Archive for September, 2012


Reality suggests itself as madness,

as though more things ought to be

carved into the maze-like formation,

OK, the corn was fun, now how about

a string of lost copper wire leading only

to futility, how about we learn to burrow

with our jaws, this is not, is not a kind

of sorry revolution, the telepaths know

me in geometric completeness that I can

only guess at, vector, wire diagram in green

and shadow, this is your life, poison is such

a difficult word to type, don’t even inquire

as to where the reluctance comes from,

matches to matches and lust to lust,

do you understand that these words are

not my own, do you realize that my being

has receded in the terror of the night, living

now nowhere but this central orb-like prison

I hold inside my throat, everything is shrinking…

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elimination disorder

Oh, guh, bleagh, my cup, like,

runneth over, I am a sponge,

I am a vortex, I am anti-matter

to the entire world right now,

I have heard this must be a two

way street, but I cannot stop

this, this hoarding, this theft

of emotion and trouble borne

to me through a series of

rectangles, a-a-and it never

comes out, do you hear me,

I keep learning, and wincing,

and having my heart broken

as a sin of omission, but why

can’t I be normal, why can’t I

forget like everybody else does,

isn’t there some sort of law of

conservation of misery, I am

afraid I may never reach any

lowest common denominator,

it is in me, I stoke the coals

in my belly, I am bloated with

hot air and light, why is this

mine, I, uh, protrude, I am taking

up space where once there was

something better, what goes in

must come out, I am waiting,

my fingernails have grown long

and nervous, I am still waiting.

The waiting

Here I am, horrible, back in this world

when it was still OK for movies to have

intermission, they would wait, is the point,

wait and think, like the wandering and misery

were all just another part of the human condition,

it’s communicable, contagious, right, I know

where you were but not where you will be,

I know who you were, but even the existence,

the choice to exit right now and never have you

save for in my imagination, the power is a cancer,

oh my dear, dearest Lara, the last thing I heard,

you were still encased in ice, if only I had the passion

to be as revolutionary as Strelnikov, yes, melt with

the revolt against plot and script and convention,

I will leave this place and rebuild it with my words,

rebuild a house, a season, a world in which you

and I can live together, untethered by the whirring

wheels of  fifteen minutes, the entr’acte, already rising…

Large earthworm in the bicycle lane

We-heh-helllllll, will you just take a look at this ambitious

bastard right here, that there is a biggish earthworm who has

travelled a long way from home, in fact to right in the middle of

the bicycle lane, it makes you think, because damn, that bicycle

lane gets buses on one side, couple of lanes of cars on the other,

it’s like: how did that darned earthworm even get in there, it bespeaks

a sort of devil-may-care attitude that must be fundamentally incompatible

with the idea that this earthworm who was once a small earthworm even has

the general acumen and sense of self-preservation to become an earthworm of

such biggish stature as we see before us, like, as in, how was not run over when

he was still young, Darwinian abortion, I think they’ve got no brains, but even they

must still have enough nervous system to be nervous, and gosh, it would be tempting

as a human to find some deeper meaning vis-à-vis this earthworm’s doomed position, but

I feel like I’m better than that tonight, I won’t take the bait, the live nightcrawler, of course

seriously you’ve got to be wondering by now about what issues of blindness and perspective we

too must deal with as the tires whizz by and hold our gravel trek to a straight line with the promise

of getting gnawed to bits by treads and friction, oops here I go getting carried away again, but would

you look at that damned earthworm, man, that’s really something, huh?

Professor Larry

Head like a traffic cone, mouth

like a parking garage, teeth meshing

and pulling out all at once, no you go,

oh, a-and you won’t even believe

what comes out of it, words like

“imbibe”, sentences like “maybe

the night only feels dangerous, maybe

silence always does”, paragraphs like,

well, you got the highlights at any

rate and we don’t have all day here,

the point is these kids can’t abide such

a simpering optimist, right, they can’t,

can they, I don’t think so, not with

the resistance we have built in to them

at least, today’s class topic is existential

despair, wear black and write Professor

Larry a poem cribbed from the headlines

of that sad growing heart, tell your friends

it didn’t feel good to say it, you’re too clever,

all this sorry balding fucker gets to see

is shields and grills, but hey at least he

doesn’t give homework over the weekend.

–Well, uh, this is a surprise.

 

–It’s just, there’s really a great deal more, you know, negative space here than I envisioned.

 

–Erm, did you like, run out of them or something?

 

–Well, for example right there, the south wall of the foyer.

 

–Oh, “patchy” is far too generous a word.

 

–Yes, I know what their intended purpose is!

 

–For Chrissakes, I’m using them now, aren’t I!?!

 

–To convey emotion, excitement, and/or arousal!

 

–Yes.

 

–Devalue…?

 

–I’ll attenuate your effect, you son of a bitch!

 

–You’re being dramatic.

 

–All I’m saying is watch the accusatory tone with which you’re currently speaking to me.

 

–Oh, crying Wolfe now, are you? See where that gets you.

 

–These walls will be full of meaning soon enough, you’ll see, I’ll show you!

Step briskly in time, comrade tympani, bum bowwww

bum bowwwwwww don’t get greedy, cover one eye

with your hand or I’ll barely be able to lurch down

the street, that’s the way we like it, let the cellos

rise against the weight focused in the center of my

eyes like a swarm of angry bees, now we’re really

gettin somewhere, how’s the song go, I’m gonna add

a little guitar, hey hang on a minute, that’s not in any damn

orchestra I ever heard of, uh, we’ll throw it in there anyway,

OK, pour me another tall, cold cymbal tssssssssssssss

ahhhhhhhhhhh, really tight roll over the side of the glass

and now I can’t even help myself, self-congratulatory

clarinets all “let me tell you a thing or two-two twotwo

twooooo” until they’re drowned out by those damn showboat

violins, of course, who else, the shrill argument rising to

trilling palpitations that crawl up and down my sternum

and down to my hand which is no longer even attached, wow,

bum bowwww, wow tsss two-twoodly-two buh-zangggg

who who who’s even conducting this damn thing, what’s

the score, everything looks like ceiling in this old dive bar

and the french horns are lost, still counting rests, wake em up,

before the crowd gets restless and chucks produce at the bass,

unfair, the bass is the only guy playing: lub-dub. lub-dub. lub-dub.

help me, i am becoming non-orientable!

well uh actually you see officer the thing is

i was driving pretty much more or less normally

when the very road in front of me became…

 

a mobius strip!

i am fully sober as your breathalyzer indicated

but it is difficult to drive on a one-sided solid

especially when your life is in turmoil and your

mouth tastes like hickory smoke and sadness

and really i probably could have even handled

 

the mobius strip under different circumstances

 

(i am an excellent driver)

but i’ve been feeling overwhelmed it’s just been hard

lately to stay afloat among the reeds

life is turning strange and vertical

and

and now this mobius strip what a run of rotten luck

the point

is that i don’t think it is fair to say that i was being unsafe

(life is unsafe)

i would really appreciate it

i would really appreciate it if you could just let me off with

a warning

and officer be careful the road is a mobius strip up ahead

(just looking out for you)

God bless you, Oswald Cobblepot!

Now hold on just a minute before you dismiss

this as so much comically hyperbolic miserable

dreck, what I meant was that the human soul

is a swamp not just because of the unpleasant

squelching between your toes or the oppressive

prison of condensation that tethers your arms

to the mangroves or the admittedly rather toilet-

esque odor, but also the commitment, this chaotic

rejection of stillness, instead growing in a horror

of tangles and beautiful living calligraphy that

apologizes for its own outward appearance, yes,

“ohhhhhhh” the voices of the marsh birds ripple

across the viscous surface, but of course we

know better, we know that they will never be able

to comprehend until they too have flowered out of

the scent of shit and discarded things, until they

have lived in the cracking sandstone of the grotesque.

Andante

I was born right out of a bayside clam shell and I think it might be nice to go back there soon,

where the breeze is nothing more consequential than purple flowers, a whisper, a suggestion,

right, I remember back when I was calm and the women were impossible…

 

Scherzando

The sound of the ocean is like an emptying

narrow-necked bottle like distended vena

cavae like in the case of right heart failure

like the love letter came back return to sender

like the simile has clamshell ridges like who

created who is still ambiguous like, uh, the fog.

 

Staccatissimo

Call

it

a

mix

of

memory

and

hope


Agitato

A-a-and I tell myself this is not my beautiful Botticelli,

this is not my beautiful copyright infringement, but maybe

they’ll see it my way, right, there are only so many pearls

left in this world, a-a-and if you find one, well, what are

you supposed to do, exactly, just leave it in the grit?

 

Dolce

In: they call it tidal breathing for a reason.

Out: that shoreline recedes like it’s scared of me.

In: she’s probably just underwater right now.

Out: absence is the purplest word of all.

In: the chest pressure keeps me warm.

Out: come back soon, Venus, come back to me in dreams tonight…

Cost-benefit

Pro: In the heat out here, the cicadas

sound like moonbeams on a cloudy night

 

Con: The pines are just more scar tissue,

squeeeeeezing my heart out into cold gasps

 

Pro: When the air is still enough, the words

float off of my tongue like glassy incandescent

bubbles, they displace the world and make

it something I can read (this trick, of course,

only works when nobody is watching…)

 

Con: If the breath I dive into is not sufficiently

deep, my neck will surely be broken

 

Con: My feet have crawled away, toe by toe,

gone to spend the rest of their leisurely days

at the hot springs (but what then of me?)

 

Pro: Head tilted, desperate attention, the strains

of calliope that roll down the hills of nowhere will

tell me who I am, yes, they have so much left to say

Contents not suitable for children

Little eyes, but it’s the relative amount of width

there, not the overall size that counts, that makes

you want to saunter on inside and plant a tap-

dancing cockroach for a role model, so naive

to trust you, trust you, man, they should know

better, they’re practically asking for it and that’s

no doubt how the courts will see it, provided you

have the good sense to wait until the creature

is at least 14 to start in with the same old shit,

l-let’s you and me get good and drunk, buddy,

and you go out in the backyard and dig for a while

through the fossils and fumes of some old Dewar’s

looking for dragonflies caught in amber prisons

that you will never find, blaming the Chinese for

just about everything, and to think (think!) one day

soon these will be what we call the good memories,

well, well, that reminds me, son, did I ever tell you…

Phases

I learned to get angry from a girl named

Craters of the Moon, eyes like sinkholes

you could see from a satellite, we loitered

around the earth’s beating volcanic heart

all day until we were soaking wet and swollen

with mercury poisoning, this was the blasted

alien landscape of youth, and we panicked

like the snake who looks in the mirror one

day and fears the melting abstraction of skin,

and was it also a natural process when she

clenched her fists hard enough to snap a nail

off into a bloody palm, was I too growing up

as the creature grew inside of me, forcing its

way outward, warping my bones and eyelids

with its need, with its unyielding red theft?

Monkey offers fruit twice

Monkey holds you in rough, bandaged

lungs that inflate with helium to wish you

condolence in black roses, monkey believes

in the quivering, breathless hush of balanced

scales of justice, monkey also believes in

the horrible entropy of fuck-ups, monkey

probably can’t afford to handle this anymore

and yet he belies the sputtering, dying, running

out of gas 10 miles from the nearest exit by

simply persisting, monkey’s arms are outstretched

and tensed, tendons singing like the blues are

going out of style, monkey feels your pain,

monkey feels your pain without taking any

of it away for you (monkey didn’t quite do

the math right on that one, folks) monkey

feels like the black island in yang’s sweet

cream, monkey doesn’t know how you do it,

monkey offers fruit, monkey offers fruit twice,

monkey struggles fruitlessly, monkey wants

to steal but doesn’t, monkey sighs, monkey loves.

It was, erm, disappointing to say

the least to observe your inaction,

the instruments laid out before you

(rope, can of gasoline, a couple of

glinting needles if you’re that kind,

you have the right to choose) but

still nothing excited you, silent, as

red and flighty in the dying afternoon

as a cardinal nephew, well, I guess

this is why we teach the connections

to the uninitiated, but son, one day

you will be placed, one day you will

take over the family business, the rage,

the violence, the alcoholic madness,

kid, welcome to the nothingocracy,

this world where I can make you as

bitter and lively as electrocution if

only you’ll stop crying, you never have

to cry again, you see, we delegate here,

why don’t you take my hand and learn how?

Gallop! Gallop!

hey you did you

notice the sound

coming from the

speakers above

sounds just like the

S3/S4

gallop heart sounds

(ta-lub dub-ta)

not quite hold on

(hello goodbye)

it gets under

your skin like that

don’t you think so

as well my friend

this mod ern beat

path o lo gy

i can’t help but

fall in line with

its strict re gime

in speech and song

and move ment too

i’m bob bing up

now down i can’t

stop mov ing fast

er now i can’t

i uh i need

my heart it just

might stop

McKinley’s Ghost

Unlike William Carlos Williams,

I at least have remorse, I’m not

going to leave a snarky poem on

your icebox and rub it in, because

really I didn’t even mean to do it,

no no no, you see, I have recently

come under the tutelage of the ghost

of…

 

PRESIDENT WILLIAM MCKINLEY!

 

WOW, you see, there is reason to

be found among the madness here,

the anarchists won out after all,

President William McKinley converted

post-mortem to the cause of no causes,

imagine that!

 

Anyway, I know the popular

media has been putting a big old spin

job on ghosts lately, but they are scary,

if this weird and mercurial McKinley

is any indication, he’s been whispering

louder lately, quite stern, probably

the worst presidential ghost to be

haunted by.

 

So anyway that’s why  I ate your plums,

you see, and I don’t even know what the fuck

William McKinley would have gotten out of it

unless he ghost-phased his way up through

my colon to taste them, so sweet and so cold,

but maybe he just made his trip from the place

between places because he’s gone all warped

and insane, sowing misery, prosperity abroad

and terror in my domestic heart, the point here

is one of responsibility, a concept to which this

ghost president seems dangerously untethered.

 

Already, I feel his voice again, leaking into my

fingertips, speaking violence, chaos, a true

America, all within my power to bring about…

The road to hell

I wanted to say nothing but the truth

so I draped the walls with clarinets and other

unintimidating madness torn from honest pages

strewn with cursive violence and black tear drops.

 

I wanted to tell them what I really thought

so I rolled my tongue around the hose reel in

the garden til my neck and conscience followed,

whizzing around the friction of a joyless summer task.

 

I wanted to have faith in the human heart

so I watched Temple of Doom for the sixteenth time,

so you’re telling me that love and courage hum through

this non-fictional world too, have I got that straight so far?

 

I wanted to be remembered

so I forgot myself in the melting snow, painting pictures

of clocks and wooden doors with my footprints, too soon

lost to flames, boiling through history in the center of the earth.

The ballad of Leroy the Morose

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

 

They tell me life is but a dream

since precious plans came true–

 

That Doo-Wop radiation scene

in Disco World War II–

 

Wellllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll

 

Yesterday I tried to cry,

my tear ducts coughed up dust–

 

The loving ain’t the nasty part

it’s all that fucking lust–

 

They tell me life is but a dream,

they tell ya what they must–

 

Am I the great neurotic king

or idiot distrust–

 

Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

 

They call me Leroy the Morose

I cut my fingers off–

 

I tried to shout: Hey, adios!

but christened with a cough–

 

My hair is thin, my sallow skin,

my scalp I grin and doff–

 

You call this sick? Well what the hell,

I ain’t the one worst off–

 

Whoaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

 

They call me Leroy the Morose

my teeth have turned to glue–

 

They tell me life is but a dream

since precious plans came true–

 

Let’s put the bodies by the road,

I’ll stack ’em two by two–

 

I think I’ll pluck my eyes out next,

that last one looked like–

 

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

 

I think I’ll pluck my eyes out next,

I’ve nothing else to do.

Distressed

/dis’trest/

adj. check me out, 7th grade history teacher:

yellowed with green tea (funny how that works

out, color-wise), singed, wrinkled, torn, stepped

on, here I am, passed down from the slave ships!

 

adj. hello

hello

hello

is there anybody in there…?

adj. yeah, cut her braid right off, hey this

thing’s got a nice rugged heft to it, think

of the possibilities!

 

adj. OK, I’m getting a little tight in the old

GI tract here, huh huh huh, but like why

does each entry get preceded with those,

italics, it’s not like the part of speech is going

to change in this particular case here, is this–

is this some sort of sign, am I, could it be

that I have been set apart for some special–

 

adj. dot dot dot!

dash dash dash!

dot dot dot!

 

adj. I will, I must be brave enough someday to tell

my son that there are sympathetic, exciting nights

where the only thing you feel is the parabola, that

somehow those nights are the longest of all, that they

will end, if you only you learn to let them (good luck,

that’s all I got for now)

Threshold

Didya hear, I’m done with all this anesthesia

(the alcohol, the compulsive lying, the *ulp*

delicious mint ice creams) and ready to face

up, well, fairly sure here at least, the pain was

only ever really a (???) out of 10 and I reckon

I have a good pain tolerance, I won’t get angry

anymore, I won’t cast you in my own lost molten

iron, didya hear, I’m better now, I won’t make

false promises that I can’t keep, whew, here

goes, detoxing as we speak, OK, there, that

wasn’t so bad… whaddya mean it gets worse?

Lamento

When I am laid in the ground,

I will reflect on how interesting

it is that the lament may be

the defining poetic form of human

history, reeking its way through

Greece and Italy and probably

other places, but oh, woe is me,

it’s not like I’ve had the time to

properly fact check this issue

anyway, interesting indeed,

a word for the emotional space

between words, not that anybody’s

measuring loss in cubic metric units,

not even that it’s right that they are

not, did I lose you, anyway, there’s

this dream I’ve been having involving

this nasty streetside gang of bees,

really, like little fat honeybees that

have invaded my home, interesting,

woe woe woe, hold on a second, why

is it that there are stingers hiding just

about everywhere I look, is this too on

the nose, anyway, I’m sure we can find

ourselves a little pain together, let’s go.

Strong

I think I always knew that I was the head

and you were the heart, not to mention some

pretty impressively hypertrophied muscle

fibers, and yet there were those unbelievable

times when it was you who admired me,

ridiculous, have you seen yourself in the

mirror lately, but nonetheless I fought to

justify your faith, to believe in other worlds

than this where we two might be combined

to perform greater wonders still, to run out

of worlds to conquer and save the ones we

loved from any pain, like the world never saw

fit to handicap us for equality, no matter, I

am learning my way to the mountain if for

no other reason than to be visible to you,

maybe from there I can inspire you once

more, make you stronger than Goliath.

temptation in the desert

today i saw the pieces

laid out upon the kitchen

table (it’s not the alcohol

this time i swear) and oh

they looked so good like

crystal sugar growing off

a stalactite’s razor edge

taut yet calm with this

realization that the songs

of miserable exaltation are

about me or well really i

guess about everyone but

the point is (hang on had

this just a sec ago) oh right

that there was that moment when

i found my intricacies positively

artistic as they fit and breathed

and made sense and held my

eyes transfixed to the entrance

of the cave and it was ok not

sappy weird or you know gay

or whatever you want to call it

to feel the joy in the smooth

puzzle piece contour of shore

and lake like it means something

better than i’ve been talking about

all these years (so few and yet)

i could go on but i fear i’ve stayed

too long already and the moment

is gone gone gone but having felt

the loving bitterness on my tongue

this one time well who is to say

that it will ever be so far out of my

reach again to know it is right and

not sent not contrived not deceptive

not satanic not confusing not lost

Excavation

If you would just

hold

still

we could get this little,

erm, exploration underway,

dive in,

make a smooth-edged

archaeological section of–

your living brain!

Just let me get

this little trepanning doohickey

(grumble grumble

they gotta have like, a cordless

one-a-these by now, that’s American medicine for ya)

chunk! splat! Oboy oboy there

we

go!

Hey hey hey, there’s some pretty good stuff

in here, friendo, probably a bunch of metaphysical

so-and-such to be explored

questions about human existence and all that,

but first, something personal–

should I get you a mirror, or would you rather not look?

We three pigs

Oh, right, I see why these things

are passed along the thread in such

a dynamic, high frequency twang.

 

I’m beginning to feel a touch anthro-

pomorphic myself lately, dirt made

animal made human made story.

 

Who hasn’t felt Blitz Wolf marching

to the door in lock step, all fetid

breath of deep, amorphous unknown?

 

I think I shall build this new house

out of something serious, a north star,

novella pages curling up in a bonfire.

I am learning that I haven’t got the time or money

to self-destruct so beautifully, save that for those

young and deadly fliers in the metal zone, loving

the lie, the fictional freedom of initial velocity in

the y direction before the blast, marionette strings

coyly hidden in cool September air, but I’m not

bragging, I will be the spiro atom, I will be the whole

chemistry of the clock’s cyclic wistful sigh, desperately

contorting into this predetermined, this most energetically

calm existence, I may be in the right place at the right

time to take advantage of the stability of sweet electric

probability, but who am I to be proud, I’m starting to

wonder if we aren’t all trapped, victim to some higher

law that eludes, that holds my hands together to the

very same sky in which they put on such a lovely show.

Headache

a.k.a. cephalalgia a.k.a. what was

in that drink exactly a.k.a. are you

positive the brain has no pain receptors

a.k.a. if you could just stop talking

a.k.a. buh buh buh buh buh a.k.a.

just three more hours in the shower

a.k.a. the devil done found my weak

point a.k.a. wh-whaddaya mean it

might be a tumor a.k.a. it’s complicated

a.k.a. dunk my head in a basin of

cold water a.k.a. but I need this here

caffeine a.k.a. squinty reds and pinks

a.k.a. why don’t you try it out before

you call it “benign”, buddy?

Somebody get this man a michelada!

Ernest Hemingway knew more than most

about the nasty way the morning after has

of shooting up your nose to strand you,

strangling, on the dockside. After a while,

food drunk and regular old fashioned drink

drunk blend together into a vibe-ing burlesque

pulse of hot pepper and stale vomit. Balance

the sheets, the input-output thing is confounded

in the shadow of the lighthouse. OK, so, beer

in, there seemed to have been some weed

involved at some point, uh, right, and electrolytes,

water, dignity, anxiety, standing deathly still on

the side of the highway somehow both secretive

and proud, like a 6 foot tall erect penis in the ocean

wind. Oh, and speaking of that last… well, suffice to

say, it’s hard to know the score, exactly. Bartender,

bring me something spicy and alive, it’s 10 AM and

all these damn stray cats are counting fast now, I need

to slurp the morning down like soup, or better still, toss

it in the furnace and anoint my forehead with the ashes.

Chasing the fish…

Unfortunately, there’s no good way to avoid

the inevitable dash of pretension on the honey-

fried surface, so let’s just get this over with:

 

the best fish I ever had was some sort of white

fish in lemon butter served over quinoa at a lake-

side café near Albertville, France–

 

…but, but, listen, I know you don’t want to hear

about that, it’s not like I’m some Europhile asshole,

and at any rate, I don’t even remember

that fish or that moment or that lakeside.

 

That’s, ah, you see, the problem, isn’t it,

the factual knowledge thusly encoded

without any experiential memory to fall

back upon, to come to me in warm, hearty

sleep.

 

Take tonight for instance:

 

Tonight I had fish! Tonight I had fish

and it was, you know, okay, wasn’t it,

but surely it was nothing to compare

to that sweet gift of the Alps…

 

…but, oh boy, to say that for certain, wouldn’t

I have to know what that Savoyan afternoon

tasted like, wouldn’t I have to…?

 

Ugh, this ruination of memory and faith and melt

in your mouth desire…

 

I…

 

…surely if I keep eating fish I will, uh, know when

the dream comes true, don’t you think?

 

I wonder if there is any hope left for the man who

has known greatness, if perhaps it is better to live

in the mediocrity, so that when the moment comes

there is no anticipation, oh snooty foodie Saint Paul,

to only be struck blind and converted by these culinary

gifts of the sea!