Sunday, March 22, 2009

March 3, 2009

Today I passed a homeless man
begging for some change.

As he reached up and unwashed
hand, I held out my plump, well-fed
fingers and told him, "I'm sorry."

If someone were to have finished
my apology, they might have added:
"I have no change"
"I don't carry cash"
"I don't have any money either."

Knowing I had four unnecessary
dollar bills shaved precariously into
my easy to reach jeans' pocket, I knew
that my sorry was different.

I should have, as I tell my students to do,
finished the thought.

I'm sorry that I don't think of you
as fully human.
I'm sorry that I'm scared when
you rock like that.
I'm sorry that I'm nervous when
I hear you mumble.
I'm sorry that somehow i think you're
telling secrets about me.
Secrets you shouldn't know
Secrets I never told you.

I'm sorry that the embarrassment
I ahve for your condition precludes me
from taking even a small step towards
pulling you up from that piss-soaked concrete,
dusting you off, and making you feel whole again.

I'm sorry I just assume you don't feel whole.

And as I continued, several blocks form
the first, I saw another derelict,
this one younger with a small dog
under the shelter of his bended knees.

Without prompt I gave him the money
I had and told him to "take care."
The dog, the money, the heavy sky.

And though he wasn't the first
somehow I walked away resolved,
like the feeding of one is the
fullness of another,

like they are redwoods of coral reefs,
some giant organism
occasionally pushing up through
the carpet, reminding us of the
eternal and overwhelming
presence beneath.

March 2, 2009

For David

I saw you tonight
20 years from now
on a northbound
San Francisco bus.

You were swaddled in
wool and Patagonia
with your right show
tucked behind your left knee.

Your hair was starting
to gray, but you'll
be pleased to know
you've still been working out.

You were alone on the bus
kept company only by
some hipster proletariat
whose parents often call
from Oklahoma.

And I wouldn't write this
but I needed you to know
that under your heavy layers
and rugged beard,
there was a sadness,

a hollow eyed stare
like models or catatonics
slip on to slip out.

And I wanted to tell you
that if you don't start filling
your eyes now, I doubt
they'll ever be full.

March 1, 2009

On my first visit to San Francisco

It's a Parisian pretty
all piss and orchids,
the heavy stench of both
making you wish there
was more of the other.

The elevation rambles
like it's crack pipe angels,
topography muttering about
God and guns and gold.

To metallic antennae
spark above the cabled car
I'm riding in;
the small fireworks
illuminate staccato city streets.

In China town the people
all wear Dolce Gabana,
their plastic bag hands
full of fruit rice and
a default forgiveness.

And the cabbies tell
their stories in terse
passionless phrases, no longer
competing with the
story of the city,
all shit and sidewalks
and Andromeda,
still chained to the rock
and waiting.

February 28, 2009

My grandfather died on a leap year.
The government, not wanting to
confuse the binary brains of census
takers, claimed he died on February 28th.

My father thinks that because of this
he is still alive somewhere, only dead
once every four years.

The problem, of course, is that
when we remember our dead,
we hold them with a year's loss.

My father holds his father four
years heavy while the rest of the
world forgets about a fourth
of a death every year.

February 27, 2009

The girl with seven fingers
is fully aware that she will
play only parts of Fur Elise
and Moonlight Sonata.

She sits every morning
before the heavy field of ivory
and imagines her hands,
bouquets of wormy fingers.

In these dreams, she has
the wingspan of six octaves
and hovers over the baby grand
her polydactyl talons, tickling
the beast to death.

February 26, 2009

the wind
that works
its way
the walls
and webs
of what
I want

is warning
me that wind
is war
and what
I will
will not
my wage

February 25, 2009

If all the world
mispells Febraury
it seems that one could
bild an arguement
that Febraury itself
was originaly mispelled.

At some point we
must deside wether
we are folowing rules
or folowing tradishons.

February 24, 2009

Today I stepped out
of the warm hatchery
of my bed and walked
barefoot to the kitchen.
As I broke two eggs
and watched them
skin the sides of my
non-stick pan I
reached my left hand
around to scratch my
right shoulder. Impressed
with my flexibility
I spent the rest of the
morning attempting
to lodge my right ankle
behind my neck.

The eggs burned.

I had toast instead.

February 23, 2009

A bowl of soggy cereal
reminds me that today
is your birthday, and
somewhere people have
reserved just enough
breath to tell you before
laughing, that they
are glad you were born.

February 22, 2009


1. Why they hang about you like wisteria or hydrangea. Petalled people looking for the sun.
2. Why they bow down prostrate at your golden feet. Why they blind their oracle and eat their women.
3. Why they bury themselves deep within your womb where it is quiet, dark, and volatile.
4. Why they tremble at your throne, lick your lightening and reel.
5. Why they climb your geometry to impale themselves on its tetrahedral point.
6. Why they hold the boulder of your eye after the earthquake, build nests among your thighs.
7. Why they follow you like a light. Why you stand so far from the breaking shore.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

February 21, 2009

The Eiffel Tower

I stood there beneath all its steel and falling bodies. I stood there knowing that he had not, would not stand here on the bottom lip of this grimacing river. I said "Hello" as he asked me to do to every foreign city I visited. And I said "Hello" to the women in the boulangerie. I said "Hello" to the heavy nuns and their heavy cathedrals. I said "Hello" to the mountain granmeres and their rawhide hands. And as I weave my way around this chunky globe, I pass out his "Hello's" like business cards, confetti of a man who will never burst.

February 20, 2009

Muskogee, Oklahoma

For a short time in grade school, my father left us. It was for work, and he flew home when he could, but he still left us. I remember one year when he returned he gave me a licorice rat. My brothers and I ate our rats pulling the tails with our teeth, chasing our sisters with their gnawed carcasses. When he left, my mother told me that he was living in the Panhandle, some distant place where all the cities are the same. Some distant place where all the fathers are one.

February 19, 2009

Cinnamon Toast Crunch

I poured the milk when I was 7. Big heavy jug, I lifted it from the great white door of our humming Kenmore and heaved it onto the delicate leaf of our extended dining room table. As I flooded my tiny pieces of toast, I looked up to see if he noticed my feat of strength. He was frying an egg, unconcerned his youngest son might be a super-hero.

February 18, 2009


I wanted the Sword of Omens to see myself out of this. I wanted like Liono to be the troubled youth turned fiery prince, the redemption and rescue of my people. I wanted muscles, a clawed hand, and a dead father who would lift my cause to crusade.


February 18-21 should be read in chronological order. They are a piece-wise prose poem for which i have much affection. I do however believe they stand on their own, so I don't really consider myself a cheater.

February 17, 2009

I'm flying to San Francisco
for a conference which I will
attend for no more than
the time it takes me to lose
the attention and professional respect
of the 4 dinosaurs who get
lost in my little circus of a paper.

I'm flying to San Francisco
unapologetic for the several
bakeries, bookstores, and brasseries
I will sit at armed to the ankle
with just a marbled notebook and tongue.

I will find every coffee shop ini
the Upper East side, refusing to drink
coffee and sipping only on
the stories left on the mosaic
tables like an embarrassing tip.

I will return with an army
of little sentences, drawing up
for an attack, and though
my hand will be unshaken
and my CV only slightly heavier,
on accepting the nomination
for Poet Laureate some years
down the road, I'll thank the
English Department's financial
contribution and tip my now watched
hat to the investment they made
on those hilly brick streets
so many years ago.

February 16, 2009

I've been wearing these
jeans lately, frayed reminder
of when my grandfather
knelt down in an August
tomato patch, sliced watermelon
with my older sister, froze water,
and danced a late century
Charleston, his hands covering the
worn denim of his knees.

I've been wearing these
jeans lately that people
mistake for commercial
weathered and machine aged,
these jeans some people buy
like they'd buy my grandfather:
two fishing poles and a
bucket of small perch, I
could never bait myself.

Febrary 15, 2009

I've been growing out my beard
to see what I'll look like after I die.
Surely my cheeks will sink a bit more
and my eyes will dry, small prunes
beneath my zip lock lids.

But as the old wives say, my beard
will keep on growing.

Surely science has disproved them by now,
but I can't help thinking as I shave today,
once more raising my bald chin to the wind
that 2 months and 5 days after my death,
close friends will confuse me for Russian
revolutionaries, aging professors, and Shel
Silverstein, whose poetry I once enjoyed,
long ago, when still among the living.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Febraury 14, 2009

Walking through a 1966 high school
yearbook, I found my father.
His glasses were thick plastic things
now used only for blasting and chemistry.
His hair was the same side part seam
he sewed into my head. The same
I will one day sew into my son's.
he was a bit my bother and somehow
my oldest sister, who I know I should call more often.

But there was something in the black and white smirk,
Something gazing from the front row of the Montgomery
High School FFA that he was hiding.

Perhaps he knew then that I, almost 50 years later
would be thumbing through his slick paged past
looking for him to find me, outside of himself,
on the convex wall of those thick plastic things
now only used for chemistry, blasting.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

February 13, 2009

These pens are being held like
batons, like daggers, like wands,
like thorny roses, like cinnamon sticks,
like baseball bats,
like wingless cranes,
like biscotti, like nail files,
like so many leafless willow branches
in this windless four-walled field.

February 12, 2009

If I'm not home
who's going to collect
the paper out of the flower
pot and the mail from
its dull little igloo?

If I'm not home
who's going to clean
the blinds and scrape
the deserts from
the fans?

If I'm not home
who's going to hold
the white walls straight
and keep the roof so
delicately balanced?

If I'm not home
who's going to tie
the corners of this helium
house to proud little plot
just south of campus?

If I'm not home
who's going to open
the doors and windows
bucketing in air from the
zephyrous sea outside?

If I'm not home
who's going to ask
where I've gone
when the fat woman
and her kiwi fingers
come rummaging through
your pockets for rent?

February 11, 2009


Long Division
Stucco Alamo
Several broken eggs
Romeo and Juliet
The dissection of a brown frog
Chondrichthyes and other boneless fish
Derivatives and the slow road of "x"
Gustave Flaubert and his mountainous women
A jar of mercury and its mirrored tension

These are the things
I waded through
waiting for you
But all you brought
were notes and bread
and the cow-eyed stare
I mistakenly read as
"Come hither"

Febraury 10, 2009

Six o'clock
and she
can't believe
it's already
six o'clock
when she
was so sure
that he
by six o'clock
would have
called or
covered the spread
come up missing
on the six o'clock
news she knows
is the only
her six o'clock
hands will