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Child of The Earth

Beating my belly on the ground
like a Jerusalem cricket making song.

There's a myth they cry like babies, 
a myth about The Pool Of Memory. And I remember

trustworthy is no myth,
my being true doesn't explain any

phenomena. I remember wanting to
keep you safe from loneliness

but I can't choose what you do.
If I were to lose you to lonesomeness,

I would remain unheard, too, my spiracular voice only felt, 
my movements like yours, underground 

when they should be made into a centaur constellation 
to shine like your eyes forever. And I remember,

to you the stars are an amber necklace. If I steal it for you
you’ll say I’m irresponsible. If I don’t you’ll say

I have no character. And I’ll smile like Odysseus
when his feet hit the ground on Corfu after his trip.

And you will remember who I am. 
And I will stay only long enough.

 Junkyard

I went to the junkyard
in North Las Vegas
to visit all the Chryslers
that were in my life.

When I got back to your friend's house,
where you were living at the time,
I merely winked at you.
You said, Don't roll your anger
into a ball and make it a game.
Well, I guess I should've just said hello.

I wonder if I'll have anything to tell you.
What if I don't?
After all the years go by together,
that there would be anything to say
is breathtaking.

Under my grimy finger nails your skin
feels like emery paper; do I make you feel
like a carburetor in a mechanic's hand?

Failing to remember any excitement
I could fasten to the first time
I knew for certain I didn't want
to be without you,
a crane lifted a Cordoba from one
heap to another. The driver side door fell to the ground.

Listening to Lou Reed While She Slept in L.A.

I have found peace and anguish. It’s a resounding note              
of resolution for a thug life. 

You brought the perfectness, and inspired 
the remarkable. 
On my own I brought the 
perfervid
a sense of the rebarbative. 
Where you quieted my soul, 
on my own now
I am stentorian. That’s how it works.

The millstone of distortion 
is self-awareness, the disorder                  
of early morning for me, 
a creature of emotion,                              
brings at least 3000 words 
about our singularity in a book
we left behind
on the side of the road. 

I lived to tell the story of connection, the warning signs 
of undoing―of myself―with love 
because you showed me                              
strength and courage,
so I made the choice for resilience               
even as my stubborn ass caused agony.

There seem to be happy people
in the world. We were not like them.
Exhilaration where there had always been the 
dejected volatility that brought out 
the worst in me. 
I returned the favor.

I am not vicious. 
The world is not threatening.
I am a new man in a new heaven and a new Earth. Hell for you.
So see me. Even as I was if you can’t see who I am now. 

Understand this―the dead in me stomps, resounds, then passes again
to resolve like ash in the wind of a spinning world.
I will return to pure joy in other worlds. You will too.

 

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Photo Credit: Aleta Eubanks

 

In Newport

The Cadence sailed 
in the race that year; the syncopation in a clash, 
the reflection of the sails in the water
pre-psychedelic, warm, 
sun drenched, 
and the smell of hot beach sand and hotdogs,
candy necklaces.
The America's Cup won by the crew of 
Columbia, and so much 
began for all of us that day, it's staggering: the experience 
of walking around town barefoot and in shorts;
a look from her that sought approval 
and showed joy and love 
only to die at 39 O.D.ed on Phenobarbital and Seconal.
We went out to see The Story On Page One 
that night at Theatre 80 on Saint Marks Place
I saw Chico Hamilton walking with Eric Dolphy.
Dancing on rooftops and kissing 
like we're out on a hunt  
aboard a 12-meter class yacht.
An experience of appreciation rather than kinetic idolizing! 
What a lilt on encountering:
Jazz
Painting
Poetry
Fiction
History―no synthetic 
counterfeit perception―The moment!
If you can have Drowning Girl you can elevate the pot head. 
Anita O'day was high on stage 
in Newport in 1958. Everybody was high and fucking.
We're still high and fucking. The 50's Beat Generation 
brought us the hippies, the 60's 
brought us Punk. Sure―if the white girl is gonna dance 
with the black guy, then the black girl is gonna play 
vibraphone with the white guy, too―our collective ecstasy
will transition just like that into
the cathartic, the regenerative―and we'll be free.
White saxophonist, black trumpeter. No shit, Sherlock.
All the effort we put out for God. And people say it's the devil's work.
I Am Your Son
I was born on September 28, 1970
A reborn John Dos Pasos walking fast through the crowd,
the entirety of my art a rhythm,
the cadence of Pops high,
square fingers snapping
No Job
No Woman
No House
No City.
What is the difference between 
a rocking chair and a chariot? Suffering, junior.
And the drums! I don't care I'd rather sink
Heaven is everywhere.

Deidad Menor/Minor Deity―the Indigencia Trilogy

I

Pete reads the West Coast edition of The New York Times
letters-to-the-editor section,
notes the ecology of dissatisfaction,
allows the wave to carry him.

II

He looked up into the southern night sky, beyond
emotion, beyond friendship, beyond anything.

Pegasus. Pisces. Among the constellations,
he could pick out Cetus. In the middle of Mill Point Road

for about a minute,  
it was beautiful, Pete was emptied.

To touch someone who wanted to be touched,
who said he had charm. 

Pete, as Chiron rubbing himself on a lover,
hears her pray to be other than she is. And so,

she is metamorphosed
into a radio Pete listens to. Canciones de la mujer desvanecida.

Somewhere, there was a hint of a hand. Only a hint.
That night, stars were as bright as whispered psalms.

That was the night when his heart, that had been a place, 
felt like an untenanted room. The one person 

Pete would have let stay there would be gone.
Six days later, without even a phone call,

the silence at home lugged him out of bed. 
His sick mouth was weak with what he had said.

Pete looked and listened, hoped for a chance to be
snatched up by Harpies. Three years he'd had

as a minor deity with no problems, no hurt.
But the trickster jewelry he gave her

turned back into supermarket mangoes.

III

Pete sits under the American Elm trees in Spring Valley Park with
the help wanted section, circling jobs for Monday. 
Today there will be no decisions to compromise; there will be nothing 
to decide. Today there will be no troubles―only a vastness 
to be filled by the divine.

El heroé de picadillo/Hash House Hero―the Indigencia Trilogy

Pete gets home
after a day CAT busing his resume
around town.
He puts in a DVD and turns on the tube.
Pete has his night defined, 
he's handed his last few hours,
now it's time for bed. 
This is his life.

Just off the shoulder of the Pan-American Highway,
Pete lived  with gorgojo, piojo, Mommy, 
and his little sister. They lived 
in a ditch 
covered with cartons and umbrellas.
That is where 
Pete would wait.
His father, 
whom even he called Don Cacareo,
had done the greatest thing
he would ever do for his family:
he dug a sharp pothole in the middle of the highway.
And so, there on the side of the Pan-American,
not more than twenty meters 
from that pothole, Pete would wait.
And the trucks
would 
come.
One time a truck that was carrying milk-cows drove by 
and
hit that hole.
The cows bumped each other, the cows were thumped into one another,
and in a sudden lurch
one of them tumbled 
onto the unpaved 
highway.
Cows don't notice things like that, and young Pete was 
counting 
on it when he ran from behind the branches
of the 
sleeping bush,
whose leaves fold when you touch them.
Without batting an eye, he tied some twine around the cow's neck.
The next day he took the cow to market with his little sister
who was dressed,
as always, in a pair of her father's old underwear, the 
elastic tied in a knot across her belly button.
All the way to the market
he had to stop and help his sister pull up her draws.
For all his trouble, Pete was given a porta-vianda with 
salt fish, boiled banana, and rice and butter.
After all, everyone at the market said, the cow was stolen.

Pete dreamed for several nights in a row
that he was a cook. He accommodated bell pepper
in a fleur-de-lis 
on a plate;
fried this, chiffonade that, had his day defined in dreams, 
woke up on the sofa
feeling like he was handed his purpose;
this is his life.

El Ultimo Cuento/The Last Story―the Indigencia Trilogy

Pete can not go back to his first wife
after the second divorce
and laugh his ass off
(because that is pretty funny actually) or smoke a hit off
her cigarette. Maybe, he tells
himself, in his heart, he just won't.

When Tío Simón came for a visit
Pete and his family had
a sympathetic ear and
someone to come home to
in what was a very, very old man.
And Pete, carrying his sister piggy-back
to school (Tío Simón walking with them both)
told about how he was teased
by the kids who wore shoes
and worse by the others who rode
bicycles to school.
Tío Simón would only laugh,
the shallow skin on his cheeks sucked into
his toothless mouth.
Tío Simón's face like the soft shell of a turtle egg, 
like a hole dug in the earth for that egg,
was a face on the verge of sucking itself
down Tío Simón's own throat.
When the old man died, Father came home.
Everyone was frightened; 
Pete and his sister ran away and stayed away.
So afraid to come home, they hid
in a locust tree, watching the giant toads
that came out only at night
and the million fireflies.

When morning came
and the fireflies disappeared, Pete and his sister
went home.
Their father had gone, mother was alone 
in the house made of cartons and umbrellas,
and that was when they saw it for the first time:
the bicycle made from Tío Simón's bones.

Pete takes back the packaging twine,
the checkbook, the vacations
to the Caribbean. Then he takes the photo-album, 
the trip to Connecticut. Knowing there's less 
each time, he wonders what 
will be left from these best days. To say he
can handle loss is a half truth.

The Purpose of Life―Epilogue: The Indigencia Trilogy

I was outta there, I left,
I went to encounter the world
so I could get that eccentric
understanding back, 
but cry-sakes,
I could have had a little spirit
been a little less maudlin. So what if everything is
a damn conceit (as in strained and far-fetched bullshit)
this is living―enjoy it―laugh at
the floor plans we lay down,
don't be serious about
those dakinis we whisper to 
then turn drastic on;
mostly, though, there's you
how I see you―a South Western Athena,
with the taste of cumin and sandalwood.

Yeah, well, and there's me, too,
like a struck-blind prophet passing thru
all the stages
starting with being
unknown to myself,
never-ending even when my mouth finds yours
or I find the sandalwood and salt smell on your neck.

Your own change into an oracle I fall into.
That's where the most wisdom is held, taking the 
accumulated
inner tensions that keep us miserable
and dissolving them. You said you feel safe with me.
To find that new task before us, Athena, unearthing answers and
changing ourselves
until we're entirely new― that is
the most important thing.

 

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The Carnie

Indulging dust to shine from one stranger to the next,
We're easy liars―our lies are like hooves breaking shackles
Like setting fire to a friend.

The chances we fools give to those we hex
Into greatness are swept away by madmen
Indulging dust to shine from one stranger to the next.

We held to our fears, too―we feared to the very end
And clacked. We Looked too long on our own hands
Like setting fire to a friend.

The madmen talked: they belched up calliopes and shacks
Full of horses then crushed them into ashes,
Indulging dust to shine from one stranger to the next.

We let our heads hang down from allowing a trend
To overtake principle. Our eyes crisp as suspicion
Like setting fire to a friend.

The carnie laces up her chest, pushes away
Her hair and trembles. The sweepers put up the chairs,
Indulging dust to shine from one stranger to the next
Like setting fire to a friend.

It’s None of my Business, a villanelle for Ed Bode

A plane without wings
with its hope and imagination—there is nothing here to repossess
Motionless as a car with no engine

Genuflecting on low-down knees
That’s because we grasp at advice over our own thought process
A plane without wings

A mossback’s hatred that gnashes teeth and clings
The virago cheated us at cards, and at last, no final caress
Motionless as a car with no engine

How sick a heart when a daughter sings
that makes no excuse for taking back a largess
A plane without wings

There’s no peace like love which your absence brings
Let’s talk of promises, but I digress
Motionless as a car with no engine

No mind or passion can remain a pretty thing
Don’t dismiss us when we try to confess
A plane without wings
Motionless as a car with no engine

Moments Are Idyllic

it was a silly rumpled straw hat for summer
with a ribbon and a bow
worn by a still young woman in the breeze
on her way to Union Square Park
Taking the F Train in a snug linen blouse and dungarees
somewhere between cocktails at the Brevoort 
on lower 5th Avenue and too much coffee anywhere
because moments are idyllic
Life is speed and affected exits
singing and self-talking like a transformation

Demise

I feel emptiness
I sense you here with me
as soft as a kiss and a collapse into
the truth that only the dead can know.

And I’m not afraid, 
not like a punk, but
I’m not afraid even all the way up to my own secrets.

Emptiness makes everything possible.
The fullness of our confluence 
The perfectness of the transcendent 

Your skin is my home because the journey is home
And when you're not by my side
a song is better than flowers. Even when I die a little, 
oh man, and how you cry when I say anything about demise 

Your skin is my home
The milky-way of constellations across your eyes
and face in the pic I took of you
while you slept.

And you’re not afraid, either.
The 4:40 February afternoon sun 
squeezes through the white blinds 
and across the bedroom,
radiating dusk, 

become now 
its own emptiness. Everything can become
its own fullness, too. Full with the testimony your eyes tell, 
green now from crying, 

changing color into the transcendent blue 
when I catch you staring. I stare, too. 12 hours a day.
Waiting to collapse into the truth about 
one another, the truth that only life can know.

 

 

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for Mia

bulbs into this dry, dry ground for my beloved
dry and splintery handle of the shovel
rusted collar 
and cracking tip driven into the ground
a grave for silence, a cut for healing

bulbs into this dry, dry ground for healing
as fleshy roots and offsets burst chaos
into growth
and autumn havoc piloting through the 
air for my beloved

this dry, dry ground for me
a clarifying force for life
still, patient, and open
a grave for silence, a cut for healing
a clarifying force of our own winter, blossoming

Outsider, for The Forgotten Men, 2008-2014

This is not a time
for pride,
for that little movement of darting
eyes and crumbled looking fingers
stacked together on your lap;
for embarrassment.
It’s not an Apple Store iPhone line,
they’re here for soup,
they were here before,
in Malawi for food rations in 2002,
in Amsterdam for coal in 1956,
in John Dos Pasos U.S.A. in 1936.
This is not  a time
for composure
for halcyon days of youth, smiles
stuck and eyes empty;
for affirming replies.
It’s a pro tem life,
it’s been that way before:
in a downtown jail house that looks like
another Vegas condo.
We’ve already been around this mountain:
prisons and poverty the
poverty of all of us a prison.
This is not a time
for bitterness and apathy,
to run and cover
yourself from the rain of our land in its season.
Let your anger be kindled.
You are on the fringe.

Subversion―It Wasn’t A Pyrrhic Victory

Not a victory at all
Not a loss or a stalemate, just windless,
just doldrums,
just a loathsome enhancement of the status quo.
Not quite like death, but That's life, kid, which isn't 
something ever said by the living,
unless they've bled out and inherited the earth that way.
I prefer the Pyrrhic victory, 
standing drenched in my own blood, defiant and free to die.
You
With your misspelled tattoo that should say fidelis ad urnum
I'd rather be clubbed to death than be forced 
to curry favor and dance to you and your banjo.
Some warrior I am, cauterizing scratches with mercurochrome. 
You were obvious, not vindicated, you weren't even a worthy 
opponent, just a deficit thought made flesh. And I couldn't 
even muster up a rebel yell over your dried husk carcass.
The only hope is in the size of the ocean.
The only fear in the depth of sound.

Low Clouds and Squalls

You don’t need me to speak for you.
The agitation and the emotional toll is paid at the alms box.

We are awash in the wrong baptism.
And I am no easy target. I am no weakling.

The traditional forty days would have been sufficient. 
Twenty years in the desert—just overplayed. But I stayed 

as long as it took.

You don’t need me to speak at all. We have converged 
and the rare perfectness of what’s incomplete allowed us to make this
what it is when it was right for us.

We are awash in a rite of passage never before written. 
So be uncertain, never ambivalent. Why shouldn’t you trust me?

The tradition of me acting out like Eurus? It isn’t enough 
to blow Portland, Firenze, or Marrakech off the map. I stayed

as long as it took. Now it’s time to leave as fast as we can.
It’s time to turn toward our own renewal because I trust you.

 

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Moron?

I want to live with you in New York
and take you around in the subway
from Bleecker Street in 1977

It’s 45º in New York right now and
Florida is cold enough for me and fucking senseless
right off Federal Highway

I’m sorry.
I’m sorry I’m not drunk.

I don’t care if I never see myself again

You’ll never see any tragic from me.
I don’t like talking about what I’m doing
Think less. Talk less. Even though this is so long

Lost it all. I don’t care how I feel 
about it or what isn’t happening. 
Or where I end up. 

where I am now, I’m not wishing 
or hoping for anything anymore

I don’t care if I never see myself again

I want to do relationship with you
but I fucking suck at it
I like to scam and then let you break me

We broke up 3 or 4 times in 12 months
while I was trying to light a cigarette
off the neon at the Green Valley Grocery 

You say you’re sorry 
You say you’re a bitch and I don’t care

I want to become a random walker 

I’ll never hit an absorbing barrier
There isn’t one anywhere near the 6 train 
just the naked brahman consciousness

No more real than the vodka hidden in the closet
at the weekly dump on Craig Road

I want to become a random walker 

Don’t you hate hopelessness? Fear it?
I don’t. Hopelessness is faith hidden by shadows.
It has an appealing perfectness.

Dirty is the most beautiful. Life is cruddy business. 
Beautiful dirty things like places, memory, 
pictures you forgot, moments you’re smart enough to name.

Where I am now, there’s a complexion of stars above me.
I don’t care if I gave you love and you paid me back in pity
I want to become a random walker



The Last

I couldn't see past that cloud, 
that dust storm― underneath it 
there was nothing I could call my own. 

Whatever was there was for others. 
When the dust came, the obliteration 
was the only vision of home I had― of nothing owned, 
of nothing abandoned. 
After all, 
those are the things which measure a life.

The One Man Show was salient, 
but I'm so tired now― that show can go dark. 
Still, it was okay to have been so unfledged. 

You can have a smoke and just smile. 
I couldn't have come up with another wisecrack for anything 
and I can't muster up another tomorrow’s laugh. 
It was a long running act.
Longer than was merited
and longer than impersonators like me get.  

The dust storm. 
I failed to live it 
and it leaves me in the middle of an unclean and ashy ritual, 
a face marked by every dirty choice,
every polluted thought, 
every messy letdown of connection. 
So, it wasn't even necessary to see through the storm. 

Underneath is where living 
has neither been worth seeing, 
nor hearing, nor there for us to know its breadth. 
To lie in a gust of wind, until dust, is the last


Roads of time

I'm all torpid on that blunted
tick-tick ticking away of time crap.
How can
I understand the passing of time when all I know of it is
absence and craving? Time as a wheel
when time is a sympetalous flower.

There was a time and there was a place
where and when the crossroads spoke.

I have moved so far from the center
of the crossroads that all I can do is
accept that I am here. Now.
But what I search for 
is time enough to lose dim human vision;
the cluttered roads of time unfolded—I am
crystals and seeds and a body,
and I can be untraveled time.


 

 

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Missing Our Omelet Mornings

I have a jones so sharp 
that only you can stop this appetite that deceives me

Who am I now apart from you. What have I done? 
I throw my fool self before you but I do it 
like an August hurricane. 

I'll take you on, I'll take us both to the Greek island Anthemoessa
because I'm the Siren and Circe. And I'll laugh and riff about how I ran
you aground. And you'll call me a goof

because you know better.
This was your song all along.


The Built Environment

I. Bottle Caps and Black Jack

Evocative
Persistent need to pay the phone bill
Then a ringtone blares
Tom Jones
What goes up must come down
It's not funny enough to laugh at

the lack of laughing
evocative

of not to laugh 
more than
somber mood or sober thought

like the mood she was in

"I can give you the 59¢ on
Friday at the 99¢ Store"

Trying to keep a straight face back to the 5 & Dime
Tongue kissing in the summertime aisle
Give you that 59¢ girlie-girl
at the 99¢ Store
Kissing you when your momma's around
but so she don't see 
So no
no problem
59¢ on Friday at the 99¢ Store

Dampness around the crotch of her panties
flushed around the chest under the red bandana halter top

Back aisle of the 5 & Dime


II. 10K walk/run on Race Day

Sitting still
for hours every day
Lying still
for hours

Every day is Monday
and these still-sound Mondays only serve us
for getting through the shift safely

Safely sniggering amongst ourselves
at forgetting through the shift
quickly

Monday can be
the very first day all over again
and my co-workers don't seem to notice

I notice their first days
and lend a hand

At least they let me be


III. Grocery List

Hi-C
Khaleesi
cream/coffee
mishugana
apples
wireless technology
power plants
a.w.o.l.
sandpaper
Dax Scandinavian Ham
or Heinz Ham & Cheese Toast Toppers

My neighbor said there was a drought 
during the summer of '74 
that he couldn't possibly remember 
he was so surrounded by water
Who could tell there'd been no rain

Brain dump
2:00 a.m./1:00 a.m. 
⤹
4:30 a.m.
⤵
7:30

To measure time resonates with the complexity
of distance 
on the Appalachian Trail
reverberates with the inebriate worship 
of God The Denied for 3,910 km

Acceptance ➛ time ➛ working ➛living ➛ loving ➛
Navigating our days
May you have clarity like the night sky 
but always eagerness for the dawn.


 

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Summerlin, Nevada

για τον καθηγητή Κωνσταντίνο

Southern Nevada Etruscan built insula block
Taking the walk up hill to my unit
on a January morning
The same sky that looked down and saw Cremera
the face of a child of the Lucani and 
the pride of Samnium
such a winter’s sky sees my daughters and sons
And unremembered places of heavy cone laden pine branches
and stucco against a blue cloudless sky that sees
the forgotten men
The DVD and game cases strewn across the floor
with sand from the park
The tombs of streaming videos
our library beyond Alexandria. Our cities of millions
become now our own Lembah Bujang, New York
City our own Angkor Thom towering serene for that chaos
What does the Internet search say? There are no books 
if that’s your commotion
There are however quite extensive records
of both visual and audio of an advanced level of quality 
slightly heightened (20dB = 100x)
A Built Environment
These are the tombs 
The unharvested 
moving like the far off refractive index of air


 

Eight Couplets in Winter

Beer and sandwiches from the convenience store. Defiance 
is a song that I compose for my life

between apathy and dance. Driving my car
from neighborhood to unincorporated town, I have been treated

like a vagrant, and I have been loved. Sleeping in parking garages,
sharing a pint of bourbon with a security guard—we have better things 

to do than play parasitic games of demandingness. Dusk comes over the
desert with bending consolation. Turning a two-step through a red light,

my partner's dainty hands in mine, a memory. The memory, too, 
of bending towards me as if for a kiss. I almost never sleep 

in winter, the engine and the heat off—it seldom happens but when the 
heat was off I dreamt of her, redhead in a canary yellow Cadillac, 

telling me there's so much to love in this world, robotic gremlin on a 
box kite, cigars from Martinique after a bad fight. 

Whether arriving or departing all dreams are the same 
because every kiss is relegated to its oblivion.


 

A Bed Number

In Al-Fustat long ago
I used to sleep with a woman
and now I sleep
with the pre-Socratics and death
a green folder with a disaffected
case manager's name written on it
in permanent marker
as if to make a point
a bed number
and my name now a 
reminder of that 45-minute 
walk to Dixie Highway
and MLK to sleep like
a sandwich at Horn & Hardart
that even Kafka refuses to eat
scuttling up 42nd Street and 3rd Avenue
like a man with a purpose
a man with a porpoise, a body in 
a black hearse, I man waiting
on the night nurse, missing every
dawn and its sunburst, stepping out 
of line 'cause I've never been first,
taking steps now that I'm well versed.
Biding my time in Dar el Ma.
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