Wednesday, October 23, 2013

untitled sonnet in the approximate style of k.m.

all the times you come and then the
time you come to say good-bye

this idea of standing
still for thirty years

this poem
which grows from the
one that came before it

which will lead to the one that
comes next and
all of them without subtlety and
all of them without nuance

without meaning but
meaning is overrated anyway

the rich will continue to
slaughter the poor
no matter how many sad little
                         songs we sing

our children will throw out our ashes

our grandchildren will
forget our names

the future has always been the
best place to go to
erase the past

Saturday, July 27, 2013


nothing left but to
break the baby’s hands

october and then
blind paths to christ and back roads
littered with corpses and
then this man i know who divorces
one waitress to marry another

who ends up in
a two-room apartment
addicted to self-pity

has three children who no
longer speak to him and the
barrel of a gun in his mouth and
we all hold our breaths
waiting for a happy ending

we all laugh at the prophets
with their tongues cut out

how could they have
not seen this coming?

Sunday, July 07, 2013

mary's house

yellow light into grey,
       end of november,
             almost warm,
          almost hopeful,
and when you’re tired of being an artist or
      when you’re tired of bleeding for minimum wage,
      when you’re tired of sorrow,
                           tired of breathing,
there’s always suicide and
it’s not like i’m telling you something new here

it’s not like i’m saying
anything at all

Saturday, July 06, 2013


no way to
measure the cost of
god but in human lives

no way to justify the
self-righteous ass-lickers
in their high holy chairs

no way out for
any of us but through
endless rooms of  

Monday, June 24, 2013

this rape or that one

and any day in any year with
the starving and the oppressed and the
sound that money makes fucking
                                 other money

the silence of the crowd
before the first shot is fired

not every massacre has
a name and not every problem
has a solution but

every solution will
become the next problem

it’s okay to hate
yourself for being human

it’s human to justify your failures

to make others bleed
for your cowardice

understand this
and then move on

Thursday, June 13, 2013

& you & i, higher

and then late afternoon sunlight
across concrete courtyards
and then the shadows of strangers

the taste of dust settling on flawed glass
and then one hundred thousand
miles of silence

the weight of christ

the dreams of children

almost autumn and hawks circling
sweat from yr lover’s breasts
sweet on someone else’s lips

and it’s only a small jump from the
third story window but she lands
wrong and then it’s only the
arrival of lesser truths

the tears we waste for people
we no longer know

Saturday, June 08, 2013

for diane, who i will never meet

and you call
not from the other side of the world
but from only two hours down the highway and
i have nothing to offer but transparent

my poems are only poems

my truck is leaking oil

february gets beneath the skin
                                    you see
               gets into the blood, cowardice and
               fear and no safety but the safety of
               digging deeper into our burrows

and there is no point in mourning
these fatally wounded animals that
show up on our doorsteps,
but we do

we weep
and we read about the men making
crystal meth in trailers on the far sides of
anonymous hills and we read about
the cops that they shoot
and i talk to you for a few minutes
in small, uncomfortable sentences, in
single words and brutal silences

i close my eyes against this
winter sunlight and the
smell of gasoline

against my own cracked and
bleeding hands

maybe next time you say
and i agree and we leave it at that
and five years pass and then ten, a decade
of februaries, of murders and suicides,
of the bodies of newborn babies found in
airport toilets and hotel dumpsters

i stay up too late
i yell at my children for minor things and
                                    then apologize and
                          they tell me they love me
we walk down to the river and try to
break the ice with whatever rocks we can
pry from the frozen ground

we drive west to the
museum of uncertain blessings

find the doors all locked when we get there,
the windows boarded over
and we can’t think of anywhere else to go,
but i was talking about you, diane,
and i was talking about us

i was talking about ghosts

about the twin histories of
fear and failure

i was waiting for the phone to ring again
so i could have the simple miserable
joy of not answering it

Saturday, June 01, 2013



wasted lives in january rooms

and on the phone she says
she’s going to kill herself, grey sky and
snow and on the phone she asks you
to come and get the baby, silver sun
smudged just above the treeline,
end of november and too cold to
worry about christ, too late to lament
his obvious failures, and on the phone she
says she’s tired of the pills, says she’s
tired of the broken windows and
dead batteries, burnt smell of dead
engines grinding against the frozen air
and on the phone she says love is a
lie and then she talks about

says she had a reason for calling

says you were the only one
who answered

laughs and then tells you
she has to go

Friday, May 24, 2013

an eye

all poems starve in
the desert
of your mind

all wars begin with
the idea of god or the
concept of greed

this need to kill
the enemy
leads to the need to
create enemies

to become one
some stranger in a
windowless room
smiling in antici
pation of the
day i die

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

giacometti, softly

you can't talk about christ
at four in the morning
and you can't talk about love

you can talk about light despite
the absence of it and so you do

you walk from room to room
watching your family sleep
and you try to remember their names

you look at the phone

at the front door

and at some point you realize
that money tastes like rust and that
all you can do is choke

at some point the sky fades from
black to grey and the baby wakes up

begins to cry

believes in you only because
he has yet to learn
anything else

Friday, May 10, 2013

the faint illumination of yr heart

the sky at
this late date
huge and raw above these
snow-covered roofs

and what is space but
some simple thing
between us?

i know your name
your skin
your lips
and would gladly place
any part of you on the tip
of my tongue even as our
secrets all dissolve
into smoke and

i would trace my way
through dark rooms just to
watch the faint illumination
of your heart

and you call this love
and the taste it leaves is

but addictive
and the doors refuse to
close completely

the phone rings
at awkward moments
or the baby falls and
draws blood

and if i take this
one last step towards you
what am i forcing aside?

does it have or even
need a name?

and when we touch
i finally understand
the futility of

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

save us all from love and hope

was breathing in the tarnished weight of silver skies,
was trapped there between forgetting and forgotten,
21 years of pointless starvation,
air thick with the approach of rain,
distant pulse of passing trains,
and the child in the back seat made no sound

had no hands

looked a little like me, but i no longer took
responsibility for any of the pain in the world
i no longer walked
when it was easier to crawl

had finally become my father

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sisyphus, Further Upstate

Nothing new, nothing you haven't discovered
yet, only America, only I will make you sing
it louder, will make you scream it, scream
AMERICA!! like it's the answer to a question
you can't imagine, like you're hanging from a
rope of used needles, hanging from a rope of
spent time, and it's a man in the back of the
room who asks the question, and it's a man
jumping from a bridge and onto the freeway
who answers it, only not with words because
words are too easy to misinterpret. Words are
too human. Humans are too careless. Just ask
the man his fucking name already, before it's
too late.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

kingdom of heaven

had hands of rage, had the
soft glow of a martyr

debated god with the
sick and the crippled

everything is within your reach,
you see, and
then you piss it all away

you stay fucked up for so long
that the idea of getting clean
scares the hell out of you

look in the mirror and
the poem is about me

stare at the sun long enough
and the infinite becomes visible

don’t trust in words

don’t put your faith
in the intangible

not all absence is an
emptiness waiting to be filled

Monday, April 15, 2013

if and only

the city without hesitation
where the forest ends and if
god can only exist in empty
spaces, then what?

ask kay in her final
moment of blindness

ask her again after
her suicide

understand that nothing
you and i do can ever
be defined as love
let autumn leaves spin
gently down into your
river of poisoned blood

let the children you’ve
lost crawl through your
back yard gnawing on
whatever bones they
can find

salvation is nothing any
of us ever approaches
with open eyes

Saturday, April 13, 2013

ernst, lost in the forest

fistful of light

and we are all friends
here except for the ones
who would do you harm, who
would turn you in or fuck
your husband your wife your
lover son daughter and we are
all mindless joy and we are
all dust in the eyes of
someone else’s god

we are all the moment of
obvious glory before
the instant of inevitable truth

come in, then,
and have one last drink

twittering machine

Thursday, April 04, 2013

red velvet hammer

these animals that have starved to
death with their stomachs full of
plastic and technology

these beaches black with blood

did you want to be loved?

have you swam through the
filth of 200 years?

ask for lorca and i’ll give you himmler

i'll give you the shovel
                    the rifle
the bones of his children and
what would you build from them?

who would you nail them to?

hold history up to any mirror
and what you have is the future

throw the people you no longer need
into the street and wait for them
to come crawling back

kiss the pain from
their silent faces



Wednesday, April 03, 2013

love song

eight years spent building
this wall of silence and
no one on either side and
eight years spent dreaming
about violent death

radio static and violin music
down some sunflooded
november interstate

says she wants to be in love
it’s all she’ll ever say

says the drugs are better
                         than sex
              better than god

doesn’t ask where we’re
going because she
knows my eyes are closed

Friday, March 29, 2013

lost painting, 1949


like small pieces of paper left in
the pouring rain, like words i love you
written on each one

the flood and then
the flood receding

destruction and the
thick stench of decay

the dull grey weight of hopelessness

all of your life dragged out to the curb
to be picked through by the
dirtbags, the looters, the men w/ their
heads of carrion birds
money in the pockets of
every politician
teenage sons and daughters
lining up to be fucked or
tied down to be raped

it’s a war, of course, and to pray for
one soldier’s survival is to
pray for the death of another

it’s a house on the eastern edge of
town where you live with your
ghosts and your fear of the future

no one meets you at the door after
work, no one kisses you goodnight,
no one offers to die for your sins

no one rushes into the room just as
you prepare to slash your wrists

no one calls you a coward when
you sit there doing nothing

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

too late, and w/out hope

later, then, in some other desperate
season, after i’d told you i loved you,
after it became a lie

clouds, probably,
or shades of grey
an absence of shadows

an abundance of light,
but all of it dimmed and all
memories shaped by fear and loss

i knew you were gone,
but didn’t care

waited five years to remember your
heat & your touch

had the same dream over & over,
a woman with someone else’s face,
someone else’s body,
but i knew it was you
and i burned all of those poems

i destroyed all of those paintings

saw the man sitting there,
going blind

saw the soldiers tearing out his tongue

cutting off his children’s hands

a million bright red birds
flying from their wrists and
back into the past

click to buy, or maybe just to gaze upon w/ reverence & awe


Monday, March 25, 2013



december poem, in february

no shallow end,
no lifeline

this is not an explanation,
you see,
this is my grandfather’s suicide

this is a letter to the fucker who
tried to get me fired twenty
years ago because i was sleeping
                           with his girlfriend

we grow up
and then we grow old

the wars don’t matter as long as
we can still afford to get drunk

this is a truth i
never see printed in the papers

this is blood in the
bathroom sink at 2:00 a.m.

i think about who i might
call, then end up just
going back to bed

in the morning,
the basement has flooded

Sunday, March 24, 2013

a joan mitchell sunday afternoon


the pure light of lost afternoons

not black & white but
shades of grey,
smudges of dull green



use the poems as bricks
and build yr own prison

stand in the empty field  out
past the railroad tracks
and wait to cast a shadow

wait for winter to end

refuse to die in yr
own small way

Saturday, March 23, 2013

holiday favorites

my lulu collection of traditional and electronic books,
all marked to move.......
false hope