Daily Archives: February 17, 2010

Every Open Mic In Every City Has One…Or More

she was married when we first met
soon to be divorced

The only folksinger I ever knew
who could make this song
sound like evil on the wing

helped her out of a jam I guess
but I used a little too much force

was onstage every Tuesday at the Coco Bean
banging a criminally good looking
prewar Martin

we drove that car as far as we could
abandoned it out west
split up on the docks that night
both agreeing it was best

with his suburban cracktoned voice
and overly practiced and dogged sincerity
(belied by our awareness of his bad original repertoire

in which he played at Delta truth
while tossing winks and nudges at a racist belief
that he was the sole keeper of such perfectly primitive knowledge)

she turned around to look at me
as I was walking away
I heard her say over my shoulder
we’ll meet again someday
on the avenue
tangled up in blue

God we hated him
and we figured God hated us
for putting that nearly real wriggle in his fingers
and that perfect mahogany goddess in his hands
so we sniped and drank and paid little attention
even as the women fell into his lap
and when it was our turn we did what we could
to make them forget those songs
and the way the son of a bitch played them
we knew better
we were better

we’d be so much bigger
and more authentic
if only we had the money
for a sweet ass guitar like that

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The Diet

Welcome, words
that I love more than
sense, more than butter on a radish
or two bagels full of cream cheese and silky lox.

I eat you in the moments
I’ve lifted from the day.
You go down quick as fireflies.
(Were you real?  Oh, there you are, inside.)

I’m hungry all the time,
panting, mouth running with water
for rinsing them down. You are health
morselized:  get enough of you, even just a few

of the most substantial ones, and
I’m sated for a while.  You can’t call me
a glutton or a satyr for wanting you so much:
there’s no deadly sin

related to the desire for words.
They’re better than barbecue and beer,
escargots and white bread balls full of
cheese, pudding on a stick

and ginger crystallized in a plastic tub.
Each syllable a bite of time and essence,
I gobble freely, sit back silent only when
you connect within and fill me up

until I find a way to bake, fry,
roast what’s in me and feed others
with you.  A feast within, a feast without,
welcoming, welcomed, breakfast lunch and dinner

and snacks in between, I grow fat
upon you, my sustenance, my provision
in the famine years, my generosity when I am flush.
Words, crumbs of words even, words.

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Boxes Full Of Good Things

Drag out the boxes
from the corners of the spare room
and go through them
semi-methodically,
sorting the still-good
from the chaff
that may have been good at one time
but now is simply extra; even if it still
has merit or might again,
it can’t stay. 

Put that to one side
along with the always-was-bad,
the unbelievable relics
that make you wonder
what you were thinking — ten year old
Newsweeks with no apparent appeal,
unmarked stained printer paper,
pens from companies long out of business
for which they don’t even make refills.

And now, in your hand,
the junk switchblade that doesn’t work
because the wire spring comes free of the hilt
when the button’s pushed
and cuts into your palm…was this
a high school blade or something purchased
long afterward as some token
of how dangerous you still believed you were?
That date is lost now, fossilized
in the silt of your brainpan.  Maybe you’ll remember
someday; put it in the pile to be saved.

The yellow trash bags fill
and are moved to the kitchen
to wait for the morning’s curbside pickup.
You come back and stare at the room
a long time.  Have you made a dent?
You’ve made a dent, you’re sure of it.
Box up the leftovers and put them away
on a just cleared shelf.  That’s better.
That’s so much more what you want it
to look like in there.

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Shadorma For Exhaustion

This cold night —
the cars slide downhill,
struggle up.
I’m awake
though I should not be — the bed’s
not yet made.

Warm sheets wait
for my attention.
Pillows, nude
on the floor
without their shrouds, their robes,
call to me:

Come dress us!
Set your dumb poem down
and come now!
We’ll be so
welcoming, we’ll hold you close.
Let us work

to ease you
from your sullen art
into sleep.
You need us.
We are the antidote! Lie
down. Forget.

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