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.
Like these? There’s more — all collected into a NEW BOOK! Click here!
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.
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to buy me an out-of-date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.
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.
Books — for readers who like real paper — are here.
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.”
Other work? Just find your way through the Menu above.
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
They look like sweet town-folk,
salf-of-the-earth, flannel and jeans.
People that watch the sun come up.
My God their pies are good.
who pray your mamby-pamby principles
die with you, slaughtered in the street,
your thoughtful guts lapped up
by well-trained Republican dogs
(Damn. I forgot the warning.
“How did this happen?” as the
flagpole stakes your throat,
as unprecedented wheezes
through gurgled blood
and your solidarity-warm pink hat
floats down Constitution Avenue,
used and dark and alone.
You didn’t see them multiply.
You wouldn’t see them grow —
in Kansas and Missoura,
Texas and ‘Bama, Ken-Tuck-y,
right beneath your woke-ness
and your museum arrogance and your
holier-than-thou Lululemon mindfulness.
Yeah, see? You’re kinda
They knew they were safe.
They knew you wouldn’t think it,
then wouldn’t believe it —
“Love is Love,” right? —
“We’re all in this together,” right? —
as Proud Sons and their Daughters
trained for war right under your
groomed generals in broad daylight,
bought Armani camo, nice blue suits
(they already had the bullets
and the guns left over from
squirrel practice) —
red necks covered by executive collars,
red ties to hide the splatter.
They left their hayseeds at home this time.
You were ready for zombies, sunken-eyed
okies whose farms were ripped away by BigBanks,
grandpas with four teeth chattering
all the way to the West Coast
(or something like that).
Oh, they had your number!
Talk about stealth!
Their fabric was fine, the
Stanford and Yale and Harvard degrees
genuine — plus “Wow! He lifts weights, he’s so sexy!”
(See my companion lecture on MetroSexual Roles
in the Conservative Cause.)
“Consensus?” you pleaded.
“Let’s talk,” you bleated
because — let’s face it — you’re afraid to fight
with anything other than words;
and refusing to believe evil exists
and is usually HOT and BEAUTIFUL,
you left the Gate to the Sanctuary unguarded,
let WhiteNation and WomansPlace
ravage the Holy of Holies,
Maybe if they had worn
I know what you’re thinking
because that’s what you do —
I hear your “protest”:
“Wouldn’t we be just like them
if we used our fists instead of words?”
“If we don’t move beyond labels?”
“Help them heal?”
That’s why they’ll win,
StupidBuford and LazyEyeLorraine,
because they listened to a real Grandma
“Don’t leave your head so open your brains fall out.”
You thought she was old —
she only had one dress —
you never saw her on Facebook —
after Tucker and Rush and Hannity Ltd.
after Laura and Huckabee and Kayleigh visited;
giving guns to teenage saps
doning MAGA hunting caps
(so they’d know who not to cap);
after speeching D+ mobs,
after fisting fascist slobs —
(did you get the little Eliot homage?) —
cops bleeding out on marble
the hunt was on!
Smoke-out the out-raged enemy
like rabbits or Funny Cousin Earl, who
voted for Carter and was then dead
on his river-raft, thinking he was family;
target those limp-wristed Dem-o-crats
whose Cities call to Our Young
as Jezebel tempted Jesus
(it’s in the Bible);
forget, TexasTed, that
HE CALLED YOUR WIFE UGLY —
AND YOU LET HIM;
we’ve got to corner all codlers, socialists and fags,
show them MTG would win a pig-fight,
make that Puerto Rican loudmouth BITCH
run the Gov’ment Maze to her death,
execute California, hang the un-Hung
am I being dramatic?
Because what they want,
what LittleHornedMan masked
with this “false-flag not-coup” — right? —
is to come:
your ideas, shred like your well-intentioned intestines,
disemboweled from well-toned tummies,
blood sausage for rabid-stupid hungry children —
your ideas, your precious and diverse ideas
that helped BobJoe survive his nail-to-the-head
accident and paid for his black-hating diabetic
momma’s nursing home,
high-falutin' ideas like Medicare and Social Security and
vaccines (CONSPIRACY! CONSPIRACY! ) —
dead with you.
Liberals, people who can think
and probably don’t want to die
(martyrdom being highly overrated),
listen to Grandma, please:
“If it walks like a duck and quacks,
There are no town-folk.
There are no Christians.
There are no rights.
There are armies.
This is America.
And their soldiers will sip sherry
right before carving out
(Yes, this will be on the test.)
Sacred Space — Arrival
The wrinkled woman
resting in the doorway
her bones twitching hard:
“I'm sorry, Sir,”
as I pull my bag into
the Inn on Folsom Street1.
Exposed brick walls try hard
in my suddenly empty room.
I don’t...feel anything.
I thought I’d feel something.
No ghosts. Nothing.
I know the old fairies flew south
years ago. No place for the
Auden-faced. And the demons?
Those super-charged leather
dangers stalking prey in red steam?
Now they cam2 from rented rooms
in Sacramento and San Diego,
their hunting names changed
from Steve to Chase, TwinkChase3,
I don't know what to pray for
or to, not in this abandoned church.
Walking While Thinking — SoMa4
What if the usurpers,
the influencers paying $1.9 million
for a pissed piece of SoMa,
are just waiting for us
What if these squatters,
are the Old City’s fevered urge,
lusting after land and
trading-in sweaty stories
for a kid in an UPPAbaby5,
the ultimate accessories?
Makes sense as senses
now scent safety,
porning lean clean high-pitched
action-figures in Lower Castro6.
Everyone’s lost their balls.
Pause — Phone Call Home
“Mike called,” says the man on the phone.
Back in LA.
“What’d he want?”
“Know where you were.”
“What’d you say?”
“Up in San Francisco. Probably getting disillusioned.”
That’s why we’re at 20 years. More or less.
Exhibit — Dolores Park7 Cafe. Conversation, overheard
while eating expensive steel-cut oatmeal.
“And so he's interested in you
finding a tenant for your property.”
“Yeah, and we have so much
Outside, those who can only afford
the sidewalk are no-shows to the
convention of web-developers and
Mommy-n-Me in Lululemon8.
I’m a haunted old spirit:
“The best never survive.”
Walking Richmond9, after searching
GG Park10 for Signs of Life.
They all have money, or They have all the money.
Houses high atop garage doors painted
in expected candy-shop pastels.
Millions couldn't buy in. But it's also an
attitude; they fit. This kaleidoscopic
nursery is their world.
I like the sidewalk now; it’s original,
the hard-marked past, bones of my city,
cast when these houses were just houses,
you could hear shouting because people
shouted back before dot.coms and Grindr11,
when bandanas12 spoke not conclusively,
you had to look a guy in the eyes
and the park was full of risk and joy.
My world: on that older hill,
the one covered in open-faced beauty
and daring, weathered desire.
Processing — SFO13
A cocoon of security. We pay
You can’t pretend in
But here, I wonder with
beating breathing heart:
What would I do
if I was asked for spare change
at the United ticket counter?
If I wanted a cigarette?
If someone stood up and said
preferred pronouns are simply
an expansion of binary imprisonment?
If an out-loud not-texted internet-free
political need happened?
Their aggrieved-teenager answer:
“Is it so wrong to live unencumbered?
Does everything real
have to be uncomfortable?”
It’s easy to get turned around
Now I miss their sandcastles,
the peaceful playset neighborhood.
Nobody who doesn’t belong wanders by.
It’s nice. Just like an airport.
It’s all that’s left.
Reflection — Flying, looking back
San Francisco: where dreams
Only ruins survive;
fate has fashioned them weapons
hope can’t overcome:
marriage bourgeois magazines health
money a future an attitude
I look back as the plane banks
for SoCal, for LA and my
old boyfriend who will greet me
outside third-world LAX14 and drive
the stained and broken 40515 home,
where books and vacuuming
wait; and I see my once-home fading
into a sunsetted Ocean that touches
every time I’ve cared about, waiting,
and I find myself praying:
Maybe you will be broken again,
so like me when you led
my strange and halting body
through cracked unwanted lovely
streets to flowers and eucalyptus,
pro-offered grass in sheltered
shadow and men became yours,
cool-touching breeze, wounded
naked-love in pine-fragranced
gasping way-too-crowded dirty
I miss you.
Shake off this juvenile dream.
Please, God, let us be in love again.
1 past and (somewhat) current location
of San Francisco’s gay leather community
2 interactive filming of oneself engaged in
sexual/intimate acts, either alone or with
others, for a live internet audience, in
exchange for money and/or tokens
3 unblemished young adult male, typically
between the ages of 18-20, who utilizes his
perceived innocence or actual lack of
sexual experience in the pursuit of (generally)
older adult males/“daddies”
4 South of Market; historically, the economically
disadvantaged/“seedy” section of San Francisco
5 high-end baby stroller; average cost: $850
6 once known as GayMecca, the center of San
Francisco’s Gay Liberation Movement of the
7 somewhat successful example of urban
revitalization/renewal; once known as DrugPatch
8 high-end workout wear favored by teen girls
and their mothers
9 neighborhood/district in the northwest corner
of San Francisco, just north of Golden Gate Park
10 Golden Gate Park; known for its Victorian-styled
Conservatory of Flowers and lengthy wooded
trails; iconic location for public sexual activity
11 dating application designed to identify and
communicate with potential gay male sex
partners; lists inclinations and availability, as
well as possible locations for sexual activity
(host, travel, public, etc.)
12 heavy handkerchief positioned in the back
pocket of gay males to communicate sexual
inclination; historically, the color and side of
placement indicated sexual appetite (eg:
hunter-green in right-hand pocket = looking
for a “daddy”). No conclusive guide existed/
exists for the placement/meaning of the bandana.
13 San Francisco International Airport
14 Los Angeles International Airport
15 also known as the San Diego Freeway; largest
connector between the West Side of Los Angeles-
proper and the populous San Fernando Valley
Just in case this wasn’t enough poetry for you, click here.
And yeah, there are books. (Click there, on “Books”)
He’d be dead in three months. Bob.
The big guy came walking up the
driveway, eyes fixed on the lawn.
Dad was watering. Same jeans
he had in the 70s. Same brown
flip-flops. He didn’t stop moving the
hose back and forth. I stood watching.
“Listen, we gotta talk. Bury
It’s what everyone wanted. The whole
block. Just make up, some said.
He didn’t mean it, others said. He said he was
sorry. I just wanted them to be friends again.
But I knew my dad.
“Mom, you gotta talk to him.”
She pointed to the ring not on her
finger. She shook her head.
She went back to her coffee.
She knew him too.
“Go home, Bob.” That’s all dad said.
Bob looked at me, then back at the
lawn. “I said I was...You know what?
He walked away. Home.
Dad coiled up the hose. “He
talks too much.”
When Bob was dead, his wife
waved me over, drunk on her porch.
“I’m sorry,” she slurred. “Bob never
should’a said those things.”
She reached for my hand.
“Honey, it was just a joke.” Her pinkie went up.
“Honey, he didn’t care about that stuff.”
She rubbed my hand.
I shifted away. I left. Dad was on the
porch, standing. I went into the house.
“You want to go get some new
brake pads for your car?”
Pizza Port, Morro Bay, California
It was quiet until it wasn’t.
But waiting for pizza is hard
on kids. I wasn’t surprised
when the little girl started to cry.
Her brothers drank their Cokes.
Mom looked at Dad. It’s your turn,
her eyes said, twinkling. She
watched the game on the television.
Dad picked up the crying girl,
following the game until she sat on
his leg and leaned in:
“I miss Lolly” before resting on his
flanneled chest. It looked soft.
His hand covered her back.
He whispered: “I miss her too.”
“Can I get a new one?”
He was all hers.
Pizza came. No grace but grace.
Mom wiping her boys’ mouths,
Dad pointing out uniform colors
on the TV, on his forearm one tattoo,
his smile large, kids fed,
old truck outside, no room but room,