Thursday, December 11, 2008

Smoking on the corner

You strike a match
and cup it against the breeze,

flame to cigarette tip,
a deep inhale,

your knees ache in the chill
when nothing else fills the bill,

the choking burn slides
up and down the throat,

the lungs are harsh words
said in in flaming briar patch,

soon enough your cup
will filled with enough

nickles , dimes and
half torn dollars

for both a bottle and a bed,
indoors before the rain,

out again before
they empty the dumpsters,

you take another drag
and notice the moon

appearing white and round
like the police flashlight

as the clouds clear
in the wind and

the burn in your throat
makes you think

of rooms you moved out of
and back into over and over again

over the years
that now reside in each

ravine you find
every time you wash your face,

"Tonight I drink to you"
say with a nod,

vapor and smoke disguise themselves,

"tonight I sleep with the moon
until morning lights up the streets

or things remain very dark
and quiet".

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

You are what you think you're eating

A knife , fork and
a cracked plate
don’t constitute a meal ,
though all three items
are handy for show,

as are empty frames
on the wall when
there is any kind
of company visiting ,
who demand our attention,
taxes, documents of your legal rights,

you just say
it’s the wall you
wanted to highlight,
the frame is only a, well, a, well, uhhhh,
a framing device!

to bring a viewer’s attention
to the rub of the paint,
the embedded fingerprints,
the light switch in the center,

Likewise, it’s knowledge
we’re hungry for, isn’t it?
Knife , fork, cracked plate
are about the idea of eating
as others go without
forks, knives, or cracked plates…

Dead ethics professors
choke in non-intrusive urns
and French deconstructionists
blow kisses from
balconies and any perch
they can secure,

Appearances are misleading,
explanations are fiction
worth listening to for the
way the words wrap around
each other until it’s no longer
an announcer ‘s baritone
intoning the world in whole
but rather melodies flitting about
like nervous birds
trapped in a small cage,
a messy page of tuneless songs,

all this for a description
of my house that now seems
to rest on top of a giant hill,
bracing clouds and tree tops,

a form I’m filling
out asking me
to describe myself
and all the desires
I would bring into
the world if finances would allow,

I would allow everything is
what gets written,
and everything not forbidden
would be described
in the rhetoric of future tense,
when software rules the body electric.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A whisper in a dotted cloud

A whisper in a dotted cloud
that is over your head
as your hat flies off
and starts to sail the
way of all your wishes
to be at the sea near the waves
that is damp with salt water air,

Cold air on the river front facing Toronto
in our California skins
though Michigan is the
state of our birth, our claim
that rings for all the time
our friends remember our names
when it comes to saying that we just got in
off the road on a long trek through the valleys and mountains
of a country
defined each mile by the brand names on
bulletin boards, cars and bran flakes,
Detroit remains
tall buildings and
the widest streets anyone could die on ,

It seemed that all clouds formed over the river
and came from the north
and stayed with us State side,
where the heart of the neighborhoods
were filled with coughs
and stutter from basements
where jazz blared into the cushions of white supremacy,

I throw flower petals
into the river,
and the garlands drift on the wakes of
freighters a hundred years fueled by
colder examples of life
burned into the tanks of
our station wagon couldn't trace
with all our maps and
anthology of hazy directions from
farmers in one-silo towns
who think anyone passing through is hungry,
in need of a old truck to buy,

I think so much for dotted clouds,
so much thinking, there will be casinos
in a writing that makes sense of its words,
make them march, yes , march,
and I shall smoke in my dreams
after the dreaming is done of coming home
and there is only
the dreaming of dreaming itself,

there is no sleep in these early pages of the novel
that is nothing but a skyline
amid the details of a river and
a glass city that faces a wind that
whistles up the nylons
and down the high collar necks ,
wondering about
who might have been here first dreaming
of these terrible orders of cars and train tracks
full of wagons of TV dinners, palettes of magazines, toys,
counterfeit money coming back
to California because
California is always hungry and
land gives itself over to
families that remember less
than insanity allows and takes away,
all the habits that stop feeling good,

all the silence only a knock on the door
and the landlord's eye
give you as you wipe your feet again

in panic at the little things when it seems
that you're in between two worlds, fingering
the membrane
that allows you to hover over
great industrial mistakes,

you are the dotted cloud
whispering instructions
on the breeze of a stale vibe,

you are the god of this world that saddens you,
every last gust of air on the last floor of the first
building you rode an elevator in
is a trace of tears cried in blackouts that is the rain
that washes away the sins and stains
of this earth,

dotted clouds
on the rail staring at Windsor
on a street where there's a giant iron fist
aimed right at the heart of the water front,
sing with praise,
oh yes, sing…

Monday, November 24, 2008

Lessons from the Seventies

It’s love that breaks
against the rocks

and not foam nor water of any kind,
it’s a baptism of irrigated contempt

that makes the horizon
burn in black static p1umes.

Stained cotton from
every beach front window.

We smoked joints
in the guts of the canyons,

the mired trails
to the sea kissed shale.

All the blues from
Chicago knife fights
and gunshot histories
are folklore all the kids destroy
with their breathing.

Even at dinner time,
forks are next to plates whose owners
wonder what’s eating their neighbors
with all the strange phone calls
about what’s going on the beach.

The armies of the night
couldn’t scare up a quarter
of something to decent for all
the beaches America has landed on
in search of someone to talk down to..

Saturday, November 15, 2008

This goes without saying

Settle your accounts
with dimes and nickels
gripped with fingers fickle
to what they'll touch
as this life is one long vacation,
Too much grinning
station to station at the drainage rivers
famous for graffiti forests
and villages made from
refrigerator boxes,
there's little to laugh at
when it rains and the water
finds the incline of least resistance,
men in wool caps and fingerless gloves
stare from under the newspapers
and regret the distance
between we on a seat,
on a rail
going out of town
and the calloused knuckles
that becomes the fist
that challenges the skyline
for the right of way,

I shed my clothes
on the side of the tracks
to walk with the ties
until I collect a discarded
suit of random pants, jacket,
shoes that don't match,
crusted with motor oil
and pressed with convoy tires,

I take my money
and burn until there's
only a felonious ash,
the match tip takes to the credit cards
that burn black as they melt,
Lay me down
on gravel fonts
with a belt around
my waist
and have my head tilted to the right,
just slightly,
As if there was something
you'd just said
I might want you to repeat.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Father comes home from Chicago

Father stands in the front door
Where he greets you with the sound of
Rustling plastic, candy or a toy from Chicago, you think,

Your mother whistles at him
Between puffs of a cigarette
As he stands still, hands behind his back,
She smiles as he looks down at you
On the floor with toy trucks and
Plastic soldiers with teeth marks
The size of the scars
On the face of the moon,

"Guess what I have" he says , and presents the package,
A box wrapped red and blue, a yellow ribbon,
The vestibule is noisy with color,
You stare at the package
And wonder what it was he said,
Who is this package for,
Why are mom and dad dancing at 7pm
To music you don’t like, singer full of gin.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A ribbon around the heart of the world

The white people
have gone crazy
in the back seats
of All American cars
looking for the sex life
that fell between the cracks,
meanwhile screaming the rudeness
of Romantic love
that finds them
hung-over in court
too early in the morning
of a business day
where they'll tell the Judge
that it's only rock and roll
and that there was something in the way
the singer dropped his "g's
and a manner
worth noting when the guitarist
grabbed his whammy bar
and that all they did was taking
Creeley freely and pile into
the four-wheeled remains of a rumored prosperity
and drove into
the running gag reflex of the night, down a blvd.
filled brand names and bored cops,
cruising to get "some", to find "it"
and where "it" lived,
a slobbering example
of failed bonding
locked into habits
where even as their language of outrage
is bought
and shredded
in magazines
whose pages stick together
just as they did
in the parking lot after last call,
harassing the cocktail staff
that's going home,
they'll stick to principals
familiar and vague,
like that song whose words you never memorized
but tried to sing anyway, with a hushed secret at the core of the chorus
Saying that love is somewhere
just around one of these thousands
of and that it'll shake your hand
if you drive long and far and often enough,
if you've the gas
to complete the journey, the journey
Celine dreamed of while lying in bed,
staring at ceilings, concluding
that his language of outrage could only
describe the surface details of wrong turns,
that it had been bought and sold in a tradition
of literature that speculates about how wonderful
our lives might have been
if only the dream hadn't ended
when we opened our eyes,

Our eyes are constantly
getting used to the dark
absorbs every inch of brick
in parking lots
behind buildings and under bedrooms
of others who've made
their peace with
the sameness of the night,
the radio blares
more guitar solos
emerging from the
static of stadium
drums and strumming,
crazed cadenzas
whose neurotic notes scurry
and cleave to a neuron receptor
and keys a change
in the brains chemical balance that changes
the language of what the nights' really been about,

But we remain where we are,
white heterosexual males bond
by nothing more than
the chain sawing motion
of jaws lifting and falling
on the pillows and
sofa cushions in
desert motels
in time to the pans of a camera
on the silent television
where it's nothing but a wall full
of clocks telling
the time in
three separate
time zones while
temperatures are mentioned where
anger and rain mix in the fields
and valleys of economies
based on pride,
some abstract grip on selflessness that
needs no sleep
as do the bodies in this room,
dead to the world when the
engine blew, when the gas ran out, when
the last drop in whatever bottle of
cartoon labeled beer vanished on the
buds of a tongue
whose thirst could not be slaked by?
promise of fortune or even
water, pure and free of lies,

We sleep in shifts until
our time here runs
out on us,
until the phone that rings
everyday for twenty minutes on end
stops finally and leaves
the house quiet
from stairway to attic to porch,
with only the whir of the
refrigerator engine
starting up
and filling the stale,
stale air that
used to carry
mean jazz, drum boogie,
scratched riffs of declarative guitars,
the frets of God announcing
a life worth inventing in the notes
that passed through the room,
the boredom,
we realize in frozen moments
that any excuse for getting
out of the house
is a magic trick
that's performed after
they've shown you
where they've hidden the mirror,
"language is the house
where man lives",
let us say
that this life is
like being a fish
that cannot describe the water it swims in,
endlessly at 3AM
when only the coffee at
the 7-11 has the
aroma of anything
real enough to make
us think of getting
out of town
with one suitcase
and a bus fare,
next to a god-damned big car,
five shoulders
to the wheel
and no one able to drive
between towns , from carnival to still spot
where ever we could
pitch tents and trailers
and set up Ferris wheels that
would rattle against a
large scowling moon
hovering over
Modesto and Turlock
on dry August nights
when dollars are
grimy with mung from
many a farmer's and mechanic's hand,
power chords slice through
the speakers, destroy the cracked dashboard,
your face is slapped
with a power
not your own,
it comes down to something
that's a secret
that even The Judge won't cop to it
before he lowers his voice,

"The beat goes on,
the beat goes on,
the beat goes on,
the beat goes on…"

We can do better
this far away
from our past,
we have something
we've turned toward,
a light in eyes, a sun
that shines a light
those blades of
grass and long
stemmed flowers lean toward
even when clouds
and the stammer of fire eating transistors
sizzling from car windows distort the
image in the minds' eye,
I see a city where we come
and plant our feet on lawns
where we can sit
and plant in turn
new seeds, ideas
of a future worth having,

let's lean into the sun,
into the sun,
ride bicycles into the sun
on the road that becomes
a ribbon around the
heart of the world.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Cactus Shadow

(for Edward Dorn 1929-1999)

The gun, never fired,
smokeless in its silver plated life,
is under glass,
under the dust,

rust and oxygen
severing the trigger from the firing pins,
and there’s someone laughing

in the other room, and old man with a broom and a bucket,

Something is just live long enough to rust and fade
and become part of the forgiving earth again—

I wish I were that man on the phone, laughing,
because then, maybe
there’d be something funny enough to laugh about
in this life that is fine as far as it goes but sometimes ,


Just has me staring at another set of things, , running down in their assemblages, their soldered being,

All moving parts become stuck , and break off,

Ed Dorn won’t be
twirling the gun or turning the phrase
anymore from the side of a dirt road,
draped in a cactus shadow
where La Jolla greets with open palms,
the sky is closed for repairs,

There are smoke signals
from hills where the big houses are ,
after the images fall off the edge of the earth,
what ever it is we were driving at,

It means that all the love stops
when we’re no longer here
to arrange the furniture,
it's no longer about us ,
but about the room we died in,
what ever gets discovered on a desk, a shelf,
old cups or rusty guns
hanging from nails in the pantry.

A City Was Magic in Black and White Magazines

In a hurry
and half dumb
with love,
he walks through an alley,
scratching his scalp,

and whistles another country’s anthem in an age when TV headlines have it
that the sky never stops falling,

he stops, sings a stanza in French, “My Cherie Amour”,
and skips mightily passed all the rear entrances and trash bins Simon and Garfunkle would have waxed and waned about in a language that made the obvious things in the city oppressive with meaning secreted among the rheumy lines of grime and gunk, he laughs, thinks bunk, I need her arms

and a good meal with amazing bread, bottled water, baskets full of cheese, and then
someone screams in the city, a woman on a corner screams for life and more money from whatever car passed on a wet street, the night was filled with screams and the hiss of tires slithering up back streets and alleys that used to be short cuts in another decade when a city was magic in black and white magazines, there are many hours until the sun comes rises over the river, light rays poking between the suspension cables of sleeping bridges,
days to go before something falls from the sky again with all the heaviness assembled weight can bring on the length of the streets, minutes away one of our own leaving the coil that binds us as another joins the chorus, too young in the first moments to hold sheet music or know what we’re attached to in these blurs that come alive from their darkness and approach him in the dark, he sings on, too late,

he’s asked
“Where you from,”
and he sings
too cloud to hear
a metallic click
and a bark of large dogs,
he was expecting everyone to join in the chorus
because love is all that matters
when everyone knows the words,

but instead the night
blackens all at once,
a curtain drops,
every line is unhinged
as doors would be
in a fast, devastating
heat coming across
a flat Nevada desert,
a city of jewels
burns high on a
mountain top,
there is only
light to follow,
chord less , unstrung music
at the end of corridor filled with
white light and cigarette smoke.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

500 channels

I've been staring at the ceiling
all night, counting knot holes

in the pine wood and the
way streetlight glares

in the shadeless window pane,
making each slight strand of

spider webbing shiver
just so on silver breeze

and then collapse
it's span between old Cornish detail

and the cable wire
spooled in the corner

where the installer left it
years ago

before there was
such a thing

as having
500 hundred channels
and nothing to watch.

Friday, September 19, 2008

So Now What?

So the laughter takes us all
to another worse- day ever
that now graces diary pages
where ink runs to the margins
under tears and moisture
that rises from the grass
and falls from the trees.

So spins another day laughing
at the runs in the stockings of
pretty women for whom legs
are a religion of length and shape.

So laughter is not the cure for all that
ails the center of night,
but it is song that is barked like the glee
of seals in a circus act performing
Bach on so many tricycle horns.

So the shoe horn one brings to the jam session
can only play sole music is enough to
make us laugh again by the rise of the sun
when it comes over the hills and the mansions that
ruin the view of the coast line,

So the leather that was wasted on the sidewalk
is gone but the feet survive all the blisters
sweet potato blues could provide in a stretch of
Giving someone a hand for merely showing up
in not just a nick of time, but the whole block of wood as well.

So there is no peace under the stars
when we laugh at the sins of the fathers
who visit us in any hometown that can be hidden in.

So there’s a sign up ahead.

So who’s laughing now?

Monday, August 4, 2008

I think I shall never see...

I think I shall never see
a poem as lovely as
a cat wrapped around
the leg of a chair
finessed in Grand Rapids,

Grecian columns
scarred with
claws and
the slashing dents
a gnawing provides,

A calico's hair
that makes me sneeze
in the puddle of sunlight

a sudden noise
makes the animal
straighten and go rigid,

claws splayed,
insanity in its eye,

writhing on its back
as if break dancing,
tearing at the air
until it winds up on all fours

ready to tussle, rumble,
a hiss the sound of
fast, panicked air
streaming from a hot pipe,

it sits
and grooms its electric
with a tongue
that has tasted
the oddest things.

Friday, August 1, 2008

motor way: driving to Ontario

as far North
as my neck would turn
and see so muddy, crusted roads
winding through woods
that could be future pencil boxes
or a half used reams
of wheat hued paper.

lights dance
on the rim
and underscore the rime
collected at the
edges of things
made with a torch
and an assortment of hammers.

these tall buildings
ring the public square
as we play chess
on hard cement tables
sitting on chairs
with backs made of
grey, weathered slats.

somewhere on this road
lies a guitar that fell from a truck
driving through Ontario
toward the Ambassador Bridge.

a half used notebook
full of poems in
the slang of two warring languages
lies face up in a drainage ditch
outside a factory
specializing in cyclone fenced
ringed with barbed wire,
big pipes feeding brown fluids
to the river.

Friday, July 4, 2008


It's love that breaks against the rocks
and not foam nor water of any kind,
It's a baptism of ire that makes the horizon burn
in coalish, motionless plumes.

Stained cotton from beach front windows.

We were smoking joints
in the guts of the canyons,
the mired trai1s to the sea kissed shale.

All the blues from Chicago knife
and gunshot histories
is folk lore all the kids
destroy with their breathing.

Even at dinner time,
forks are next to plates
whose owners wonder
what's eating their neighbors
with all the strange phone calls
about what's going on the shoreline.

The armies of the night
couldn't scare up a quarter of the beaches
America has landed on
searching for something to talk about on
deserted talk show acres
where anyone in a tight suit
and big glasses can explain away
the bombs bursting in air
with sarcasm and ad -libs.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Didja, huh?

Did you know
that the madder
you get,
the more you resemble
a four letter verb
I saw painted
on the side of
driving into Orange County?
It too was an ugly expression
I met in passing,
and for once
I was glad
I was moving
further into the seared,
metallic sunset,
senses splayed
by radial tires
and American steel,

glad the way I am now
to let you
make your days
even grimmer
than lounging shadows
of the smoke stacks
that fall over your
apartment building
as you listen
to radio and
watch cable TV
at the same time.
Did you ever notice
something moving
outside,something making
in the center of the afternoon,
voices in conversation
from people
who are actually
facing each other
over drinks or smokes they bummed?

Did ja, huh?

Sunday, June 15, 2008


(1923 -1995)
for Father's Day

Never blind to their light
but always reaching
for it,
the way garden flowers
lean to the sun to issue forth
progenies of design,
distinct chips of an
ironwood block shaping themselves
in the rooms you imagined.

Shaving in the bathroom
with the door open,
and singing
that you love Paris
in the winter
when it's snowing
although we lived
along Detroit freeways
thinking Westward and onward
until California was the place
where The Motor City drove us.

The lives you gave us
with the breaths you took,
our faces having divided
the b est of your features
in the children
that follows the best we've
been doing.

Somewhere in history
someone will always look like you.

Light comes into all the rooms
from all the sunshine
that covers the green mountains
like glowing shawls of rapture
that are the beaded notes
of the Paris you loved
and imagined,

you eyes blue as burnt ash
arranging the forms of the world
in new configurations
always, surprising as trick knees
and the lurch of love
that is bottomless
and full of a world.

I have your hair
but none of your combs,
I have your eyes
but none of your vision,
I am myself all of you in the making,
grey hair and trick knees.

We stand here where you brought us
in rooms that
are signed with your name,
you've done all the work
you had to.

Our shoulders are broad and we stand erect,
somewhere in history,
someone will
always look like you.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

snap to it

the art on the wall
is not you at all
because the arms
on the canvas are too large
in proportion to your

waist and it’s a wonder
such a drawing and
charcoal rendering

would have eyes
on the same side of the
head viewing the world

like it were city scenes
spied while sitting sideways
on a seat on a train

that crawls through many
stops between here and Solana.

lend me your comb
and i’ll staple it to
a canvas and then

draw a line with
a sad blue chalk
a great many lopsided

hearts around its teeth
and the small black strands
dangling unmodified,

and then watch
as i glue your sunglasses
in the center of

the space and then
walk away, making like
i ‘m washing my hands.

“i like the first one better”
you say,
“i see myself
as one with two receded eyes
on the same side of the head

under a large ear,
reaching to the world
with this huge truck driver hands…”

it’s dinner time
and the movie
is in an hour
is all i can say?

we are too old
to lose our watches
after the hour
has been paid,

dinner and a show, madam?
you nod, you reach out a hand

and there i am
on the corner
staring into the

pedestrian walk sign
as it blinks whitely
against the encroaching gloom,

thinking of you again
while returning movies,
buying light bulbs,
crossing streets in dream town.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stopped watch

Stopped watch
A noise you can undress
is revealed by clock hands
moving not a fraction
toward the top of the hour,

During the break,
presidents of lost countries
walk down planks
from ships onto Hudson River docks,
confetti blocks the sun,

There are times when
it would be nice to land
on an air carrier dressed
up for Halloween,
a President with a plan that won’t fly,
A nation keeps looking at its watch
and wonders
why this show isn’t canceled,
why do we keep waiting
for the good guys to arrive,
is there a way to get
to the news faster,

To find what happened
while we collected
every image on
digital memory
to be viewed when
there are neither sheep
to be counted nor
rough water to tread?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Philosophy you open bottles with

For the glory of Candlestick Park
these matches defy
your vagrant bluster,
they light their intended ends
and. then fade to black
half—way across the pitching mound,
either curling up or bowing down
to the press box rafters.

Second of all, I would think
that you’d wish more than
a fine—how-do—you-do
in a borrowed car.
In later years,
they- who -know- such —and — such
and you—know—who
might say and even believe
that sex—wax is a very malleable thing.
One solution: practice your sailors’ knots
and keep the evidence in your back pocket,
in case you're asked about
what really went down.

Try this on for size:
hold a flame thrower
at arms length
and try to blow it out.
if you’re not able
to extinguish the flame,
you should check yourself
into the nearest
stop—smoking clinic.

Finally,soft drinks consumed
through a straw
tastes their best
when you're not laughing
or watching the horse you bet on
drop dead at the starting gate.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Needy fingers making
a path through your hair,
a new part where a comb finds
the soul under the brain
that keeps you
wondering about the world,

Lustful italics
contain consonants
that are not quite
the words we
started to speak,

Those nights, half asleep,
a small fist raps your back,
floorboards groaning
the way they do in old houses
sagging, tired lumber ,
all that's left for spring is laughter
and fear when everyone
goes out doors again after dark,
testing door knobs
with a twist of the wrist,
it wasn't you ,
you say, only the house
or some such thing,

Shared chills or beads of sweat,
the double “s” molding prevailed,
every position and posture
on the mattress a buried language,
nothing weighs less than an unwanted ton,
we change positions
as if speaking too fast for court reporters,

"I hope I don't dream" you say,
" or if I do,
let it be of a big black wall
with nothing on it,
just blackness, blackness..."

The apartment is so quiet
that the refrigerator
sings us to sleep,
a high, whistling serenade

We drift off
as headlights flash
across the ceiling
and car radios play music pulled
from the air from other states,

we drift off as the house
sinks deeper
into an earth
that wants everything returned.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

Some views of Rose Canyon

I've been watching you from the other side of the drapes,
trucks from all over the county mark their progress with forks,
the elements conspire surprises on any birthday they desire,
you would be a frequent flyer if only Madrid were in Ohio,

The drapes I mentioned are early '70s' Akron, a gift of love,
all the money from GMAC couldn't limit the cyclone fences,
Surprise that it's sleet on the day of your coming out,
wouldn't you rather have permission than excuses?,

Tender love and double breasted jackets, a milk dish, some muffins,
If only words were worth the page that was never a forest to start with,
The climate of the times is birthday cakes and asphalt on lawn chairs,
Or was I just interested in drapes at that, or the window, and not you?,

We go on drinking in the sights through amber lenses,
She doesn’t think and she doesn’t care, and her opinions are firm like tits
A love of money and words turns into magazines and all night fist fights,
Relative spunk of the last promise is a dark stain on those beloved drape

Today, even the cigarette hand is rubbing me the wrong way,
Trucks from over the county line leave limits of warranties in barrels,
He was thinking she was breathing the air all wrong too much heaving,
Objects fly across the room like they do on re-runs, please scratch your nose,

Birthdays turn cold like lovers and faucets but weather happens
every shred of the remaining days, Patio decks suspended in air by planks of a platform from a party
full of surprises that demands that hills not roll but resemble
steps for terraces and patios that jut out like jaws of a boss
who dares you to hit him,

She has all these opinions that are based on what she thinks she's


I've been watching you: through a spyglass from a patio across

the canyon that sees your outline and the tag of the towel through

the Akron drapes that are yellow with sun and spade,
All the forks that milk can buy,
He loves to dance, can't dance, loves to chat, he's dead,
If we try hard, we can see a convoy of trucks snake through the shrubs of Rose Canyon,

LAPD is recruiting in San Diego because we don't leave witnesses,
Remember when I regaled you with a discourse on getting even with
the chef who memorized The Anarchist Cookbook?,
It's my birthday in spite of the clime, I'm glad you're using

towels, I wish for abundance in trucks and the next 24 hours,
On days when all the windows and lenses fog,
Think what she will,
He's thinking of meaning and meaning it this time,

Patio decks defy nature and jut from the hillsides as though
the houses themselves want to sail forth and go to some place
where the evidence of sight wasn't taxable and indexed by class,

I've been watching all of you from the other side of the drapes,
one left shoe lies in the center of the free way while the engines
of leisure race and vanish into the irony of perspective,
the point that's never made 'though it's promises taxes our eyes

and wastes our time and makes the purchase of guns desirable and wholesome.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

lest i

i left the gun on the counter
lest i shoot off my mouth

kept the cellphone off
in case i call myself names

yes, that was me,
looking over the alley fence

killroy style,

seeing a parade pass by
between 2 brick walls
obstructed with banged, leaky dumpsters,

so many folks waving flags,
shaking hands,

my fingertips are numb
from squeezing the splinters
from the guitar callouses
i built up practicing
"michael row the boat ashore",

the confetti and empty soda cups
obscure the cracks in the sidewalk,

my hands are folded
lest i run this boat aground.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Swans in the park lake

He was in the front seat
Of every car he took to
The other side of the city
Where there were swans
In the park lake, graceful as
Show horses bowing to a crowd .

Half of what you buy
Is who you buy it from.
There you are
With a bag of coffee grounds
In the back seat of the
Car you took back to suburbs
Crowded with the unpaid bills
The city couldn’t set on fire.

There were school girls whistling
Past the graveyard , skirts askew
In uptakes of wind.
Men with shovels loved their work
Because it was deep and grounded.

At dusk, the lake water darkens
And there is only a large, black surface.
The world thinks it is we are out here

In a boat playing harmonicas and guitars
To odd felines and bovines themselves playing
Along the ashen corona that rings the stars.

Monday, April 7, 2008

these trees cannot

these trees cannot
and will not give themselves

to my whims as they
wind around the roots

of our concerns
as shovels dig the earth,

striking bedrock
and giving us sparks

instead of oil or gold.

mineral rights are
no right of way

when no one
sees the path

from the attic window.

these trees would rather burn
with each other , in the forests

where they grew
rather than be uprooted,

split , planed and hammered
into the shapes of furniture and

old toys that will burn
in homes

when sparks hit the shingle roofs
and dry summer limbs.

you give all your money
as you ask for water

and we squeeze stones
that were buried in what little

mud remained along the
side of the road

that's clogged with
cars full of families

saying prayers under
an orange, smoky corona.

no one can see
where it was they lived,

there are no birds
in the sky.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

these trees cannot

these trees cannot
and will not give themselves

to my whims as they
wind around the roots

of our concerns
as shovels dig the earth,

striking bedrock
and giving us sparks

instead of oil or gold.

mineral rights are
no right of way

when no one
sees the path

from the attic window.

these trees would rather burn
with each other , in the forests

where they grew
rather than be uprooted,

split , planed and hammered
into the shapes of furniture and

old toys that will burn
in homes

when sparks hit the shingle roofs
and dry summer limbs.

you give all your money
as you ask for water

and we squeeze stones
that were buried in what little

mud remained along the
side of the road

that's clogged with
cars full of families

saying prayers under
an orange, smoky corona.

no one can see
where it was they lived,

there are no birds
in the sky.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Your stock broker is dead

One cannot see over the hedge
that funds the future of raw silk

and precocious metals,
Oy, this oyster moans load

before he hits the silk,
where all our futures

are shown as cliffhangers
but no coming episodes are writ,

there is plenty of money
to go around as long as

there is only half of me
that gets hungry,

there will no flashlights
in the days to follow,

meet us at the jumping off place
where it rained stock brokers

holding mortgages
to homes that look awful
even on paper,

there will be no flashlights
allowed in the future
no matter what kinds of futures you trade
in good faith, soy bean or pork barrels,

there is no light at the end of the tunnel
and nothing on the shelf to look at either.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Who wears the white hat?

We never met a bomb
that didn't make
a righteous noise
in the distance,
over the horizon,
bringing a love of God
and goodwill
to an unhurried, aimless,
mass of folks
who have nothing left
to choose from
since their deserts have
turned to glass.

We'll drop white hats
after the bombing runs,
along with subscriptions
to magazines containing the secrets
of what the world wants
America to reveal
against all the protests
of both Houses of Congress
and a Pentagon
that's tied itself in knots
counting heads, helmets
and every bean
it can find,

Buildings collapse,
shuttles stray and
break up
over flat Texas sands,
the sons and daughters
of parents
who never had the slightest idea
that love is more
than a hunger
for a speck of food,

Under the right conditions,
the perfect light,
that not every dusk
is lit with screaming rockets against
the black night, meaning
people they know will
be gone in wisps of smoke and dust,
under the house they were born in,
for no reason
that makes sense
of the larger picture
that remains
fuzzy, grainy,

The only thing we see
are blurred images
of drunk cowboys
coming around the bend again,
firing every gun they can get their hands on
until even the Devil leaves town
because things are bad and ugly as
a hush that follows a stinging
slap in the face

Or the tearing sound
of opening a letter
that precedes the longest
cry you'll ever have.

Sunday, March 23, 2008


Today we roll away the stone
and find there's not a bone
we can pick with the stems and
blooms of seeds that have
breached the soil
after the long nights
of cold, dreamless slumber.

Tonight we bless ourselves
and dust our shelves
and curse under our breath
that wasn't more on the table
nor more praise
for the callouses our hands took on
hammering each nail
into the joists
for the roof over our heads
that keeps the food dry
on the table
that's set bread and wine,
our own flesh and blood.

Tomorrow we rise and
make noise
that’ll upset our poise
as we stare out the window
and curse the sun the rising again,
cursing the moon
for sleeping until dark,
scratching behind our ears
as we struggle to remember
over toothpaste smears
each and every step we took
to get where are,
arisen and angry,
a rough patch of unshaved chin.

Friday, March 21, 2008

We are talking about the price of gas

We are talking about
the price of gas
and a sleeve rolled up
to the elbow
as we do the math
of the hours we work
to support a car
to bring us here from different directions,
holding our hats
as the wind comes up the
canyon walls
and through the
planks of the patio,
talking about gasoline
and a weak dollar
and we still haven’t
looked up from our drinks
embarrassed by an abundance
of sunshine and blue ocean
and not one word
about how a pretty girl
will make the world slow down
like it does in movies
when woman gets out of car
and man sees her from his balcony
and waves a wild hand
before he comes running down the stairs
in his baggiest pants,
pleats and neat folds undulating
casually with each strain of his flex thighs
until you break the ice
and confess
that you don’t care much for ice
and crusts on wheat bread sandwiches,
to which I’m shocked
‘though I admit
that I find the world boring too,
and that there’s nothing as fine
as the movies,
and little else more drear than
the lights coming up
in the large room
full of empty seats
except mine
and maybe yours,
of course,
that it was you in the balcony
giving the razz berry during the kissing scenes,
laughing like a fool
who’s in love with a new toy.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

An ammo belt around your waist

I remain yours truly,
a bright grenade in the garden
or still as a lawn jockey
offering assistance for horses
that never come,

Either way you'll have me
is fine with me
so long as there
are tales of bad luck
crawling under the
televised reports of what
famous men say
in undisclosed locations,

There's nothing
we hear that is
is whole or complete
like a collection of
Poets who write in Latin,
here's one side of the story
and now here's
something else completely,

When I see you
I become cross eyed
and every one in America
gets to vote on what I should do
when you mention that Red States
make you think of roses
and the thousand wounds
of the heart that bleeds
odd colors,

You wear something slinky,
arms are bare,
there's an ammo belt
around your waist,
every bullet in your gun
is fair and balanced,

Television cameras
and flood lights
break down our door,
shatter the windows,
we stop with our
dance of daggers and daisies
and answer endless
questions about
missing white women
in North California towns,

I mean to say I love you
sometimes in the morning
like Paris when it's raining
and that I hate the way
you won't leave me
when the chips are down,

Statistics insist that
men need their heart ache
and angst
about salary and
being dumped
for lack of war worth fighting in,

The world is full of pinheads
yet many of them
go on to lead productive lives
provided they are
given the right distractions

and phony maps
of the world they live in,
I have you driving off the road
when I'm not in the car,
you make me put celery sticks
in pencil sharpeners,

Ever feel like your
always being watched?
I wake up before
you do and notice
the television is on
only to find
a panel of middle aged men
and skinny, gaunt faced blonds
waving their fingers
at me, moving their lips,
telling me things I cannot hear
for all the static
that seeps under
the bed room door,
tires, air horns,
crying children,
radio stations laying it all down
for us like a ratty blanket
on a concrete floor,

Yes, this is my bed,
this is where I sleep
and awake
again, divided.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Pledge Night

Let’s remember that
we’re strangers here ourselves
as we consider the years
we’ve had the same phone number,
the answering machine
is full of salesmen
stumbling over their scripts
and toll free exchanges,

get an extra room cleaned
for free and God, do I want a smoke.

None of us
who still have hair
believed our music
would age as badly
as an ice cream flavor
involving spinach and Brussels sprouts,
all the guitar licks
leave an after taste
of hashish, a stench of love beads
doused in petuli oil,
what was sleek and smooth
is now grey and creased
like paper that’s been
folded and unfolded over many years,

yes, I tell my barber,
roll down my ears;
give me a buzz
the equal of a shot and a beer.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Those of Us in Pajamas Whistling Marches

Those of us
whistling marches
in pajamas
are so sated with
soda and sour grapes
that we let the phones
in our pockets ring and buzz,
we allow those knocking
on the door to blister their knuckles,
the newspapers taped over
the windows let in only
the slightest slivers of sun
through the tears and cracks,
it’s natural that we drum our lips
and admire the dead garden in the back,
the bony limbs of leafless twigs
splayed like fingers reaching for a glass of water,
two seasons of unraked leaves,
this is our glory, our monument of
where we’ve come to remain
and settled in like a skin irritation
that won’t go away when you scratch,
radios and TVs blare and stare back at us all day,
our internet is highway of sex educated hitch hikers,
those of us in pajamas
wonder when one of us
will break ranks
from the couch
and do something about what’s
in the card board boxes stacked behind the garage,
full of pencil sharpeners, dead batteries
and legal papers we haven’t read,
but there’s nothing we can do
until we finish what we’re doing,
which is nothing
which is fine
it means
we don’t miss a thing.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Arise and write!

Every which way but
into the sleeve of the jacket
now too long
and longing as the arm
drops toward the dressing room floor,
one leg longer than the other
and pants a size too small,
it seems you were invaded
and raided and all the faded
jeans and things that are
what you require for work, lunch,

all the points between appointments of
blue pencil marks, remarks in red pen
displaced, at sea in unknown pockets
in a pile of pants and shirts
unwashed like mythical masses
arriving at the docks
after passing under
the grey lady’s armpit
and the light she carries,
home fires for everyone,

Nothing makes sense
but that doesn’t matter
when work is the word of the day
and the word is first
when you thirst for a drink
and think you have no dimes
nor quarters for the soda in a can
or water in a plastic bottle,
you just hit the throttle and
plunge ahead into the brand new day
full of traps and fortunes
and the terror
an angry typist can bring you
or an empty page
taunts you with,
you rise, you shave, you
put on your cleanest dirty shirt,
you move onward into
the rising light ,
the streetlights are still on,
the bus is late
and deadlines are all
you have to live on.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Before we start

Before we start
lets place a dime next to our plates
to tell us where the chatter stops
when the words get hard as the water
in the streaked water glass.
I could stop on a dime
back in the day
when I drove a station wagon
to the store,a trail of tread
behind me showing me
every light I skirted.
It was your skirt that turned my head
when I stopped for a paper,
fingering the dashboard ashtray
for a dime.
All those screaming headlines
never stopped coming,
the news didn't change
when we married
after months of talking about
current events as we ate
Asian take out.
Today I drive
nothing but trivial paths,
you are the keeper of the dimes
and the traction i
in the tread of my shoes,

I sing your name
when I buy a paper,
you are the music
the headlines never had.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Gravy Boat

Timeless in airports
in non-smoking lines, every one deserves
where they're going to
I could say what I mean in congeries of intent,
but meaning is only a streak of luck
when the words like each other
and decide to try something new,
like a marriage that works
because husband and wife
are never home
on the same nights
and the sentence they've started
promises paroles and pardons
from the contract
of a kiss.

Under ether and the knife,
we might tell
the truth as we've felt
it for years
only after what's been killing us
is one with a snip and stitch.

After words, extraordinary language
becomes the way we walk
from the recovery room
in another light
of what's there, always the light
of fixtures that don't hide
the creep of gray hair
that is part of your response
to questions
posed like actors in costumes
for dramas about powdered wigs
from dead cultures
who tap at the library door
to know why and how come
all the lines are said in quirks
of style so fat with what
what you really mean
that the patient
yearns for the burn of ether.

Still, there is the issue of the magazines to read, the post
cards to write, schedules to memorize when coming into one's own
is an adventure traveled in the back seats of cars that are
rented with other people's money,
when the scenery passes
and the billboards of brief, smiling women
are more interesting than
the mountains or the forests or the
local histories ventured over ,
through or ducked all together,
when what you find yourself looking for
is anything with legs
that really speaks to you
in formations of language that tells you all about
a life too terrible
to survive the perfections
that binds a life to marriage
or occupation
that has a hint of escape
written illegibly in a liberty
that is mustache cups to drink from,
and advertisements on T-shirts,
work days one forgets
when you're having fun
testing markets
with a metaphor
for the phases of The Moon,
ebb and flow
that is a trickle of chump change
to pockets rich in lint
and holes that are all about
the money they can't
keep for the pants
they don't wear
while customer sales
tells everyone
to fuck themselves
with all the credit
they can get their hands on.

Witless in movie marathons hoping the hero
finds beauty tied to a tree
where there are
three bottles at her feet,
at the roots of her bondage.
Under the hot spaghetti sun,
our hero must decide which,
one trunk tethered woman
or three sealed bottles he
will have his way with.

This causes the Gods of competing absolutes
to laugh high -five each other
and cash in their markers
because the tangle of words
has become the record
that spontaneously combusted
in the heat of trying to ferret
a kernel of wit
from the incongruity of the example.
I go on reading bill boards, hear news reports
on car radios,
the voices reading the copy in
place-less accents
that sound like America,airless voices reading words

flattening ideas of pain
and renders
stories of lives and places
into neutered melodramas
whose endings I predict
like that geek
everyone knows
who can pick
the ponies in all
kinds of weather
but who
never places
neither a bet nor goes to the track,
but who reads
all about it, and that's all he needs.

Drifting into insomnia
and other satellite hours,
every light burns,
we are tired
at this end
of the century,
rhetoric falters
and has become
the real way we shed tears,
speaking falters
and faults are naught but
gaps that are filled
when we stop
clearing our throat
in search of speech,
too exhausted for miracles.

There is now a fade from
cue cards
and a desire for Neapolitan ice cream
with a slice
of pie to go with,
a fade
into the language of arms
that are not the
fingers I speak with,
stranger things
in a room
where every light
have coronas against walls
painted for years
the color of surrender,
we talk too much
about things.