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.


Working on…

A music project. Poems to return in a day or so.


Eulogy (YDF)

you dumb fuck

you dumb cracked vessel
you dumb negation of evolution
you dumb as a final mingle in the boys’ room at your high school
you dumb thinking you’re gonna miss this
then treating every interaction for the rest of your life
the same dumb way

you dumb fuck

you toxic little germ

you spitting toxin like some bad banger
you fawning over everyone like they too spit toxins
you thinking you are all in the same toxic club
you dance like one toxin settled in your feet
another one settled in your born-toxic throat
and you sing like you spit
the same toxic way you always have

you toxic little germ

you claimant to the stab throne

you claim a heritage you didn’t inhabit
you claim something beyond that
you stake a claim and it takes up the air in the clean room
you claim you know the way to the sharpest edge
and then the time comes
and you come up blunted
you wannabe quitclaim

you claimant to the stab throne

you beyond the point of shame jester

you shame of a blistered little boy grown not up but down
you got to preach redemption to smother your shame
you take a shame enema to flush it all out
you had a shame cloak and wore it the fuck out too soon
and when the time comes you dumb fuck
when the time comes you toxic little germ
when your time comes to claim you for its own
don’t try to say
you are more ashamed than proud
at how everyone’s going to wipe their mouths
free from the taste of your name


Absence

To wake up naked, alone,
tracing the empty outline
next to you with your finger
before rising,

is to think of the mourning doves
who are no doubt outside under the feeders now
and imagine you are in communion
because you imagine you could understand their calls.

To stumble from room to room this early
without needing to be quiet;
to use her favorite curses for the junkie upstairs
and his parade of suspect visitors;

to put off breakfast until this aching
is so inadequately addressed; this is how
you get through a week without her
being here, all while knowing

there’s more time like this ahead.
Knowing it will end, but not soon enough.
Knowing she’ll come home,
but not soon enough.


Geodes

A poem from, roughly, 2002. Slightly revised.

1.
Monday night bar in Union Square,
loud enough to allow for intimacy.
You have been here for hours when a co-worker
who is also the woman you’ve been seeing,
who has also been sitting across from you all this time,
rises from the table and turns toward the door.

You catch a glimpse
of a tattoo on her back, 
visible between the shirt and the belt;
it stretches from hipcrest to hipcrest
as if she has sprouted 
low-slung wings.

She leaves the bar,
moving away from the sound of your voice
out into the night.
You suspect she’s thinking that 
though your words, like stones,
were clearly born in fire, 

you have tumbled them too long between
your water heart and your earth tongue;
made them cool and gleaming and edgeless; 
you took and tossed
the once-burning words at her
and it felt like hail in July.

How will she ever rise
when you keep burying her 
under such a tumble
of dead things?
Inside her a stone is growing
where you once were.

She is gone,
but you drink for another hour. 
On your own cab ride home,
you begin to plot a new path 
toward her heart.
Your dreams burn and spin all night.

2.
Next day,
you wake at 6 AM.

There have been many things 
in your life that were 
seen once or many times 
and unremembered 
until they were needed —
ripple on a lakebed, 
patch of wrinkled layers in old stone,
some tree gnarled into a twist waiting
until they could give meaning 
to something else. 

Her face last night.

You hear secret voices,
voices heard solely in the body, 
saying that
revelation exists 
in a simple trace of 
transcendence – even inside 
the skin and eyes 
of someone you think you know.

Before now, you certainly
would not have called out to God
when thinking of her. 
Now your brain slides into that way of being — 
now you say, alone in your bedroom,
what you have learned: 

it exists, 
it certainly exists,
a way of living, 
a holy space
that only another body
can make real —

because you will not call it 
‘being in God’,
you will call it 
‘being in love’. 

You have never felt like this 
before work before –
ready to pray all the way up to the 
forty-fifth floor.

3.
By Tuesday noon 
you have run back down 
forty-five floors,
you’ve learned thousands 
of new names for God, 
crying them all 
as you run from thunder, 
fleeing stone 
and powder 
and shock.

The running itself is a kind of prayer
that she is running too
or watching this happen from elsewhere, 
one hand on her mouth, tears 
leaving trails in the white, 
awful dust on her cheeks.

Your running is a prayer
that she can fly.

4.
You kick over the television at 9:30 PM.

You have not spoken for hours,
staring at the phone,
waiting for it to ring, waiting.

You close all the blinds
while waiting,
waiting for the phone to ring, waiting.

You wish you could drink but everything tastes like suicide. 
A pill forms in your hand while you wait,
wait for the phone, waiting.

A pill washes down
past the scratch and raw breath of your coughing. 
A pill makes you lucid in the face of delusion
long enough to realize
that someone really is at the door, it’s your landlord, just arrived, 
all the roads closed, been waiting for hours in the lines,
waiting,

checking up on all of his tenants, tells you
the towers are gone,
the towers for the cell phones are gone, 
no calls coming in or out, no calls, 
all those hours waiting, 

air filled with voices in tears, 
in arrest, in thrombosis, in embolism, 
waiting, waiting,

with crush injuries, 
burns, inhalations, rages, fevers,
blames and names and hatreds,
silences and understandings,

moments gone with
all the bodies newly torn, flung, 
sundered, crushed, and cindered;
all the memories

and the bearers of the memories 
waiting to get through, 
hoping to reinflate, 
to reanimate, to be reborn:

you’re still 
waiting.

5.
Wednesday, driving north from the city
before dawn toward New England
to stay with friends. It’s mid September,
nearly time for the leaves to come off the trees
in one last burst of flame. 
The day looks like it is going to be perfect.

You are trying to remember yesterday morning’s dream of her,
how it felt to rest in the moment of knowing she could leave you.

You linger on one small moment of it:
the moment of not caring where she was, 
as long as she was out there somewhere, 
as long as she was happy. 

You called it love then, 
but now you know it was God. 
that moment of being
without attachment to the result 
was something you could call God; 

a name you could hang 
on the moment,
a name you’ll cling to 
though it has become hard to say because
it does not include enough syllables 
to describe the fact

that you didn’t bother
to bring your cell phone with you this morning,
that you did not leave
a message on hers before you left.

At a rest stop outside Waterbury
you pull over.
Maybe you fall asleep. 
It isn’t important ?
what matters is that 
suddenly all around you
the earth is pushing up geodes
by the thousands.
You pick one up and it cracks in your hands,
spilling oceans of ancient, limed water,
soaking your hands with salt and 
the flakes of 
long concealed
crystals. 

She is suddenly there,
watching you weep, 
and as she rises from the ground 
she tells you:

keep moving

there are more names 
for God 
than any of us ever 
could have 
imagined


Congressional Record

In a government built 
for and by men and only men
the most honor will be given
to those whose eyes mist over 
with bland depravity, the ones
who will square their shoulders
and sigh, "Well, nothing else
to be done here," then send 
soldiers and bombers
off to do bloody dirt 
they would not do
with their own hands. 
With their own hands 
they will sign orders 
for murder squads, then
go home to families, trot babies
on their knees till bedtime when they will
hand them back to women and go sit 
in their dark studies wondering 
what will emerge tomorrow morning
from the beige fog 
of incremental catastrophe in which 
they live and breathe.
They live and breathe 
for this distance from their kills
as if they've developed a taste for the news
of how children's bodies were churned
by explosives, how the targets ran screaming,
how the pushpins then were moved 
around their maps as a result, their eyes 
misting over with bland depravity, 
their lust for other lives twisting within them
as they vote, as they argue and deal,
as they campaign, as they square their shoulders 
and say, "So much more to be done, 
may we have your vote?"



Shining City On A Hill

It is as broken as Troy
or Fukushima.

As crumbled as numberless cities
still unfound and unnamed.

No beauty to it now
as if it were Atlantis

sill thriving under pressure and
without light. If it is even real,

it is no longer within
our reach if it ever was.

Do you hate this lament for it? I do.
I longed for it as we all did.

Embarrassed now to say that
I once sang of how it could be found,

entered, made into a home,
but it was bait. It was only

lure, only decoy. While I chased it
it slipped away and something different rose

on its site that stank of whitened bones
and old massacres. I looked for it

on a hill while they built it
in a charnel trench. They knew me

well enough to know how I could be
fooled, and I was so fooled. My song for

the city became a scream, a death metal
horn of rage. My angle on the angles

of the buildings and roads turned sharp
and bloody. It became impossible

to inhabit my body and say it belonged there.
It’s just a nowhere form. It’s a frame for loss.

They keep building their city, marketing Troy,
tell us to keep praying to the ghosts of Fukushima.

They insist Atlantis will reveal itself,
rise from the nuclear waves if I will just wait.

That city I see them drawing up from the waves?
Not Atlantis, but R’lyeh, and yes, they always knew.


Everglades

Standing on land
then stepping forward,

one toe touching the water
as I adjusted the focus and frame.

In the reeds seven feet
or more away, the subject alligator

turned lazily toward me
and opened its mouth. I took

many steps backward toward
the elevated tourist walkway,

startling so many spoonbills
from their perches as I ran,

my pretense at art taking
a backseat to survival until now.


Heavy

Smell of blood
thick-mixed with soil

in the air here above where
an animal fell,

where there is a depression
formed as it thrashed its last

at the root of the oak. Tiny bites of fur
from its coat cling to the bark.

The body itself is gone,
taken by its hunter or perhaps another

who needed it. I am not skilled enough
to tell by blood or hair what was here,

but it was big. It must have lived
at least a full lifetime to be that heavy;

heavy living that led to heavy lifting.
What remains floats in the air, lighter

than its death would suggest but still
thick-laden with mysterious red flavor,

and I cannot help it. I cannot help but suck that in.
I cannot help how heavy I’ve become.





Afterthoughts

Do not question why it happened.
Do not answer with your theories
if another questions you. If another
approaches at all, in fact, get up
and get out. This is no time for that.

Ashes in sky, ashes on tongue.
No imminent growth foreseen.
No reason to panic. Lie down
for a bit. Let what is leftover from burning
shroud you in dissolving gray and white.

Get up and carry your living out to a beach or a jetty,
out where waves threaten to knock you back
from that littoral space. Ocean remembers
you, knows you, and will push you back
if you are not yet ready to be drowned.

Days or weeks from now, you will still be
brushing ash from your shoulders as you trudge inland.
In hills ahead is a road that will pass through
or around your now-poisoned former home —
and regardless of route, you must go there.



Here’s The Problem

I could win a title one day.
I’m sure of it. An honor bestowed
by others, a word that would force others
to bow. I haven’t done it yet
but it’s a given that the talent
is there, the will to win is there —
all that’s missing
is the hard work and the ceremony.
That’s the story of this life.

I feel that I dripped with gold medals
in another life — I must have,
I long for the weight so much it’s like
I’ve missed it since birth. It’s like
I was born to miss it minute by minute
until the longing for a return
to the deserved exaltation
ate me hollow and now all I have is anger
and emptiness over how I am owed so, so much.

I’m owed a title, an honorific, a power
I do not feel I have
and if I am not granted my due,
I will take it in due time, I swear.



You’re A Bad Boy

You’re a bad boy. You stay up well after midnight
to plan society’s future.

It’s easy enough. Just decide
what will terrify them

into their next inevitable dumb move;
then go make that happen.

Will they be more motivated by the acts of
their neighbors, or by the acts

of what they call “God?”
Or a stew of both — a storm drawn forth

from capitalism, a war clause invoked
over failing, stolen aquifers? Anything might do it.

It’s that close. How to make it happen
is the question that keeps you up.

You could just go out into the dark,
lie back in a dry field and pray for rain, or fire.

You could process and process the news
seeking the keys to the machinery

that makes such things happen, find tiny clues
or fake clues to their whereabouts, decide

for or against their veracity, exhaust yourself
in conspiracy, then die convinced in thick fog.

All you have to do, you realize, is go back to sleep.
Inaction is as powerful an agenda as anything else.

It might be dawn somewhere in the world
but you’re an American and all you have to do

to make the future happen is stay the night’s course
and go back to sleep. All you have to do

to wreck shit is be American.
Go do that, you bad boy. Make that happen.


White-Presenting

I like to think
I could walk out to the middle
of any mall or office parking lot,
lie down on my
belly, start to gnaw through
till
I hit dirt
and then start to burrow
till
I find bones
and then breathe on the bones
until they can speak again
and thank me and clasp me
to their open chests as
one of their own. Yes,
I like to think
the past already
knows of me
and cares for me as
legacy. I like to think
there is something underfoot
that likes me
and nourishes me. Yes,
I am extremely fond
of my thinking.


A Turning

A wheel, or a tide. A turning.
First daffodils alongside
a cracked walkway, soon to be gone;
the hostas breaking through, ready
for the start of their duration.

New blisters on a tender winter hand.
Raising and stowing the tarp
that laid over the containers
soon to be full of this year’s
hope. The first slow wasp.

Who in my life full of old people
will make it to summer? Nothing
emerging from the soil today
can offer that answer. A wheel, a tide;
a turning. All I can do now

is turn with it
and tend
to whatever comes.



To The Friend Denying Who He Is

Stop. Stop this.
You sang the corners and more.
I heard you. Everyone did.
We know who you are.

Stop. Stop this.
We saw you watching, listening,
writing. The backs of keno tickets
know who you are.

Stop. Stop this.
That you say you never this
is proof. We all say this. The “why you start”
stops mattering once it’s who you are.

Stop this, start that,
continue or not. Being is being.
A fist, a pen, a handful of snakes and roses.
You see them the same. It’s who you are.


Rings Long Gone

Plastic, spiderform, childhood prize
from a vending machine. Tossed aside, vanished.

Mood indicator in white metal
recalled from adolescence.

So many in silver, incised, cast,
bought at powwows: where are they?

Two in torn soft gold,
each bearing a different grandfather’s initial,

stolen along with antique Dine’,
turquoise gone green with age; heirloom heartbreaks.

Single band
Moebius strip in hardened 14 karat rose

rendered venomous by living,
sold for weight upon release into non-desperation:

what my fingers would be now, what I would be now
without these ghost adornments, I cannot imagine.