Most of the time, it’ll be boring. But if we’re lucky, we’ll catch a glimpse of something we’re not meant to see. Pilots leave an apartment window open while waiting for flight attendants to arrive. We see their desperation. A man in a breezeway doesn’t think anyone is upstairs when he tries to get his dealer off his back, all while his little girl plays. The fratboy next door doesn’t know someone can hear everything — and wants him anyway. A whole political party shows its true colors.
These poems are dedicated to who we are when we’re on our own time — to the strange, laughable, heartbreaking, dangerous ways we do ourselves.
What you discover
after the battered “Yes, okay”
to your heart’s direction —
is that all of your guns
that once shot enemies and fools
are now trained and aimed
One Last Chance
to come home.
So you write another poem
as familiar bullets
speed toward their mark.
“Quick! They’re coming for you!
Call down your god!”
Oh, buddy, if you only understood.
My god runs towards me,
bayonet in hand,
trying to scare me off,
see if I turn.
Yeah. My god.
As I take a run at him.
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Lankershim Boulevard was better
when Grammy took me to the
Jewish Council Thrift Store
to buy me an out-of-date
Writer’s Market, and I looked up
at her against the naked fluorescent
tube lights, and wanted to write
a story that would make her rich
and me famous
so that we wouldn’t have to shop
at the Jewish Council Thrift Store
There was once a time —
you’ll have to trust me —
when Dad would write notes
for cigarettes and liquor,
and off I’d go to Dales Jr.
And then if I was fast,
he'd give me a sip.
It burned all the way down.
Probably how I got so good at track.
“I want you to stay away
from that guy upstairs.”
Old Shirley’s hair was frizzier
than usual. She held a glass.
“Something’s not right there.”
“Okay, I will,” as I walked
past her window
down the driveway
out onto Oxnard
remembering how he
held me to his chest
and showed me I was happiness.
You remember it from somewhere:
“The only place now
I can hear myself think
is at the bottom of a swimming pool.”
So you try sitting
down in the deep-alone.
Soon, no more bubbles to the top;
soon, eyes caressed in water’s well,
arms held —
strange elongated creatures above,
splashing and splaying
toward cement shores,
over and over,
eager frogs fascinated by wavy light —
and you wonder whether
was such a good thing.
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Before his spa-crowd,
the Brush-Cut endowed
his words with much lamentation.
“After making myself
rich, strong, and svelte,
they want me to give up my station.”
“No one helped me
crawl out of that sea!
I did it with grit, nerve, and drive!
Why should I cry,
bring tears to my eyes,
when Nature, through me, surely thrives?”
More. God, still more.
“Should I be cast down
when dolts sputter and drown
while wading in water too deep?
We need to remember
Life wants to dismember
weak chaff from rare bits of strong wheat.”
Then (you’ll love this):
He let his arms soar,
lifting muscles adored,
standing up in the midst of The Lost —
but wet shorts do slip,
slide down on thin hips —
and what Life rewarded...had cost.
I’m not one to laugh
at men —
at men with toy shafts —
but I wasn’t the only one present!
With chortles of glee,
the wrong kind, you see,
we saw that his boy also...bent?
Thor’s grand self-made views
had been a bit...skewed —
Coy Fate had decided his game;
his thoughts, teeth and hair,
his wants and his pair,
just gods doing their thang.
Now don’t cause a scene,
or think I’m a queen —
I’m not saying it’s all been decided!
But I’m tired of “studs”
nipped close to the bud
pushing “FREE WILL” without being chided!
So the next time you muse,
“I’m Awesome! I choose!”
remember Thor’s tiny “reminder”:
Fate casts the tool,
the job, house and school,
the cool and the fool,
it’s always the loud,
judgmental and proud,
who most need the shroud,
the stage and the crowd,
whose heads should be bowed —
instead of being elected President.
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In those days,
after God scourged their enemies,
the holders of the land
and keepers of older scrolls,
after those made in His image
dashed soft child-brains against dusty rocks
and bathed triumphant feet in still-warm blood and tears,
Little Mikey raised his hand in Picture Class
and setting down his crayon, asked:
“Excuse me, Mr. Hawley,
does this mean it’s okay
to kill? ‘Cause it says
‘Do Not Kill’ somewhere.”
To which the teacher replied,
smiling down at seven-year-old Mikey:
“Son, it’s always okay to kill.
We kill cows, don’t we?
It’s murder you got to watch out for.
And you can’t murder an animal.”
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You know that game
where you walk
around chairs to
and one is removed,
leaving someone standing?
I’m the one left standing,
looking at this dumb game,
mirror of the human need
“Why you ever
started to play?”
“You think too much.”
Come make love with me,
Show me your self,
whether you’re fast or slow
loud or soft —
curtains opened or curtains
let me know, if only
for a minute or more,
you’re just like all the others
with a few tricks up your sleeve.
to not want my City,
to make life here,
far from the streets and hills and men
that brought me life in such breadth that I gulped lust
at every turn, bodies and books and
sweet blessed fog, busses, parks,
crazies four floors beneath screaming
“HELP! HELP!” though there’s only a streetlamp,
three-hundred-dollar theater seats steps from
human defecation (it’s not pretty) —
tether-bridges to windy and windy headlands and
mystical beaches and sex —
where to walk is to be enveloped,
to love her instead of him, once upon a time,
way back when lies meant caring,
and my brain and niceness said I
shouldn’t hurt anyone so I
drowned Aaron in hope and went on screwing
and became good at it and talked about;
but each night, laying on top of her
sweet and forgiving body, sculpted
ballers did sweaty lay-ups in my room,
in my head
and if it wasn’t for those players,
she never would’ve cum,
so it seemed like it was okay.
But it wasn’t.
I tried Return of the Native.
I tried The Glass Menagerie.
Everything by Faulkner.
All I wanted was Sassoon,
maybe a little Woolf,
but I’d lock myself in my room
to read words words words,
and I’d yawn yawn yawn —
while A Room of One’s Own
whispered slyly to Suicide in the Trenches:
“He’s missed the point.
“He’s really missed the point.”
Sushi Streisand Dances with Wolves
mango con limón my dear friend who wants
to be dear so he must be but…
no-fap novenas TED Talks on writing
guys who aren’t built
who really aren’t built
who seriously aren’t built
try try try
“Thy will be done”
when all along, sweet lullaby,
sleeps the not-tried, the true,
until I put on a jacket
against cold San Francisco freedom