My Midas

Someone gave you an eggshell once.
I watched you explore its gypsy surface,
and the puncture in its end.

In your hands it was precious
and lovely. I recognized that
touch. I knew it well.

I should have known that was the end.
Once touched, I could not heal you
of your great gift.


I gave you back your checkbook,
your little league champions! t-shirt,
& your bottle of Knob Creek;
I'd given it to you after six months,
but we'd been drinking it together.
I made sure you took your sheet music
from my Jeep; you'll need it to sing this Sunday.

You promised you'd pay me back
for the plane ticket to visit me,
& return my old read books.

But those books will always have
your notes in their sad margins.
And I will always know your phone number .

I hope you change it soon.


Climbing The Red Rock Of Sedona

everyone thinks I'm lost,
but I'm right here
appraising the anticipated cost
of living with no fear.

across this rapid little stream
is the warm, red, wrinkled flank
of a cranky mountain, and I dream
of dominating that from which I shrank.



There was a zookeeper who sang
The praises of lemon meringue.
But his pandas were used
To their bland bamboo shoots,
And ignored his impassioned harangue.


After Work

I saw lightning strike tonight.
The sky lit blue, the treeline

That Hospital Quiet

On this ward, not only beds
but halls are quiet. There's no
procedural bustle, no rolling beds,
no IV stands on wheels.
The hallways crawl, instead,
with empty bodies.

Some float along the ceiling
aimlessly. Others press flat against
the floor, as if longing to feel
the sweet deep earth beneath them.
Most bounce along the walls,
drawn toward TV and snacks.

We all wear the same red socks,
as tourists sometimes wear
bright hats on expeditions in
a strange city, so they can
recognize each other.

At night, when I wander, only
one remains, clinging with all
her spindly weight to the spinning
floor. The cross tattooed
beneath her ear twists with
her neck, resembling more
a lethal-looking dagger
than a symbol of salvation.

She bears it, all the same.


What Poetry Is - A Series Of Definitive Statements

Poetry is knowing both how to remember
and how to forget.
Poetry is admitting the world began last Wednesday.
Poetry is about what we do not know about anything.
Poetry is about what we do not know about everything.
Poetry is letting your words fall out of your mouth and letting them go,
like toddlers crossing a traffic-heavy highway alone; they are no longer yours,
and you cannot hold their hands and explain to the mystified world what you meant by what you said.
Poetry is getting up and leaving the room full of stuffy aphorisms
and slamming the door.
Poetry is seeing what a man means
in the light of what he says.
Poetry is having Teddy Roosevelt pronounce you bully.
Poetry is playing the strings on a woman
and making love to a cello.
Poetry is trying to describe color.
Poetry is saying what people don't realize they don't want to hear until after it has already been said.
Poetry is writing letters to orphans to inform them their credit report is shot.
Poetry is building a brand new pair of tits for the Statue of Liberty.
Poetry is mercy even for the merciless.
Poetry is madness.
Poetry is poltroonery.
Poetry is drawing blood from a stone.
Poetry is throwing rocks at a ghost.
Poetry is seeing yourself through the eyes of another.
Poetry is tracing out the wrinkles in your own old face.
Poetry is knowing that one moment lives the death of the last.

This Has Been Declared

As for me I see an island
Flecked with fog and filled
With all the doers of deeds
Who have been sent there since
The passive voice became so popular,
To hide in clouds of periphrastics
And relieve their writers of the
Dangerous possibility of penning
An honest declarative sentence.
But worrying need not be done.
The problem has been addressed,
And the complaint is seen to be so
Unimportant, that it need not even
Be asked by whom was it made.


Two Dolla, Make Your Psyche Holla

Ain't nothing popping about pop culture to a man
grew up reading books and found
a worn copy of Walker Percy's Lancelot
in the Book Nook at age sixteen, dollar
fifty, real angry, got the sin bug just in time to find
a coverless paperback of Steppenwolf,
Herman Hesse's German existentialist apology,
learning how to recognize a freak
in the basement of the Hawley Public Library,
twenty-five cents at age seventeen,
then came across a book sale on the
campus of a college of Liberal Arts
another quarter, a fresh edition of
Immortality at eighteen years,
translated from Milan Kundera's French original,
figuring out the feminine physical,
figuring out it's not that difficult,
figuring out that giving joy might mean
never having none for himself,
eight quarters, three books, two dollars, one whole,
one man raised on dangerous literature,
and never did they ask
what keeps his ears apart.


Beyond Beyond

I'm reading Nietzsche,
And life is peachy,
But only when the will to power
Takes a meditative shower.
And the woman?
Well, nothing rhymes with her.

Tycho Brahe: A Made-Up Poem

Most people don't know that
Kepler murdered Tycho Brahe
For reasons political and planetary,
And published a false report
Of his death, in which he
Attributed a humiliating end to him,
In which the astronomer,
Too embarrassed to leave the
Banquet table, perished
When his bladder exploded.

Most people don't know
Who Tycho Brahe is.

Maybe Kepler
Should have invented something
More shocking.
Died gorging himself on
Phosphorescent fish heads perhaps,
Expiring in a gluttonous halo
Of marine freaks.
But just for the halibut,
And on the other hand,
Maybe Kepler was well aware of
Possible and dangerous
Posthumous fame for his rival.
He reported falsehood well, then.

Most people do not know
Who Tycho Brahe is.



You know, stranger,
It's something of an accident
That you are the reader
And I am the writer.


What Empty Sockets In A Skull Can See

The moon is bruised tonight, and I
Shall go beneath its wounded glow
To eat myself.


I met a girl with no bones.
I gave her mine, one by one,
Till all I had left was a knuckle.
I got them back all broken when
Better bones came clattering along.


Was time,
Or distance,
Or nicer bones
The executioner?


There is nothing more undignified
Than the silhouette of a man
Who has his bones unceremoniously
Handed back to him with no warning
Or even a receipt.


The man of your dreams is a nightmare,
With shiny, shiny diamond bones that say
"Come with me and be a Senator's wife!
I will change America!"
My bones (that own no land and shake
Hands with no politicians) only ever said
That I would sacrifice myself
On your life's altar.


Your pretty face is going to hell,
Where you will see, you spineless devil,
All the things that I have done
Since you gave me back my broken bones.


In my dreams, I burn every
House, cottage and apartment
Of which you ever fancied yourself
The skeletal princess.


You took with you any evidence
I once lived well and loved without a fear.
You abandoned wreckage.
There are penalties for that,
When your breathless corpse blisters
In the air of the living,
And you have to defend your falsity.


You swallowed my ring.
Now get on your knees
And sift through your shit
For the sheen of silver.


I hereby draw a border in my life
That you will never be allowed to cross.
If you do, my muse will cut your throat.
Do not dare think of me.
You have no right to any memories
Or sensations from the past in which
Your boneless body's shadow overlapped mine.


When we met,
I did not know who you were.
I did not know who you were.
I do not know who you are.


Napkin Poem 1

Still trying to come up with a
word to describe the way lips
feel gently pressing on skin,
slightly sticking and not quite wet.
But I worry that looking too hard
will make me want to ostracize
the possibilities, like the time I
banished the word "door" for being
inadequate and no longer
understood what people meant
by it. Also I couldn't open
rooms or houses any more. I
miss that - it's inconvenient but
lots of fun to hacksaw
holes in ceilings, or floors. I
had mercy on the poor word
finally, when I couldn't get inside
my car to drive as far away
from trying to figure out a kiss
as I could.


Napkin Poem 4

And when she drinks the bad December blood,
you must remember that you cannot hold
her cup, or flood her bold eyes' passionate
and loving stare with murky hate, abrupt
and bare beneath the skies, in case she thinks
compassion is a myth, a legendary wreath
of gold, formed by an ancient smith.

It must be clear to her that even though
she's cut you, no authority is yours to pass
the judgment or confer the fear, but
just to stick your finger in the flow of
tears, for you are guilty too, and for you,
it would be wretched to deprive someone
who stumbled of the love that leaps alive
in the furnace and the ancient smithy's flames.

Napkin Poem 2

Let's take an already
clean-shaven fella and cover
his face with shaving cream.
Let him glide a bladeless razor
down his motherfucking perfect face
and we'll claim clean-cut precision.
In the name of the sponsor,
the channels, and the holy dollar,


Napkin Poem 3

Why, we will see better days
Days of sun when surf rats scramble
Scramble in the tawny sand and dunes
Dunes that live to cast their shadows
Shadows by the sinking sun and rising
Rising of the pale little moon to light
Light the evening and the lovely
Lovely faces of the lovers.


Where You At, Mister Malone?

I woke up this morning
Hung over and weak
My eyes were all bloodshot
And my jacket reeked
Of the cigarettes I smoked
And the whiskey I drank
And the perfumes of girls
Whose faces were blank

I walked out around noon
To look at the sky
The trolley was wailing
My neighbor was high
On little white pills
And a funny grey smoke
He stared like a standup
Who forgot his own joke

I went out this evening
Just restless I think
Bought a handle of stuff
Almost too strong to drink
And I picked up some friends
Lit a fire and then
Laughed until it became
The next day again


Silver Father

My father maps the darkened ways to light
Beneath eternal stalactites that hang above the grave
Of man - cartographer of Plato's cave,
Silver-bearded Atlas bearing constellations on his back in spite
Of pain, arms like barrels of wine - and at the world's height
He brews wisdom in a silver chalice like a knave
Living in the sunset of all ages, playing his lyre in the conclave
Of the happy, for the golden, ever golden banquet hall's delight.

My father is a wolf, dragging home
An infected wound he will not lick -
For his cubs might even need the silver foam
Of his saliva, if they are sick.

My father has designs on time no artifact
Can hope to have, unless it be
By imitation of his heart - in lieu
Of this, call down the curtain on his act
And say my father is more strong than me,
And you will see, more silver-light than you.


New Rights, Dude

Raise your glasses and lower your standards, because I'm here to talk about rights and duties and I am quite serious about adding some items to the official canon of human rights, since we discover new ones often but forget about the cool ones from time to time. I guess we know how they work, right? I have the right not to be eaten, and therefore others have the duty not to eat me no matter how tasty I appear. Obvious enough I guess. I think it's the other way around though. It's more accurate to say that the duty comes first, isn't it? And that the right then flows from the duty, as effect from cause? That is, we all have the duty not to cannibalize even our most appetizing friends, and therefore we all have the right not to end up as any meal's main course. This is a reasonable expectation.
Wacky, right? What I'm saying is that we only have any individual rights at all because we first have duties to others. But even if I'm wrong, rights and duties are tied into a knot tight enough for it to be fun to invent some poetical new ones.

The Right To Be Kissed

So Jill suggests coquettishly to Jack that he go with her up the hill to fetch a pail of water, and then makes eyes at him while they dawdle around the well. Seems to me that Jack has a duty to kiss Jill. It's not a terribly urgent duty and he can do it when he feels like it, but eventually he damn well better kiss his sweetheart. That means Jill has a right to be kissed, which is kinda cool. Of course if Jack is a bad kisser, she is free to waive her right to be kissed, although this course of action might make it suck to be her boyfriend and is not recommended. After all, practice might improve Jack's performance of his duty to kiss.

The Right To Be Misunderstood

The little kids are already in bed and the big kids are watching a movie for big kids. No scenes with boobies, or words like "motherfucker" in it, but still too scary for the little kids. The movie's not done but daddy stands up and says "Good night all, I'm going upstairs to put your mother to bed." The biggest big kid isn't dumb. Grossed out, yes, but not dumb. The not-quite-as-big big kids are dumb, and don't know that what daddy actually means is that he's going upstairs to lubricate his whoopee stick in mommy's sugar basin. The not-quite-as-big big kids have the duty to not know more than they're old enough to know, and therefore to misunderstand daddy. The biggest big kid has the duty to purposefully misunderstand daddy's meaning, and just say good night with the rest of them. Now, daddy isn't lying, and he isn't joking, but he's not telling the truth either, quite. That means he is exercising his right to be misunderstood.

The Right To Be Forgotten

Let's say there's a young man with the unfortunate and embarrassing name of Arnold George Dorsey. When he changes his name to the much less embarrassing Englebert Humperdinck, we have the duty to forget that he was ever named anything else, since whatever he was once named no longer names him accurately. That means Englebert has the right to have that past unfortunate name forgotten, and all mention of him under his former moniker are to be erased from public record and from humanity's collective memory. Or...maybe we just have the duty to forget about Englebert Humperdinck and his syrupy pop altogether. Yeah, let's just forget about him. It's his right.


The Logos Kids Manifesto (part the first)

1. Words must shed light on something. Ideally.

2. Frivolity is acceptable. Sometimes.

3. Kissing is very good.

4. So is wine.

5. Truth is fine and goodness is very nice, but beauty is the end of all our scribbling.

6. There are always invisible consequences to anything written down.

7. There are always visible consequences to anything spoken aloud.

Thankless Young

In the time before Red Bull my Dad whose sorrow every bleeding day now begets would load up his shitty car with shitty college stuff and make the drive from Cranberry to Chicago with frequent stops for the purpose of forty winks and to stretch his tired appendages and to let his one time only one way only traveling partners with whom he split the cost of gasoline and sandwiches find a way to use the rest stop rest rooms quietly before re-entering Route 80 by way of sad little ramps and rolling on until he reached the campus of the U of Chicago after having braved the Nairobi 500 where they all drive on sparking rims the wrong way, but I had Red Bull and made it without stopping to eat or sleep for 51 hours from PA to CA and that's with sixteen hours through a Nebraska blizzard. Things I learned on this trip: (1) At high altitudes like the Rockies, cars do weird things. (2) Nebraska sucks and can go to hell. (3) Pepperidge Farm Goldfish turn my shit orange.

The point is that I miss my Dad.