Month: January 2013

Mission Bells

laughing like hyenas
in New York City bones
filing cabinet homes
painting with their fingers
spare hand on the trigger
guns under their chins
and we’re at war, I’m told

laser-guided altar boys
who didn’t say their prayers
bodies in the freezer
pockets full of paper trails
salted pork and liquid nails
they slap around a shuttlecock
and we’re at war, I’m told

with someone old and someone new
and they still play our song
the pots are boiling over
spitting like a Brooklyn Dodger
no one gives a damn
two lovers dancing in the kitchen
and we’re at war, I’m told

barflies sucking cigarettes
and pissing on the floor
chasing carrots on a string
crawling through the desert streets
with opiates and shells
swearing loud as mission bells
and we’re at war, I’m told

hiding in the sewer pipes
and bunkers underground
rats the size of alligators
the protesters are bored and tired
the devil’s chin is curved
we’ve been at war since God was born
and no one gives a damn


The Laredo

it was a long, hot summer
I was living in my car
with bronchitis
eventually pneumonia

it was cold after dark
and blankets didn’t help
cops wouldn’t stop knocking
on the windows

I was working in the dirt
digging holes, laying concrete
and I only owned a single
pair of jeans

they were ripped at the crotch
and I hardly ever slept
even though I desperately
wanted to

I played guitar on the corner
made enough to pay for dinner
told my family I was staying at
“The Laredo”

the crazy part is that
people respected me for it
some people even envied me
like being homeless was
something admirable

they’ve been reading way too
many books about
folk heroes who burn their money
backpack across the country
to starve alone in Alaska

I’m not going to write a book
but I’ll tell you what I learned
I never want to be homeless

The Writer

thinking about the lady in the argyle socks
blue and gray knee-highs
tight-fitting black shirt
earrings shaped like planets in a solar system
dangling like tiny wind chimes
a rose garden growing on her wrist

her hands, tiny and perfect
her eyes filled with quiet fire
as she stands at the bathroom mirror
sleeves rolled up, leaning to one side
she looks ready for a fight

she walks into the bedroom
and undresses piece by piece
stepping over cats in the doorway
I feel clumsy and invisible
typing by myself in the corner

this time of night the cats go crazy
and the dryer squeaks and clanks and bangs
and ticks and whirs and hums
somewhere in the racket
she’ll fall asleep and dream
I’ll stay awake and stare

The Planetarium

she gets up and leaves the room
in her silhouetted beauty
my eyes follow her shape as
she passes in front of the window

I’m awake and she’s irresistible
I refuse to look away
she’s the rainfall gathering in
puddles in the street
she’s the distant lights reflecting
off the surface

I could lose myself for hours
in the slightest of her movements
and the time whittled away
wouldn’t be wasted

but the rainfall never notices
when I sit in stillness there
and the satellites pass by
without my mention

she’ll come tip-toeing back to bed
and I’ll fail to say a word
I’ll lay awake until she passes by

The Slaughterhouse

crawling through a shotgun blast
while the dead men laugh
in a backlit corner table
eyes burning like cigars
they’ve got your number
and mine

they line up outside your house
breathe down your neck
in line at the store
they cut you off in traffic
call you during dinnertime
make messes in public restrooms
use up all the paper towels

they make TV shows and magazines
give out speeding tickets
they stack the canned food on top
of the eggs
even though they should know better

and at the moment
they set off firecrackers
and bottoms-up the vodka
they scream together in the
parking lot

I’m unsuccessful at avoiding them
at every single turn
while the living stand like dams
against the current
the waitress gives you the
wrong change

the machine steals your quarter
and ten minutes of your life
we line up in the slaughterhouse
where the buckshot fills you up
and sends you on your way

December 7th, 2005

it was eleven below zero
I was wearing a jean jacket
the cops were trolling for
homeless people
bringing them inside

the thickest fog you’ve ever seen
billowed in from the street
the bar was filled with teenagers
some trashy band was playing

the singer ripped his pants open
got booed right off the stage
we stocked up on coasters
flung them across the room

then the new kid went too far
broke a bottle on the wall
just like that, we were out
pounding the pavement
looking for trouble
but I don’t know if we found it

the cold was actually deadly
the wind chill brought it down
it felt like twenty-five below
the whole city was empty

they found a homeless man
almost naked in the gutter
hypothermic and hallucinating
he undressed and froze to death

they had warning signs all over
my extremities went numb
and I don’t remember how we
made it home

Tree Farm

they stand on the side of the road
in symmetrical rows
like soldiers standing in ranks

growing at identical rates
living in a parody of creation
and I’m strangely captivated

in the plains of Oregon
you can look into a forest
and see straight through to
daylight on the other side

something so natural as trees
in such mechanical organization
like pieces on a chessboard
it’s beautiful, unsettling, and

darkness in the aisles
like a city without people
a forest without animals
creation in the dead eyes of

I long to climb the fence
to walk into those eerie rows
and let the strangeness seep
into my stubborn dreams