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Monday, December 31, 2018

ON THE LINE BETWEEN AUTUMN AND WINTER



I.

Between what could have been

and what was
lies The Land Of Regret
where the hotel service is lousy
the beds are never made
(the sheets get so tangled)
and it's always raining.
You can go there 
for a visit
but don't stay too long
and never buy 
a one-way ticket
or you will never come back. 

II.


I've had more embarrassing moments

than you
due to a proclivity
for winging it 
in situations that required
a boy scout's preparedness
counting on some magic
unrealism to carry the day
and when it didn't
(which was 99 percent)
I developed a taste for the raw egg
that was dripping down my face
and so I wince
when reviewing the past 
but that die is cast
life is still a blast.

III. 


I journeyed back
 

to my little town
population two hundred six
in its heyday
to find it in ruins
the little cafe where all the kids
fed the jukebox and pinball machine
workin' on those night moves
at least in their heads
now just a storehouse
for some rickety furniture
the pool hall 
gone
the people I knew 
gone
it was like a war memorial
in the quiet aftermath 
of a bloody conflict 
where I literally fought
to survive as an 
outcast and a loner
and yet have always felt
better off for being battle tested.

IV.


I stand behind my life 

the way the man who follows
the elephant down the street
with a shovel and a wheelbarrow
stands behind his work. 


V.


No one is unlovable--

if you don't believe it
check out the couples
down at your local Walmart.


VI.

I can write about old lovers
family 
and friends
with no trepidation
and I do.
They don't read my work.
That
intimate stranger
I leave to you.

VII. 

I've searched for meaning
in this carnival world 
that surrounds me
only to learn
there's nothing to do
but join in the dance.

VIII.


It shifted to winter seamlessly

there was nothing you could point to
that said you've crossed over
but somewhere along the line
you did of course
autumn days still mild
nights portending of what's to come
the scent of wood smoke in the air
then one morning you awaken
and the world around you 
has grown cold
and you brace 
for December's finality.








Tuesday, December 18, 2018

TUNNEL VISION



You can always find someone
to feel sorry for in The Naked City
someone who feels exposed
even when fully clothed because
those with the gift of vision
can see right through them
and I, Clark Kent, know about this
better than most

I roam these streets by day

(no fly-by-night superhero am I)
the people see me
as they have seen my alter-ego
so many times on the TV
if not in person
rescuing some ducks
or some sluts
from the gutter
and they never once put two 
and two together 
that I am he
and he is me
by the mere fact that I am wearing
these dorky glasses
I mean come on
really
it just shows you how easily
people are fooled
as no one even once ever said
you know you look a little like him
take your glasses off for a moment
it's why nobody sees
that the emperor has no clothes
as they grope blindly
along the tunnel 
in a dream 
within
a dream
within
a dream
here in The Naked City

Thursday, December 6, 2018

YOURS DROOLY



There was a time when I 
thought that I was gonna crap 
out before the age of thirty
in some romantic James Dean
bullshit kind of thing 
but now being to hell and gone
past that (and past the point 
of caring 'bout most things
I cared about then)
I gotta kinda wonder if
live fast die young 
might not have been
the better option
cuz the last thing 
ever wanted to be 
was some decrepit old fool
who can't get up off the stool

but that's probably coming


then again I think about

how I would have missed
this lovely shit show 
we've got here today
(I know I don't have to go into it)
and I'm kinda glad that can be here to commiserate with you 
and help you through it 
in my own little way
so come here and put
your head on my shoulder
cuz it's a lot easier than me
trying to put my shoulder 
on your head

Yours Truly,

Still Not Dead



Tuesday, December 4, 2018

COMING



the odor of death
hangs heavy over the planet
the corpses of angels
strewn at our feet

and it's coming


the people were told
by the high priests 
of climate change
but they paid no heed
till it started to rain
(say what you will about Noah--
 he had strong animal magnetism)

what to do now:


rob the liquor store
do a lap or two
around the lap dancer
circumnavigate the moon
swing on a comet's tail
eat in the kitchen
crap in the loo
the creatures marched in
two by two
look out Flahr-Da
there's more soup for you

take a Greyhound to Memphis

do a thing with The King
drink your whiskey straight
masturbate
(as you can see
it doesn't matter to me)

'cause it's coming

the odor of death

hangs over the planet
you can see it in the skies
and in the children's eyes

but what we will carry:

the scent of earth
and twigs
and pine

we'll always remember you
Mother 
just as you are
as we gaze wistfully upon you
from some other star

and we are coming


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

THIS DREAM

Here's an encore presentation from a few years back. Many of you haven't seen it,or if you have, you don't remember. Isn't memory loss a wonderful thing?

In the morning
I awaken once again
into this dream

In the blueness

of the day
the arrogance
of ordered existence
becomes clear

As the day darkens

I come to terms with
the illusion of meaning

I've taken to staying up 

while others sleep
spinning and turning in time

That blow to the head

could have felled a rhino
but all I did was stagger
about a bit
in that lovely planetarium
behind my eyes

Now

in my world of ambiguity
the universe precedes the big bang
the lesson begins the teacher
and life plays out 
from finish to start

In a parallel universe

I am perpendicular 

And like the world

it all makes perfect sense
if you don't think about it

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

ANTI-SOCIAL MEDIA





I got myself a tribe

their wordless tongues
don't have to wangle
only nimble fingers
flying over a keyboard

My foolscap is a monitor

for monitoring fools
determined to give the Big Lie
just one more try
as tribal warfare
spills across the screen

A manhole cover 

on my head 
to brace
for the incoming
a hail of toads
wet-stained and sweating rain
as life is cheap as dirt
in cyber land
but the truth
now that'll cost ya

Thursday, November 15, 2018

NO FORGETTING





dVerse Poets Pub




Down at the bus station
drunks and drifters 
prepare to sail away 
to somewhere
anywhere 
away from here
as if you could 
somehow get away 
from you

You're not of that ilk

but with a little letting go
you could be

The woman 

in the adjacent seat
is talking to someone
that isn't you 
and you surmise
it must be God

Out your window

snowflakes plummet
onto an empty plain
and there is your God

Darkness descends

with only the open road 
and the cold stars
beaming out yesterday

This is where you belong

and there is no forgetting

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

RED WATER, BRONZE WORDS




The road is just more geology
we kick up pale dust that hangs
peels back to the left
northbound lane
a hawk circles low

America 
I sometimes wish
you would remember me
under the glitter
on frozen moss and snow
the wet seasons
red water

bronze words
new shoots of spring wheat

I have enough despair for two people

A voice calls me to the river


When you see my reflection

in the dewdrops 
on the heather
you'll know that I have returned

Thursday, November 1, 2018

ALL THE BOOGEYMEN AND THE GODDESSES ARE GONE



I initially engage a book of poetry
somewhere in the middle, 
looking to avoid   
beginnings and endings
as one always leads to the other
and if we'd just meet each other
halfway the cycle might be broken.

I  don't need new and improved

like the dubious claims in that
laundry detergent commercial.
Am quietly content with 
1997 issue of Ploughshares 
that I picked up at the used book sale.
Those poems have been neglected
for some time (I can identify) 
so I pay them a visit to find
lo and behold that neither they
nor their creators have aged...
only me...old and unimproved.

And then the next ad pops up 

and it's  the real people-- not actors--
with their testimonials, don't you know.
And as for those backhandedly maligned
thespians, I wonder if at the end of the day
 do they turn back into real people again 
when they go home to their families
or maybe just a room with one dim  
bulb hanging down from 
the ceiling and a cat.

And now back to our story.

But maybe I'll just switch it off 
before the foregone conclusion.
Have done it before.
You just walk out the door.
(Avoiding the saddest part of the drama.)
Used to think maybe I would
miss something that way. 
But now can see that 
all I missed was the ending.

Monday, October 29, 2018

THIS BIRD


I saw someone
who looked a lot like you
before you went crazy

but it was only from pictures

that I saw the resemblance

for as long as I knew you

you 
were a little off
but I just chalked it up
as part of the cost of loving

but there comes a point

of diminishing returns
on one's investment
so you cut your losses
before they cut into you 


the song of the cuckoo
as she flies over her nest
will bombard my heart
with second thoughts
but last impressions 
are always more telling

who have you been
for lo these many lives
and how many people
are crying quietly inside you?

You wanted me to be your knight

but I can't save you from the demons
that will one day drag you screaming
to your own private hell

Thursday, October 18, 2018

WHEN YUKIMI SINGS



Don't sum up your life
by the awards you've collected
nobody gives a crap 
'bout that but you.

Or your service to the war machine.


U can only be proud of that if 

U didn't snuff out the flame
of a slanty-eyed someone you've
never spoken to and never
given it a second thought 
cuz U did your duty by God and country.

And when Yukimi comes gyrating onto

the stage to do the vocal for "Empire Ants" 
it's already the middle of the song
and the crowd goes nuts in frenzied
anticipation with a thousand flames
held high cuz they know it's about
to kick into another gear.
And then that beat engulfs you
 like a big Asian tsunami 
and just sweeps U right you away.

So let's say that U also dug

Gorillaz--then there'd be some hope
that you and I 
could engage eye to eye
and I to I
 and lo and behold
there might be mutual understanding
no matter who or what we are.

It could be just that easy.


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

RUNNER



if you're numb
if you're just numb
you can block out
the shame and regret
of all you've done
otherwise there ain't no way
you make it through 
to fight another day
you want to have clear
vision not clouded by
tears and your nose
not running with snot
you're running with the bulls
you're running with the devil
you're running from the stench
of the past 
and that's a marathon
you'll finish by god
bloodied but unbowed
pick up your participation medal
on the way home

Saturday, September 15, 2018

IN THE FLASH OF AN EYE



And now I find
that I give less and less
of a damn
about any of it

But it would do my heart good

if I knew that just once you stopped
and questioned your motives
for all of it
cuz if it's just by rote
it plays a sad and sour note
to my ears

And let me draw my own conclusions

as to why she smiled at me
in the supermarket
let me hang onto my illusions
a wee bit longer
cuz in my mind
and in my heart
I'm still back there listenin' to
The Mighty Quinn
(everybody's gonna want a dose)

Don't mean to be morose

but I need a reason
to fall out of that bed

Just don't make me feel that

 your day
and your life
won't be complete
unless you are killing something
that smiles

Decades whiz by

in the flash of an eye
and when I say I took her support stockings off
and wore them over my head
and then went out and robbed da liquor store
I think U know what I mean--
it's the universal language of love
ooby dooby dooby doo
 just me and you

Will apologize to neither god nor man

for what I am
my is-ness
is none of you biz-ness
and yet I'll pray
that you'll be forever freed
from your own private hell...
and thus release me from mine

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

WATCHING FRENCH FILMS WITH SUBTITLES






Look up
look down
miss the action or
miss the meaning
but you don't want to miss those tits
so to hell with what they're saying right now

Knowing one's priorities

makes life much simpler

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

ALL THOSE ANGELS



Always felt loosely tethered
well you can kick that up
a notch now
a shadow of one's former
self that was no more than a
shadow to begin with 
giving way
day 
by
day
to an emerging grey sky

The why??? of it
 gets caught in your throat
as you laugh and shake your head
at the sudden realization
 that all those angels
and that luck of the Irish
rolling your way 
were just a thing in your head
and things being preordained
seems the only logical conclusion
and talismans are just pretty stones
that dangle at the end of a chain
which seems like a 
totally appropriate metaphor


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

I SHOULD HAVE WRITTEN THIS LONG AGO IN HOPES YOU MIGHT HAVE SEEN IT AND STILL BE HERE



Online bullying?

when I was comin' up

it was up close
and personal
and in your face
(not Facebook)

one thing it does

when you're on the receiving end
is helps to build character

so develop a hard shell

kids
like that giant tortoise at the zoo
(and shine it with turtle wax)
and have some empathy
for your tormentors
for they are hurting
the same as you

and


consider the source


can't tell you how many times

that has seen me through

never once validated

or took their words
to heart

that's called knowing who you are


never knew anyone

of my generation
(them damn hippies!)
who checked out over it

cuz


there is a place

deep inside
at your very core
where no one can hurt you

find it


it is your strength

and your reserve
and one day
it will lead you
triumphant
into the sun




Sunday, July 1, 2018

LAST LESSONS OF THE AFTERNOON



Didn't send anything 
to your journal this time
didn't send anything to
your contest 
(after winning it last year)
give someone else a chance
I said
but the truth is it's just too much
goddamn trouble 
for little reward

Like a lot of things


Like life

mostly

But you're expecting

a poem 
of course you are
that's why you're here...

So let's not disappoint:


Last lessons of the afternoon

your last drive
I said, this misery must end

The rolling English road

bagpipe music
anthem for doomed youth

Buffalo dusk

full moon
what are years?

Look within

the lost man
not waving 
still drowning

I remember the woman

 at the Washington Zoo
wearing flames and dangling wire 
a kiss in space
a taste
tangerine
Xmas trees
the end of love
going
going
gone

All day it rained 


Fuck you 


Monday, June 11, 2018

AFTERWORD



He's just a nondescript dude
 more polite than most
 no need for posturing
at this stage of the game

The one he's not playing


Saw him at the theater

saw him at the school
saw him at the cafe
in the booth
so calm and cool

Think you're a tough guy

and he looks like a pushover
maybe have a little fun
maybe heap some abuse
but you've just drawn to
the worst hand of your life
with the one you never should choose

Talkin bout the man with nothing to lose


Your woman

your job
your booze
will keep you playing the game
by somebody else's rules
and you'll always stop short
of the things he might choose

That man with nothing to lose


Who knows when

the proverbial straw
came into play
suffice it to say
that life has been exposed
as a game for fools
and he is no longer playing
by anyone's rules

When life's no longer

what it seems
you walk along in a dream
a slow motion movie
where there is no sound
and people's eyes appear
to be screaming
and you wonder
in a curious way
if it has anything to do
with you

Saw him at the theater

saw him at the school
saw him at the cafe
in the booth
so calm and cool

And afterward

the afterword
is how did we fail him
but that's easy because
day by day
and each and every day
we shuffle along in a dream
where we wanted to reach out
we had it in our minds
to reach out
we had it on our agenda
to reach out
we had it on our calendar
to reach out
but somehow
we just didn't
and so it's easy to discern
just where we went wrong
my friend
cuz day after day
and each and every day
we
have
all
failed
to
love