vapor
on their horizon,

bickering between declarations
of love that demands
a punch in the face,
a hand around the neck.

DOGS, DRUNKS , AND THE MOON

Dogs and drunks are barking
tonight
under my window,
they share a
vocabulary
of bottled rage,
sounds only the throat,
free of language, can make.
Silent train whistles
and steel wheels
humming droning

along the rails
sets them all off
like bells
in phone booths, no one will investigate.
Tonight it's
summer and there's
only the moon
that makes sense,
there is only the moon to talk to.

Anything said
on the phone
and letters
will always lie,
but the moon
that hangs full
over Pacific Beach
controls the tide
of mood,
your defenses ebb
and leak into
the ravine of meaning,

there's only
grunts, deep sobs,
fingers of pain
that writes the script.
There is only
salt

and hard water when thirst
is a rough patch
where the right
words fight for passage.

Some one is on
that train
going somewhere
that has everything to
do with searching,
Dogs and drunks
are leashed to the dumb facts
of the matter,
the material things
that are cyclone fences
and the bottled rage
all the liquor pours from.
I've made the bed
a dozen times
and half a Marlboro carton
sits atop
a box full of poems



that are about
beauty and irresolvable
puzzles.

Dogs and drunks are louder
than warfare,
the silence is white canvas
my world spits on,
I cry
for my father
who held my
hand when he was dying,
blind in both eyes
and asking
if I paid good money
for the haircut,
do I love you
do you love me
was I good enough
to be your Father?

Moon over PB and La Jolla,
legendary
stalking of streets,
howling
the grunts
from bus stops
and passenger windows,
years of
lawns and alleys
where all the growing up
was done,
moon a search light
in a sky the black and continuous
like that's all there is
when I close
my eyes
and everyone and thing is gone in a snap,
only music
and memory in the dark,
moon of three decades lasting
through
all it's
quarters
my life a death
by million cuts,
the shadows of buildings,
light from windows,
lives going on,
work being done,
neither talking
to god
nor the devil
but rather to
the light,
moon of all my years,
pale cratered smirker,
whose eyes
are those
of my father who
loved me
beyond the reach of his years
and the light of his eyes that
died on the
day when
breathing
surrendered itself to
the other side of the
moon that never sets
but instead rises
to cloudless heights
words suggests
but leave nameless,
anonymous as whispers
in an ear from
a ghost
looking over my shoulder.

Call Me Fishmeal

Never along docks in dreams
did fish never not stink
and reek within a week of
being slapped twixt both ears
with a deceased crossed eyed mackerel,

Never did she say to he the other
that her mother wanted me rather
that than him, gather cans on a whim
he utters and gnaws on a toothpick
parsing spaces 'tween teeth lined
up like yellow picket fences, oh, have i
given offenses? how may i atone
as she he and fates clustered 'round
celestial kegs make sure yet
another bone is found in the
in the bottom of my soup,
throw me for a loop,

Let's start a group
i will mutter, lemme sing and
play harmonica
For Betty and Veronica and let's find
out in a shout what we don't know
as we all take a solo
where our singular parts
of the story are revealed
as snippets of the picture,
the big idea,
never no how a way i can fix her
when see says
as the train pulls away,
her head laced in steam,
see ya ,wouldn't want to be ya.

Rapture

The mailman drops his parcels and
falls to his knees in the middle of the street


as a light comes through the clouds and
makes the commotions of the city radiate

gold tones like the frozen poses
of ancient photographs

found under the stairs of every parent’s house
that aging children have to close.

You see the mailman on his knees and wonder
why he’s praying, hardly aware of the increase in light

or the music that blares all the big band music of
trumpets and saxophones that disguise the grind of

passing cars, it’s such a shame that religious fanatics
are hired to deliver the mail, you think, so much depends


on what comes through the System, envelopes full of
what’s owed and what’s not covered by any plan

that can be written down; you run the water in the sink,
you wonder where did the clouds go?

There is no rain anywhere,
says the radio announcer,
and the light is tremendous all over the globe,

there is not a dark corner
in any corner or nook on the earth,

And then the radio gives out to static, and the TV
releases itself to snow, the music in the street is very loud

and swinging hard to the left and the right and then right down the
middle as all the notes scurry brilliantly through the hedges

and up the driveways, into the homes with each reed instrument
improvising disembodied melodies that form their own sheet music,


That is a very loud set of speakers in that passing car, you think.
and the radio announcer cuts through the music and says something you

hear as that millions of people all over the world have just vanished in
plain site under bright light and big bang music, gone in a wisp and puff of smoke,


You look at your watch and note that it’s time for lunch,
the clouds have fallen over the city again, the sky darkens,

the shapes of the neighborhood take on their deep hues again, saddened
with history, dense in dumb witness to what never ends,

You stop, look out the window; you turn off the water you ran,
in the middle of the street, by itself, flat on the cement,

The mailman’s bag and his clothes,
topped by his hat, kissed by a cool breeze.

January AM

January AM


For every leaf that turns
three hues in breezes
that spins the vanes
three directions while the
lake and stream freezes,

there is an empty cup
of coffee,
a pot still warm
on the range,
there are dark rings
on the counter tops

and dark snow on the walk
two hours before
the sun emerges
to no comforting avail,
my arms are too short
to do anything

but flail against
the gloves attached to my sleeves
by elastic straps and alligator clips,
my seat is too short
to only the top of my
sisters head, here eyes wide
and blue as lost marbles
as she eats her cereal
and ignores her toast,

Dad starts to sing
about Paris
again,
'though he's never been,
mom rattles her keys,
talking into the phone,
slapping my wrist when
I reach for the sugar,

Each small flake
that falls is
an angles' house,
so perfectly crystalline,
and pure as snow
is rumored to be,

That's what mom said
during Catechism study
and what I saw was slush
where the driveway used to be,
dark, the color of rusts,
icy mounds of snow and
every tone of earth,

who lives there?
I asked mom
in the hallway
while dad warmed up the car,

I have no idea what you're asking me, sweetie,
let's get in the car
and get this day started and over with.

4th of July

My love knows no spending limits,
the matter was always academic,
the lots from which fireworks were seen
could be viewed as check marks against
a scorecard that is invisible, behind the clouds,
the wind blows toward the land
you'd never get for a birthday.

Even if we stood here all night
the wind would taste the same as
it did last year as we light our fuses
with old Zippo lights, there were sparks
in the dark and flinty remarks
as the sulfur caught fire and the
curvature of the caved-in moon
gave us white, chalky light
to search for our eyes in the dirt
under the leaves and the blanket
we brought from home, the
threshold we carry ourselves over
like weight that shifts in assignments
of motion , water displaced and rising
as the moon leans to the shoreline
for a kiss and a sip of what we're drinking.

She rose a leg as though to dance,
he played a song the same as always,
you sang those words with those strange notes
that rustle the highest limbs of California fronds,
I am writing a novel with every pause in the chatter,
in my mind I'm at my desk laughing again as
all the words fill the monitor and fall off the screen
and onto the floor.

It was clear, this dream
I had, we stood here with our
friends with our sparklers
and glasses of wine
cheering the American Night
as rockets screamed across the sky,
risking our homes or at least car keys
that might fall from our pockets,
but there is only empty night
in front of us, a moon shining light
that ripples over the water
that moves toward land in
serpentine movements,
as I was saying,
"…if we stood here all night,
if we made a big, tall wish,
if we're good with ourselves
and our words we put into the world
that goes to sleep trusting
the rime of light to creep over
the horizon come dawn,
we can see where we might
live in futures where we all have our keys
and we all get to drive home
from the fireworks at the beach…"

James Brown Takes it to the Bridge

In memory of James Brown
we will spread our capes

over tired shoulders
of the man with the dusty knees

who, having slid from the backstage
to the front, has saved the microphone

from a ballad worse than death
in a pop tune sung by white guys

in tuxedos that smell
like the ice in glasses of warm milk,

we will do the splits for
the rest of time,

we will spin and yowl
'til sirens fall from police cars

and phones give up
their rings with sharp reports

of the saxophone's grunt
and the insinuating nudge

of the bassist's thumb
at the door, feeling around

the cracks in the wood,
the grooves in the cement,

yes, suddenly there's
daylight and barbecue

and sex for the millions
as the waxed soles of

shoes help us glide in and out
of the spotlight

the many lights, the bursting drums,
every trumpet and triangle

making the funk stick
to the sheets

and form a trail
we take to the streets

on the offbeat, indiscreet,
shoehorned in tap and

leaps of hoarse cries of freedom,
sweet Jesus the band pumps it out hard

even as he said
he was leaving here tonight,

but James Brown has
no where else to be

but funky and pressed, tall shoe heels
and flared pants,

nostrils flare like mares in
night terrors in stately neighborhoods

where the trees are always
heavy with fruit

and where no one has to pee,

euuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuwheeeeeeeeee??eeeeeeeeEEEE!


let's hammer it down,
build ourselves a bridge

lets take it to the bridge,
lets throw off our cape
and take it to the bridge,

lets slick back our hair
high and black
and take it to the bridge,

lets drive at eighty miles an hour
'til they shoot our tires
as we take it to the bridge

let's say it loud
i'm black Irish and proud
at the foot of the bridge

that crosses a the fiery river Styx,
more sticks
than any full tilt angel of appetites should tote,
get out the vote,

get up
get on up
get up
get on up

where's that confounded bridge,
and tell us sheriff,
what's the tariff,
will the music
be as hip
when we get
to the
other
side?

Situation comedy

Situation Comedy

If I had a dog
he would be hiding
under the kitchen table

looking embarrassed
as I open and close
every door in the house
in a world where
I have no job
you can see me go to
where it's always
in the middle of the afternoon,

getting frantic
between bouts of
running to the upstairs
you never get to see

and saying hello
to neighbors dropping
in to talk stupid stuff
after walking through
front and back doors
that are never locked,

and my wife, if I had a wife
and not significant relations,
would be standing in
the kitchen doorway,
hands on hips,
thinner as either Hepburn,
head tilted,
aghast at my stupidity,

and I would ask
what did I do?
and she would make a noise
that was disgusted and glottal,
and I would say
what did I say?
and she'd drop the jello
to the white carpet
and run up to the second floor
(the one you never see)
crying tears that are
louder than they look,

the dog would take
his paws from his eyes
and drag his food bowl
out the back door,

the kids ,
if I had kids,
smart ass sixteen and fourteen year olds
addicted to headsets
and loud ring tones,
would high five one another,
and one would pay off
a mystery bet
before picking up
their skateboard and backpack
to go the video arcade,

and I would stand
in the living room
(if I had a living room to stand in)
staring off into space,
as if into the lens
of a big camera,
mouth open
as if too speak,
wondering,
if there was any wonder left in the world,
who was doing all that laughing,
all that clapping,
all that racket
as worlds scroll
in mid air
in front of my
dumbfounded face.

Lawn party

Her face lights up
the side of the house
we grew up in,

Pieces of toys
lost in the tall grass,
a plastic clowns
head crushed underfoot,

He coughs, shakes the walls
of the brick fireplace,
bats fly from attic windows,

Japanese lanterns line the backyard,
the pole is lowered another notch,
my brother drops aspirin in our cousin's coke,
marimba music fills the cloudless sky
as night birds claw the eyes
of the man in the moon,


I tell my mother there are strange coats
and animal skins on my bed,

The doorbell keeps ringing
and the rug is rolled up,

From the top of the stairs,
through the wood railing,
I watch wrestling matches
on the front lawn
that knock over the Japanese lantern,

Mother is crying
like my sister does
after I hit with a rolled up Time Magazine,

Dad is yelling at neighbors
the way baseball players
argue with umpires,

There were policeman
at the door with
notepads and busy pens
and that's all I remember
before I went back to bed.

Back seat

Lean miles gone by
in the backseats of cars
under grey, leafless skies
little else but tree limbs,smoke stacks.

Signs of first names
half read over the window pane
rushing past as blurred groans,
an alphabet exploded.

Each twist
of my tongue
is a taste of what I last said
about a page you read,
a red horse, a blue pony.

Their lips are moving quickly,
mouths open as if to sing
but again, groans blurred consonants,
the rolling hiss of tires on wet roads.

It seems things
happens in another room
where a door is ajar,
red pony, blue moon,

My voice recedes
as you stare
and my words
become thick and clumsy
like some unheard thing,
bled roon, mule poony

Half of each word
blockish, thick,
taste of blood.

Trees roll past,
church spires,
powerlines,
someone talking to someone
on phones of no color.

Fences

A fence runs between
the houses whose rooms

are stacked with boxes of things
collected from the decade,
the clutter of years when

love was love and duty
was a man in a tank watching
Aral mountain ranges on the

other side of a Cold War border,
hands ready for the pistol
and radio at his reach

lest any hoards tried
to dilute the United States of America
in storage, I slept
like a bone in an airless vault.

But everything
was turned inside out
by the time I woke up,

the fence remains but everything
I live next to is three stories high,
even TV antennas snatching images

from the sky are gone from my view,
chimneys are rare as honesty at retirement parties,

satellite dishes sneak the world to
my house of boxes.

And love became duty
to remain on the border
of the bed my limbs stayed in,
too late realizing that

the line of death was
my breath heavy with scotch and mouthwash
and pithy perfumes for the tongue
when all my speech became poetry
about duty and honor while she nodded
and brushed her daughters' hair,
she takes a loose strand
from her shoulder, she examines the end,

the hair is split,
voiceless, she speaks

This where it ends,
I cannot breath,

there are fences running l over the world
going somewhere but we do
is put the past away
in boxes until the corners of rooms
crowd me and speaks to me
n loops of your language
that's liquid and lost in attention to
details that are about why
you become invisible
even in bed,
a mining camp
than the place where
dreams slip across the darkness
when we've stopped talking,
when eyes are closed,
when breathing should be the set of dance step.,
not a race to the sunrise.

Everything is inside out
and I'm stupid enough
to believe that a man in the tank
loves the world even as bombs go off
around the limits of our fences,

But now I love a room
with high ceilings,
empty corners,
rooms big to swing
a cat by the tail,
where my voice rises high
and loud and rings against
the pipes and then dies
away like notes plunked
from a fine-tuned piano,

I love the discovery shoes,
sober talk, doors without locks,
windows left open

with every racket of car alarm
and leaf blower
and weekend carpenter

speaking to me in sounds
that bustle in phonics flashing bright words
that bluster like billboard lights ,


back yards yield to one another
like lovers wearing blindfolds in empty parks
horrified that they might
be passing each other as

both their reaches miss their
objects of desire
and both of them walk sightless
in the other direction,
around corners
and into office buildings
before one, and then the other

takes off the blindfolds
to discover that they are
in a different city
than where they started the day,
every one is in another part of
the map, fenced in with invisible armies
with flags we’ve never seen,
the world might learn to do something
with fences that run through the living rooms
so that the couches and beds have
politics in every position you assume
running from stress,

unwind the string
and kiss me, please,
you are a moon I want to have orbit me,
I am a gravity you cannot deny,
you make my fences sway in
your bluster and flower print dresses,
I regret fences I set up the day
you left town,

the last thing to be seen
were you on the other side of the fence
getting into your red Volvo
just before you drove away
with my heart in your trunk.

Who will rule the world?

Who will rule the world
just as far as the corner,
no cell phone blather
or fruitless lather
about who told who
to pick up Chinese Noodles
and Strohs for the game,
in my half block
they would all
just have to go hungry
and shut up
tight like drumheads
dumb as combs in a jar,


there will be no
air traffic
or curse words
or students deafened
with Ipods sulking
in the hoods appearing
like ghosts who won't
leave the planet
because there's still some
crack to be smoked,


no,


there is none of that
until you board the bus,
book under my arm,
boarding passed ready
and flashed semaphore style,
everyone in their seats

bright and shiny,
scrubbed with joy
with no sudsy film
dulling the glowing pink patina of ruthlessly
scoured flesh,
everyone speaks English,

everyone is a Democrat,
everyone loves Leslie West and Stravinsky
in the same precious sentence,
my ride, my bus, our world of similar things
all over again
supported by an army of you
who will seize any territory needed
to assure that there's
no sucky music
and no lack of white people
whose poems unravels
like coming attraction
you've seen
year after year
until the film stock
crumbles and the rhymes
becomes the dust
someone else’s footprints
land in, on their way
to take a hairy dump.