Once Brilliant, Twice Shy
Why does Anna Beth
keep her socks on?
Because she’s embarrassed of her body?
Because she’s a teenager with circulation problems?
Why does it matter that Meredith
a ballerina in Cleveland
a part time prostitute in Los Angeles
is now a zealot mother in Flagstaff
bathing her babies in Purell?
Why were we
Washing Wine Glasses in the Morning
nursing our shame-overs
scrubbing at lip stick stains.
It seems like good enough advice
but why must I
These notes to myself.
Collected in the two dimensional “cloud”
(which I still can’t explain to Grandpa)
gathered from torn leaves of dead trees
Dazzling enough to wake me
to yank the steering wheel
to pretend I’m listening
from the organic electrical mind, man
the detritus of a poem
not a dying art
but art dying
a mass grave of words,
the few survivors
going towards the light
singing I’m going to meet my maker
meet my maker
I’m going to see my baby
see my baby
see my baby now.
Sitting with Schloss
For Bert James Schloss, MD
I came for a prescription, Doc
I sat for nine years.
Listening was only part of our arrangement,
there were the soft suggestions
the quiet challenges, and yes,
In our last session you spoke of a poem
Sea Fever, by John Masefield
How it reminded you,
we can’t always explain our passions.
Sometimes we “must go down to the seas again,
to the lonely seas and the sky,”
Your seas and sky were selfless;
your passion was others.
You were our advocate our mentor our friend.
You provided for so many
those sails of safety,
that wind of compassion,
those echos of empathy.
From you I learned how to know someone
in spite of facts.
Facts that seem more important now
that you are gone.
I want more ways to describe you,
other than nouns, adjectives, slippery synonyms.
Words not devoid of meaning, but not enough either
to capture what you meant to me, to us.
How many lives did you save?
How many brains did you fix?
How many hearts did you stitch?
Impossible to quantify,
we only know now
what we always knew then,
that your heart was too full.
If we are so lucky
to see you on the Other Side,
I know there will be a comfortable chair
a dog, or five, at your feet
a line for days
to sit with Schloss.
Look Southward, Angel
The art gallery’s now a weed store
two doors down from another weed store
My barista? Some hipster prostitute
leaning over the counter in her cardigan
doing her best American Apparel ad
post feminist post ironic post post office
I said barista.
Give me Waffle House Wanda
Break out the garden hose at shift change
Blast away the hashbrown bits
scattered, smothered, covered
Down the drain
with gut rot grinds
and today’s regrets
Someone please distract me from
all the cool kids today.
Before I trade in my hybrid for a pick up
and drive home to diners, dealers
Only a Fool.
Today I decided to wait for inspiration
before starting Important Things
deciding what freedoms to abandon
in pursuit of meaning.
A child devouring an iced cookie–
guilt free taste of sugar
in a timeless summer.
The curls of the hyperactive toddler
Her mother’s gray springs
Only dead cells sprouting from a skull.
A radiation bald Hitchens
his brother Martin Amis
eternal sparring partners
in this corner: Atheist
in the other: Agnostic.
We’re all dying.
The Klimt poster absorbs the sun
where blinding reflection should be
a poor facsimile of a transcendent
painting made dorm room staple.
I can’t paint without a projector–
“Adult Tracing” she calls it
like an artist’s steroid scandal
Performance enhancing, that projector
I wish I never gave you that painting.
You hung it above your shitter
then donated it to Goodwill.
In bed I protect my heart with the
heavy biography of Raymond Carver.
Exhausted by the abuse
Running through the woods
from an old neighborhood crush
and yesterday’s tomorrow
Big Man in the Sky
Mother of all things Earth
forgive this day’s sins
the wasted breath
the refusal of touch
the denial of beauties;
everyday and profound.
New Age Source
Prophet of Consciousness
if you reside inside me
smaller than atoms,
Am I talking to myself?
when I say
You piece of shit.
You lazy fuck.
Or am I talking to God?
In a Past Life I was a Country Singer
I stand at the base of the stairs
you up above, on the landing
doing the angry finger dance
winding up for the
hurling coffee cup
In a past life I was a country singer
could make sense of the sadness
with 3 simple chords
Before that, a painter
with Wyeth-esque palette
not without talent
Before that… it gets blurry
something Renaissance maybe
humorless days in the field
meditating on the Humanities
mindless back breaking labor
full moon manias
I stand at the top of the stairs
you at the foot
clutching a broken wrist
covering your bruised ribs
How did you get down there?
I know I pushed you
but it’s like I just woke up.
Passing bass, rattles the floor
a heartbeat on four wheels.
Ice Dreams (with Recipe for Oblivion)
The past is a glacier
Insomnia: Global Warming
There we are
floating through the Gulf Stream
in the backseat of that car
The past is an ice cube
Remembrance: the sun
There you are
like an insect trapped in amber
waiting to be swallowed
on the playground after dark
The past is a blizzard
Secrets: black ice
Here we go
let go of the wheel, spin
through the hotel room
rented on allowance
Recipe for Oblivion:
Do not go back to sleep!
Walk down those stairs
Pour bourbon over ice–
no longer a metaphor
just something to make it
Sit in chair.
Stare with glassy Anime eyes
at a stain on the carpet.
“The Physical Impossibility of Wealth In The Mind Of Someone Poor.”
(for Damien Hirst)
I didn’t write this poem.*
But it was my idea!
Architects don’t build their own houses.
Fiction is the Best Way of Telling Our Truth
Thinly veiled, I write of our hardships
each one a tiny model sailboat
hand-launched into the dyed blue
seas of park lakes and reservoirs,
urban engineering at its Disney best.
You don’t see it do you?
Even our water is fake.
I didn’t want this poem to be about you
especially (sigh) not about Me
It’s my day off from scams and schemes
and your day off from,
What exactly do you do all day?
But here we are again
trapped in midnight’s moonlit silence
Pointing out scars birth-marks blemishes
Punching away at already bruised arms
With the Incredulity of Saint Thomas
in Caravaggio’s masterpiece
Sticking our fingers deep into each other
‘s open wounds.
Come on baby love honey darling
Make it hurt like you used to;
Only you know how to turn me on.
What’s Gotten Into You? (Cause it Ain’t Me)
You were so shy when we first met
asking only for anonymity
Made me want you so much more
your refreshing refusal of
the only worthy goals:
But you were too beautiful
too perfectly proportioned
the Golden Mean incarnate.
Now, like all the obedient rest,
you keep getting smaller
skewing your proven ratio
refusing all the feasts I borrow
(without collateral) to pay for.
Find you over a toilet, defaulting our
dinners, as I will my debts
What were you thinking?
When? The other night
Motherly swirls across my back?
Like our old Chemistry teacher.
Yes, you do know the one.
(Stop pretending you don’t fucking
remember anything that happened
to Us, before 1998)
Yes. Yes! That One.
Later imprisoned for molestation
Asked us to stay after class
took us to the back room
Never went any further, knew it could
if you showed him a catalyst.
Still, he made us feel smart
made us feel Chosen, made us laugh
Yes, at the expense of others
but at that age, superiority our drug
Sorry, back to my intervention:
Half a bottle of Skyy your lunch?
You do remember
Your mother’s an alcoholic
loved her bottle of Bombay
more than yours of formula.
Your father, a serial entrepreneur
liked you better as an idea
than an inception.
Neither say I love you anymore
except when drunk
or as an apology.
And that guy you’re engaged to?
Wears Ed Hardy and drives a Hummer.
What’s gotten into you, old love?
Our midnight cyber-advances,
not enough to get me hard time,
still leave me feeling criminal.