Tuesday, September 15, 2009


eventually you roll up your sleeves
after you arise from the nod
to notice
the back of your shirt is covered
in grass stains and
small twigs
the shape of crucifixes.

there's another song
these fingers will manage
as nicotine tips strike
keys that click
and snap another
name that
occurs to you
when the morning sun
is right where you like it,
in your eyes,white and intense.

the name rhymes with
the things
you've done
and the things
that became broken
as you past through
court yards and gymnasiums
trying to keep your balance.

the name
sinks like a rock
to the center
of your dreams
where you are leaning
against a rock
nodding to the lines
the poet grunts
as he comes clean
with nick names
and a drum stick or two.

you look down
and see yourself
on the floor
not moving nor breathing
and look
to the page
you were trying to fill,

it is empty
as the air
between the words "I love you".

you return to the floor
to the floor,
reach for your heart
leave your hand flat over your shirt pocket

and then die.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A philosophy you can open bottles with

Clearing house, really, posting this poem here. I wrote it in 1980 after I'd gotten back from San Francisco , where I did a poetry reading with  the late and magnificent poet Leslie Scalapino at Intersection for the Arts, cheerfully arranged by poet and college buddy Steve Farmer. The Bay Area struck me as a location where anything that could happen already has, and this sense of things being slightly crazed at their core inspired to write another of my open-ended whimsies. -tb

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.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cloud cover

It’s a morning of clouds
when it’s either the sun
or songs about the sun
that we miss,

Neptune rises with a
scepter full of
unlikely fish,
he’s covered in a net
of promises every song
and lyric of praise
weaved together
to contain his churning ire
in rhymed lines that
limit small talk, ideas,
brings every threat
to happy endings on the upbeat,

Zeus yawns and tosses a
random bit of lightning
to the earth, where it lands
in the center of football game
that fare badly for
all home towns,
both teams are suited up,
seated at card tables in the center of
the arena, helmeted and
stumped and perfectly stymied
over a chess board,
line backers and full battle gear
slapping each other
on the side of the helmet
as fans drool, throw bricks and
paper cups,
take the name of Zeus in vain,
Zeus calling Christ
on a cordless phone
to raise the bet,
Jesus just laughs,
“I’m letting that letting
this meter ride to the
hundred dollar mark…”

Gabriel walks across a horizon
on the notes
of Hayden
and Gillespie
whose darting tongues
are triple threats
on the lying lips of lawyers,
mouthpieces all.
Gabriel reaches for
handful of mist,
a fistful of rain,
a knuckle sandwich of
crowded choruses
that horn in on
what clear playing
field his imagination plays on,
there isn’t a score nor
a trace of a lyric law
which can furnish the
vastness of skies at
the edge of the atmosphere,
where music continues
on radio waves though
words and breathless concern
with precision, noted detail,
less nunanced positions
all fall silent, quiet as graves
full of buried language,
where sunshine turns orange
and icy before all becomes
black and it takes years for
our eyes to adjust
before we see something
like stars
or footprints across
what is no longer sky
or air
but only a vastness of nothing at all
where planets sit
appearing not just a little
like balls on an ebony
billiard table,
waiting for collision, some
kind of action,

“I’ll take that shot” says Zeus,
“Sounds fishy to me”
moans Neptune,
“You got my marker”,
says Jesus,
“things are slow in Calgary,
and my c-note is only half spent…”

Someone used to live here

The fish smell never
came out of the rugs
even after the rooms
on each floor
where covered in talcum
and faint
powders and then vacuumed
as deeply
as the screams of ghosts hidden in carpet bristles,
who crooning around the
edge of the whining pitch
the motor gives
as the machine roots
around the corners of tables
and sniffs what’s behind the drapes,
cries that come through the mahogany
and carpet layers,
every scent of every meal
is evident in every bit of food remembered as
it lingered, impaled
on the tines of the many forks
that found their way to
my mouth, full of talk
and red wine.