Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Gun

The gun
is official,
is the weapon of
choice among those

who limit choices.
The gun 
fires white teeth, 
set jaws, wide grins. 
The gun

kills you
with explanations,
shoots you full
of bites
and blows.  The gun

is not easy
to aim, often
backfires with song,
joke, retching.  The gun
is at its best

riding on a hip,
sneering, cresting
a war wave in civvies.
The gun

The gun
is never yours.
Never yours.

They will give up
the gun to you
only when you pry
etc., etc.,  

in other words 
never and you will have 
to take it if you want
to stop the gun

No Burning

We shall see what happens next.
We are already a little bit on fire.

We’re burning, but are we burning
more with pain or with joy?

We understand it’s hard to separate
one from the other much of the time.

It would be helpful to know
if we should be glad or terrified.

If the response is “what do you feel
more, fear or ecstasy,” we’re going 

to get angry. If we knew how we felt
about burning like this, we’d be gods —

and we are not gods; we can’t sort reality
well enough to define it.  If we could

we’d never have caught flame
in the first place, even if 

it would have meant ecstasy all the way
from singe to ash.  No one

really wants to burn, ever,
not even a god.  The preference

is for warmth in slight degree only:
burning is for the few

who were born to be fuel. So
we shall see what happens next

in this most unusual circumstance.
We were not meant to end this way,

not even if it is going to be
the most perfect ending possible.

Damn Poets

If there was
anything to say
that would
“change the world,”
don’t you think
it would have been
said by now?

All the millions
writing, all the ink
and electricity
spent on this.
and really,
nothing to show.

Still, there are moments —
a mountain shifts
one inch to the left,
an earthquake swallows
the bad guy for once.
Can we take credit?

There is a reason
it’s called
“poetic justice.”
We take
a moment to imagine
we indeed had a
small part to play

and somehow,
we played it.


Talking to you
is like whispering 
with a whirlwind

Can’t get a word in
against what’s pouring
out of you

I don’t blame you
for your hurricane life
You are what you are
for reasons beyond you

I’d go fight your parents
if I wanted to make it right
I’m not
putting up with it

blow away
blow away
try to stay alive
until you can
come again another day

when you
can be still

The Next

Many times 
I’ve said before
that I was leaving
and then did not
but somehow
a key has turned
a lock has released
a door has opened
and I am
tumbling through it
into the Next
and it is not as
ugly in there
as I was built
to believe
so what else
is untrue?

Harry Truman Lives

New human emotion:
the satisfaction
of deleting 
unwanted names
from a list of contacts.

It’s not done the same way
as it was formerly,
there’s no tearing 
of pages from
an old address book,
not the same as burning
the book
or the envelopes
bearing the addresses,
letters, sentiments,
and the very spit
of the people
set to vanish — 


It’s the thrill
at our magical potency
in the moment
of vaporization.
We say:

at last,
here the dream of 
the Nuclear Age 
is fulfilled,
one annoying soul
at a time.

The Stupid Sick Poem

I love the first blush
of a fever
that makes me appreciate 
how good I was feeling
till just now; 
makes me nostalgic 
for ten seconds ago.

Ten hours from now
I’ll be miserable, of course;
I’ll look back and it will seem
faintly ridiculous
that I laid glory
upon some germ for this, and

if by remote chance it kills me
this will be prophetic and tragic to some
and stupid and sad to most others,

but I’m going to sit here and enjoy
the little rush of warmth right now,
the throat scratch,
the vague buzz of my body
shutting down for repairs:

no matter how it feels,
it’s still a sign that things
are as they should be.


stands down
puts aside
his magician’s gun,
exhausted from
participating in

sits on a riverbank.
thinks about how he
could disappear.

After a few more years
of this, we see him and find
he has.
He’s now a dad and
there’s not a drop
of that old magic
to be found.

Dad conjures,
sits on a porch,
laughs at his kids.

Once he knew
how vanishing
works, how worlds
can disappear.
That was
his life, his
riverbank, his
magic. This new
grimoire he’s writing,
these different spells…
it demands laughter,
it instead manifests
and creates.


God says

to find peace
to link arms with it
and ride with it beyond death
one must seek
the one pebble in the one gravel bed
the one rootlet
on the one tree in the one forest
and cleave to them
and forsake all others

we take that as true
we misunderstand it

holy is not
held in the stone 
or the root
holy instead
the search

holy the touch of each stone
we turn over
of each tree whose bed
we plunge our hands into
while seeking

holy even the choice
to say

that Voice is just in my head
and there is no need to search

to just pick up a random stone
and skip it over a pond
point after it and say
that now invisible path
is as good as any


I’m roused from late morning slacker sleep
by the sound of blows and smacks
and bouncing stones.

I get up and head for the window:
where’s that coming from?
I see a young man

on my side walkway
tossing rocks at the windows
of the house next door.

It’s the original doorbell,
the first alert ever devised,
and apparently it still works

because I hear “yo”
from an unseen mouth
and the man heads down the walk

to the street and then the next yard.
A few more indistinct words, the door closes,
he’s gone.

Earlier in the week
my landlord fixed
my own winter warped front door

so it would lock again.
We joked about replacing
that pane of thick glass

with the bullet hole in it,
agreed that it gave
the old door character

and so
was better
left alone.

It now closes
and locks like new
and my doorbell works

so I guess
we’re in tip top shape here,
unlike the house next door

without doorbells,
the house which still
has the scar on its driveway

from last summer’s
Molotov cocktail incident.
And of course

we’re nothing like the street
over the hill from us
where yesterday the bomb squad

had to come and get that thing
off someone’s spare tire
so they could go to work.

All in all stones clattering
against glass next door
means little more to me

than a moment of broken sleep
which will be lost soon enough
in the sound of my renewed snoring.

Silk Purse

He said,

“God, I’m sick of 
poets, of hanging with
poets — those cheesy 
thieves, those fame-famished
greedheads, those little-loved
deluded souls
who think the world
owes them a little regard
just because
they can make music
out of talking.”

I mustered my courage,
gathered my strength,
and responded,


that was a great line.
You gonna use that?”


Who really cares about 
sticks and stones?
Bandages and pain meds
handle those just fine;

but a name like that one?
It comes down
like a slab of whirlwind-flung

It doesn’t matter
what the old proverb
insists upon.  Names
carve and crush and 

starve and slush you,
and then, there you are: 
nothing but remains, and
no one knows

how to ask
after you,
no one knows how to reach
your next of kin.


The One-Off

to master the art of the one-off

do it once
and call it a day

a one-off show
a one-off album
a one-off lifetime

do it once
and never come back

leave everyone wanting

an artist of the one-off
bucks that tired reincarnation trend
of hogging time
of insisting on
do overs
continuing sagas
serial dramas
endless sequels
just because it seems
so hard to get it right
the first time through

the one-off artist
instead declares
that whatever happens is
because it happens


Morning North Star

I follow 
a same-every-morning routine

blood drop,
screen and keys

an unknown chaos called
the day,

much as I might follow
a constant called
North Star


tugged along thus by hope
and discipline,
I can be certain
that even if clouds move in,
when they are gone
that star
will be there again.



go eat the food I gave you

upon which money was spent
upon which I spent money 
I could have used for something
more useful than feeding a cat

(like 400 guitar picks or a solid gold hat)


why won’t you eat the food I gave you?

This morning you couldn’t get enough of it
And this plate’s been filled from the SAME CAN
But you turn your lovely whiskered snout away
as swiftly as a politician turns
from last week’s firm position

to its opposite


I understand you need to be
and therefore always
the avatar of 


you are making me 
you are making me
if I can ever understand 
how to make you happy


the whole time
you’re flinging things 
to the floor
and screaming
for something
that is obviously 
the food you aren’t getting

(whatever that may be)

you are purring
so loudly
in what is either
delight at my attentions
or gloating at my tension


you’re on my shoulder
rubbing my ear
still rumbling like a 

and then you’re gone 
and the crazy is over

for a few minutes until 
you come back in 
licking your chops
from the now-empty plate



it’s clear why 
you were worshipped
once upon a time

you’re as unpredictable
as any