eBooks available!

I have eBooks/PDFs of my work available for sale to those who might be interested. All were previously offered as rewards to various tiers of my Patreon subscribers (a program I will be continuing there, btw). If you want access to the most recent collections as they come out, I’d go there. Just sayin’.

The titles include:
—  Four separate annual “best of” collections from 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. I release these annually, so 2021 and beyond will eventually be here, as well.
“Then Play On,” a chapbook of poems about music
— “Pushpins and Thumbtacks,” a volume about icons and cliches of American culture
“Noted In Passing,” a revised eBook of a chapbook from 2012 that was a limited edition written for a single feature
“White Pages,” my collection of poems related to race and its role in my life
— “Decay Diary,” a collection of poems about aging
— “In the Time Of Contagion,” a collection of poems about you-know-what
“The Wrong Flowers,” a prose/poetry meditation on the state of the USA in 2020
— “Show Your Work,” an eBook version of an earlier, out of print chapbook.

Minimal # of repeats among the collections.

All are available as either PDF and ePUB formats.

If you are interested, let me know with a comment on this post. Right now? They are 1 for $5 through Paypal, 3 for $12. We can talk about more if you want more.

Thanks.


On The Ingestion Of Cannabis

To ingest cannabis when life
is apparently free of obligation
is to examine the word “obligation”
as it it were a spear pointed at your time.

Some of us can stand there
in front of the spear,
see it coming clearly,
then duck away with little consequence.

Others simply
catch the spear in both hands
before it can wound,
and fulfill what’s been thrust upon them.

I am neither.
I am of a different group,
those who will automatically step
from the spear’s merely projected path

unless they fear that they can not
avoid it — and if
they can not avoid it,
they do not partake.

This may feel like
trivial information
to you. If so you do not see
in this one small fact

how much of a life
may be ruled by a sense of
obligation as
unavoidable danger

and of even
potential pleasure
as a place
of near-certain death.


big wind

big wind
coming through with
built in tilt

its source in impure lust for
knocking things down
it thinks are in its way

refuses
to call itself
a hard wind

instead calls itself
a nation of civility
with a civil society

its civil society is not civil
no matter what it says
it screams in the big wind’s favor

civility here means talk nice or
we will blow you over
talk nice or be unheard

either way no one
will hear you
as long as the big wind blows

civility is
no weapon
against such a storm as that

to be heard over
a tornado inside
a hurricane

you had better
be prepared
to scream

and to grab that big wind
by its throat
when it bears down

and to set your mouth
and teeth
upon its ear



T. S. B. (61)

If I am a temple, I’m tired enough
that the censers won’t light, broken enough
that the congregation fears a collapse,
soft enough that my gospels dissolve on delivery.

If I am a garden, I’m soft enough
to be tilled and planted, tired enough
not to care that it hurts, broken enough that
what is sown might not grow.

If I am a boat, I’m broken enough
to be an accidental submarine,
soft enough to sink slowly, tired enough
to lie on the welcome bottom until I’m gone.

Tired, soft, broken.
No one is supposed to wake up
this way — alive, awake, refreshed;
those are the preferred words.
Nonetheless, I use tired, soft,
and broken because this
is how I begin year 62.


A Note To The Author

Remember the first book
that ever turned you on
to how you wanted to live
forever after? Do you recall
the letdown when you learned
how wrong it was about how
a life should be lived?

That day when you learned
there are more things
in heaven and earth
than have been contained
in your literature,
when you saw the author
as a monster or worse,
a human; that day when you
put the book aside and said,

it’s my turn to step up and be
star-blessed with wisdom earned
through disappointment. My turn
to write the book that will disappoint
another one at some future time.

I’m reading it now
and I’m not disappointed as you were,
though I can feel how strongly
you reacted to that first devastation —

so much is contained in your literature
that I’ve just abandoned my faith
in my heaven and earth to live
in yours for the moment, turning pages,
fingers crossed, silently praying:
don’t screw it up.


“A Country of Laws”

I live in a garden of weather-ground statues.
No names left on any of
their rotted pedestals.

Someone not in the scene
tells me these are
my ancestors. My Founding Fathers.

I am not so sure. So many of them —
the list of their names
would be longer

than law firm-long. Then again, maybe
it is true. After all, they have given me
a law firm’s legacy:

a little blood money in my pockets,
linked to a demand that in every situation
I either win or settle.


Dream Grocery

Dream-shopping while odd music plays
in the backroom of the dream grocery store.
My foot tapping — wind droning, hand drum beat
and a strum — is that bandurria or
fado guitar? I should know this.
Should be able to differentiate. It’s
my dream after all. I don’t like my
instruments mixed. Give me purity,
not this wholesome mess of intentions,
though I admit to sustained grooving

as I try to pick out something for lunch
that will do more than just sustain me.
I want to eat something transformative.
I want to consume dream-flesh and become
all that suggests. The music keeps playing
and the counter clerk glares at my dawdling
and prodding about what each food can do.
“Try it and see,” is the refrain. “But I can’t
eat it all,” I cry out to the dream space.

I am beginning to love the music now
precisely because I do not understand it.
It’s evidently too much to ask that the food
be as simple as the music is not. If I am to be
transformed it will be on an empty stomach,
possessed by rhythm, longing for more.

I wake up, humming.
Where is my guitar?
So much to do before breakfast.



break

taking a few days off to recharge and rest up after some minor health issues.
read some poems from the past.
see you soon — I appreciate your attention.


Fragment 29

Double down,
proud of standing up,
getting around to it,
getting on with it.

If a tangle ensues, cutting through.
If a tumble arises, rolling with.
If crisis then double
down again

and address the matter at hand
with a letter to the editor.
Explain the nature of how this ends.
How it makes sense at least within

the circle of its sense
where if in crisis
all meaning moves
more than a little left.


Running Is A Lifestyle

You were there, seated on the low wall,
breathing hard after running. Recovering.
I was there too, though we did not speak.
Both of us had just finished running from
what had chased us. Were we done or just
taking a moment? We never spoke. Our eyes
never met. If we had taken a moment there
we might have learned something, gained
a little time, made a plan to fight back. Might
have stopped, been able to settle, been able
to put down actual roots. Instead we were
caught up in recovery, preparing for
more running and more attempts to escape
and live. This is how it works, how it was
always designed to work. This is how we’ve come
to call this living. It never lets up and
we never learn how many of us there are
running away from the same thing.


Land Mines

This work is not for the cowardly.
Everything in a room or yard could be
weaponized upon first glance;

if not, it could be a key to a room
where land mines are stored, left
carelessly armed and all over the floor

the last time you were in there.
You’ve lost limbs over this before.
It takes time to grow them back.

The growth hurts like hell itself.
Nonetheless you forget all this
the second you begin to write.


The Things

Sit and see the things.
All the things.
Make a plan to observe
the best things, the ones
that make for a best you
sitting there pleased
with yourself.

Examine, for instance,
the winter moths still
astonishingly alive, then
think about life in the
concrete, the me music
of surviving.

The things can be harsh
or soft. Sit with them
day or night, sit with
whatever your choice
of time of day or turn
of weather.

Maybe there’s a dog, maybe
some hawk takes a bird.

Observe the waning moon,
how the night around it
is a shade lighter on one side,
not a comment
on your life or any life,
just the moon being itself
in sunlight’s angled path.

Learn that you
are not the boss of things.

It is good to sit and see them
and learn that things
do not center you, that things
do not even try.


My Story

Trying to read
a book tonight
with my name on the cover;
title, “My Story.”

I don’t know
who wrote this but
most of the chapters seem
improbable.

I hear there’s
a movie being made from it.
I’m sure they won’t ask me to star
or consult me on the script.

Nonetheless, I’ll pay good money
to sit in a theater and watch.
Just me and my Milk Duds, just me and
my giant Coke, just me and some foods

that might kill me. That would be
something, all right. One for the sequel —
a man dies from self-inflicted damage
while watching himself on a screen.

Aren’t you dying to see yourself
fifty times larger than life? Isn’t that how
you want to go — I know I’m good
with it happening that way. It just feels right:

better than dying in bed, better than dying
a hero. When I’m gone you’ll have the fake book
and the lights camera action of the film
to remember me falsely by. Meanwhile,

I’ve got this book to finish and hope
that they cast a better person than I am
to play me. It won’t be hard. This book’s
a good lie, with good bones to work from;

exactly the type of book I’d write about myself
if I were inclined to do so, though I’m not.
I’m better as reader than writer. I’m better
in this than I ever was out there.


Night-Quiet

The disappearance of light this evening
was a comfort. I’ve fallen out
with the need for engagement, lying here
on the couch with nothing to do
but note every sign of aging
and disabling, no need to hide dismay
or fear. Strangely, I felt none;
it is accounting time. 
For once, no feeling other than
a dispassionate summing up.

Outside the feeders have gone night-quiet.
The usual flocks are somewhere
doing the same slow rebuilding
as I am before the light dares us all
to come back into daytime
where every weakness shall be exposed.
Until then? The couch, the thinking,
the steeling of my own wings
for tomorrow’s flight.


Restoration

how swiftly
untouched
becomes
apparently untouchable
and unloved becomes
utterly unlovable
in our heads and
cores

how easily
another’s invalidation shatters
our own experience of
our own validity

how often
them breaking a window
to escape from us
as if we were on fire
translates into us thinking
what we see in the broken glass —
shards, blood, scraps caught
on the points — is an accurate
mirror for who we are

we must close our eyes
to all that
and chant ourselves back

repeat:
I am not
their wreckage
neither toxic
nor shattered
neither invalid
nor in flames

open your eyes


This Concludes Our Broadcast Day

Used to be when the television got tired
it would briefly display a waving flag
while an old racist song played
(they always played an instrumental and few had heard
or even knew about the racist verse)
and then all would become a burst of static
or the soul-cry from the Emergency Broadcast System
while on screen you’d see a stereotype, what they called
an Injun
in what they called
a war bonnet
displayed in the center of a bullseye graphic.
Now they just turn their time over to sell, sell, sell.
I’ve always thought the old way was more honest
about who we are,
but was it?