Wednesday, December 29, 2010

to-do list has me

approaching paralysis.

I did something else.

(haiku by Doug Roussin)

Thursday, December 23, 2010


the rust-colored moon
grown old in a brief eclipse
I almost missed it

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I keep hitting the button,
but nothing ever happens.
Or, rather, it keeps happening.
The uninterrupted flow, the intake.
No pause. I can’t find the pause.
I want to hire a security consultant
to look back at our less guarded
moments for points of entry.
I want to second-guess my third
personality, I want in.
I want a frame, and some bubble wrap,
and a one-use tranquilizer dart
to help capture the moment.
I keep hitting the pause, but
nothing ever happens. Or, rather,
it keeps happening…

Friday, December 3, 2010


So many of us gather at the checkpoint,
our fingerprints frayed at the edges,
smudged, indiscriminate, our identities
already a muddle, currency a second guess.
We hurry through, busy shadows inside
a larger frame work. We are afraid
to be empty, but we had to leave
so much behind. Memories are what
weigh the most, dragging us beneath
the roiling tide. Now, new ones
are being supplied, to anchor us here;
entire stock photo galleries of family
and friends, pinned to our tattered collars.
There are PowerPoint back story presentations,
seminars on the ties that bind, helpful hints
for awkward small talk around the kitchen table.
It is dizzying, a burden and a release at once.
To be able to point at a blank spot on a page
and say, “The story starts here…”

Monday, November 22, 2010


Doing yard work for my mom
a heron swings past the treetops
its' heavy wings tipped dim red in sunset
I stop for a sec/besides myself

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Across the heat-stricken Afterscape,
the bodies scattered in cindered embrace,
widening out in concentric circles
beneath the looming, blank-faced monolith
inscribed at its’ base (in the finest of print):
“Better Not Named”

Monday, November 15, 2010


My spirit guide got lost
on his way to meet me,
huffed glue for visions,
and was the most flat-footed
dance partner I ever wobbled
across a prairie rug with.

He left my pockets empty
and my eyes like tea cups,
awaiting scalding intake.
He claimed to be the latest
hybrid model: Trickster 2.0
but I had my doubts.

He left my sore-toed and thirsty,
my forehead a blazing billboard
for lack of thought.
He left me folded up
like a lozenge to lay
on my own tongue…

(PS: I tasted terrible)

Friday, November 5, 2010


Amen. Wait, you didn’t hear the ending.
We left their throats cut, we thought cash
up front was pretty self-explanatory---
pillars of salt and golden calves, et all.
Call it on the job insurance, a few false
idols swept under the carpet.
Call me anything, but not
late for dinner. So you’re saying
the DNA corrupts the crime scene?
Get in line. Don’t believe, unless
it’s been left out to die…

Saturday, October 30, 2010


…just showed up, batting her eyes,
sporting surplus war paint,
saying, “I’m nothing without you, baby”
and me racing to recall whether that’s the code
to break this chance encounter, whether
my credit card # hasn’t already been
compromised, identity theft a forgone
conclusion, and I think,
“Better you than me, mate…”

Monday, October 25, 2010


…which are just the next door neighbor’s windows
lit through the shadow of fir trees at 3 AM,
which become, briefly, B & W stained glass,
then totem pole god heads carved
from the bone of our memory
and then, at last, nothing more than
what I actually see…

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


The wind spins like a derelict surgeon
seeking a scalpel point.
The satellites sputter, a sudden
blind-eyed chorus with one push of a button,
and all that’s illuminated is now dark.
All the cell phones just lost their charges, all the servers down, all the wire relays garroted
by larger wire relays
and so on and so on.

All for this moment
of silence, so I could hear you…

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Penniless at the border, I recant my last cant
(Wait a minute, is that legal?)
And didn’t you just move the border,
according to convenient product placement?
I’m stuck out here pissing into the wind,
while you’re busy keeping warm
off kindling from all the shaved angles.
I look at you, and don’t know you at all.
You look at me, and know me too well.
And the wind howls around us,
measuring spaces…

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Forgive me. I was busy applying myself
to the fundamental principles of Manifest Destiny,
knowing that everything is free until you take it,
when I suddenly find out I’m interfering with an ongoing investigation…

[This conversation is presently being rerouted.

Everyone is innocent, until the new app is finalized.

Papers, please.]

Sunday, October 3, 2010


The veil of air lifts,
shadow itself is undermined.
Out of the mist, a tree trunk
writhes its’ limbs like Gumby
in a passion play on the Cross,
which makes me think
what a pagan bit of clay
we all are, after all!…

Sunday, September 26, 2010


The moon, immutable, punches
tin-plated grey calligraphy
across the swaying tree tops.
The slow rotation of the electric
fan like cars shushing
down a distant desert highway.
The words can’t be read, or even
said out loud. The night will close
us whole, if we just let it--
leaving us reduced to our essence.
Like the quickly ticked-off items
in the police blotter of some
small town newspaper, random
acts of petty larceny and
drunken vengeance,
the ink of mingled lives
coming off on our fingertips,
as the night’s heat disperses…

Friday, September 17, 2010


All the cowboys have been scalped.

All the Cities of Tomorrow a cindered prayer.
I am back on that 2nd grade shag carpeting,
oversaturated afternoon cartoons
spilling from the wood grain console.
I am aware of the treaties
and foreclosures of the past,

a tired trail whisking me

into its’ vortex that fills the screen,
the blood of every footprint
reduced to a color cell;
undifferentiated background detail.
I will streak my cheeks red
and play the Indian in the back yard.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


After a day of steady rains has ended,
some one plays a warbling, mournful tune
on their flute by an open window, 2 AM, Brooklyn.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


The Garden Mother lifts her skirt
and hence, the verdant plains.
I stand at attention
deficit disorder,
and generally miss the point,
which rests on a much-needled
voodoo doll that the angry mob
has taken a sudden dislike to.

I will take religion as a mouthful,
and want it reduced to an even
more concentrated capsule;
one slip under the tongue
and it’s done.

Salvation turns on a dime.
A neck thin enough to break
between two fingers,
like a wafer.
Hence, the verdant plains…

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


The red war paint of the van’s reverse brake lights
washes over my apartment’s walls as it pulls in next door,
casting me in momentary blood and chain link shadow
relief, and suddenly, I am nameless, in some forsaken
war zone that will also remain nameless, and they’ve come
for me and I feel the weary resignation in my bureaucratic
bones, sitting on a front stoop late at night in Brooklyn…

Thursday, August 19, 2010


…Is that the elm tree cast its’ shadow
(writhing in wind) on the apartment building
across the street. All I ask is that
the imposing matronly silhouette in the ground floor
window doesn’t mark me down as “suspicious”
as I smoke a butt on my front stoop
and enjoy the incongruous night winds of Brooklyn.
All I ask is that time opens up
and you can step in.
All I ask is that I’m not mistaken
for who I actually am…

Friday, August 13, 2010


Bird song has been decoded
as a complex, orchestrated algorithm
intended to lull the human senses.
Tweets follow a similar pattern.
White noise has been proven to be
Mozart’s greatest symphony, left unimpeded.
All we can hope for is a conspiracy of silence.
I’m ready to join. But how will I ever
know if you are a part of it?

Sunday, August 8, 2010


to come undone
to ride the tension conduit
out to its’ farthest reaches
a kingdom stricken and bare
to annex the virgin territory
of an open palm, reading too much
into what is already there
to grasp for the essentials
and find them on back order
your very need to hold on hold
to clasp, to come undone

Friday, July 30, 2010


You mean for today? OK, let’s see,
after weeks of heat, the rain finally came,
the humidity broke, and the early evening
was suffused with soft, gentle light:

Through a chain-link fence, sea birds
dive for fish over an inlet of the east river,
the tanks of a fuel depot station
and the Manhattan skyline behind them.

A misted full moon rises against the black silhouette of a disused smokestack.

I’m lifted for a moment out of myself…

OK, that’s it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


They’ll pick your pocket clean,
like that Ozark you left by the river.
How many times do I have to talk to you?
Taking up double-time in the mirror…
The bones I carry are the bones I’ll throw.
I’m ready to forget—
What have you even left me to sell?

Friday, July 16, 2010


…has left the building,
and donated us an exquisite corpse.
Far be it from me to suggest set dressing,
but the cheeks are less than rosy,
the pupils not quite marble-like in their focus.
If this is not one for the diorama history books,
then why bother knocking?
The scene of the crime is still innocent.
Let’s make something of this…

Saturday, July 3, 2010


In an effort to expand our existing
marketing spectrum, we have recently
tapped into a previously un-mined
demographic resource: the dead.
Who better to hot-spot the future
than the restless spirits of the past?
Whatever’s old is new again,
recycling remains a moral imperative
(stick some “Go Green” copy in here)

The 80’s are back, if the recent spat
of hauntings in the Hamptons are any indication:
big hair, shoulder pads and “Members Only” jackets
were there in abundance.

Perhaps not being able to let go
Is where our consumer stream can buy in?
There’s no accounting for taste
(can ghosts taste?)
but we can account for that.
(note to R & D: Please look into ways
to make ectoplasm go viral…)

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Digitalis purpurea

What can make the heart grow stronger
can also kill it, can also be a tall, belled bloom
in my mom’s backyard garden. I ask her the name
of it, she can’t remember, angry with
the encroaching fog of old age.
She calls me later on my cell, as I head
back to the city on the train.
“So, you remembered the name?” I ask, as I pick up.
“Foxglove. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”

And the connection is broken, but remains.
There is something so important to us
in the naming of things, especially
the smallest of things, till they become
the code for something else, the vines
that bind us here, the trickster fox
offering palms full of poison
and salvation, and we can’t help
but shake both hands at once.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


The wind coils a succulent rind
out of nothing. It briefly lifts
the raspy skin of my T-shirt.
I stare into it, and I see nothing.
Invisible currents, coding the light
with their touch, relays within relays,
the way a tree sways in the dark
leaves no mark on me.
The shadow’s tattoo could be chain-link,
could be the last inscriptions
of a pure-born medicine,
could be…But why would you want
to finish the wind?

Friday, June 18, 2010


Sorry, where to begin? I’d see myself
out, if I could find a way in.
I was about to pull a parlor trick
in the portside stateroom, when
you suddenly reared your ugly
two-timing head, and stole the action
right out from under me. But I knew
I had to buy into your cover story, that
all storms are washed up with this one,
all slates wiped an oily sheen, am I right?
As the ship goes down, the bottom becomes
the top. I’m working overtime, I’m trying to see
clearly here: What’s my part in all of this?

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I bow before you, loyal only
to the level of your sustained scrutiny.
My life is an open book---please read!!
I would offer an abridged version, but
that bridge has gone too far, and left me
without a proper hand-shaking arm.
I fear I cannot survive beyond the sub-viral level,
that I’m not about to catch on.
This nation continues without me.
I’m a slave to the impulses
of my ghost limb, a nub glibly reaching.
I can’t hold onto this smile forever--
Catch it while you can!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Turn off your computer.
I know, I know. I will cease to exist.
I will return to my cave of shadows,
hang my puppets to dry by the back window,
and turn a blind eye to all the scrubbing
that needs to be done.
I will recalibrate.
I am nothing without your input.
I respond to your touch.
But you hitting restart
is like a blank check to me.
We give and we slake
in our mutual thirst,
and all I’m asking for
is a moment of silence.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


…is busy checking the fine print.
Seems the void in warranty is an aching
hole in the center of all of us, and is best
avoided in most instances of polite conversation.
Bring up the weather, instead.
Or ask directions to the local bistro.
Claim a blackout in Google maps, that
your rib cage is a tuning fork on the fritz,
claim anything but empirical proof
of your very existence, because that can
be rerouted and used against you.
Stand still. Stand silent. Let the lights
in the sky go dark, and find no traces of you…

Friday, May 28, 2010


I can feel the heat, and the forlorn
wind of miles whipping by, my tongue
a tattooed receipt, still spending past
the point of no sales return. I am
the Optimized Package, I am
the down payment filled with sand.
I am a miser sun-sick with fever,
feeling his palms blister and peel
and thinking that was the greatest
gift ever recieved. I am the snake-eyed
hologram of the Old West, beckoning
people on into the unspooled future,
only to give them an empty package
filled with their past…

Sunday, May 23, 2010


When did I know? When did I shrug off the kink in my neck
and it just clicked, “This is it,” and I let the unspooling
reels carry me to their pre-arranged destination? When did
I become a witness, not for the prosecution but to myself,
when did I declare the driver’s seat officially abandoned, a
cinderblock on the gas pedal, and all systems go?

Saturday, May 15, 2010


I found an old, faded black & white photo taped to the
bottom of a dresser drawer at my parents’ house, its’

edges cracked and pointing downward like accusing
stalactite fingers, the brown fog of age already encroaching
on the image: a young tyke, barely out of his swaddling,
and damned if that doesn’t look a lot like me at a certain
age, squinting into the sun, and damned if I can’t guess
what was on my mind next…Just how many crimes can a
guy commit in one day?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


You know why? Because I said so.
If I live long enough to make it to an airport
without losing any oxygen, if I use my mouth
to get me through the front door, sign where
it was dotted, breeze out from whence I came,
I could be a new and wholly invented self-made
man, I could write my own ticket. Yeah, the best
laid plans.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Stories are funny. Some of them start off small,
and some of them end up big, and some times
you’re so in the middle of them, you can’t see the
foregone conclusions for the trees. That’s where I
start. From bust. I was done before the set-up
began. Someone was already laughing by the time
I crossed the punch line. Done before I was
finished. That sounds like me.

Friday, May 7, 2010


My brother was a salesman. He was the best kind. He
could sell death. It’s what he called, “the ice breaker” or
the “starter party.” Follow the wake, he always said.
Headlights at noon. Another funeral. He wasn’t an
ambulance chaser. He preferred a hearse. He said the
clincher was when the dirt hit the coffin, he said it was like
a giant eye winking, when you first realize all that
burnished mahogany is going down with the worms. He said
it’s like automatic reverse psychology. Instead of thinking,
“What’s the use? We’re all going to end up here?” you
wonder, “Who’s gonna give me the good send-off?” And
then he’s there, pamphlet in hand. But sometimes, you
bury the wrong person…

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I was conceived in one of those dump-your-car-keys-in-a-
bowl 70’s swinger parties that everyone’s too embarrassed
to admit ever took place.

I was conceived on the living room floor, beneath a haze of
secondhand smoke and a few bowls of half-chewed cocktail
peanuts. Bad idea. Lots of awkward silence.

When I was older, I would come downstairs and revel in
the stench of aftermath, of sizzled pleasure, knowing I bore
that cloak like a placenta.

I’ve been waiting for you to find me.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


The metronomic tick-tock
of your high heels on the pavement
makes me draw back my curtain
to search the rain-slicked night street,
but you’re already past
the kingdom of my sight…

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Put your best face forward. That’s a phrase you’ve heard—
I don’t know, can you estimate? Maybe 450 to 500 times
in your life thus far, whether in spoken or written form, or
other various media of some kind? Tonight was the first
time it made sense to me, though. I started off defrosting
a fridge. I ended up uncovering a body. That back gate
was nothing; just a shadowed archway near where we put
out the garbage and the recyclables. Suddenly, whether I
could break its’ lock in the next 20 seconds was everything.
Then the spotlights were on me. Put your best face

Friday, April 16, 2010


What choice did I have? My bag of tricks was
empty. I could either walk away now, or come
semi-clean. Half of a lot is still enough. Wait
another few hours, and all that info would wash
down the drain, and this little profit-based sermon
would come to nothing. Neither of us would have
anything to gain. God is my witness. Maybe he’d
like to look away.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


…& we’d have an off-shore account where
no one would ever bother us, a private island,
an incorruptible fire wall, a paradise, indivisible
under God. Why do I keep mentioning God?
I wish he’d stay out of this.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


…I’m hidden in plain sight, as undifferentiated
background noise, staying just outside the lid of
the not-all-seeing eye. So, the show goes on.
I hum a Waltz time. I’m a shadow coming in
for a slow landing, I’m a blur, a quick eclipse on
the video screen, I’m two bodies passing in flight.
Time to move…

Friday, March 19, 2010


You hustle me up to the third floor, where only
the most moneyed vultures hold a perch, straight
past reception, littered with many a carcass that
died mid-translation, and into the executive suite,
to a red leather-bound chair with all strings

I catch myself for a split second, inside the gold-
framed mirror in the spotless private bathroom off
to one side. I give myself a high-five, and what
the hell, a year-end bonus. Such a rarified

You put me in my seat and lean over me and tell
me not to panic as the emergency lights kick in.
You guide me through it, every step of the way...

Saturday, March 6, 2010


makes a fine topical salve.
Apply liberally where forlorn.
The desert called; said,
“Give us our oasis back!”
Like we’d fall for that.
We’ve had sand in our eyes
and dust passing for the winds
of change for too long now,
we know a clear-cut bait-and-switch
when we see one. As the winds
howled and overtook us, I ground
that green to filament pulp,
left the high plains drifter himself
starving for product. I’m telling you,
it’s a buyer’s market…

Sunday, February 28, 2010


In my hands, I want to feel
the crusted black loam
of generations: the hands
that slit the cattle’s throat,
strangled the chickens,
stroked the lamb’s ear,
grew calloused and sturdy
and bent. My mother,
watching the tractor
turn over the soil
on her ancestral farm-land,
saw the spinning wheel
of seagulls rising behind it,
to swoop and peck at any
chance green offal left exposed.
“I have to believe,” she said
“that a world this well planned
has to have some kind of force
at work behind it.”
I want to feel that in my hands;
a certainty to hold on to.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Like your id on all fours,
like a combustion engine with a mouth,
like an excitable inmate on broom duty.
Allow me the honors, you heard it here first:
The dance goes to the volcano’s edge.
Bite your tongue, you might draw some blood.
The tide has turned on a dime, and you
have a one-time free trial offer to track it.
DNA sampling is just one of many hidden costs.
Join now. Void where prohibited, and we’re
pretty much nihilists, so, y’know, do the math…

Sunday, February 7, 2010


We offer a full catalog in stock
characters, all at a (“brooding, heavy-hearted”—
we threw that in gratis!) click of a button…
Are you a freewheeling fire brand

who doesn’t play by the rules?
A pouting vixen with issues de padre? Maybe the hilarious gay next-door neighbor best friend? Or an exuberant man-child who always bursts through the door at the wrong time?
Our motto is: “We provide the vessel, You fulfill it.” And the glass is never half-empty when it’s (say it with us)— fulfilled. Order now.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


I am taking simple joy
and grinding it down
to a fine glass; said filaments
to be inhaled by orphans in any
number of undisclosed nations,
as per contract, etc., etc.
I am part of a massive
clean-up initiative that forgot
to inform its’ center.
I’m dusting for prints, forgive
the forensic evidence.
I feel like I’m meeting you
for the first time. When I say
you, I mean me. If guilt
were as old as dust, my hand
would be everywhere…