Relax: Even Cowards Get Tombstones

With days like one-act tragedies
it's a constant origami of the soul:
keep folding, try again.

My watch ticks from my dresser
louder than it does on my wrist.
I rarely wear it anymore, or even pants
through these laid off weeks of observation
basking in the smut and squalor of
a newfound twenty-five.
I'm not the only one
but I'm the only one Here
most times.
I hate to admit it, but
I see what he meant now.

It's my party and I'll cr...
--be predictable--
...if I want to.

Statistically speaking
we shouldn't be breathing.
The odds defeated pave the way;
let's get together and feel alright
minus the whole Jamaica part
if only for one night.

More bridges burned than fences mended;
more bad news, bare;
more thumbnail fights against an invisible grain;
more jetlag messing with my head;
all this multitasking's left me weak in the knees
and in need of a guild that'll never come to be:

Apathy is the new white.

Two years is two years.
Some nights the pillows are fluffier than others.

Currently reading:
"The Iceman Cometh" by Eugene O'Neill.

It must be a Pine Bush thing.

"Man, the seafood salad I had for lunch is tearing me up."

"Was it the kind with the squid and octopus and stuff?"

"Yeah, where you can see all that nasty shit."

"I'll pass on that."

"I love it."

"...until it tears up your stomach."

"I like freaking my kids out with it."

"Do I even want to know?"

"I open my mouth. They scream when they see the testicles."

"The testicles, huh? I'd scream, too."

"That's 'cause you're an apprentice."

"No, that's 'cause I'm straight."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Tentacles, man, tentacles. Testicles are in your bag."

"Whatever, Shakespeare."

"No, dude. There's no getting out of this one."



"...have testicles."

"Maybe they do, but their legs are called tentacles."

"My tentacles are next to my testicals. Close enough."

"You're lucky we're the only ones working today."

"You're lucky I'm here to amuse you."

"...and countless others."


"Nevermind. Go eat some more testicles."



It may have been a bad time
but I was thinking about blood again;
mine, specifically--
the Most Precious kind.

Was it the same batch
that had been swimming
through my arteries and veins
as when I was a kid?
Had it suffered the same losses
won the same battles
and could it go another round of either?

Was there some cellular contest
to see which Reds and Whites
could stay inside this Shell the longest?
Or were they dying to get out
dry up, flake off, and blow away?

Was it really blue when lacking oxygen
like they tell you when you're young?
And what's with the copper taste?

My thoughts regrouped and acknowledged
that there's another blood drive
at my union hall in a few weeks
that I won't be able to attend
since the sight of a needle dangling
from my arm makes me dizzy and nauseous.

Luckily, a friend said he'd sit in
on my behalf for the second year in a row--
the greatest birthday gift
one could ask for.

But if I were forced, how would I get out of it?
Me: "I've been tattooed in the last year."
Nurse: "Times are tough, we can ignore that."
Me: "I'm a bit of a coward, no one would want mine."
Nurse: "Come on now, it won't hurt."
Me: "Can you save me a vial? I have a letter to write."
Nurse: "Maybe you're not the best donation candidate."
Bingo. I had the answer, and without lying.

The shampoo got in my eyes
and distracted me momentarily.

"I'm a lot of things
but a bleeder
isn't one of them,"
I told the shower curtain.

My Track Record suggested
I check the color of the bubbles
floating in the wake
and reevaluate my stance.

The soap slid from my hands.
I almost slipped and fell
while intercepting its descent.

The shower curtain and my Track Record
laughed in mocking unison.

It was getting harder to be right.


A and D

Like most other decent Americans
I'd grown up on it
but at a young and dumb eighteen
when I went away to college--
the real kind, not these plumbing classes--
I stopped drinking it altogether
in exchange for whiskey sours.

After the quiet homecoming it was something
else, aside from myself, to be rediscovered.
It took me awhile, but I did. Both.

In fact, my hiatus from its indulgence
made it seem far more appealing:
by the gallon, by the quart
by the way this ain't a metaphor.

The catch, and there's always a catch
was that my absence brought about
a digestive intolerance. Anything more
than a-glass-and-a-half with my nightly
chocolate made me pay the price
the next morning.

I just flushed the last installment.
In five years, almost to the date
I still haven't learned.

The point, and there's rarely a point
is that milk and other pleasures
don't necessarily
do a body good.

Though even while lining up a fly
and crooning to a sleeping auditorium
I wear that mustache with my stubborn pride
that not even four bottles of Tylenol could stop.

Currently reading:
"Reach for the Sun: Selected Letters 1978-1994, Volume 3" by Charles Bukowski.


My greatest fear, come to life.

The rabbit's fur's been smelling like maple syrup
more and more frequently.
I'm starting to believe that she's been going
to McDonald's for McGriddles at four in the morning

and she's been holding out on me.

I'd ask my roommate, but I know he wouldn't fess up;
no one likes a tattle-tale, not even a rabbit.

If she starts smelling like the leather interior
of a European luxury car and listening to
German techno, then I'll know who her accomplice is.

Which way did she go?
Which way did she go, George?

Currently reading:
"Tender Buttons" by Gertrude Stein.


Saturday morning scissor-lift shop-talk.

"Sometimes I do it on purpose..."

"Bend her over..."

"Pull all the way out..."

"So it gets stuffed with air..."

"And she gets embarrassed..."

"Even though we secretely like the sound."

"Funny how that stuff gets us off."


"You gonna eat the other half of that bagel?"

"Nah, you can have it."


Pornstars have the worst tattoos.

Twenty-four was a decent year for me, despite the time
caught masturbating by a man too drunk to notice
my pants around my ankles. At least I think he didn't know
any better, he kept talking to me like nothing was wrong...
and traccidents? Pshaw!
I've learned to look for the Adam's Apple.
I've managed to refrain from writing about roadkill.
I've still got a thing for Miss Ana Phora.

Yesterday I even put pants on, ventured out
for my daily dose of sunlight
and the unemployment check.
The bank teller counted the Twenties
so smoothly with that rapid shuffle
from right hand to left, the comforting
sound of skilled labor behind a counter
helping skilled labor sitting on a bench.
It was enough to leave the grenadine out
and take it like a real man, one who walks away.

Five weeks ago while showering
I popped a blood vessel between my eyebrows
while thinking about the many uses of Molotov cocktails.
Ironically, his God books are in my old bedroom now.

And I wish I could ease my mother's sorrow
but the older I get the more I understand
that we're past that point in each other's lives
and have problems of our own.
My scraped knees are mine alone now;
her bed is hers to sleep in, with him.
Thank God she's got her weed
and I've got my weekly pack to cope.

I heard somewhere that chemicals in
cigarette smoke relay a message
to the DNA in lungs, telling them
that they should grow another set.
Maybe that wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Whatever comes my way these days I try to remember
that it can't be worse than the time my meth lab exploded.
It's a shame, really. Guillermo was a good man...

Bonaparte with Beer Muscles.

"Did he tell you about the time he got fucked up by a midget?"

I took a sip of my beer to center myself and make sure I'd heard my coworker correctly.

"No. I've seen him at the hall and know who he is, but I've never spoken to him."

Dave wet his lips with his draft and set the pint glass down on the oak. He turned his stool towards me and assumed the I'm About To Tell You A Really Good Story pose.

"He was partying at a bar in New Paltz, something with a P in it..."

"Yeah, the place where girls dance on tables and the pisser's a bathtub filled with ice that you wait in line for twenty minutes to use. I've been there a few times."

"Right, well he was pretty tanked up and went to the bar for a round of drinks. He was talking to the bartender respectfully, nothing off the wall. Some guy, a fuckin' midget!, comes up and sits down on the stool next to him and says to back off. He rubs his eyes to make sure he's not seeing things."

"You sure he wasn't high, too?"

"Dude, if he says it was a fuckin' midget, then it was a fuckin' midget."

"Fair enough."

"He tells the midget that he's obviously not hitting on his girlfriend behind the bar; the drinks he ordered are all girly drinks for the women he arrived with, Sexes on the Beach and faggot shit like that. Little Man doesn't want to hear any of that, though."

"A bit of the Napoleon Complex perhaps..."

"So the midget grabs his arm and takes a swing at him. He can't believe what's going down. Once he comes back to reality he grabs the midget and slams his head against the bar. The little bastard bounces off the bar and lands flat on the floor. Bouncers descend on our poor union brother from all angles and wrestle him to the ground. By this time the midget is on his feet again and running towards him. He kicks him in the head and he blacks out for a few seconds."

"Wait, so he got kicked in the head by a midget?"

"Yeah, man. His buddies pulled the bouncers off him and revived him. They slapped him in the face at first, but when that didn't work they poured a beer over his head. He had the midget square in his sights. He cocked his arm back to punch the little fucker and send him flying again for kicking him in the head while he was down, but he used his better judgment and ran out of the bar instead."

"Wow. That's about the best bar story I've ever heard."

"Tell me about it. Whenever that guy would try to bust my balls on the job after he told me that story I'd tell him I'd get the midget to beat him up again. He'll never live that down."

"I would imagine not. That's ridiculous. And I thought my life had some unfortunate twists..."

"That's the best part of being in a union, bro. You hear all of these absurd fuckin' stories. You can't make shit like this up."

"You're right. I'll tell it just how it was told to me instead."


"Nevermind. Finish your beer, we gotta get back to work."


Too long for the Obits.

Alex was a few years younger than me, but infinitely wiser in his own regard; was, is, whatever. I'm not sure how one's supposed to address those in his category, those of his caliber, other than with utter admiration for unabashedly admitting that the world's a lousy place and not worth fighting for, despite Hemingway's famous lie of an introduction to "For Whom the Bell Tolls". 'Cause you know what, fellow lush? It doesn't toll for you and me. Try to put as positive a spin on the globe as you want. It just doesn't.

I remember our last conversation like it was yesterday. He approached me with that same sarcastic grin that was always glued to his face, but the sparkle in his eye was magically more omniscient. He'd discovered some Great Truth that he wasn't about to share with the likes of me or anybody else on the job, and I wasn't about to waste my breath asking him. Al was basically alright, even though some people mistook his aloof nature for arrogance. I knew him better than that, though; or at least I thought I did, based on the brief glimpses into his life that he chose to share with me at what were usually the most inappropriate times. Maybe I shouldn't have down-played it so often. We all knew what he meant when he said those things he did, we just didn't like to acknowledge it. We sure didn't think he'd go that far. Poor kid.

"My uncle's living out of cans somewhere in Florida and his kids won't send him money."

"I'm sorry to here that, Al. Can you pass me that wrench?"

"Social Security doesn't send him checks anymore because he failed to show for probation and he's a felon."

"The five-eighths socket isn't snugging up enough. Toss me the nine-sixteenths."

"My cousins and mother have disowned each other for the fifth time as a result of it. Mom's been sending him money a few times a month without telling my stepfather. If he knew he'd go ballistic, even though she works more than he does."

"Yeah, where's your old man been lately? Haven't seen him at the bar."

"He's not my father. My father and I haven't spoken in over two years."

"You know what I mean, Al. Take it easy."

"My mother. My mother says I drink too much, but she's got a few nasty habits of her own. I don't mention them anymore. I gave up reverse-parenting back in high school. She kicked me out of the house once when I got rid of her stash. My mother's going to die someday and suddenly I'll realize what love really is, but it'll have been too late."

"Jesus, Al. Lay off the soap box talk. Have you been eating leftovers at one in the morning again?"

"Not everything's a joke, Dave."

"Oh no? Then what is it?"

"The world's a sad place."

"Are you going to tighten those nuts up or am I going to have to do it for you?"

"I'll take care of it."

"I'll believe it when I see it, Socrates."

"Plato. Call me Plato. Socrates didn't exist, he was conjured to take the blame."

"The blame for what?"

"For the world being a sad place..."

"I thought I just told you..."

"...and people having a need to write about it like it were someplace else."

I remember our last conversation like it was yesterday, because it was. Alex T. Zonuffstra, you may be missed by some, but at least I won't have to carry your weight at work anymore. Those nuts don't just tighten themselves, you know.

the KGB's greatest weapon

I only know she exists because
I've seen her up close, spoken to her--
well, was rejected--
when I tried to cash a check there once--
well, withdraw money from my unemployment account.
"Sorry, I'm only here to receive deposits.
I can't give anything out," she said
in her thick Russian accent--
well, Ukrainian or Latvian, or maybe Lithuanian--
right out of a Bond film.
At least I think that's what she said;
I wasn't paying attention--
well, was distracted by her dark hair
pulled back tightly in a perfect bun
and her clear blue eyes piercing my very soul.
I picked my haggard self up by my dusty collar
and escorted myself out of there in a flesh--
well, flash, did I say flesh?--
making sure my tongue was still in my mouth.

Now, many moons later
whenever I pass by that bank's pointless substation
I can't help but notice her there
sitting at that desk
not doing a thing
and getting paid for it
in true American fashion--
the gorgeous remnants of a sad man's attempt
at scoring a mail-order bride, or a refugee turned
entrepreneur, or maybe a foreign exchange student
who never went home when her visa expired.
She's laughing through that wall of glass
knowing that she could have any Yankee fool
wrapped around her little Commie finger.
The irony of the limitations of her job description
eats me up inside as only I'd be eaten.
It's enough to drive a man...no, just
to drive him.

Oh, Natasha: rogue agent.
Relic of the Cold War.
Don't tell us you don't know your own strength.

If I were a lesser man--
well, a desperate man--
I'd try, but I'm not--
well, not anymore.

I'm a betting man, and I know when I'd lose--
well, shucks.


Have gun, won't travel.

You've learned that getting dressed
in front of a mirror
can be empowering
if the right song is playing.
I'm sorry
it's taken you
this long.

I heard your voice
in the background
when I called--
it's deeper now, more mature.
We got even drunker than usual that night
though for different reasons.

So look
I don't know how to ask this, but
One last time?

I've lost a few heroes in bar room fights.
You can read that any way you like.
You will anyway.

The sound of a dryer going still puts me to sleep;
my mom used to run the vacuum cleaner.
It means the world is at peace
or at least mine

but I really have to find the door.
My pillowcases can't take much more drool.

The truth is that I can't drive stick.
Like the rest
of this, you already knew that.


Books on Tape

I wish I could watch the Greats eat steak.
Then I'd know if they were the real deal
or not

because writers, as you well know
or should, are the greatest hypocrites--
give them an inch and they want a mile;
give them the mile and they want an inch.

Mine should live for the green or pink
haze before the tornado, should leave
fences to cattle, should understand the
importance of occasionally passing a car
on a quarter-mile straight-away with headlights
coming at you just to stay relevant, should
admit with a hint of sadness that in this
world of positives and negatives
blacks and reds
two crazies don't make a sane
like two wrongs don't make a right

and most importantly
should know the dangers associated
with men who frequent highway rest stops
and that they make for top-notch bar tales.

But that steak.
I'd really love to see them eat that steak.

I can't sleep, either.

There he sat
like a defeated Greek god
stuck in the photo forever:
the kid whose heart I broke
stroke and stroke again
weekend after weekend
without even knowing it
shining with sweat and red
in the face
sitting on the standard dorm room futon
that graced my first apartment
with my father's borrowed acoustic
in his lap and the remnants of a bottle
of Southern Comfort at his side
and if that's not enough to remind oneself
that there are stranger fates in this world
than those found in any book on one's shelf
than I'm a red-assed baboon with a keyboard.


The first nail in the coffin.

His name is Chris
and his partner's name is John
but by the looks of them
I always want to call them
by the opposite names.
They're the two masons
doing the concrete on the job.
The story they stick to is that they've known each other
since high school and are the same age
but Chris looks an easy five years older.
John says I'm not to first to say that.
More wrinkles around the eyes, less teeth
in the devilish smile, more red than white in the eyes--
the tell-tale signs of the man who's carried the load
for longer than his years admit.

Chris offered me a smoke in the down-time
during a big concrete pour yesterday
while waiting for the next truck
and I gratefully accepted.
The boss had waited until eight-fifteen that morning
to call me in, even though Chris had requested my presence
the day before and said that they could use my help.
I had been up late wrestling with angels, then demons
and was glad that I hadn't been drinking.
Still, I was tired and the hard labor on an empty stomach
wasn't lightening my lids any.
That cigarette looked damn good sticking out from the pack
as he waved it in my direction.

Something caught my eye as I reached for the hand-out
something white amongst the tan of the rest of the filters--
an upside-down cigarette.
This fifty-five year old man still kept a lucky one in his pack
still believed in junior high superstitions and their merit.
Is that what I have to look forward to when I have to sleep
with pillows between my sore knees at night like he does?

I wasn't sure whether to be thrilled or terrified, but let me tell you--
that smoke would've tasted just as glorious
whether or not it was mentholated, and it was.


No Nazis were harmed in the writing of this blog.

We get all types here at the house, and that's fine. Expected, accepted, appreciated even. But sometimes we stop, shake our heads, and force ourselves to wonder: Are our friends really that open-minded about their social screening process? Then, of course, we pat ourselves on our backs when we realize how marvelously unprejudiced we are through the Law of Syllogism. It's a mostly painless cycle.

A couple weeks ago we went through said scenario. One of our newer friends from across the mighty Hudson showed up at our humble abode with a few of his pals to join us in the evening's alcoholic merriment. I had just gotten out of the shower and was getting dressed up in my bedroom when they arrived. The night's lucky winner was selected from my rows and stacks of mildly ironic thrift store T-shirts. I pulled it over my enormous head, manipulated my mop of hair into the same general direction, and sauntered down the steps to play host to my new acquaintances.

There they stood: my one buddy, and four of his tragically hip friends. We get them around these parts from time to time, but it's an uncommon thing to find an indigenous member of that type. You know, the kids who you'd expect to see at shows featuring punk rock or similar music akin to its derivatives. Tight clothes, facial piercings, interesting hair, chest-piece tattoos. It's not that we don't tolerate that particular fashion statement here in the Dirty 'Burgh, it's that we just don't care enough to try in vain to attempt it. Our fine city provides far better threats than ridicule from the Fashion Police. There's nothing tougher than risking life and limb with the possibility of a drive-by just to get some Kennedy Fried Chicken at three in the morning. Take your scene points, quite frankly, and shove them. Gingerly, mind you. But as usual, I digress.

I shook hands. I made eye contact. I pretended to pay attention to names, though I'm terrible at that and tend to let them go right out the other ear in most group introductions. And then I established, for my own personal knowledge, the odd man out. Ripped clothes, huge plugs in his earlobes that were covered in fake diamonds, a mostly shaved head that revealed tattoos on his scalp, and that smirk that usually comes along with the persona. We'd had his type here before, it ended poorly. Mostly for him, mind you, but poorly none the less. I made a mental note to put myself on the defensive and watch for any signs of potential violence or petty larceny.

Neither of which occurred. Once again I was put in my place regarding the race and coerced into shredding the cynic card for a bit. This guy was alright, despite the fact that he resembled a poor man's version of the drummer of a popular punk band who is rumored to be reforming despite his third-degree burns via plane crash. He made the right comments at the TV screen, he laughed at the jokes and made some good ones at appropriate times, he was respectful of our home, and he even did a full shot of the 160-proof Austrian rum that has come to be a rite of passage amongst our group of friends without taking a trip to the bathroom to vomit. Eventually, however, he managed to make a bit of a fool of himself. We'll blame it on that shot.

See, someone mentioned Nazis. Not sure how it came up in conversation at a party, but it did. And well, his face lit up like a teacher had asked the class a question and he was the only one who knew the answer. I was almost waiting for him to raise his hand. Instead, he raised the leg of his shorts to reveal another one of his numerous tattoos. This one was unfinished, only an outline on his inner right thigh. Maybe the sensitivity of that spot had halted production, or maybe money was short and it didn't seem wise to pursue an expensive mural that only a few select people would see, or maybe it was just a stupid idea that was too late to erase. In my humble opinion it was a clear case of the latter. Let's go to the Not-So-Instant/Not-So-Verbatim Replay for further clarification. Charlie, take it away:

"Nazis, huh? I like Nazis."

"Oh yeah?"

"Here, check out one of my leg tattoos. It's not done yet."

"It's a plane."

"That's the Red Baron."

"Yes, it does indeed resemble a biplane from the turn of the last century."

"Look at the wing."

"There's a swastika."

"It's for my German heritage."

"Maybe you should've thought that one through first."

"What do you mean?"

"The Red Baron was an ace fighter pilot in the First World War."


"So, the National Socialist German Workers Party was not even established until 1920."

"The who?"

"The Nazis."



I took a sip of my cocktail and let the news sink in. Grins spread across the faces in earshot of our conversation, but no one had the heart to pursue the matter. Not even yours truly. Fortunately, the piece hadn't been completed yet so there's still time to cover up the swastika with something more clever. Something tells me that he won't go that route, though. We changed the subject quickly and efficiently and pretended as though nothing had ever happened, but it had--

Hitler, you've been bested yet again, sixty-some-odd years after your cowardly bunker suicide!

The German quarter of the blood coursing through my veins has been redeemed. Now if only the ignorance common to you and your supporters could be eradicated from the earth. But alas, I want ice cream, and can waste no more words on you or your uneducated scenester cohorts.

Goodnight, friends and Allies. And remember: fascist dictators come and go, but bad tattoos are forever.


Columbo, as you've never seen him.

"It wasn't homicide."

"But why the duct-taped eyes, detective?"

"He didn't wanna see."

"See what?"

"The room."

"But he lived in it."

"Not spattered like this."

"If he didn't wanna see, why not the head?"

"Because the heart made more sense."

"How so?"

"They'd already taken it. Read the walls."

"They're blank."


"Look, statistics show that in cases like this..."

"Statistics don't apply here, sergeant."

"Then what does?"

"The facts, the motives."

"To make Open Casket optional? He wasn't so selfless."

"His mind...he didn't wanna waste his mind."

"I'm afraid he already had, detective."

"I'll agree with that...for the record."

"So what next?"

"Let's get some lunch."

"You can't be serious."

"A cop is never cold, wet, or hungry."

"And the report?"

"It can wait."

"Sometimes I wonder how you out-rank me."

"Ask the man on the floor. He'll tell you."

Honest Abe and Famous Men with Wooden Teeth

There's a big red plastic bowl
next to my bed where I throw
all of my loose pocket change
at the end of the day.
It's one of my less detrimental habits
since a penny saved is
well, a penny saved.

The sources vary: coffee break
orders, both mine and otherwise;
depressing gas station encounters;
bars, restaurants, Italian delicatessens--
but the essence is always the same:
a bunch of shiny discs that make
a sad world hobble 'round.

My coin bowl comes in handy
on those "Oh Shit!" Mornings
as I like to call them--
you know, the ones where you wake up
still drunk, then rummage through your pockets
uncrinkling bills and hoping to find at least
a five, if not a twenty, but always seem
to only muster singles.
Or maybe that's just me.

This has been an "Oh Shit!" Month
since I haven't worked much
due to the feast-or-famine nature of construction.
Fortunately, and with a touch of pride
I can say with an unusually clear conscience
that the coin bowl's remain intact
the entire time, a hymen waiting for the right time.
I like to be the one to tell time.
Did I mention? Is it obvious?

And every week that I avoid taking the shameful ride
to the coin-counting machine at the local supermarket
to cash in the chips in an hour of desperation
is another week that I have beaten the odds, the system.
Bill collectors, gas tanks, and bottomless guts be damned--
I am immortal, and you can't shake that red and round
and plastic source of hope from my hands unless I'm ready.

It won't be for awhile.

It won't.

When I hit the hay too gone to talk
the last thing I see tends to be
that hopeful gold mine
sitting there comfortably alone.
More often than not
in that unique state
the silver faces frowning back
don't belong to Founding Fathers.
It's You.
It's always You.

I meant 'me to know'...

Currently reading:
"Point Counter Point" by Aldous Huxley.



he's a Con, alright
though I can't say for sure
if only in his poetry
since some sorry broad buried
his sorrier ass
decades before
I was a gleam in my
donor's eye.

Sometimes his tips hit the head
for a line at a time
(the one about the root hitting the rock)
but more often than not
he got lost in High Romanticisim
(leave the candles out of it)
or rather: his fruitless search
for it.

But there is no Romance left, Prof. Aiken.

You'd think that someone
who found the murdered body
of his mother
and suicided body of his father
in a long since loveless bedroom
at age seven
would've known that.

Just another one that's let me down
like a bittersweet song interrupted by the phone.

The list.
The Goddamn

"For that which goes forth comes back changed or dead."


What some men've found out the hard way.

"Wasn't Jenny Morgan on the swim team, too?"

"Yeah. She was one of the girls with the stories."

"Jenny? Get outta here. She was so quiet."

"The quiet ones are the freaks."

"True. Not that I'd know or anything..."

"She told us that she had to use two tampons."

"No way. She's tiny. And innocent. And..."

"And a four-finger whore."

"Jesus. Tell me how you really feel, Babe."

"I feel like eating brownies."




Cut him some slack, he does all his own stunts.

I'm not Laid Off, I'm a Gentleman of Leisure.
Yes, there's a difference.
Look it up.

Greasy everything and bedhead
and two novellas in as many days.
Yes, it's as glamorous as it sounds.

I'm not sure how much more
of this rolling around in dirty sheets
I can take before I climb a clocktower.

I'm not sure how much longer
I can manage to be my own
best friend.

Sometimes it's so close to home
that the words won't come
without sounding forced.
Any self-respecting slob
would've waited 'til the next day
for the real money-shot.

That's why I'm firing my agent.
"Bunny, I'm sorry, but ya' gotta go..."
She just kept licking herself on the bed.
It's a good thing I can't.

Sometimes I thank God for the talents I don't have
and curse Him for the ones I do.
Can I get on with my night now?
There's a bottle I know I'll be good at emptying.

Currently reading:
"Seymour-- an Introduction" by J.D. Salinger.


A guiltless jilt (in Technicolor).

"Here," he said as he came
down from the altar and dropped the ring carelessly
into the shaking, sweaty palm of his arbitrary successor.
"It's not for anything that you did right
but something that I did wrong."

Confusion swept across all but one set of eyes.
'Lohengrin' played in the background, unparenthetically
as the audience pretended to clean their nails in the pews.

A great weight had been lifted from his shoulders when
he remembered all the things he'd yet to accomplish
and suddenly had the alacrity to pursue.
The pen in his pocket twitched against his thigh
as three collective pounds of mascara in the room
tried it's hardest not to follow suit and run.
All he had left to fear was an unbreakable date
with a really hot barbecue at some undetermined time
and even that didn't seem as bad as the alternative
since there would be no rehearsals.

She fainted as the door closed silently behind him.
The priest tried reviving her with holy water.
The organist told her father that he'd still receive a bill.

"Taxi!" he yelled as he raised his right hand sincerely
and for the first time ever it worked.

His suit, of course, was blue.

Currently reading:
"Raise High the Roof Beam" by J.D. Salinger.


Further proof that there's no God.

There was this kid Matt Davis
who lived a few houses down from me
when I was eight and nine.
He was four years older than I was
and his armpits stunk up his bedroom.
Matt was what they used to call
'a disturbed child', though I'm sure
there's a pretty new term for it now.
I saw my first pornographic magazines
in his filthy little house, and was morbidly confused.
Everyone blamed his ways on the parents
but that wasn't fair either.
Matt was simply Matt, and probably still is.

My mom and I felt bad for him
so we'd invite him over for dinner once in awhile.
I made sure to play with him at least twice a week
even though my other friends wouldn't join us.
I still thought I could save people back then.

When I got a rabbit, he got a rabbit.
Mine lived thirteen years: double
its life expectancy;
his only lasted a month or two
probably due to lack of proper care.
Neither of us were surprised.

Sometimes I think about him late at night.

And then I think about the bastard who let him die
alone in that dirty little cage.

...with 'just' as a limiter, as always, too often.

that kid who chased his dog in the snowy darkness
between his front yard and the street
holding up his schoolbus and a line of traffic
for ten minutes monday morning:
the bravest man ever to traverse route 94
and he's too young for a driver's license...

a swift kick to the shin.
a night-stick behind the knee.
you're done
for the nth time now.

gepetto was bounding across the road
as she approached through cigarette smoke
until a redneck snapped me out of it.
later on i almost bought a bumper
with a white neck-craner
realizing we're ours forever.
i've been scared to say that, but it's true.

stop it
we were kids
we were only kids
so stop it.
it only makes sense
if you imagine saying it
to someone or something
bigger than yourself.
it only makes sense
to me
that's just dandy
just fine

all those poor souls
who used to watch me shave at night...

see, that kid chasing the dog--
i envy him.


I hope he blows the tranny.

One of three unfortunate things are more likely
to happen in the last couple miles of your drive home:
you get into an accident, as statistics show;
nature calls harder, as if your body knows it's close;
or some sword-swallower in front of you rides the brake.

Tonight, as I'm sure you've guessed, the third one occurred.

I was on my way home from welding class at eight o'clock.
Only one more traffic light separated me from my driveway.
The home-stretch was about to be victorious.
Then said expletive pulled out in front of me.

What's with people? Why cut someone off
if you plan on going slower than them?
And I'm talking a good ten miles-an-hour slower.
This particular roadblock with wheels
happened to be the same make as my vehicle.
That's another peculiar phenomenon--
I tend to get even more perturbed with a bad driver
who's behind the wheel of a car made by the same
company as mine, as if they're breaking some
silent fraternal code by killing the mojo
of a fellow rice-burner-owning motorist.

Anyway, it was painful to be stuck behind
this brake-riding so-and-so all of a sudden.
The gap between our vehicles closed gradually
until I was finally only one car-length away
from his puny little bumper.
I swore I noticed him slow down even more
to a mere twenty-three miles-per-hour.
I decided to find out if my assessment was correct
by turning on my high-beams, which must've
been designed for hunting kangaroo at night
in the vast plains of the Australian outback
because the damn things are so bright
that I can practically see through
the backs of people's skulls
when using them as a weapon
in a case such as the one encountered tonight.
Sure enough, when I turned them puppies on
Captain Party-Pooper in front of me
stepped on his brake pedal and brought
things to a damn-near screeching hault.
Hook, line, and sadly unoriginal sinker!
We had a game on our hands.

I turned the brights off.
He sped back up to only ten miles under the limit.
I turned them back on.
He slowed back down again.
I flashed them a few times.
He turned his rear-view mirror down so it didn't bother him.
I turned them off.
He sped back up a little.
This went on for a mile or two, much to the chagrin
of the line of traffic growing behind me.
I didn't care, though.
Neither did he.
I was having a good time.
Maybe he was, too.
Not once did I lean on the horn.
Believe it or not I was laughing.
Hey, the guy in front of me
was responding in exactly the same way
that I would if I were him.
It was hard to hate the man for that.
Hell, I had a borderline genius on my hands!

When we finally crawled through that last traffic light
and I knew that he couldn't brake-check me anymore
I let him have it one last time, just to get the last word.
He tried to impede my acceleration again, but it was too late
since I'd already turned onto my nice, empty road.

It was good to be home.
It still is, an hour-and-a-half later as I sit rehashing this
mildly amusing story that really had no consequence
or point, though I hope that somewhere further
up Route 52 there's a man smiling as he tells
someone a story about this jerk he had behind him tonight...

A little subconscious B-and-E.

"You almost blew my cover, man.
Just like Donnie Brasco said
if you ever call me Joe again
I'll slice you ear to ear."

"What do you mean?" asked Satan.
"We've got all the time in the world left
to get to know each other."

I'd say he laughed when he finished speaking
but that would be too predictable.

And did I say Satan?
It may have been Dostoevsky.

Do I get a 1099 for this?

The list, as prophesied, went on:
table salt to melt the ice
sidelong glances at Marilyn
and other acts of desperation.
The bigger they were
the faster they poured the shots
and joined the shiny footprints.

"I thought I told her..."
"It's nothing I haven't seen before,"
and he knocked him on his ass
with the rum, where he belonged.

The farce of introducing people;
it's easier to forget your manners at home
but when you're already...
"Come on, babe. I barely know myself
let alone the two of you...but now you know
each other's first names."
Trail off, drift away.
Enter Frank, stage left.
It's always seemed such a charade.
Spare us, Common Courtesy.

"Fine, then you'll learn on your own like I did,"
before stomping out of the spinning room.

"If my ass goes numb then I know
it's time to quit for the night.
If I feel any physical pain then it's forced."
Scary rules to live by, so similar to a strumpet's
and doesn't that sound like a cake eaten with tea?
"My ass only hurts 'cause I've outgrown this chair
that I've had for fifteen years. The cushion was made
for little kids."
Sure, pal.
Whatever you have to tell yourself.

"It's gotten really good," they'll lie.
"No, no, No, NO,"
vehement "no!
The microphone's just moved closer
for a more accurate recording."

They still won't get it, the unsung song--
a waste, like taking a shit while still wet from a shower.

"I thought she was a strong swimmer."
"Me too."


Typical Sunday afternoon, sans Super- anything.

...so I marked my page with the ancient green wristband
tossed Mr. Thurber onto my nightstand with a thud
and pulled the blanket over my head
to enjoy the sweet stench of Failure in the form of liquor
and the morning's baked beans.

Anyone who claims not to secretly savor the aroma
of his own intestines' noxious fumes is a damn liar.

My mom had called on the previous night
ten-thirty on a rip-roarin' Saturday with me good-n-drunk
to suggest that I invest in a new mattress soon--
something about dust mites and a potentially bad back.

I distinctly remember her mentioning the option
of paying on The Installment Plan, but don't recall
how I blew it off. I'm sure it was far less witty
than it could have been without the Canadian Club
running its familiar comforting course through my veins.

Alas, one can't win them all
or one would have little
to write about afterwards

and you, voyeur, would have to find a real hobby...

Associamated Press

The newspaper was sitting on the table in the break room so I flipped it open to the section with the country's latest ridiculous occurrences. You know, the short little blurbs about truths far stranger than fiction that serve as good work-time conversation starters to pass the time weather-discussion-free. My eyes skimmed down to the headline with 'feces' in bold print, naturally. Something about a man on trial for murder or rape or maybe both who flung human feces at his attorney and the ladies and gentlemen of the jury. It didn't say if it was his own feces, which to me makes a big difference in terms of his statement and the depth of his psychosis and/or desperation. None of the jury members were hit, but his lawyer took a full load to the face. The irony there, of course, is that his lawyer's the one who snuck the excrement into the courtroom in a plastic bag concealed in his briefcase. That tactic must be a new one being taught at law schools around the globe, or maybe just the mail-order ones. Stool-tossing, the onside kick of legal defensive strategy. I'm assuming they were going for an insanity plea, but they got a mistrial instead. A jury can't remain unbiased if the man in question has flung feces in their general direction, that's just common knowledge. The defense attorney was peeved because the prosecutor was not banned from the next trial, though Mr. Poop-smuggler was prohibited from defending his client again. Right, as if that comes as a surprise. Give an inch and they want a mile. They pass the bar and think they're allowed to resort to circus acts recorded by a court stenographer. "If the glove don't fit, acquit," may have worked, but you'll never see anyone whole-heartedly preaching a mantra of "If the crime's legit, fling sh..." I'll keep this one PG-13 for the sake of the nation's already tarnished reputation. Let's just hope there are no copycats this time.