Sorrow Birds

5-0 Radio

sitting in a car after dark
on the side of the highway
listening to a police scanner
as a lone truck passes by
nothing’s happening

the streets are exaggerated
the gangs are asleep
the world is not an exciting
place to be

voices on the radio
slip in and out of protocol
reporting every fifteen minutes
to remind themselves
they have a job

pacing up and down the streets
like cabbies without fares
without so much as a distraction
nothing going on

but who am I to judge?
I’m sitting in a car after dark
on the side of the highway
listening to a police scanner

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Fireworks

when I was a teenager
I watched a house burn down
across the street
on the fourth of July

as I watched, I wasn’t worried
or even slightly empathetic
instead, there was this feeling
of euphoria

like nothing else mattered
like there were answers in the fire
like everything was right with
the world

nobody cared about the fireworks
they stood out on the street
taking pictures, pointing,
cheering for the firemen

I laid down in the grass
watched the stars shatter and fall
into the glow of the warmest
summer air

as the water rained down
and purified the earth
I thought how beautiful the night
turned out to be

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
again

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

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
surreal

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

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

Man Outside the Window

there’s a man outside the window
I saw him walking by
while I was writing in my bed

he was in a sharp black suit
with a round-brimmed hat
streetlight reflecting in his
glasses

it was only for a moment
a shadow in my peripheral
I could have sworn I saw him
looking right at me

we’re up on the third floor
there’s no ledge outside the window
so I’m either seeing things
or I’m asleep and dreaming

either way, it’s probably not a
good sign
but I’m a vivid dreamer
so I’ve got it figured out

if I wake up and this poem isn’t
still written down
then I was only dreaming
but the odds are pretty good
I’ve finally lost it

The Numbers

she’s sitting on the floor
running numbers through her head
I’m on the couch with a novel
and a beer

she’s mumbling to herself
about the order of operations
common denominators
decimals and fractions
and I’m a distraction
running my hand through her hair

she’s moving too quick
with her hands around a notebook
the moment isn’t taking
any chances

it’s screaming past us in a blur
of missed opportunities
electric cars and formulas
skydivers and percentages
sleeping dragons, microwaves,
and Mayan calendars

I’m scanning the pages
without reading the words
she’s throwing her pen on the table
we’re lost in the equation
there’s no reason to worry
I’ll let her figure it out