Saturday, December 17, 2016


Imaginary Garden With Real Toads

I like it when a poem mentions a real place
like Omaha or Charleston as that immediately
tells me there won't be any faeries or elves in it
and so it's safe to continue and I like it when
a poem mentions a real thing like let's say a lonely
bus stop and I like it when a poem mentions real 
people like old lovers or new lovers and some
way that all these things come together like at a bus
stop in Omaha where a woman stands waiting for
what could be an old lover on a bus that doesn't
come and not how it makes the woman feel because 
we don't exactly know but how it makes the poet 
feel as he observes her from the gas station 
across the way and there's a chill in the evening air
and after a while he walks on over to inquire as 
to whether he can be of some assistance 
she is a dark haired woman who reminds him
of an old lover and she says where you headed
mister and he says Charleston and she smiles
and says oh that would be pretty far out of
my way as I live about five miles down the road
and he wants to say something but there's this little
voice telling him she's heartbreak in faded jeans
and he says well have a good evening then m'am
and when he pulls out of the station never to return
again he glances in his mirror and sees that she has
stepped off the curb and is thumbing for a ride and
in a New York moment (a pregnant one at that) he says
fuck it and turns the car around and you will write your 
own ending same as we all do in real life and that there's
the kind of poem I like now mister yes I surely do

Sunday, December 11, 2016


My first baseball game
second grade I believe
recess out on the playground
they didn't use a baseball
it was a soccer sized ball
you whacked at it with the bat
and then you ran
that's what I saw the other kids do
you ran

I didn't know one thing about baseball 
I didn't know you were supposed to stop at the base when the ball was being thrown there 
and someone called out SAFE!
or OUT!
mom's Second Big Mistake 
having shown me nothing 'bout anything
'cept how to be passive aggressive
so I just kept running
running home
because I didn't know 
you know
and the kids thought I was dumb or something
or maybe had a screw loose
'cause next time up I did it again
and they were yelling STOP
but I kept on running 
running home
and I didn't look back

And when it came time to bust out of
that little town 
years down the line
I ran
and kept on running
running away from home 

And I didn't look back 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Friday, November 25, 2016


A worldly young man, tainted by love,
railing against the ruling classes,
(promising a chicken in every pot
but offering a payday loan joint on every corner)
drives down a lonely road.
The snow beyond the windows impenetrable.
The wind whipping across the park.

In his mind's ear: 
flute music played
by street musicians from Chile--
portable lives in the nomadic sun.

He hears: The war drums of the Sioux.
He hears: The voice of God singing "Hey Jude."

He wonders if he can reconcile
with the Antichrist in the kitchen.
He remembers when she said "Teach me to love."
They devoured each other like
children with melting candy.
(The just washed dankness of her hair.)

He drives past a billboard that says:

In his mind it is all compartmentalized--
there are remnants of old lovers in each of these rooms.

And it's so puzzling to be a person
asking why does anything exist?
Time moves imperceptibly
until the world becomes a city full of strangers.

And he wants to be at a ski lodge
in the Grand Tetons, sitting cozy by the fire.
A young woman moves near.
She is an African girl--so lovely
it makes him sad. It is her love
for her youth, and for his,
that draws them together.
Could a dance like this go on forever?

And he passes a billboard that says:

And he is back on the island
with Marie--it is where they met.
The alliance of sun and alcohol
so conducive to romance.
His imagination so fertile now,
filled with ghosts and ballerinas.

When he gets home they will talk,
like they never do. He will clear the air.
He will ask if she's having an affair.
And though he knows she is
a sovereign nation unto herself,
they must remain allies to prevent
both their worlds from collapse.
And he knows to some degree that he
will always be searching for the Holy Grail.

He glances at his watch
though he does not want to think about  time--
the only constant in life being the question
of whether love will be there in the morning.

The snow swirls around his car.
On the street a white-haired man
bends haltingly against the wind.

He is almost home.

He passes a billboard that reads:

He parks the car, then tramps
the few steps up to the apartment.
He inserts the key. He opens the door...

A woman's scent, fading.

The past...
the present.. 
a blurry haze. 
The world is on fire.

The funniest thing...
And now he remembers.

Marie has been gone for twenty-five years. 
And he is not the young man anymore.

He is the old one.

This is a revised version of a poem that first appeared here four years ago.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


He is heading out
for open road,
 big rig humming.

Thanksgiving morning.
The day is crisp and clear.

He will eat his holiday dinner
at some truck stop,
where his banter with the waitress--
a kindred spirit--
will be about keeping the world running
while the rest of 'em
spend the day gettin' fat and happy.

In a while,
he will put in a call to Janie and the kids.
They'll be over at mom's today.
In their pre-meal prayer,
they will say his name.

And yes, he is thankful.
Hell...lucky to have a job at all
the way things are going.

The road snakes on to somewhere

And the holiday travelers
blow past him,
just another obstacle
in the way
on the way
to their overindulgence.

He remembers how,
in the beginning,
he thought this would be
a romantic kind of life.
But as he looks out now,
across the endless expanse,
he is struck by the thought
that it's kinda like
gazing at the moon
in daylight.

Friday, November 11, 2016

IT'S YESTERDAY ONCE MORE (.doo-be-doo-lang-lang...)

Goin back
to a simpler time and place
where at the table
the family says grace
and father knows best

A place where climate change
does not exist
and those greenhouse gas emissions
like the truth
need no regulatin'

Back to a time where
her right to choose
means which pretty dress
in the storefront display window
she will wrap up and take home

Where if we all just stay healthy
there'll be no need
for that costly insurance
just make sure to get
your morning constitutional
in every day

And speaking of the constitution
well, that civil rights amendment 
(# 14 for those keeping score at home)
has not yet been passed
and being civil
means no disobedience--
we'll all get along fine
long as everyone stays in his place

With a chicken in every pot
and a piece riding every hip
don't look at me cross-eyed, boy
don't give me no lip

A land of equal opportunity
where any man
with large enough bills
can rise to the highest office in the land
even if he has no class
(even if he looks like the business end
of a baboon's ass!)

Back to a simpler time
and simple times were meant
for simple minds

So let's play a game of let's pretend
it's the fifties again
don't forget your lunch pail, dad
on your way out the door
and when you get home
mom will have a fresh apple pie
cooling on the window sill

Oh, and remember it's election day
so don't forget to vote
you can get there on your bike...


Monday, November 7, 2016


With her automaton smile
the six o'clock news Barbie
recites a litany of the day's
natural disasters
sewer main ruptures
and one arrest for
spitting on the sidewalk.

The camera zooms in

on a whopper of a loogie
oozing on the concrete
in all its wicked glory.

A young gendarme collects it,

to be analyzed at the lab
so that someone can say
on good authority:
Yep, that's a loogie alright
and tag it "Exhibit A."

The wild-eyed derelict

they've collared
for this egregious offense
manages to fire a parting shot at the camera
a real bullseye that does a 



hoochie-koochie dance

down the middle of your TV screen--

while the Barbie's pasted-on smile

and glib tone never wavers
like her counterpart on CNN
who dispassionately described
the incineration of eighty-odd
and children
live as it happened at Waco
for to betray a hint of emotion
would not be impartial
nor professional
when anyone with a whit
of human compassion
would have hung her head and wept.

But that's okay

it's all in a day's work
and it all blends together
after a while anyway...
the real blood you see on the news
looks like the ketchup oozing
in that old burger commercial
from the nineties
and everyone out there
in TV land
is just as numb as you are.

And the guy who spit at you, well

he's only trying to wake you up...
cuz like the old ad once said
If it doesn't get all over the place
it doesn't belong in your face.

Friday, October 28, 2016


Because you need to be somewhere
Because you need to be doing something
Because it's neither here nor there
Except for how it makes you feel
When you stop to think about it

Though you think too much about it

And in the end it doesn't make
A pitiable bit of difference
If you even think about it at all

Cuz you gotta be somewhere

All the time
Thinking about it or not
Total slug or genius
You are still gonna be right HERE
(don't try to be there
you can't be THERE
cuz I'M there 
and no two bodies can occupy the same space
at the same time 
if you get confused go to the map
that will obligingly  point out: "You are HERE!")


Every fuken day
Of your life
It's right there
Staring you in your fat face
What to do
What to do
That's your existential dilemma
So think about it
But not too hard... 

I wouldn't want to see

Your head explode 

Thursday, October 20, 2016


On a quiet August morning
in Kokura
a child plays absentmindedly
in the street
as the plane passes
way up high.

The skies have turned cloudy
when only minutes ago
they'd been clear
and a snap determination is made--
too overcast to make the delivery.

On that quiet August morning
another child plays distractedly
in the street
of the alternate target.
The weather cooperates
and Fat Man
like his predecessor Little Boy
is delivered.

One of them survives
and grows to be an old man
who still speaks of
"The Luck of Kokura"
Fat Man's primary target
Little Boy's alternate
yet passed over on both occasions.

And while "luck" implies
a random roulette wheel
kind of universe
which his lady of lo these many years
is more inclined to believe
when she tells him
He doesn't play favorites
you'll never convince him
there wasn't something more at play
on that hazy August morning
as he steps out onto that same quiet street
with his cane
and gazes into the heavens
on another crystal clear day
in Kokura

Thursday, October 6, 2016


She superimposes his face
upon her own demons
cuz it ain't easy to beat the shit
out of a nameless, faceless entity,
and a punching bag
is always more therapeutic
when it's someone you love.

She knows

that he will absorb the blows--
bounce back grinning
to a standing eight count,
no worse for the wear.
Knowing in his knightly heart
what she still struggles to comprehend.

That the Devil made her do it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


Over at da Wally store
da peeps dey waddle in
an' den dey waddle out
an' dat just de employees
cuz everybody fat
in America
fatter den me big fat cat
in America

everybody eat good

in America
compare to where me come from
where many say: "Food? What is dat?"

in America me see dis guy on tv

he cram down seventy hot dogs
just to set some kind of record
yeah, me REALLY see dat

where me come from

dey would call dat obscene

but it okay in America

where all da fat cats be gettin' fatter
fatter den me big fat cat
in America

don't get me wrong, friend

me mean no disrespect
cuz you are da new normal
an' me just a skinny guy
who feel like he don't fit in

wish me had some meat

on me bones like dat
cuz den me could wear all black
an' turn me baseball cap around on me head

maybe if me stuffs down

seventy hot dogs
each an' every day


'scuse me, friend

but me feelin' sick now 
sicker den me big fat cat
barfin' on da carpet
he say dat's what all da cool cats do
in America

Tuesday, September 6, 2016


the only thing he can say for sure
the only thing the irrefutable evidence points to
is that she loves wandering
more than any person, place, or thing

and anyone who wishes to curry favor with her

must first scroll to read the terms and conditions 
and click on I accept before proceeding

it just goes with the territory

or province
where she may materialize
at any particular time

in between

she's a caged cat

pacing back and forth
back and forth


he's happy he gets to rock
her Gypsy soul on occasion
making sweet hot music together
(one ear invariably cocked
for the sound of distant drums)

long past remembering

what she's running to
or running from

soon she'll be coiled tightly again

ready to spring for glimmering stars
though they're only in her eyes

so near

yet so far away

Thursday, August 25, 2016


Outside my window
the raven beckons
to follow him again
as in that kingdom far away
in a time when hoods
of muslin saved our sight
from the diamond in his eye
that blazed like a thousand suns

And wasn't it you

who told me that love
is like a banana
you've got to peel away
the facade

And wasn't it you I saw

seething inside your skin
at the Metropolitan Opera

Grunting like a pig

when the fat lady sang
hooting from the balcony
like a Portuguese pimp
a break with tradition to be sure
running amok till they pinned you down
inside the ladies room

Tempest in a pisspot

And isn't that Miz Chauncey Lee L'Amour

sitting right over there
sucking on her
mint julep
trading tales of the good ol' days
when men were men
and women were horses
and giddyup ol' paint
was the prelude to a kiss

Her entourage

of the rouged and the wrinkled
hanging on her every word
well aware that most men in America
in this year of the locust
in this decade of the plague
would rather be sniffing
through the long abandoned ruins
of an old haunt
than to give up the ghost
to some baby-faced whore

And now my old friend the raven

has moved to Baltimore
where he works as a squeegee man
on certain odd numbered holidays
and plays the guitar
with Eric Clapton
and sometimes Charlie Byrd
while all the sweet young things chant

But well you know

the whole world's a stage
that you're going through
just to get to someplace else
and though they stomp and shout
for another encore
quoth the raven: Ain't no more!

It was a lively time

says Miz Chauncey Lee L'Amour
well aware that most men in America
take their pants off one leg at a time
all grist for a story of some kind
and you know dahling
you really should write it

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


No one is crazy
about a poem
that goes on
and on
and on
and on
and on 
and on 
and on
and so on
(you gotta get out there and slop the pigs!)

A poem should be

like a good fight with your girlfriend. 

Say it succinctly

have it mean something
make it feel like a stab in the heart
and get out of there.

Come back later.

Approach cautiously

and take a peek
to see if "she" still looks friendly.

Then dress her up a little

and get ready
for her big debut with your friends!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Nature procreates
with no regard for the numbers
or the consequences.
I know some peeps like that too.

Bathing in their own pious disregard--

the stink of the river still on them,
as Gaia's icy tears
cascade into the sea.

And I thought I heard her whisper:

There's only one of me...
and far too many of you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


When I reach the end
 of that road
I'll be like some of those old cars
I used to drive around
held together by chewing gum
and bailing wire
an old beater
(I know what you're thinkin')
limpin' along
chokin' and coughin' and splutterin'
(but never  out of "gas")
destined for some boneyard
to be gutted for spare parts

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


They slip by



that is life's little trick

as you're not supposed to notice
till one day you glance in the mirror
and reel back in HORROR
then you hear somebody laughing
you can't see them
but that is LIFE
getting such a kick out of
pulling that shit
on some hapless sonofabitch
once again

Friday, June 17, 2016


You remember the wild west
where everybody was a gunslinger
and when the bad guys came to town
an armed citizenry had some
recourse to deal with 'em

I had a vision
of a new America
much like the old America
where east is west
and west is west
in the new wild west

Where pistol packin' mamas

are toting something more than lipstick
and Tic Tacs in their bag--
and they know how to use it

Cuz a shootout

is better than a massacre
any day

Or would you rather be fish in a barrel?

You know as well as I

that day is comin'
there'll be no more debate
just a throwback to a simpler time
when men were men
and women were Miss Kitty
and the cathouse
is right down the street

So sidle up to the bar, boys

and get yer whiskey
and learn how to down it
in one swallow

Cuz a shootout is better

than a massacre
any day

Or would you rather be fish in a barrel?

I had a vision of a new America

where necessity
becomes the mother of invention

Where zombies roam among the populace

programmed for apocalypse
(they're already here)
and they have to be taken out
you've seen the movie--
we gotta take 'em out

Cuz a shootout is better

than a massacre
any day

Or would you STILL just rather be fish in a barrel???