maybe five years ago I would've bitten, but
for now just be thankful I left it where I did.
throw yourself into Life, Kid, not me
not Death.
(a hundred would trade, easily; you got off
they wish we never did.)

consider this a blessing in disguise.
you get a new life, I get to repeat mine;
Groundhog Day, sans Bill Murray.
(the Holy Ghost was the poor man's Christ,
who in turn paled next to the Creator--
if allowed to trickle down I'll stretch it
by throwing in one about televangelists for emphasis.)

still spitting blood, just not as much/
my teeth still wiggle, they're not as tight
though somehow the broads still are.
(now I know why Bogey told him to play it again.)

that being said,
"It sure is nice not having to finish my sen...

labels are funny, alright. :
I just want to get dirty

from chasing her around
half naked on my hard wood

when she goes
she'll go big, maybe I'll go

with her.
for now I'd almost be happy just being able
to leave her

in my bed when I go to work in the morning.
(did I mention that despite my
penchant for whiskey and womanizing
[in that order]
I have a pension plan?)

I always suspected that there were
cameras in the confessional.


ancient history

but we went to work for the cocksucker anyway, and
lo and behold another poor bastard of a
soon-to-be-duped sub-contractor, this one
saw-cutting the concrete in the basement so we can
lay our pipe, hops out of his van.
i note the door's distant address, the hometown of the half of the family
that doesn't send cards anymore, making a point
to ask him later.

later comes, again. (later always does.)

being the resident native they ask me where we're eating.
a greasy spoon my friends swear by comes to mind, the
special sauce and hot dogs and paper plates.
the meal is relatively silent, the other three cursing me mentally
for bringing them to this hole in the wall.
i break it by asking that new guy chopping the slab
if he remembers Vahsen's Tavern down by the train station
in port chester.
his eyes light up, "60s and 70s, right?
that was a happenin' place."
"yeah, but my dad didn't want to take it over when it came time
after seeing what it did to his family..."
i try to put a brighter spin-- "his friends
on the football team in high school were the bouncers, and
i'm pretty sure he got a lot of ass out of the gig, too."
my two coworkers look at me somehow differently
like someone with roots, not the better-than-average spic
they tend to see me as; the diamond in the rican rough
is just as german and italian as you bitter old fucks.
it feels good to rub it in without saying a word, and
my win is two-fold:
the special sauce doesn't sit well with my middle-aged
union brothers. they piss and moan about my dud
of a suggestion, and the man
from my old man's old stomping grounds
picks up the bill as a sign of good faith
or maybe to try to pay some sort of past debt
like he forgot to tip the grandfather i never met
one drunken night in his glory days, long past.

we walk back to the site after lunch is over. (lunch always ends.)

things start up smoothly, balls of fire in that trench
popping those lengths of four-inch cast-iron together
like it's nobody's business. the wind pierces the denim, my legs
will be dry tonight, but for now the heat's in the tools
and it feels good to be on such a roll
proving myself at something i don't even entirely know how to do yet
let alone love.
part of that motivation comes from our lunch break conversation
part of it from the desire to keep moving to stay warm
and maybe a larger fraction than i'd like to admit
from the will to impress my partners, despite
their constant ball-busting. (he's gone, the only bar
is in your living room, those cards
still don't come anymore; find it where you can, kid.)

all of that progress comes to an end when a laborer passing by
a pile of dirt excavated from our trench by a machine operator
spots a bone. it's a human jaw. the proper authorities are notified.
a cease-work order is given by the superintendant, we're grounded.
the police captain shows up, a few suits, some officers with latex gloves
and some mysterious characters with no obvious titles; the jobsite's been
transformed into a crime scene, and it's not even pay-day at three-thirty.
thumbs back up our asses, so much for all that progress, all thanks
to some dead hooker in a shallow grave from god-knows how many years ago.
it reminds me of the time the ex-union dock-builder i knew
told me how they'd sink floaters, so to speak, in order to keep the job moving
as long as no one was looking. he said the stench
of the gases in the bloated bodies was almost enough to justify it
even without the wage-loss factor.
cleaning the tools, gathering the fittings, locking the gang box
walking to my car, i hope that this one was the result of a mob hit
and not some poor bastard like the one who's not going to get paid by
my scumbag employer, the one who used to shoot the shit
three sheets to the wind, chasing tail in Vahsen's Tavern
thirty-some-odd years ago.

the checks probably won't even be good friday. (they seldom are.)

Currently reading:
"Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" by Jules Verne.



One of them asked, "Where'd that
one come from?" shortly after
I explained a few others.
An eight-inch-wide pink arch
only visible to the few and the fucked.
"I don't know," I lied.
I could've told her it came
when his genes kicked in and the
shoulders spread, but fight scars
are far more mysterious and character-forming
than stretch marks.

But those are away now, the team's playing at
home. Can't you see we're wearing dark?

She doesn't waste her breath asking
if I want another, just fills the glass
again and adds it to my tab
quickly growing.

The man to the left of me, between a phony
and a neon beer ad
just handed me a wad of twenties
thick enough to crush a lesser man.
He owed me fourteen hours, gave me
two full days. A real friend, though
I know I'm underpaid.

Drinking a Coke and mostly rum
I contemplate the odds
of owning his business
eventually, like he drunkenly suggests
from time to time.
I don't want it, just hand me a wrench
and a
good check
every Friday.

I down this one, too
barely tasting the best part
just feeling its effects and
glancing sideways at her ass.
It's too perfect to believe, just as fake
as the rest of her:
the dyed blonde hair, the glued nails
the eighth-inch layer of make-up
the stick-on eyelashes
the colored contacts, too blue
the cooked-in tan screaming for attention and tips
though she doesn't need
any, being the bar owner's wife
and, of course, the grapefruit chest
calling the name of others slightly more pathetic
than us two construction drunks sitting at the corner.

Sammy comes out, perfect name and all
trying to suggestive sell the hell out of a new cocktail
but my boss and I know better, being veterans and all.
He cruises past us and slaps
the tightest part of her suffocating black pants
as the guy forty years better than me downs the rest of his draft.

"Let's get out of here," I attempt.
"Yeah, nothing new," he salvages.
We both tip well and think of her smile
probably fake, too
and wonder if the ring is cubic zirconium.

Backing out feels better knowing ours are real

thankfully, not seamless.

No bullshit now
I tilt my head down and see
the crease between thigh and calf
and think
It's in the closet, Ain't that a bitch?
No, you wouldn't do that to him.

I'd kill for that trophy wife, but I don't want that either.

It doesn't taste as good anymore.
It's been a minute, how the fuck are ya?



It was one of those changes you don't see
as it happens, just notice
one day while shaving or having your oil changed.
I knew it'd come eventually, shrugged when it did.

When you can't tell them
about the good things because
they'll play bobble-head
in the hopes of getting to speak sooner, or
the bad ones because theirs are always worse
you might as well accept it for what it is:
a thing of convenience amplified by time already spent

which is not necessarily a bad thing

as long as you can call a spade a spade
a deuce a deuce
since life is full of replacements.
(Reduce, reuse, re-
cite the reasons why it's no sweat off my sack.)
Think of it as reaching the back row and getting kinged
or, more appropriately, sacrificing a pawn
for a knight
or one of those fancy ashtrays, depending (,though
never a queen
"Bros before hoes" and all).

The trick is knowing ahead of time; growing up
my mom always liked my friends, me
managing to judge character effectively at an early age.
(An only child, post-divorce and with too vivid
an imagination, learns to over-
though that myth about blaming oneself
for the split is horse shit.)

He got what he wanted, I never
asked why
since I already know.
I had it once, too.

Maybe we should all be grateful
that he was right:
people change.

More out of habit than thirst
I kill the can and toss it in
with the rest of the recyclables.


the words come better when the women don't.

it's been a long time in the making, this beautiful
chance at second chances
after years of training.
Nietzsche said something about hope
being a sign of defeat, but he died
with his tail between his legs a long time ago
and I'm still alive
still beatin'
the odds and laughing
hard, toasting stubbornly in Holy rebellion.

don't worry, no pressure, at least
not the kind you're expecting
knowing me so well, somehow
even better than myself.

she asked why I never describe the good things about them.
I'm not sure if I answered, but I knew what it was:
those lovely green eyes
were cold and heartless;
that luscious, flowing hair
was chopped off out of spite;
those skillful lips kissed
other men, less thankful;
the heartfelt gifts and snapshots
were tossed or burned or sold
not locked away in a shoebox in the back of a closet.
would you bother describing every decent page of a book
if, overall, the sum of its chapters
left a bad taste in your mouth?, or would
you just spew the Cliff's Notes?
I know, I know: you'd get the fuck over
and yourself
for long enough to tell everyone to read the damn book for himself.

maybe that's it, though;
most of us are attracted to bigger and better
since feeling lucky beats settling.
respect for being, for what is meant to be, with no judgment
for what was
or was and is no longer.

they've been listening to me rant and ramble
these past couple days, the good sports.
"already, man?"
"yeah, I think so. I've been working on it for awhile
in the background."
tripped over a brain, found a hell of a heart and body to boot, with
an outlook on death almost more beautiful and healthy than
that on life.
hey, you don't let just anyone help pick out new sheets
since you burned your old ones in the wood stove, literally.
it's a satisfying scenario when one knows enough
about the other's overanalysis of pseudo-symbolism
to laugh and appreciate it for what it is:
a boy trying to give meaning where there isn't any
attempting to put into words what he can't
because he's sober and happy
and that's just no state for him to try to vent in.

he gives up for tonight
with hopes of not coming down too soon
or alone


and hey, if not
at least he'll always know
where to find out
what to read next, and maybe
when it's that bad
what to write.
(see, I told you there's always a positive spin.)


for Sam.

I flicked my right directional on.
the car perpendicular to the road I was on waited
until I commited to the turn.
I respected the caution
the restraint
the learning from prior experiences.
if only the rest could all be so wise.
you know, the demographic blessed/
cursed with parts other than mine.

earlier in the day the results were the same:
pink toothpaste in the sink in the morning
not being quite sure where the blood came from.
after the fourth day you think I'd have it pinned
but no dice.
at first I thought it was residual
from the fight a week or two ago.
wishful thinking, perhaps
especially since that nancy only hit me once
for my four, before
the voices of reason resolved the issue for me.
no such luck, though;
the battlescars I've had in the past have healed faster
so this must be something else.
the menthol cigarettes? the cloves I've been smoking?
have I been coughing up lung?
the blood's always dark and thick
not light and bubbly
like the oxygenated blood that passes through the lungs.
at least that's what I tell myself.

no, somehow I think it's more.
they say we only use thirty percent of our brain cells.
they say if a circle of people focus on something
the sorry bastard in the middle can sense what it is;
telepathy, whatever you want to call it.
so what if they all got together and wished that early death on me?
what if this blood is the direct result of spiteful so-and-so's
wishing I finally get what I deserve?
no, not that either:
something more appropriate would've fallen off.
back to square one.
I'm just bleeding from an unknown internal injury of some sort. great.
but hey, better than some silly ass voodoo nonsense.

back to the topic at hand:
one kisses with too much tongue drunk, not enough sober.
the other must've told a lie in some Arab country
because it's never there.
I don't know which I prefer, being mauled or
going through the motions.
equal evils, that must be why I can't commit.
I'm sure there's a reason for all of this
just don't ask me what it is.
(I know, it's the sock you find a few loads later.)

you'd think by now they'd realize
that half the time I give out my number
just so I'll have something else to write about later
after I ruin everything again.
self-fulfilling prophecy is the name of the game
and I make the best of the worst that I make
time and time again.
I subject myself to their kind for the sake of my science.

last night I woke at an unusually ungodly hour
to a mosquito biting my shoulder
in February.

for the last time, I tell myself:
they're people, not shoes
I can try on and send back
when I find they don't fit.

it's like Pontius Pilate going to Christ's funeral.

I spit my gum out after all this
in order to taste the last sip of this Comfort from the South
and sure enough, that deep red's still there
bold and triumphant against the white of the crumpled paper.
somehow, somewhere
someone else's ears are ringing.

Currently reading:
"The Wine of Youth" by John Fante.