Tuesday, March 31, 2015

the need for words

this is

a man on fire
in the memory of
a house

rising like smoke

and what is prayer
but the
need for words?

and what are words
but emptiness
temporarily avoided?

even now
soldiers are digging
into the bellies of
women who hold
these beliefs

even now
steam rises from
unborn children

and who's god will
the smallest bones
be hung from?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

pollock creates the universe: notes and theories

not the face of god but
something real

a trailer on fire in some
hopeless stretch of america and
this young girl sleeping inside

her mother driving away

such a simple act of hatred
and when i tell you i love you
all you hear are the
silences before and after

and this is unfair
of course
and probably untrue and so
i say it again

i consider the waitresses i've known
who were raped in truck stop parking lots
and the ones who took money

the ones who mistook me for
something more than a starving dog

and what i've never told you is that
my father was left-handed

that this was the fist
that passed judgment

and what i've never told anyone is
when our last fight took place
or what it was about
or how it ended


i understand the need for victory
to be declared
after the last body has been thrown
into its shallow grave
i understand addiction

watched my mother
get on the plane after she got
the last phone call

stood next to her in a windowless room
at two in the morning
while she listened to the doctor
explain the possible futures

while she told him to
turn the machines off

and here i am almost ten years later
with this constant need
to dig up the corpse again and again

here i am with the knowledge that
all fears are magnified in january

the sun is a lie
and my hands feel nothing
and any truths that we claim to know
are best left unspoken

any silences that lie between us
are best left unexplored

now imagine
the canvas unrolled on this dirty floor
and the need to drink

imagine the roads all coming
or going

the hills and
whoever we left beyond them
when we ran

imagine the veins filled with poison
and the prayers with anger and
do you see why we laugh
when nothing is funny?

do you know of
any patron saints for this
little girl tied up in a plastic bag
by her father?

tell me you wouldn't stick
a knife in the throat of
any bastard who did this

tell me that justice is
more precious than vengeance

close your eyes and
paint whatever it is you see

a poet with nothing to say

she has been here

a woman in a poem
who would rather be
anywhere else

a poet with
nothing to say

with the brutal weight
of early december in
upstate new york

pressed against every window
in his house

all colors reduced to
shades of grey
and the pills are what
she misses

the feel of warm light
across her face

a single hopeful thought
without the walls
falling down to
crush her

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

absolute zero


body found next to the body of her father,
her grandfather,
and if you close your eyes all
directions are the same

if you finally accept the idea
of death, all days can be numbered
backwards down to zero

all questions can be answered with the
suffocating weight of silence


told him he was no
one’s son then left him hanging
there three feet above his
children’s useless

kept laughing about the expression
he’d had long after the idea
of someone else’s despair had
stopped being funny


afternoon of pale sunlight,
of ice melting by slow degrees, and
she said to me or i said to her
but despair is easy
and i remember that one of
us laughed

remember that the temperature
dropped while we slept

meaningless patters of frost
tattooed across our flesh
when we woke up the next morning


it was rain on
top of rain on top of
melting snow

it was the season of
anonymous suicides

cars endlessly up and down
shiny grey streets, bodies
found in fields of mud and
there was faith in god and
there was faith in money and
i had no use for either

there was warmth where our
bodies touched before
we pulled away from
one another

never quite felt like
the end of something
but it always was


forgot to stand
motionless and so they
saw me without effort,
couldn’t shoot me enough
and i could only die once
but they kept trying,
just for fun

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


these days like black & white
pictures and all of these
pictures blurred and inarticulate

creaking staircases
and cracked windows

dirty light

find the field where the body was
buried, the one where the indians were
massacred, and lay down
your flowers

all of history is detailed
in the slow collapse of barns

all dreams in the wilderness
are dreams of decay

this girl on the carpet, carpet
soaked with blood, mother on the
far side of the room

candles on the sidewalk,
meaningless but pretty

a small atrocity, yes
but still too much

still so goddamned huge

the blood factory, revisited

or maybe
the failure is mine

maybe the words
are only words and
exist without blame and
maybe none of the battered wives
give a shit about poetry

this needs to be

Saturday, March 14, 2015

the theoretician

hand in the lion’s mouth and
mouth filled with broken glass

this is no way to live but
your options have begun to run out

the fire has
consumed everything it could

picture a long empty hall
leading to a small empty room

doesn’t need to be anywhere
you’ve ever been

picture sunlight

close your eyes

in this nation of thieves &
cowards you’re no one special

in this nation of great failure
you could be anyone at all

Thursday, March 12, 2015

sunlight on chrome: an exercise in moments

or the distance
from one side of the bed
to the other
or the sound of music softly
from a different room

the times you've told me
you hate me

the children that have
never been found

all of the names left
on shelves in empty rooms and
all of the prayers floating
aimlessly through the
cold blue air

your hand where it finds mine

my voice
which offers nothing but
apologies or threats

which stumbles awkwardly
when i try to tell you
obvious truths
and so i fall back on
the comforting weight of silence

i walk to the field where
the burning girl was left but
can find no signs
of violence

can find no signs of god

refuse to accept the
that i'm blind

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

on the occasion of my four year-old son learning how to draw a peace sign

I am sitting here
thinking about sitting here

thinking about the photos of
all of those paintings of krasner's
that no longer exist

i am thinking
of course
about pollock

about myself and my past
and my children

the need for beauty
in the face of pain

and i'm reading a letter
sent to me by a woman i know,

something about a crack addict
beaten by her boyfriend

about the baby she gave birth to

i am reading the part where
she writes this story makes me
think of you
and what I feel is tired

what i refuse to believe in
is america

the strip malls
and the funeral homes
and the bloodthirsty smiles of

the carefully trimmed nails on
the hands of the priests who have
raped your sons and daughters,

and i am sitting here thinking
about all of the unpaid bills
on the kitchen counter and about
how the walls of this house
hold no heat

i am waiting
for one war to begin or for
another to begin

for the first soldiers
to be flown home in bags

the words
spoken over their graves,
which none of us will

Saturday, March 07, 2015

holy poem, after the death of god

snow all afternoon but
nothing is made beautiful

no one is considered holy

at some point
the last city is built
and then there is only slow decay

sons are shot and
daughters raped and all of
the missing are given names

and some of them come home
while others are martyred
and there is always the threat of
another religion

of the crippled
leading the blind and
of a war that everyone can
believe in

a way to kill only the
truly deserving

how much of your life are
you willing to waste
making these decisions?

into the screaming white light

that precise moment
when the clock is
torn in two

when the dogs
chew their way through
the room of bones
and escape into
the screaming white
light of day

only to be dragged
beneath the wheels of
passing trains
and this old woman
in the corner
holds her
dead husband's picture
tight to her chest

turns slowly to dust
while songbirds
dissolve into blood
against every

and you notice that
she's not afraid

and you notice that
the flowers on
the mantel
have begun to burn

what you want to
know is why