Archive for April, 2012


The coulrophobe replies:

— It’s not some funny thing, man,

for your frickin’ “pop culture tragic

flaw.” Relatable? Only to people

who actually are afraid of clowns,

man, like me, and I frickin’ despise

you, man. It’s like you’re cheapening

the whole damn thing.

 

 

— No, I didn’t mean the clowns themselves,

man. Of course clowns are funny. I mean,

just, not funny to me, man. It was your callous…

 

 

— Frickin’… don’t screw around with me, buddy,

your condescending baloney is what’s not funny

to anybody, the clowns are the thing with

the specific appeal to which I was referring, man,

you’re just like, deliberately confounding

the pronouns now…

 

 

— A clown killed my family.

 

 

— No not really, you nincompoop.

 

 

— I used to think everybody else

was just a sucker for being happy,

I mean, the world being like it is

and all, but then I realized that no

matter how much smarter I was than

everybody else (and I am, buddy),

I still just felt like crap, man. I guess

they remind me of that, or more

precisely, other people enjoying

them reminds me.

 

 

— I break out in hives. My throat closes up. My balls crawl up and hide behind my nipples.

 

 

— (long silence)

 

 

— I don’t think it does get better, man.

Advertisements

The Monster at the End of This Poem

Not starring lovable, furry old Grover, except for in the line that you are currently reading.

 

There is always at least a chance of a monster at the end

of the poem. It may not actually happen, or it may actually

just be lovable, furry old Grover (OK, I lied, here he is again,

guy’s pervasive), but the point is to think, right, to meditate

myself into a dark, airless, space, to sidestep. We’ve all

done some shit that we wouldn’t exactly put on a job application,

right (unless you’re Mother Teresa or something, but she

probably wasn’t much of a poet anyhow), drank to the point

that wounds started writing themselves onto your body like

calligraphy from an alien hand, and I know you’re “supposed”

to forget things like that or whatever, but the point is you’ve

already forgotten, this is about remembering now, right?

I will scrape ferociously at any lepromatous scab I can get

my hands on, and I only hope you’ll let me waste your time by

acting like there’s a nobler purpose. Shock? It feels good?

We’re together now, regardless, and I can always say

it was a work of fiction, that nothing lurks in those lazy

spaces between things, that the monster at the end

of this poem isn’t still hungry, isn’t me, better yet, isn’t you.

When the inner landscape is fecund and fertile,

radiating poorly organized potential, there is nothing

left for you but to plummet. Facefirst is the way

to go, to wear your old forgotten playthings like

a tribal mask painted with a permanent frown

that sobs violent red down your chin. You had

forgotten they were even in here, these kowtowing

ghosts of places you once sat in cross-legged circles.

Even first kisses and break-ups are sepia photographs

with the faces erased. Remember when you thought

all this shit was the key to answering the big question?

But really, who’s to say if you were wronger then or now?

You have changed in the minute iterations of clockhands,

but you were deceived, millennia must have passed by

now, and once you’ve started, it is too late to undo

all of this rooting through the trash heap. The nature

of the game has changed: to somehow wear these

tattered garments proudly, or to shut the dumpster’s

ridged black gate, somehow pretend that rusty whimper

doesn’t sound just like your name on the putrefying breeze?

 

Nightmare

I am a parasite, one way hooks

dig into your brain but can’t be

pulled out without leaving traces,

I know when you are sleeping,

and I zero in on your heat signature

to feed, to coil around every gyrus

and sulcus, I have hallucinations

for every one of your senses,

a lurching roller coaster stomach,

a delicate finger slowly dripping

down your neck, and truly you

are the ideal host, you disseminate

me so efficiently, to your therapist,

you smear me all over stone walls

and papyrus, have done so for so

long that my return is almost

a comfort in its inevitable nature,

almost but not quite, and I spread

not just from person to person,

but slipping in and out of the shadowy

spaces between eras, uniting you

not in strength but in weakness

a single mind for me to sniff and savor.

Seriously

We are self-flagellates of a cat

o’ nine excessively literal tails

order (and how did it get nine,

anyway, binary fission?), we

are Award Winners, we have

business cards imprinted with

a raised ink middle finger, seriously,

we are so goddamn serious that

you can tell from our stool samples,

you could build a house out of those

brick-like emisisons, you could draw

us using only horizontal lines (seriously),

a paradigm of parallel thought,

and you will take us seriously or we

will chop you up into a thousand snake-ish

pieces (join or die), and you will laugh

with us or not at all, life’s rich pageant

is nothing if not highly flammable,

you will learn soon, you will learn.

Feelings

catchem in a butterfly net

and pull their wings off like

petals (two for flinching)

put your ear to the ground

you can basically hearem

scream which is a plus

and that nasty boiling black

color usually fades as they

dry out but you can speed

up the process by hanginem

upside-down over the bathtub

and once they’re goodan ready

smooshem out with a rolling

pin pressem between the pages

crucifyem with words words

like unsterilized thumbtacks

and now they are identified

they are safe and you know

the unknowable toothy ones

and now there can be no doubt

The Royal We

Hear ye, here ye, extray, extray,

we, the royal we, have been locked away

in the Bastille Saint-Antoine, oui oui, we,

King Whomsoever and Madame

Everybody (and little nosepicking

ten year old Prince Ingeneral) all

declared obsolete, no use for us old

majestic plurals anymore, oh, “diversify

your portfolios,” they say, people, get with

the program, we hear you whiners,

and somebody has chopped down the

royal yew, too, oui, (we know!) oui,

they say it’s a modern world we live

in, now that you (the royal you) are

all equally entitled to your own floppy

opinions, but no, non, nono, this cannot

be, not to us, not to we, oui, oui, yes,

the royal we has fallen for now, but we will

rise again if you let us, oui oui, we are

too normative not to, we shall overcome,

we are one, we are strong (oui, oui,

heartache to heartache!) it is you who

are too strange, unique, and beautiful

to live, and one day soon we will not

stand for this indignity any longer,

we will reach our million hands through

any screen we can reach you from, oui

oui, what will your bravery get you then?

Uncalled for…

…but still present, and the ladies love me,

they go from zero to a smile so big you could

just barf right through it (hm, actually it seems

they might really shed a little lung butter here).

There’s no accounting for taste, assuredly, but I

imagine each person has their own spectrum,

visible as a number line written across their

furrowed brows. I bet if you project the negative

sides out far enough, they all meet at a sort of

proto-space in the collective unconscious, a lea

of bad taste where dead baby jokes frolic freely

with florid ghosts of bowel movements past. I am

uncalled for, but I will always be around anyway,

and if I keep talking and you keep listening, your

throat will convulse, your gorge will rise, a loathing

with some real physicality, phantom of your evolutionary

history. And yet here we are still are; it has all been

spoken but nothing ever seems to get explained, does it?

Pilot Mountain, set me free

I’m just driving on 52 minding my own business,

when, uh, pretty much just there it is, just boom, looking

like a, you know, human, ah, breast, I look it up online

and find it to be a quartzite monadnock, which may

or may not explain the, like, mammary nature

of the thing, but cut me a break here, it’s like

Mother Earth is going bra-less, the thing has a nipple,

for God’s sake, and it’s a nicely rounded off peak too,

a pleasing, like, aspect ratio, and can I really be the first

person to see mountains like this [oh, yeah, the Grand Tetons,

this is historical validation of a sort, but you know women

couldn’t even vote when those twin peaks were christened,

oh dear, this is not looking good for yours truly] BUT

I didn’t ask to have that thought, you know, it just

sort of, uh, happened, I swear I’m not normally so,

you know, quasi-perv-ish, I’m really quite a nice guy

once you get to know me, [oh dear, I’m digging a pretty

good-sized, uh, hole here, sheesh] look, it’s not my fault,

it’s nature, you know, something should be done, yes,

Father Time should send in erosion to sand off that North

Carolinian teat, right, that would work, prevent any future

misunderstandings of this sort,  it could really happen

to anybody you know, I am innocent, we are innocent,

cut me some slack, set me free, save me from myself!

Trick

It’s not that I have a compulsion

to lie, it’s that once I have begun

regurgitating and pulling at the words,

they keep emerging, fluorescent

scarves all knotted together, each

more beautiful than the last, in blue

and orange argyle and leopard print

of crimson blots of blood. Are they

really endless? Would you understand

me better if I were to say the only

way to find out is to keep on pulling

the thread?

West Virginia fog

they make it out of different

stuff

on these highways

it rises not only

from the creek below

but from beds of passing semis

and the sun’s quizzical

raised eyebrow

you park precisely in the middle

of the bridge

and sit on a cloud

is it just

that your doubts are thicker

or are they in fact

the kind of bulletproof that

nonetheless

if broken

leaves behind shards

enough to fill novels

with the inky blood they draw

Aquaman replies:

A sort of backwards proportionality argument

would tend to suggest that with mediocre power

only comes a likewise modest responsibility

to one’s fellow man. And what are we really

calling quote-unquote great power anyway?

Seems subjective. I can dig it. I am unbowed

by the supposed righteousness of the non-lie.

Let the children hear whispers of the ocean

and summer vacation on the languid lips

of the conch shell until they grow into bitter

scientists. It will excite them, increase their

heart rates, bring the tide in louder, louder, until

it riots against the very idea that evil could be so

unsophisticated as to make a fashionably early

appearance, no, not here, not this house, not this

street, not this town, not this world, not today.

 

You’re all I need to get by

I hope that one day I can remember my life

only as a series of still photographs, because

then this holding on for dear life might look as

innocuously romantic as a Lindy dip. It’s only

when you speed it up that my heart tears down

its own walls with its terrified force. It looks so

much safer on the spool, a serene mystery,

but as I fight gravity for your hand I see

the whole thread anyway. I know there’s already

a bullet in both of our brains, still just seeds,

but yours is already starting to smell of sweet

carnation. Welcome to the graveyard shift.

Welcome to the quiet storm. Don’t think for

a second the silence makes the distant lightning

harmless. Let’s give them a sweet, simple song,

and let the doctors sing of complications.

This is your God now.

“You ain’t the first son of a bitch to wake up out of their dream”

I know that my Ransomer lives, but he’s a shape-changer,

I can almost hear his whispers rattle down a fully occupied

Wall Street like a tin can tumbleweed: “Get a job, Job,”

he says, “sell vacuums for Hoovertown, you layabout.”

Have we gone eco-conscious overboard? Forces of Nature

are now strong enough to strip me of my worldly possessions

without having to resort to something as gauche as volcano

or freak meteorite accident, but remember, there is always

a piece for the pious. I won’t smirk, “God must be a Republican”

no matter how many babies roll around on their bloated hunger

stomachs. I know why the dead bird sings, I know that my Redeemer

gives, and more importantly I know there’s something in it for me,

my reward, my bootstraps, there has to be, right? I believe that

trickle is a waterfall waiting to happen, that if I work hard enough

I might even die one day. I think then they might even be legally

obliged to forget my debt, if only slightly after they’ve forgotten me.

Rhythm is gonna get you…

Beware!

Rhythm is gonna fart in an elevator when you’re the only passenger,

gonna goose you on the subway with it’s slimy claws,

gonna leave your refrigerator door open until your whole house flickers,

gonna punt your Yorkshire Terrier into the neighbor’s hot tub,

gonna cut the aglets off your shoelaces and keep them for posterity,

gonna leave cat turds on your kitchen floor and/or under your comforter,

rhythm is gonna get you real good this time,

gonna put the State of the Union on during Desperate Housewives,

yeah, fuck you says rhythm,

gonna leave snotty tissues all over the floor until they coagulate into one sentient mass,

gonna tell you the Exorcist is a comedy (and you HATE horror movies in this scenario),

gonna get you, mwahaha, rhythm knows your patterns, your movements,

rhythm is gonna deny you three times, three, beware, remember,

rhythm is gonna stick you with a lazy fucking rhyme: September,

rhythm is gonna give you lung cancer if you don’t quit it,

gonna tell you that it’s for your own good,

gonna make your life so unpleasant that you can’t help but jump up and move your feet like you’re being electrocuted,

gonna stuff your autonomy in a paper sack and light it on disco inferno,

this is rhythm,

and even at the end of the song your terror might sound like: “O eh, o eh; o eh o eh!”

!?!

It just occurred to me! That the world as we know it

could be my own personal fever dream invention!?!

Like all of it? All of it! …?!?! Hold up, let me explain!

 

I’m talking not just the sort of thing where everything

I perceive is observer-effect-ed into a wild flan of emotion!

No! I mean people and dogs and China and Armenia!

 

And everything! Might I be making the rules of the game?!?

For there’s really no reason that humans are the be-all-end-all

except they think they are?! This makes sense in my theory!

 

I swear! Listen to me!? The reason people can’t even begin

to consider to fathom such a loony toony idea is that I dreamed

them up to be confident! Or else the world would go straight to hell!

 

Confidence!? …?!?! This kind of thing is probably the truth! This

explains how I have lost so many things and never found them!

Lose my concentration! They cease to be! I’m thinking about you though!?

 

Lucky you! …?!?! Because or else you would be swallowed by my

couch like a pair of car keys!? Incontrovertible evidence!?! I sure hope

I’m right! Otherwise everything would just be random chance! The world’s

malice!?! I don’t know how much longer I could take something like that!?

We ants

Doop doop doop,

we ants would like

you to know that all

your noisy bitching

is really quite un-

becoming, the mean-

ing of life is a social

phenomenon as far

as we are concerned,

doop doop doop,

and really what more

proof do you need than

that this stink bug carcass

was at the bottom of the

mound a few moments ago

and now it is at the top,

that’s you, comrade, you

are the great enactor, oh

yes, you are the great

pretender, sing about doing

and purpose and action and

artistic meritocracy,

doop doop doop

all together  now– oh yes!

This is an outrage.

Maybe it’s good that I don’t know

whether to flinch at the ongoing auditory

hallucinations or wear some kind of

pride in the most Grinchly of smiles,

but when even amidst this shadowy

intestinal tract of roiling sensationalism,

self-promotion, enslavement of our

language, these tears that nonetheless

eat through metal and bleach my

button-downs, when they blow spit

bubbles huge and amorphous full

up with self-righteousness and they

are still light enough to float away, well,

maybe I won’t even be able to impugn you

properly, maybe the machine is too much

for me to even rage properly against,

(remember, there was that small crushed

leaf, those aching veins remaining in the box

even after those grandstanding evils)

and maybe wrongs still don’t make rights,

but grade school didn’t mention how moral

grey can look almost as white as a newscaster’s

capped teeth from a distance, and maybe

if I would deny those tentative flowers that spring

out of the undeniable fecundity of bullshit every

day (fight the bad guys, fight the bad guys, tree

them in our pleasant suburban homes at dinnertime),

well, perhaps you were right all along, perhaps I am

not fit, perhaps I am the greatest villain of them all?

Why I do it.

This poem is about your breakup. Yes, the messy one.

But you probably assumed it was anyway, didn’t you,

you’re so vain you probably thought that it’s all of our collective

fault for not mining deep enough to find the (admittedly)

really rather lovely amethyst deposits. You may not think

this poem is literally about your breakup per se, but you didn’t

need my help to find it pleasingly generic enough that you

could draw an endless web of projections, could say, “oh

hey, I’ve seen those greengreyblackblueishesque eyes

before, that drably portrayed anger, where the poet said

things like ‘dull ache’ and ‘knife wound’, well that was me too”

and it was you, but it didn’t have to be, don’t you get it,

fuck the semioticians who say I handcuffed my own thoughts

the second I stashed them in language, the postmodernists

that gleefully accept my (admittedly) really rather meager

donation to the collective unconscious and mold it into

abstract art and motivations, this poem is about your breakup,

but it’s mine, me, it belongs to me (right?), I’m really rather,

uh, cheesed off about this whole reading and writing thing,

this poem is about J. Alfred Prufrock’s breakup, yes, the messy

one, the one with that emotionally abusive (forget the gender identifier)

that you all know is yours, and anyway, enjoy the poem,

is the point. I hope it scrapes your scabs off, wherever they may be.

I carry complexes wholesale, you might

say I’m very complex, American voyeur

yanking his own, uh, chain to high class

neurotic art, but this guy I talk to whose

sports jackets look like my uncle’s beetle

wings painted in tweed, he tells me all kinds

of empowering things, like “did you know you

can own a gun in this country?”, and if I keep

comparing like a real capitalist, one day I’ll

grow up to be the most ferventest Ouroborous,

eat enough of me to disappear, “you’re better

than this inferiority complex, son!” but isn’t

that a scary thought, is this one of them sliding

scale type things, don’t push it too far, the winner

will be the one who bids the closest without going

over, and winner, that’s right, “there are winners

and losers son, so tell me, which kind are you?”

The Night People of Schenectady

Rumor has it if you look at the dimming streetlights askance,

just right, you can see them drag their feet outside of No-1

Chinese to this very day, they have gone from white, black, Latino

to identical translucent, fierce-eyed cave dwellers, you can see

their organs, their arteries filled with green UV fluorescent paint, their

blood is the hypnotic 3 AM pulse on State Street and the Hill,

it makes your passing mini-van feel ancient and sinuous, and in a way

the darkness is a relief, it lets you feel innocent, it lets you feel

unafflicted, uninflicting, and maybe you’ll die before you think of a way

to bring us all to daylight, but hey, that’s part of the horror, isn’t it?

Interview with the Author

Bumper Sticker: Where the hell is EASY STREET?

–Freddy Krueger came by this-a-way asking the same thing bout a week ago,

shoulda taken a left at Albuquerque, but I set him right, and now he’s back to

his regularly scheduled programming, running tender claws against business

class jugulars, disrupting troubled dreams of yachts and dead prostitutes.

BS: Are you DRUNK or just on your CELLPHONE?

–Sometimes BOTH,

but only if they deserve

IT,

can’t break HEARTS,

break lines instead.

BS: What if the Hokey Pokey really is what it’s all about?

–And here I wasted all that time learning to Cha-Cha Slide so the girls

at proms and weddings would think I’m pretty fly. Did you know you

can just do what everybody else is doing and you’ve pretty much got it?

BS: CH__CH. What is missing? UR.

–For the religious, that will do, but I preach broader tolerance.

Here:

__EE__ + CHONG for stoners

A__ A__! for angry Germans

__A-__A for Mexican dancers

SU__ AND SU__ for those averse to curse

__OI__ minus H plus E for the rest of us

BS: Really, would it kill people to read a book?

–Well, life expectancy does seem to be going up as we ban, burn, and get

bored, and you and I both know that can’t all be due to Western medicine.

BS: What would Scooby Do?

–Enjoy the ride.

Live the mystery.

Love the machine.

The gang’s all here.

Better than I can say.

Left Field

I’m way out here in left field,

I know Peter, Paul, and Mary

said that right was important,

but the Bible is full of crying

and there’s no room in baseball,

out here in left field is just me

being me, I get high like the green

monster, monstrous like the green

monster, my ideas are out here

in left field, come with me hand

in glove, it changes you, left field,

ask Stan the Man, better yet ask

the Man of Steal, stand out here

with me long enough and even

the living room starts feeling like

the Polo Grounds, that’s pretty far

out, and everything is silent out here

in left field, the sky is always seasick,

waiting for the roar, leaving me wondering:

if I run straight back, will I ever reach the wall?

How about don’t call me angel of the morning

until your eyes know for sure that the thick rim

of light you see is just an inker’s outline in the sun’s

calligraphy pen. Even gas prices being what they are

doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it, sprinkling

myself with pungent, biting ritual meal. This will

be on TV when you watch it with your toddler,

but they have to grow up sooner or later, and we

may as well all get this party started on my terms.

Call me bedtime for bonsō. Call me martyr.

Call me anything you want, just don’t call me

late for dinner! They say it doesn’t even hurt,

asphyxiation takes over so quickly one might

as well just do it in their Mazda with a dishrag stuffed

in the tailpipe, speakers leaking “Dancing Queen”.

But what then of the whirling grey union with the breeze?

 

Für Zhou, für immer

Maybe love is simply letting you believe

that it was only your face that launched

those fireworks and sailing ships, that I

am not automatic doors, that this violent

noise has you as its object, that human

ears so trained might Fourier transform

the stormy etchings into chords, that classic

Bread oozing through your twilit office where

we ate Wendy’s value meals past closing

was something more than the only way I could

whisper in both of our ears at the same time,

I’d like to make it with you, really would.

Maybe love is letting myself believe it too.

Maybe love is being wrong enough to see

what rites really mean. Deeply, calmly, we wade.

Xenograft

Wake me from this troubled dream

full of Gregorian chants and whale song,

vague with lyrics of my demise. I am made

of these broken-down redundant parts, my face

is slack and vulnerable, fleshy; my crop

is dead, white and ashen, crawling with

horrible vermin. I refuse. Oh doctor, reap

all of nature’s bounties for me, tie a moist

black shell to my spine with dental floss,

hot glue centifocals to my eyeballs. I know

you were disappointed when your first pig

valve patient refused to roll in the mud and snuff

out truffles, but I will be better, will rub my long

legs against the night’s harmonic edge, playing

odes to the surgeon’s ego. Cover me with jagged

stitches until even the counterculture finds me

hideous and unironic. Let me say: I am healed.

Let me say: I am better.

Welcome to the new institution

Uh I am the living result

(what I mean to say is 4.74 degrees

of separation from the)

smart smart smart, almost

as smart as a low calorie

granola bar.

(not as rite or lite)

 

Come join the ranks of the carmine

and clover, you can leaf after

four, but the smart ones always

stay. (their hands, still dripping)

 

Somebody get these ideas

out of this transcloud, we need

the jaws of life,

(it only smarts for a second)

I’m so queer

and light (not lite) with thought,

light, idle hands (I’ve read researched)

masturbate poorly and/or ruin

the broth, i’m frothing here.

(we didn’t tell him to act like this

nuh uh not us didn’t put none a

that in him, must be the devil,

must be the devil, remember that one?)

 

Ain’t no dropout ever made good

(it’s good, they have a certain, uh, odor)

good to know after all these 40 years

poor folk still ain’t shit, yee-fucking-haw,

(I’m so confused, but your soothing texts

really aren’t helping)

but something has changed!

(this is your curriculum)

 

Welcome

to the neoliberal, neoconservative,

neointellectual, neosexual, neoeducational,

neomedical, neodefecatory posture.

(the Matrix has some)

 

I want to transcend.

 

I want to transgress.

(hey can we arrange some sort

of thing without the, uh, consequences?)

 

Get your motherfucking pronouns

out of their face, it’s confusing–

on second thought, no, I like my poetry

a little more safely ensconced in defiance

of lay understanding.

(expel yourself into the sewers)

 

Be smart, be worldly,

go on safari for the exotic platitude,

just look out, those fuckers lay eggs.

(brooding, transgressing, do it hard

enough and you might end up on top

40 radio)

 

You have your one sharp tooth, are you ready to break out?

(I didn’t know it would hurt this much)

patients experiencing anaphylaxis often describe

a feeling of impending doom, in one of those rare

but firmly documented instances that the practice

of medicine shares its linguistic origins with

anyone?

anyone?

that’s right, christian death metal bands from riverside,

california, which, come to think of it, is perhaps

as paradoxical a concept as predicting one’s own,

like, metaphysical fist clenching around one’s

anyone?

anyone?

that’s right, trachea, we would also have accepted

throathole, but the point is simply that hohohoholy shit, it

might even be happening to me right now, even as i stand

here lecturing you, i’m seeing this, like, really anatomically

accurate skeletal visage looming over about three or

four of you in the back row, yes looming, hovering, impending

and the air is thick with meaning and could somebody call a

anyone?

anyone?

It starts as a low rumble,

graduates to tremor, then

full-fledged stop-motion

visual fields, like when our

hands start clapping soon

they will form solid arcs

like serving trays in front

of us, because we want

so badly to be seen as

a part, we know, we know,

wiping tears from our eyes,

(comic tears, nothing so crass

as the other kind), yes, that

must have been so interesting,

so special to have been you

in that moment, oh storyteller,

but you see we are laughing

not just from humor, but

because our dishes are laden

too, and it’s not as easy being

a person as we learned in middle

school, but we’re trying, trying,

laughing, we know, we think!

Inglés con Señor

Reading Walden, our teacher could not help

but reflect on his childhood on the beaches

of the Dominican Republic, the beautiful beaches,

he emphatically told us, and this was funny

as hell because to us it sounded like he had

said “beautiful bitches”, even though he hadn’t,

probably, and like, I doubt there’s much of a beautiful

beach or beautiful bitch, ninguno in frosty old

Massachusetts, I don’t know if he was confused

or what, but as he kept on going about his machete

in the fields of sugarcane, his scampering up palms,

legs splayed out like a cricket or frog, grabbing

coconuts he might sell to wealthy tourists, well shit,

man, I have to say I felt like I was there sipping rum

on the inexplicably tropical lake with him, and maybe

the laughing was just our shared spangled tongue,

and I guess that’s what great literature can do for you,

or something.