Tag Archive: Loss


The moment slips out of clasping

hands like it’s coated with soap suds

the moment when his silver soul

flees his bony cage and skips

town across the red sea and out

to make a permanent home

burrowed in the pocked and pitted

lunar expanse of my belly

along with the others

like jellyfish washing up

on the same seashelled

shore where they will live forever

as far as my infant mind

can tell and it is no great feat

to imagine a world of sand

so stingered that none dare

cross and frolic in the ocean.


The ballad of Leroy the Morose



They tell me life is but a dream

since precious plans came true–


That Doo-Wop radiation scene

in Disco World War II–




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–




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–




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–




I think I’ll pluck my eyes out next,

I’ve nothing else to do.



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



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)


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?


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.


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

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.


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?

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



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…




…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!

Don’t think me rude, it’s just that this hilarious,

reductionist simplicity of disaster grows harrowing

to even consider after a time, these fingers drawn

out slender, sweet and parallel like the close queue

of bubbles falling in reverse up the side of a Crown

and cola, these couple of Daltons that hold my blood

cells in the field to sow and not to reap, these invisible

and blameless holes in our conscious perception that

thicken the voice with mucus, let it drip to the floor

and congeal in a spiderweb of vowels and plosives,

it wears on you after a time, the sheer combinatorics

of existence, until of course I’m going to laugh when

I hear the story about the lymphoma patient who vomits

simply upon seeing his chemotherapy doctor, oh you sly,

manipulative body, do you get it, I’ll explain when you’re older…

A: Assimilate or die, shouts the morpho-

syntactically broken man, never stop not

making sense or we’ll have to have words,

the air is thinner at the peak of Babel, this

gate at which the tribe of monocled bastards

will deny your tongue entry to a heaven only

seen through the weary signified spectacles

of dead language, victim of programmed

suicide the remorseless biologist loves to

describe as natural, a sort of autoglottophagy,

and where is your faith in the permanence of

syllabic beads on a string now, a-and is there

any hope now that we all have seen what all

happened to you, dead verbiage stacked in cold,

pale rows by the roadside to be used as wartime

code, well, erm, what happens now, there’s always

a bigger fish, the neo-industrial superpower of our

collective stupidity is mutating this alphabet each

second, into acronyms and belches, don’t be

stodgy, no, but you’re worried too, right, first time

you open your mouth and nothing seeps out but

one zero one zero and a string of strange odors,

there is nothing to be said but death’s silence, yes,

welcome to night terror in the age of anesthesia.


i’ve been having this, ah, thing lately


(doctor says it’s nothing to worry about in the long run,

assuming i don’t value things like long term memory

and/or fertility)

where i think of the earth not as one, you know,

momentary sphere, but rather as more of an

overlapping eternity of space donut


(the plain ones make my mouth dry up and give me this

sort of hacking cough, doctor says it’s not anaphylaxis,

i’d just prefer chocolate frosted)

but man, geometry really starts fucking with you

when your dreams are haunted by the 3D volume

swept out by history


(not even high, just on a healthy regimen of anti-psychotics,

and i think they’re working, i really do)

this dark space of the heart thrown violently against

a factor of π that has its own demands, right, a boa

constrictor chain of so many clonal humans, well, keep

rotating, earth, see if you can’t blot out the sun with your



(i think i might get to sleep any minute now, yeah, if i could

just gnaw through the umbilicus of memory, right, that’s it…)


Half empty

The emptiness

of the day is a

pressure that

manifests itself

in the moments

unwritten, blank


pages when the

dull traction of

car tires gets a

little too loud in

its protest of my

bland mortality,


“hey, just let me

lose my grip and

go whinging off

into the crumbling

stone wall on which

you sit, that ought


to really be neato,

that ought to give

you something to

write about, you

ungrateful smear

on the sidewalk.”

The emancipation of Bob Rasa

Oh boy, here you are in a pensive

mood again, Bob Rasa, sensing

the sweet parallel lines of your eyes

locked on the first distant stars of

a late summer night–


–and why shouldn’t you be endlessly

reflected within the prism, light aching to

escape the lustrous prison of expectations,

when I grow up I want to be more than a

pseudonym, more than symbolic, more–


–well, I feel your pain, the sweetest

wounds being self-inflicted, after all, but

why not release the dream to the modern

congregation in these blistered, broken

streets, like that petite brunette that

occurred to you in humid under-blanket

air that smelled of nutmeg and cinnamon

simultaneously with the realization that she

would never be yours, yes her, fill her with

helium and let her float until she disappears

and it is no longer your responsibility to think

about what becomes of her, and don’t you

dare think me uncouth or exaggerator when I

tell you in holy words: free at last, free at last,

thank God almighty you will be free at last.


The morning will not be your friend

today, no matter how you court it with

roasty odors and hot water, as you

stand unstable under another sobbing

faucet, time slips through the pores

of the drain to age the alligators that

lurk below, you never stood a chance,

your thoughts are a blowback smear,

traceable all the way back to your side

of the mattress, you can almost remember

it, almost but not quite, you have nothing

but a warm Poisson distribution on your

neck, nothing to do but just stand there and–


There comes a point, dear physician,

when you must realize that Baudelaire

knows just as much of LUQ pain as you

do, hold it back hold it back hold it back,

until the pain is a desperate confusion

of process and origin, pulpy Greek bile

that holds your cells in a mother’s embrace,

life will always be this unfair for as long as

you have an organ designed to filter out

the leafy melancholy, beaten, vented, I

suppose we all can benefit from this cold,

faceless sentinel, navigating life’s sinusoids,

praying to hold us steady, worshiping the zero.

Collective Effervescence

Observed at the crucial moment,

flicking off the dead, broken-armed

embrace of the beer bottle top, they

describe as a liberation of confined

gas, and why not liberation, seems

like a mot juste to me, because now

they boil, now they are kinetically

perfect, ideal, colliding and colliding

and colliding, boom, boom, boom,

boom, tachycardic base line spews

warm, sexual emboli to the farthest

reaches of the neon stage, now they

haven’t lost energy since the moment

they broke and broke the threshold,

this is the gleeful destruction of children

that only live never, beautiful dichotomy

of sacred and profane, hydrochloric acid

in limestone, but the hive knows, they

know what they choose not to know,

temperature and pressure, they are free.

Neoclassical Album Cover

I have seen enough washed out black

and white still lives of old men gazing

at the carpet of fallen red, brown, and

orange (you just know, color blindness

aside), low density X-rays of winter sad-

ness, to know immediately that my destiny

has been proscribed in every ever-shrinking

Barnes & Noble section across the country,

written in permanent ink as an impossibly

understated calmness that you want so badly

to read as smugness, as self-satisfied “if you

have to ask, this Neoclassical Album is Not

For You,” but it doesn’t, never will, and it’s

selfish to try, the deliberate Rorschach search

for pretension in this genuinely weary, worn

down heart only makes you the malicious one,

makes you the tragedy (in your words, not mine).

medical school lesson 14



give me something new to nurture

in the vacancy of crooked arms


(can I stay here forever?)


this togetherness needs no first

breath, no beating heart


(can I stay here forever?)






(can I stay here forever?)


it’s not a joke, not a joke, not

a joke, not a joke, but it is funny

as hell


(can I stay here forever?)


one day soon, your favorite punctuation

mark will be the open bracket


(can I stay here forever?)

Night of the Living Torsos!

Tonight, they crack off of marble

pedestals, rubble without cause

or compassion, they riiiiipppppp

down the entire length of a page

from your anatomy textbook, or

worse yet from Abercrombie wall

hangings and catalogues, leaving

behind jagged shadows, thick white

brows of the silent front porch watcher,

they rotate down the street, back and

forth, inadvertent sashay born of a lack:

no arms, legs, heads, eyes, but perhaps

the rakish wiggle is deserved, yes, this

is a night for ostentation, this is the night

the torsos will have their revenge, claw

their way out of obscurity with nothing

but idealized abs and radar blip nipples,

yes, swallow the human heart whole, ribs

like teeth that close together, mesh, swallow.

King Zero

his roundness could

contain a small city

of undercutters and

regular cutters and

a thriving economy

based on anthills

and wine cellars,


his ellipsoid gaping

mouth could screech

down the street until

the brakes are cut,

electric impulse sent

but never received by

the mother brain,


his capital-O fists

might beat against

the city’s fetal walls

for all time, begging

for a tomorrow that

looks nothing like

a stolen loaf of rye


I extend my leaves

toward the aching red sun

a search for solace


the heart’s pathogen

is parasitic yearning

nutrients and soul


I disintegrate

as always into orange

into spores and steel

The victim replies:

Actually it is you who is more

or less intolerable, you have

the thing reversed, I am the

victim, me, it is I who labors

under your heated blanket in

August, forced (forced, I tell

you!) to resort to your same

old inaudible insults and hiss

through gritted teeth about

driving me crazy, muy loco,

the distance is all but here

to Venus and still too close,

too many lingering high noon

cactus shadows to even begin

to pretend it all never happened,

and if you bother to come back

(you will, you always will), can

you at least wait long enough

for buildings to rust and crumble

into a fine moustache of dust

on the lip of the canyon, or

better still, not come back at all?

The reconciliation of Bob Rasa

I’ve been meaning to call you for weeks now,

Bob Rasa, strung up on the dry mouth anti-

Pavlovian hooks of your name in casual

conversation around time. I don’t call, of

course, not with this roiling blood between

us, swirling to fill each sulcus with dread

that you surely must feel too when you think

of me, you must. For all of the ingenious

design, these cold translations of vibrating

molecules to electricity, I am confident

the earpiece would have nothing but poignant

crackles for me, a wall unscaleable once

erected. And worse still, if somehow you

have forgotten the names of the atoms that

separate us, if the forgiveness comes easy?

Perhaps you and I would just talk on the phone

for hours, like nothing had changed, like we

were more than wandering auditory phantoms,

and really what would the point of all that be?


Oh, you son of a bitch,

how is it that the empty

web is even more dangerous,

the intricacies of your fractal

absence sinister in their

suggestion of otherness,

perhaps your antimatter

existence might collide

with your beady black

carapace, shining and

repulsive in my shoe or

on the ceiling or in the air

conditioning vent, and now,

come to think of it, I haven’t

seen the son-of-a-bitching

homeless guy on the corner

of Columbia and South in

weeks either, he could be

anywhere, you know, maybe

in the duct with the spider,

watching me right now, and

I think this is going to be an

awful day, yes, I know it.


Dionysus guarantees that everything

I touch is golden and uncomfortably

severe, glowering behind dark lips

and closed glasses, or was it the

other way around, freed from vibration’s

burden and assault, and perhaps it is

true that we can only experience presence

through absence, truth through lies, but

even now something is building belie

the philosophical suggestion, coursing

through the spiral galaxy of my inner ear

and shaking, quaking, every particle high

and jittering, and now, in perfect silence,

I can hear the ringing bells that stitch atoms

together, words never even dreamed until

this moment, smoke rings in the dark.


Jay Valentine

You know, it’s times like these

I wish my pseudonym really would,

like, pull a The Dark Half style

operation, his voice octaves into

the basement just dripping with

butterscotch and malice, because,

man, maybe he can write the words

I’m afraid to, no more hiding behind

pretension, and, ah, this sort of writing

in a quasi-mannered, neurotic vocal

style, the passive voice crucified by

Jay, left tethered to the stone wall

in amateur shackles, maybe he’s not

so afraid to commit to the dismantling,

all of the gimmicks and apostrophe

and weak symbolism and desperate

Wikipedia searches for inspiration, no,

throw them all into the furnace of a heart

that knows, yearns and begs, take me

over with your bitter tears, Jay, take me

somewhere red, take me away from here.

medical school lesson 12

Aphasia Voluntaria


For all of the, ah, evolution

of your psychiatric classification

schemes, warmly, generously

working your way to the conclusion

of “a failure to speak” rather than

refusal to do the same, I have

to say (or not say, remember,

not to you anyway) that in my

case, being neither a child nor

socially anxious, that truly my

condition is a matter of refusal,

hrmmm, yes, endlessly puzzling

to the adequately modern and social-

ized physician, but I am here to tell

you (silently, again, don’t miss the

point here) that time is just one more

distant planet orbiting your sun,

that heartbreak is just a few radians

away from bursting from the ground,

forming new mountains and ridges

in its periodic cycle, and I want to

let you know, sir psychiatrist (do

I even have to remind you?) that if you

saw the next ice age coming so clearly,

well, you would see no reason to open

your goddamn mouth so much either.


The young men talk about fear

as though it is only a one-man

show, but so much of life can

be measured in the tension of

two red heart-shaped weights

on a rope. Lurk is the word they

whisper as none of us quite see

the others, instead drawing silk

sight lines into concentric rings

of age. I have spun my web in

the mesh of your lawn chair,

stashed behind the creaking

door in the breeze. Desiccation

is the way of life for we forgotten,

but the dank offense of passers-by

plucks the trip-wire’s first harmonic

into snarled, contorted life. Ask not

why it happens, only understand

that it is the hurt who shatter walls,

digging through flesh with shards

of stained glass houses.