Sunday, October 29, 2006

For Efrim, Patron Saint of Useless Words

Cold rain in June and the baby sick.

Nails chewed down to stale blood.

to fresh pain

grey light through every window,
and then six thirty, seven thirty,
the house filled with the smell of age,
the smell of softly rotting wood,
and when the roof begins to leak there's
nothing left to do but run.

picture it

A stretch of road up in the hills just
outside of town, and you were both fifteen,
just standing there holding each other,
making out, the smell of her hairspray,
the taste of her gum, feel of her
breasts with your hands up
underneath her jacket.

October, grey, and what you didn't
know is that you'd be 37 someday, and
divorced from a woman you hadn't
even met yet.

What you didn't know is
how many jobs you'd lose.

How many friends would die of
cancer, would die in car crashes, would
just disappear.

Would wake up to
an overdue mortgage, a mother with
Alzheimer's, a leaking room and
just run.

Just drown in the
pure fucking beauty of escape.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

the scream

you see it on the film
how the bullet hits the skull

how the skull explodes
and the flowers scream

the future
suddenly without shape

the baby born without arms

and will you
sing it a lullaby?

will you help dig in the scrubland
beyond the interstate?

the bodies could be anywhere
and the father isn't talking

the soil is poisoned and
the mother's body washes ashore

and it has no head and
the fetus is gone
and then the doctor says she'd
like to run some tests

says cancer is something
she dreams about

vultures digging at the
eyes of starving children

a television left on in an empty room

not my father
but my father's ghost

not his anger
but his sense of despair

the two of us sitting in a bar at
nine o'clock on
a sunday morning

an assassination on the television
or the sound of angry silence

the fact that we have
nothing left to give each other

that i'm tired of choking on ashes

am tired of answering phones
in dark rooms

of driving to hospitals and
walking down sterile hallways
and when she asks what i've brought
i hold out my empty hands and
it's never enough

when we fall from the couch
to the floor
i can almost forget my anger

can almost see myself
pulling the trigger

my hands on fire and
dreaming only of your flesh

Friday, October 27, 2006


this idea of poets dragged
in cages through the streets

this town at six a.m.

heavy grey and almost silent
and filled with meaningless words

each one spelled out in
faded plastic or dead neon or
spray paint

each one a promise or a threat
and you in bed with the
bones of all your old lovers
and me in love with you
and the sidewalks where they end

the factories where they rise
without apology from the
blood of indians and slaves

the absence of shadows

this certainty that
none of us will ever be forgiven

Sunday, October 22, 2006

cathedral of bones

what the dogs taste
is the meat of jesus christ
and they spit it out

what the junkies do is beg

but there is no room for symbolism
down these empty streets
in the first purple light of five a.m.

children are dying everywhere
and the thought i hang onto
is that my son isn't one of them

i have taught myself
the politics of fatherhood
after fifteen years spent trying
to escape the idea of
the boy i was

i have built a cathedral
of human bones

of meaningless words and angry voices
and there is nothing left to put in it

there is nothing to see
from the windows
but the flat white smudge of the sun
spilling across november fields

beyond the fields are
the factories
where nothing is made

where the dogs grow hungry
in the glow of the neon cross

and home is
where you find yourself
when there's no place else
to run

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

poetry as architecture

and how long does it take
before you realize
that words will not save your marriage?

how old is your son
the first time he tells you he
hates you?

and dali is somewhere laughing
of course
and a man 10,000 miles from home
is stepping off a chair and waiting for
the rope to break his fall

a woman i have never met writes
from the edge of someone else's ocean
to tell me that i've captured her life on paper
and i throw the letter away

none of this was ever about salvation

i am not a believer in
absolution or in fate and
on this day there is nothing as pure
as the feel of sunlight through
a clean sheet of glass

there are any number of reasons
for writing
but i keep them to myself

children are starving for god
and for politics

they are found in the woods or they
are never seen again and
i'm asked if i pray

i'm asked if i vote
or if i deserve what i get

and there are women forced to live in
rape camps i'm told
and there are the bones of nuns
dug up on the outskirts of
central american villages

i have been shown the pictures

have been asked what i plan to do
to stop the atrocities
but what i was speaking about here
was the word

what i was trying to remember
were the last ones
my father spoke to me

there's the possibility that
forgiveness had been mentioned

Monday, October 16, 2006


It was the needle, yes, it
was the need, but also the
dream of hands filled with
pure sunlight reaching out to
hold you, reaching out for
the weight of your breasts,
just another simple act of
drowning, and it was only once,
was only twice, was only June,
July, August, September, the
days suddenly cold, my eyes
filled with ground glass,
heart pounding, phone ringing
for days on end with no one
answering it, and i remember
you were seventeen, then
eighteen, remember you were
laughing and then gone.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


2:30 and the threat of rain.

Yellow skies and unspoken words and
the clock running backwards in this room
where we no longer touch.

The starving hung with barbed wire.


I know this song.

Have sung it to my children even as
politicians were placing tarnished coins
over the blind eyes of other men's daughters.

A beautiful sound in the back of my
throat that exists only to be devoured by crows.

The hand of God reaching down from an
empty sky in the form of a bomb.

The only true power we have
which is the power to take away.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

In the moment of truth

I will say yes to
anything you ask, will
close my eyes in crowded rooms
just to see your face.

Just to hear your voice.

Words low and beautiful,
and the way you taste where my
tongue licks bare flesh.

The weight of our silence when
we no longer need words.

When everything is finally
spoken with
fingertips and desire.

Friday, October 06, 2006

the vast empty spaces of dying afternoons

you sit across the table from
a woman who
at some point in the past
has beaten your youngest child and
you listen

she talks about nothing as
a plane flies overhead

bitches about her life as you
watch the sunfilled front yard and
you answer and wish for a cigarette
and close your eyes against
whatever it is she says next

you wait
but not for anything in

you breathe

Sunday, October 01, 2006

eating the heart of christ: an exercise in diminishing

the body found

washed ashore
3000 miles away from this
small pool of clean light and
then given a name

and do you believe in beauty?

look out this window

at these houses built by men dead
before i was ever born

at these children with their
vacant stares and clutching hands
and do you think about
hinckley anymore?

about all of the poems you write
that no one will ever read?

and what about the unborn child?

what about the husband
or the blood in his smile?

and wherever you go you'll
find these sixteen year-old girls
and their babies

tiny kitchens and hands
held to burners

apologies screamed

words raining down like

On The Day You Die

And the humor is always there,
but you can’t tell the suicide that.
You can’t tell the suicide’s family,
wife or husband, children, parents, but
you can laugh from a safe distance
away. You can stand in the shitty
apartment your father was found in,
can think about the heart attack that
nailed him to the floor, the lack of
history in these two tiny rooms, the
absence of yourself, your sister, your
mother, and you can flip through the
stack of mail on the wobbly table. Bills
and junk mail and nothing else, nothing
personal, not from you, not from
anyone, and you can smile. You can
laugh. It’s one way of passing