Friday, February 29, 2008


I am the wearer of the Eternal Dunce-Cap.
Sparrows comb my hair.
My fingers are diamond speedboats,

my throat a turnpike which is always turning,

searching out the next bleary exit— signposts

full of stark and bludgeoned hunger. I am all

about the off-ramp, I am America’s Next Sweetheart,

blubbering about my passport and extradition treaties.

I stand for blunt instruments and catching the perfect wave.

I am the scissor in your pageant, the open blade.

I’m very worried about global warming,
if that’s where you want to go with this.
I’m your foundling, swaddling and hypodermics aside.
I just want to put this parade in the past tense.

I just know I was born to decline this prize.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


You’re having a memory, or maybe a dream,

or was it a commercial you saw?
Of this kid in photo-negative, a snap-shot
of diffused, uncertain radiance,
but with a slightly poisonous hint to him,
like an atomic blast was brewing
past the strict safety of the park benches;
a fissure of threat and blooming.

You’re thinking about this when your subway stop

comes up, when it’s your turn to get off.
Goddamn. Your day has just begun.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


My great aunt gave me a black
transistor radio with tarnished gold knobs.
I fiddled with it, spooned in soft
voices from the heavy, lisping tides of static.

I let it play quiet with candles burning while I lay in the bathtub and touched myself
for the first time to Barry Manilow.

They found her with music still playing low,

from the looming walnut wall console; a symphony station.

Face down in dark-stained roses of the carpet,

white lace doilies on polished tabletops still

hanging limp and dustless, windows shut.

I didn't want to play her radio after that, or hear the same song she might have heard
the music of the roses as she knelt down into them.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


How I can darken like a stain

back to that same boy, full
of tremors and uneven growth.
How the hurdles of third-grade race
fell like thrusting skulls behind me.
How I clambered the rope for yearbook photos.
How I hung there, burning, a wick seeking its end.

Monday, February 25, 2008


How I set my arm upon you

and it ripens

like the slow yellow smoke of pollution
choking under its’ own weight.

How I’m still left with what I’m hiding;
a dirty-curbed snow angel,
a mismatched address, a botched serum, an escape.

Sunday, February 24, 2008


In the hushed and forgiving silence
after a snow fall, distant voices

sound like they’re right in your ear;
they ride from shoal to shoal.

Even the abandoned, graffiti-glyphed
public swimming pool can seem
like an inverted cathedral, a bowl of hope.
The street lights saucer out, the sky
is mute with mist. But I know

the constellations still burn above.

One of them an archer, bow drawn,

eyes on his prey, and his arrow never to hit.

We pulled him that way out of the sky,
stitch by stitch. Trillions of miles drawn
in one hushed breath.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


In rows, windows across the street flicker out,
their slow flames, their steady yellow notes fading.

Something goes dark in me.

But if I wait long enough, until morning,
I know those lights will come on again.

It's that simple, paying witness to the living.

Friday, February 22, 2008


You hold the key.

I check my watch. 2 minutes to Lights Out.

We make some small talk; the weather, the movies,

which latest starlet we’d like to fornicate with.

You say, the tattoo on my right forearm

is actually a hieroglyph, tying me to a proud

lineage of pre-Columbian warrior kings.

I say, Nice pitch. Try again.

You say, It’s really about my mother,

my real mother, the woman I’ve never met.
I say, Can you even read my right forearm?
And just like that, the tattoo is gone.

You smile, a little abashed.

Time’s up. Lights Out.

You get up, gently close the door behind you.

Turn the key.

I’m under your watch, but I’m watching
you leave, down the long, scalloped

shadow play of the corridor, a light bulb

just starting to flicker out overhead.

I go to say something, but I realize

you’ve taken my tongue with you,

a mute and indefensible talisman

carefully folded inside a clean, white towel.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


My bones turned, I was laced to them.

I was called, Suckling, Dick-Weed, Geek. How I begged for them,
for their dense, sturdy length,

maroon and green, to cover me,

thumbs hooked through belt loops, stance casual as flipped baseball cards. Please, I'm old enough. I need a pair
of "Toughskins."

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Here, where late sunlight slants

through green park benches, half-broken,
and the first brown leaves of autumn are scurrying, two twelve-year olds flash past,
side by side on mountain bikes, furiously pumping.

One struts his voice, breathless,

Let's check out those dumb bitches
down by the swing set.
They're gone, heartbeats
coaxing the air like tiny engines.

And I think how much is told
through the body, how little I know.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


marches in weak autumn sunlight.

We are ghosts, firefighters,

devils and robots and melting men.
Jack-o-lanterns set crooked grins.

What we hide is in plain sight.

Monday, February 18, 2008


The night burns. On the tongue,
some beer and last crumbs,

a murky sacrament.

I light a candle and look out.

Bleak, yellow-slitted windows look back.
There are always candles burning
down to ponderous white lumps

by the open doors of a cathedral,
breathing in easy sways against the daylight.
They burn for the dead, make you

want to whisper.

But these lights are for the living,

their slow, cautious corridors,
their wax anthologies and bric-a-brac…

Sunday, February 17, 2008


I’ve been counting the words caught in my throat.

I know how my own hunger could split me open.

I see the wound of my body exposed
in text book diagrams; coiled, naked organs.
Half-finished men trapped there, frozen beneath the icy lid of plastic overlays.
Each one a shallow grey boat,
each one a drowning victim.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Go ahead, count your blessings. While you're doing that,

watch me convert everything you've been saying

to a sagging cartload of Florida-ready credit and start up
my own business of personalized mirages in a place
where saw-grass still creeps up through the porch-planks.

C'mon, join me in a tall-boy or two, a few sweating
aluminum delights. I have already sat with the natives
and nodded sagely toward the cicada-throbbing dusk
through the screen door, watched bats chase the street light,
handed out some wilted business cards and a few false starts.

Do you know they still spit tobacco juice down here, and talk

about snake oil versus religion? It's quaint.

C’mon, any way you look at it,

any way you cut it.

I'm with you.

Friday, February 15, 2008


No wonder these kids want to race the open road.

It's because it no longer appears; it's the new frontier,
an enforced mirage, breaking speed limits past
the unwavering lights of Burger Kings and McDonalds,

the Mobils and BP Gas. That is the real, jittery terror;
to get here from here, the same that started the same—

the most dangerous kind of anger forms in a vacuum.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


When you see a little circuit

and you want to see it closed

and you’re feeling kind of naked

but you have on all your clothes

and you turn around the corner

Baby Jesus says, “Hello”

and you got that black dog

barking in your ear
and you know the outer limits
are right over here

and your teeth are a xelophone

clanking in your head
and you never feel better

then when you feel half-dead

Welcome to the Sacrifice

Don’t you think we made it nice?

You won’t even feel a thing
We will make your blood sing!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Three blind-eyed monkey cowboys walk into a bar.

The first orders a loaded gun,
the second, a pregnant banana,
the third, a rum daiquiri.

Process the results.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


And the idiots have scissors

where their tongues used to be

and the mind ain’t willing

but the flesh is free

and there’s pennies in the eyes

of the blind oracle

and you’re stuck at a “Denny’s”

cuz that’s how it goes
and the satellites are clicking
like Las Vegas skulls

and you’re placing a claim

on your own lost soul

and Rudolph scavenges
the corpse of Santa Claus

and now we’re at the point
where the fever meets the cause

Monday, February 11, 2008


The sky is a good enough place to start.

I have kept careful notes on all this, but of course,

they will be blurred by sea-salt, the bleeding ink creating

misreading after misreading that will be passed down over

generations, so what's the difference?
I know I live right now in a wild fear of the cavern,
the coffin, the closed lid. Now in the end all I wish
is for those two edges to meet, to complete their seam.
I rush my prow toward the horizon, toward the split-screen,
where on one hand I am offered a Viking funeral

and on the other my younger self receives
a visitation by Christopher Columbus, who tells me
to seize the dream, ignore the maps, to turn the dinner fork
into a divining rod, pointing the way across an open sea.

It is the posture of the forlorn, the hopeful,

the doomed and the loving all in one. Now watch.

Even as the mist grows deeper. This is the best part...

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Sure, I could take to the talk-show circuit,
with its bright-lit carnival of enforced confession,
but what I keep to myself Is left to the mist,
to the slow dissolve, to the ellipse of suggested suffering. I myself am not even sure
what I have suffered. Wounds are like that.

You get so used to living inside them

you might miss the fact

that they've long since closed.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Your forehead says fever
like a hot button meter
and I’m guessing you’re not alone.

It’s the multiple delirium
of the One True Imperium:
When you’re righteous, you’re always home.

But when the sky is full of hammers
and you’re dressed in fire and antlers--
My, how you’ve grown!

Friday, February 8, 2008


There was a bumper-crop of tall dark strangers that season.
You had a whole range to choose from.
The vox populi sprang from every strangled chimney-top,
all of it a tournIquet of yearning. Nothing a needle and
thread couldn't solve. What was left marched downtown,
what was fiery was voluntarily doused. It might help

to claim radio interference at this point, out in some

far-flung province. Open mouths count as dark spots
in the integrated web. Their tracking system is like

infra-red, only a cruel inversion. So clear,
a bible could be written by it. My God, pain
was started for a purpose. It was made for you
to look the other way.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Like everyone else I know, I live in fear
of a receding hairline, roots like the last stands

of virgin forest being pushed back, until each follicle

is dazed and isolated, a drunken party-goer
alone on the sun-bleached plaza at dawn,
counting loose change, wondering what
happened to his companions, if the concert
is still going on.

Oh, I still dream of slipping into the evening

in a black velvet suit. But once I wandered,

hopelessly delusional, and found my way back

by spotting a Rambo billboard, his sweating gun

leveled against his own townspeople.
I knew I was close to home.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


The 6 AM fish market stunk of guts, it glistened.

From a doorway, a leering stranger gathers his bones
long enough to ask for a light.
As I cup the sulfured tip for him, I see
I am speaking to my own ghost, spun
of clothes I am just beginning to wear,
flayed down to nothing,
to the merciful medicine,

to the buffalo bone.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


I float with ruined cargo, heaving on the river.

I am nauseous and blood-fed. Take me over.
Tell me of the still-damp edge within our reach.

Lay me down there, startled on new land.
Let me begin the long hollowing-out…

Monday, February 4, 2008


I have come to feel the weight
of strangers who live as close

as the windows across the street.
Although for me, they weigh
no more than a snatched breath,

a stuttering film clip, something

held in a lidless blue light,

in a grip so steady and determined
it must be a dance; one that is heavy,
twists under its own weight.
Her fingers by the sill,
a mute instrument ready

to draw the curtain, to forget all this,
to say, “the dance is closed.”

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Like Lazarus, I make of myself what I pick and choose
A raiment on the battlefield

stripped clean from a very lost deal

Like Lazarus, I turn over a stone
find a new leaf that’s more like a loan
It’s obvious, I’m spread too thin

A name’s not a name if it can’t wear a skin
Like Lazarus, I begin at the end
My heart’s in my throat in a box that says, “Pretend”
Take it on faith, like oxygen

that the story, yeah, the story, starts again…

Saturday, February 2, 2008


I am here, and yet I'm not
I'm in Japan, I'm an astronaut
I am Polyurethane

Witness Protection has changed my name
I'm in every time slot
A nouveau toxic forget-me-not

I split the cost with God's domain
Now line up to feel my pain

Like a lamb to the slaughter
I have tasted Zeus' daughter
I'm the itchy fingered fevered
lust you wish could linger

Face it, I'm contagious!

I'm so wired, I'm on fire
an impulse buyers' funeral pyre

I'm the sum of all my parts
I feed the need, hit Restart

I am Megalopolis, spit out

from Heaven's dust

I'm so in, I'm out of frame

You do my work, but in your name

Friday, February 1, 2008


I am drowsy with ashes.
They swirl past me, uplifted.

are grey and weightless,
made of dead things.

Their scissors cut

shadow-lines through the light.

I feel the dusty sleep of their wings. Fallen, their flight can only come
in the burning.