Mild spoonerisms in this desert rain love.

"She's still sleeping in her bed, though not as soundly
as his right foot feeds the engine gas-- his laugh
over hitting the straight stretch of Eisenhower mile
muffled by the radio and whistle of the wind
in the windows he's cracked
to stay awake in lieu of coffee.
He sniffs his hand on the early ride north, a reluctant
return to a place no longer quite his home--
the smell of pennies and blood
beat into the leather of his steering wheel
not yet corrupting the trace of her delicate scent..."

See, I was talking about copper there
without actually mentioning it...
It was vain, it was vague, it was trying
too hard as usual.
I can't do this. Neither can you.
We'll pound our fingers and eyes out trying.

There's a difference 'tween art
and artwork:

the latter you hang on the fridge;
the former hangs you, and wherever
it damn well pleases.

Normally I'd plead the Fifth
but sometimes I take a stab.

Behind me on that beckoning bed
there's a gun to clean
and laundry to fold
so there's no time tonight
to fall shamefully in the middle.

There he goes again
wearing his heart
on the home row.

"My bedroom window's open
and though I hear no commotion
outside in the street or neighboring yards
I'm inhaling the pungent scent of
a man's pipe. It reminds me of
my childhood neighbor Pete
who once pulled me from a pool
I mistakenly jumped in while wearing only one water-wing.
That carcinogenic smell comforts me to this day, this night
even in my longing for your skin on mine.

May I show you to your seats?
May I sew you to your sheets?
I have the sound of the bugs where I sleep.
You have the wail of the sirens..."

Yup, there he goes again.
Somebody stop him.
That rifle won't clean itself.

Currently reading:
"Straight Man" by Richard Russo.



My controversial crash-course
in the big bad City
has been quite the sociology lesson.
The determined flow of traffic
in the subway that still boggles my mind;
the heavily-tattooed homeless
who once had enough money
to make the poor decisions
that got them where they are;
the awkward Upstate plumber
stumbling through a mass of people
who have a better understanding
of the way Manhattan works, as well
as its appeal.

But there are its moments.

Like when I see someone
try to hail a cab on a busy corner.
It's always easy for me on those quiet
Monday mornings, long before the commuters
have made it across the bridges and
through the tunnels. Most times
I'm the only one on the sidewalk
at 5 a.m., my duffle bag under my arm.
Taxis see me from a quarter-mile away, swerve
effortlessly through three lanes to get to
their next passenger, their next gratefully generous tip.
That's not the case at busy hours of the day, though.

And I believe I can tell a lot about a person
by the desperate wave of their hand.
Is it urgent or relaxed? Are they standing
on the sidewalk or on the pavement?
Where do they look like they're going?
To meet someone, to leave someone?
Are they arrogant, confident, secure, vulnerable?
Do they need that ride much more
than that cabby needs the seven bucks?
I like to try to determine these things
in the brief seconds I share with these people
from my safe and nameless distance.

Of course I may be wrong, but it helps make up
for time lost in my quiet apple region.
My naivety, my simpler way of life could only go on
for so long. I tried to keep it that way once:

like Rip Van Winkle sleeping
the world went on around me, she went on
without me.

Rise, and shine, and give God the glory.


Why you're better off not procreating.

Sansmith came out of the iso-pod rubbing his forearm right below the inside of the elbow.

"How much love did you give her today?" asked Crowner as he swiped his card down the Credit-Meter outside of the Nutri-Booth Console. His clanktons were running short, but all the overtime he'd accumulated at Reactor Plant 17 lately would assure him some serious plastic in the next direct deposit cycle.

"As much as I could afford this week. Plasma's running low again. I blame it on those new hydro-tubes the Vend-Bots are selling down at the Reactor. Not enough potable content."

Crowner swiped his card again. The magnetic strip had been rubbed raw by the particles in his pocket. He knew that the Workman's Regulation Handbook strictly forbade pockets on the job, but it was a rule he chose to ignore. He had to keep some semblance of a normal life, even in the Post-Melt Days. It was getting harder to remember what it felt like to sleep next to another human being. Amendment 42 was the worst thing to happen to Americorp in decades. Most unizens agreed to that.

"Jezzie's a lucky woman, Sansy," Crowner said, trying to remain respectfully in tune with the Platonic Conduct Codes. It was crucial to avoid detection by the Censor-Cams oscillating overhead. "Don't you let her forget that when you see her next cycle."

"If I get to, you mean. That all depends on whether or not our work schedules correspond. I miss good old-fashioned Manual Transaction. My veins are shot from all these Sangui-Love Supplement sessions," Sansmith replied as he rolled down his sleeve to cover the bruises. A combination of his olive skin and derma-art hid the yellow phase well, but the purples and browns stuck out like sore thumbs. It was obvious that he'd missed Jezzie terribly-- no one else on his unit had spent as many credits in the Extractor Iso-Pod as he had. There were times when he chose that activity over nutritional replenishment. He knew his sacrifice meant a lot to her; or prayed she did, wherever she was. Love would be the end of him, just as the oracle had predicted when he was first deployed twenty-eight Revo-Cycles ago.

"Don't look so glum, Crowner. The State will pair you up someday."

"One can only hope."

"Hope? Not for long, if Amendment 43 is passed next Luna-Cycle," corrected Sansmith. "Doesn't look good, either. The Mono-Party is consistently unanimous."

Crowner stopped trying to swipe his card in the glowing slot of the agitated Credit-Meter. He wasn't hungry anymore.


Un Padre renuente y la Enfermera obstinada.


As happy as I am for you
I wish you weren't in the mountains
camping for the weekend
and would be there to talk tomorrow
while we're waiting for our checks.


Sometimes I wish you weren't such
a stand-up guy
the kind I'd like to call my own
'cause we'll both have to settle
for this surrogate status.


Sometimes I try to picture
what your life was like at my age
to see if I can stick it out
for just a few more decades.


If I knew she'd be home
and could keep a secret
I'd take a ride out to your place tomorrow
to talk to the one good woman
you've found in this world
but no good woman can keep a secret
from the man she loves.


Sometimes I wish
you weren't so afraid
to show your feelings
for more than five minutes at a clip
and if you'd let me I'd give you
a teary-eyed, snot-congested hug.

But Eddie

We're construction workers
and that sort of thing
just ain't allowed.

I'd kill for a cigarette
but I seem to have quit
though a Sam Adams over a burger
at that hole in the wall
where we used to have our liquid lunch
every Saturday
sounds like therapy to me.


Strength is an illusion
but the tape measure doesn't lie.

Have a good weekend with the boys.
Hope to see you Monday.


I froze as soon as I saw
the sprinkler guy's apprentice
coming down the corridor.
The grin on his face was
that of a man who knows
that he'll soon be granted the chance
to exact his revenge.
I froze as soon as I saw him
approaching me, the roll of duct tape
still in my hands. The cat was out of the bag.

"So you're the one who's been
taping our toolbox shut for the last two weeks?
We thought it was the carpenters."

I was slightly offended that they hadn't assumed
my guilt. The prank was fairly flawless, especially
when I did it before they had a chance to open
their box in the morning and would have to rely
on whatever sharp object they could muster up
to slice the tape off. If one of them had brought it up
at coffee break my face would've given me away.
Turns out I'm a terrible liar.

"We got him, Bill!"

Bill came around the corner. I could practically
hear his Western New York accent tearing into me
before he even opened his mouth.

"Oh. It's on, motherfucker."

It took all I had not to laugh in his face.
That only would've made things worse.
The sprinkler fitters are my pipe trade brothers
but that doesn't mean they won't get theirs.

"Hey, nothing permanent. And no personal vehicles,"
I said through my shit-eating.

"Just don't fall asleep in the shade anymore..."

Every time they saw me for the rest of the day they smiled.


"Well, I was busted. Caught red-handed," I told my partner.

"What do you mean?" he asked, still focused on the last beer
he had on his lunch break.

"The sprinkler guys caught me taping their box shut."

"That was you? Brilliant!"

"Yeah. I'm done. They have it out for me now."

"Bill's a good guy, and his apprentice is a pussy.
I wouldn't worry. They'll play fair, won't go overboard."

"I got too greedy. Should've waited 'til they'd left the job."

"Happens to the best of us. I wish I knew who it was
that put the picture of Obama's face under my windshield wiper."

I somehow managed to maintain my composure.
He had said he thought it was the mailman who frequents
his favorite ginmill the day before and I'd kept my mouth shut.
It was his last day on the job, though, and I'd already been
nabbed once. Might as well come clean.

"It was me. I was going to put a sign next to it
that said 'Barack is my co-pilot', but figured
my blue marker would've given me away."
Perhaps I was giving him too much credit
though he did use 'exonerated' in a sentence once.
"At least I didn't tape it over the W sticker
on the back of your van."

"That's a collector's item at this point."

"I know."

This man had told me a story about how he once
attacked an ATM machine that ate his card
with a metal garbage can and was arrested
for doing a thousand dollars in damage.
The internal camera had gotten some good shots
of him approaching with said instrument of destruction
in hand and made for some good belly laughs
down at the police station.
I'd heard other rumors about his temper
from fellow fitters, but never saw him lose his cool
during our three-week stint together.
Needless to say I was a bit apprehensive
over what this vehement Republican's response would be.

"Well it's good to see someone's still got
a sense of humor around here," he said, the red
stubble on his chin shining in the fluorescent light.

My ass unclenched itself as I exhaled.

We smirked, looked down at our dirty knees
and returned to the pipe at hand.


In other news, I'm selling my guitars...

Blowing through
a children's book
about a prince in peril.
The little twit adorns the body
of two vessels I've known:
one a white-capped breaker, one a fellow
ship in passing.
He needs to stop questioning
as much as I do.

The mac-n-cheese wasn't
the same sober; too much
grated parmesan, not enough
American and a whole pot left
to suffer through tomorrow
coagulating in the fridge--
It was better when a drinking buddy
made it at three in the morning.
It was better when twelve twenty-year-olds
fought over the last of it.
It was better when we swore we wouldn't
turn out like our parents.

Swallowed the last of my juice
and took the pill dry.
Took a few tries, couldn't get it down.
It dissolved on my tongue before
slipping passed my massive tonsils.
Antibiotics as stale as this filler.
Chocolate chips erased the bitter taste.
(My nurse could smell the infection on me.
Thank God there's no perfume this time.
At least she knows to follow her nose.
It's gotten her this far.)

That blue-and-gold box lied to me tonight:
'al dente' is a euphemism for foolishly unprepared.
That's exactly what this all was.

I'd apologize, but there's no point--
Like me, friend, you've fallen in love
with a lot of people who didn't exist.
Pinch yourself next time.


Bronchitis, otra vez.

I wouldn't have been there
ten minutes early
if I'd known they'd keep me
waiting for half an hour
after the scheduled time.
I wouldn't've been there
at all if she hadn't
pulled rank, her profession and all.
Us stubborn fitters
sweat, bleed, or drink
the ailment right out of us.
It's no wonder we're sick
for weeks at a time.

But there I was, and I'd
already finished my book.
Even some forms to fill out
in the interim would've been welcomed.
It wasn't in the cards, though;
I shuffled my feet
and tried not to cough too frequently
as the waiting room continued to fill up
with the same people who always
end up in front of me
cashing in two-dollar lottery tickets
at the gas station
and playing their unlucky numbers.

"Mr. Schuler?" a tired nurse asked
through a suddenly gaping door.
The wrinkled mass across from my
still shuffling sneakers rose
with his wife to answer the call.
The two of them looked like
they'd forgotten why'd they'd shown up
in the first place as they awkwardly made
their way towards the door, the cracking of
calcified joints practically audible
in the air-conditioned silence. The doctors there
specialized in pulmonary care
which made many of their patients
very old; I wasn't sure what I was doing there
but the Schulers seemed even more confused.

"Mr. Schuler, would you like your wife
to join you?" the receptionist asked from behind
the obviously non-bulletproof glass.
Some law made that question mandatory, but
the Schulers hadn't voted on it
so they didn't bother answering.

The nurse looked at the secretary in silent defeat.
Their frowns seemed to say
what the soles of my wasted running shoes were mumbling:
At least Mr. Schuler won't die alone.

That's more than some of us can say.



There're Band-Aids on her nipples
as she's sweating
through her dress:
the subway is hotter
than the restaurant was.

(All I can do is imagine for now.
I'd give my left one to teleport there.)

"So what'd the thrasher say?"

It doesn't matter. He passed
the test, distance be damned.

"Playing by the rules
for a change."

The West Side, the home stretch.

Back in the saddle--
Reverse Cowgirl for awhile
and faces for the finish
(just how we like it, reminded of our love)--
avoiding chronic rugburn
as the aunts castrate the herd.

But it's not so bad, this apron.


Something borrowed, something blue, something old, something new."

In a laundry-scheduling blunder
worthy of a swift
slap to the forehead
I let my four towels
enter the hamper
before leaving for
the weekend.

My error hadn't been
discovered until I went
to shower off
a nauseous day of work
this morbid Monday evening.

My hand was forced.
I pulled the brown one
from my shelf
and slung it over the curtain rod
in a bathroom that needs a cleaning
as desperately as my memory does.

The recent addition to the roster
hung there laughing to itself
as lukewarm water ran down my back
this time unaccompanied
by a pair of willing elbows
to soothe away the ache.

A band of honeycomb pattern
four inches from the draped edge
winked and prodded at my cheeks.

"I did the right thing," I told
a frayed thread dangling from the
corner of the towel.

"Didn't I?"

The kind leave nothing behind.


A shitty short story that got me through a hell of a Sunday (with the help of some Bacardi, mind you).

"Any last requests?" he asked him sneeringly as he knelt in the dusty road. He'd traversed its winding expanse so many times throughout his twenty-six years without ever imagining it'd take him to the next life.

"In the heart," he stated with a dignity only conceivable in the voice of a man who knows he'll soon be no more.

A series of images ran through his head, some more pleasant than others. He'd want that face saved for those who would care enough to give a proper burial; wanted the mind that had served him so well for so many years preserved.

Cecilia. If only he could see her one last time. She'd been sent away to a convent after the incident that roused her family's suspicions. In her absence he started buying guns. When the revolution came a few months later it only made sense for him to partake. What was death in the face of heartache?

He thought back to the time he took the busload of nuns hostage. "Friends of the Republic," the guerrilla leaders had said from their hidden soapboxes "are enemies of our cause." That had justified the plan he'd suggested to commandeer the bus. What better way to show ones enemy the extent of your conviction than to strike out against God himself in the form of the establishment? When he and four other masked men boarded that bus all he could think of was finding his Cecilia sitting amongst the sisters. His bloodshot eyes scanned the faces of the terrified nuns until they found their mark. It took all he had inside himself to refrain from dropping his shotgun, tearing off his mask, and telling her not to worry. He longed to lick away the tears that were rolling down her face, but had to settle for a brief glimpse of her beauty now strangled by black-and-white robes. "The money's not here!" one of the marauders yelled after rifling through the mother superior's briefcase.
"Let's get out of here before the Federals show up." Not a second went by. "Yes, let's go." There was no disapproval in his reply. He'd gotten what he'd wanted out of the ambush.

But was that all so trivial now, or was it all that mattered? He knew that he wouldn't live long enough to find out.

"As a captured member of the radical party in opposition to..."

He knew the recital by heart. Officers were required by law to give that deceptively righteous speech to those about to be executed. From the safety of bushes, rocks, and riverbanks present after numerous raids gone wrong he and his cohorts had heard these words given to brothers in arms about to be shot. "We can't let them die like dogs," he'd argued the first time it happened. Without the slightest hesitation the three men laying low beside him cocked and aimed their weapons at his chest. No words needed to be exchanged at that point. Joining up meant understanding the importance of living to fight another day. No mourner would know the true circumstances of your death from the newspapers, but they might taste the glory of a future victory if you could live long enough to accomplish it. It was a selfish way to live, but the only way.

This was the second time he'd heard the false justification for murder that day, though. The first time had been a mere ten minutes prior as his best friend, now dead by his hand in the road beside him, was in the same position where he currently found himself. The Federals had had his friend at gunpoint and were about to send him to his Maker when a shot rang out from the reeds near the river. The man fell face forward into the dirt as three of the guards turned their baffled faces towards the source of the gunshot. He reloaded his rifle and fired two more rounds, killing one soldier instantly and maiming another well enough to bring him to the ground. In the heat of the moment he had not heard the patrol boat approaching upstream behind him. By the time the bullhorn sounded commanding him to throw down his weapon it was already too late. A bullet from the man prevented from executing his friend had torn through his left shoulder, causing him to drop his rifle into the current behind him as the exit wound exploded in a gush of crimson jelly. The shot was a lucky one, a blind act of desperation into a mass of vegetation. Great men are not supposed to die by such flukes, though they often do.

They dragged his half-conscious body from the bank of the river and into the road where the initial execution was to take place. Knuckles made a firm connection with his cheekbone, bringing him back to the world that would soon be going black. For the first time since being shot he felt the pain in his body. His right hand reached up and fingered the bloody hollow of shattered bone and loose skin where the socket of his left arm had been. Cecilia. Cecilia. How she once loved the broad shoulders that were now half of what they used to be. He hoped she'd never see the corpse.

"On your knees, traitor," the officer commanded. A closer look at his captor's face revealed his identity. He had been the local tailor, a humble man of meager means, before the revolution had started. High mortality rates on both sides had forced men up the chain of command faster than what was customary. Power went to some heads more than others, the simplest men often becoming the most ruthless butchers. "Any last requests?" he asked, spittle at both downturned corners of his mouth.

"In the heart," his answer came.

An adrenaline induced sweat poured off his face and made tiny craters in the dry dirt below him. He could hear their impact like meteors between the pounding of his temples. The scorching sun caused his perspiration to evaporate as soon as it made contact with the ground. The day was so hot that many had ignorantly wished for death.

"Dogs have no hearts, only stomachs," the tailor in battle dress said as he kicked his prisoner in the ribs. "Ready! Aim!"

But that was the last thing his victim ever heard.

He was on that tranquil coast where he'd made love to Cecilia, the two of them trying to evade the curious sight of passing boaters. An innocent giggle came from between her perfectly square teeth as she gathered her skirt around their hips to try to conceal their love from the world. Great men should have such memories to reflect upon.

A government issue .30 caliber bullet tore through the back of his skull just as her laugh ended, thus destroying what Cecilia had truly fallen in love with well before their rendezvous on that beach.

The family lost the option of an open-casket service. Cecilia lost her will to pray with conviction. The world lost one more reason to keep spinning at such an urgent rate. And great men? What are great men, really?

Southpaw love in the Big Apple.

A guy like me doesn't wander
Manhattan alone by himself often;
if he does, it's probably got something
to do with a woman or what she's driven
him to, in this case Puerto Rican Rum--
the same kind slugged by one of the two
grandfathers I never met, ironically not
the Hispanic one.

It was well before midnight, for the record.
Thankfully the liquor stores were still open--
one advantage of staying in such a dump of a city.

"You want anything while I'm out?" I slurred.
She shook her head from the bathroom floor.

That one step in her building tripped me up a bit.
It wouldn't've been so bad if I'd stumbled down
the stairs, the outcome being the same
for all intents and purposes.
My strategic boxer choice for the evening
no longer mattered.

The street didn't smell as strongly of
spoiled ethnic food and urine
in that sangria state. My non-descript black T
preserved my anonymity. I was glad
I'd foregone my typical thift store shirt.
The ones who could read might've figured out
that I was a tourist if I'd made that mistake.
I'd wanted to look presentable in case we went out.
That wasn't happening anymore, not at the rate
things were going. All I wanted was another cocktail
and some peace and quiet. Maybe another
beautifully out-of-key song to lull me to sleep.

Hell's Kitchen. What a perfect waste of a name.

A well-kept homeless man was haggling with
the Muslim shop owner as I staggered in to the narrow
closet of a liquor store.

"Come on, buddy. I'm a regular here. All I have is
three bucks. Give it to me, I'll bring you the last dollar tomorrow."

The flask of rotgut was already in the paper bag that'd
eventually become its curbside coffin. We all knew
it was only a matter of time.

"Alright, but you better pay me tomorrow," said the
slightly less brown man behind the counter
in his cliche sing-song Middle Eastern accent.
It was no stretch to say that in some point in time
soldiers wearing our nation's flag on their shoulders
had fired something at this man's countrymen;
now he was playing God with an alcoholic, the
American Dream gone awry. Tables turn quickly
when the battlefield comes home.
Still, it was good to see he had a heart.

"Thanks, brother. I swear I'll be back." He left
the store clutching the paper bag like a long-lost friend
that'd probably kill him in the end.

"Bottle of Bacardi, please," I said when the clerk
had closed the register.

He reached for the bigger one
but I knew the night wouldn't last quite that long.

"No, the smaller one."

I handed him a twenty. He slipped the bottle
into a black plastic bag and slid my change
across the counter towards me.
I scooped up the coins and pushed the dollar bill
back in his direction.

"Take his dollar. He's good now, alright?"

A smirk fought its way to the surface of his skin.
Three beads of sweat rolled down his neck
to his soaked collar. If the clock on the wall
wasn't digital I probably would've heard it tick.

"OK, my friend," he laughed, both of us knowing
he'd still hit that sorry bastard up for his loan
the next day. "You have a good night."

The pavement felt softer on the walk back to her place.
Part of me was shocked when she buzzed me in
to let me back upstairs.

"You alright, Babe?"

"Yeah. Almost. Yeah."

The ice had already melted in the glass
by the time I downed her cocktail an hour later.
Only one of us was good at nursing.
I didn't mind, it saved me a trip to the kitchen.

We fell asleep once the skeletons stopped rattling.

Somehow the city
became big enough
for the two of us again.


The irony propels itself.

Because the murderer fears the sting of the knife
the thief knows who lurks on the fire escape
and the cheater sees what's up the actor's sleeve:

That's why he won't sleep tonight.


Lease, with option to buy:

a nice place in the West 80s--
the kind where you wouldn't mind
parking overnight, even with
a truckload of borrowed tools

though I still miss my alternate spelling
of your name

rising to rinse the undercarriage afterwards
and honing the dealbreaker hex.

Miss Mary Mack all dressed in black
with silver ink all down her back:

we do our best work in the dark
in lieu of a truth that scares us.


You can choose your friends, too.

A barrage of phone calls
from hired gun uncles--
"Call her back," they'd say
in more than those words
if I'd answer the rings
of the artillery;
but I know better
than to pick up
and tell the patriarch
I have no need for blood
right now
unless it's on my sheets.

Currently reading:
"The Selected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers".



And that's you
still smoking in the outfield
coughing up a lung

as back home on the ranch
a fly rests upon its swatter
rubbing thin elbows together
in quiet rebellion.

Somewhere in the periphery
there's a man making neighbors'
pets disappear. That's time spent
far more wisely, friend.

Let's bathe in our discontent's winter
before the blackshirts come
to take the remainder
of our intangibles away.

It's a movie that no one left here
has the heart to see, vignettes or none.

Currently reading:
"The English Patient" by Michael Ondaatje.


It's a cruel slap to his perfectly trimmed beard
the way they still play
his Infomercials
despite his sudden death
the narcotics found in his system
well hushed.

He's not yelling through the TV screen anymore
and neither am I.

Let us let the dogs sleep
ignoring the useless products
lonely housewives don't need.

I can clean my own mess, thank you.



Maria Dolores is her name
that second one meaning 'pain'
and it's fitting, all considered.

She was burned out of several
low-rent apartments
back in the Fifties and Sixties
I've heard
but somehow the family
still has that suitcase
of bent-corner, sepia photos intact.

Who was the one to bang on the doors?
Who was the one to choke on the smoke?
Was it her brothers or mother
yanking those snapshots
and portraits from soon-to-burn closets?

The way that she's framed the best of the bunch
answers that question complete.

At one time in your life, Ma
you had your priorities straight.


Sonny vs. Mario vs. MV

Then there was the time
we were half-drunk in my room
sharing not-so-secret secrets
while trying to be coy.

She was sitting Indian style
in front of my tallest bookshelf.
I loved the inanimate object far more.

"I keep money stashed in one
of those books right in front of you,"
I blurted with a sad sense of pride
in my oh-so-tortured savings method.

The truth was that I used to
keep a hundred-and-a-half in there
but would always forget whether or not
I'd used it or not when I'd flip through
the pages and find them empty.
In an attempt to organize my system
I left a piece of paper in there
to write the date and amount of money
hidden within the binding to help me
keep track; that didn't seem to work
for some unknown reason, either.
In reality I'd given up on the emergency money
philosophy since I couldn't keep track of it
and it usually wound up being spent
halfway through a drunken night
on something that was very temporary--
almost as temporary as that romantic endeavour
would turn out to be.

"Can you guess which one?" I asked.
I wanted to know if she could figure it out based on the title
which I naturally found very appropriate.
Well, it was more than that--
I wanted to see if she understood my way of thinking
or not. That's all I've ever really sought in another:
understanding, even when I don't understand myself.
A tall order for a short temper.
I guess that's why I vent here instead.

Her hand moved from left to right across the backs
of the books, stopping in front of the wrong one.
I forget which book it was now, even after glancing to my right
but that doesn't matter anyway.
It was wrong. Dead wrong.

"No, no. That's not it!" I pleaded with fate.
It seemed that none of them would ever
pull that sword from that stone.
" 'The Terrible Hours' is where I keep it. As in
I'd need money in times of despair. It makes
perfect sense. Don't you get it?"

She didn't. She just looked at me with those
big doe eyes as if to let me down easy, her head
cocked to one side like a confused puppy.
I was crazy and expected someone else to be, too.
One would have to be to go down with this ship.
That's what that book was about, actually; a submarine
that sank to the bottom of the Atlantic
with its crewmen trapped inside.
They got them out, otherwise it wouldn't have made
for very good sales at the bookstores.
Most people still need happy endings
and though I hate to admit it
I'm hoping for one myself.

So I'm asking you now:
Are you crazy enough?


Eating the windfall apples again.

She's on a couch and she's losin' it
her voice trying to sound profound
but only making a bigger fool of itself
than the worthless writer did with the words
she's stumbling through tonight.
The middle syllable of a five-dollar adjective
is accented improperly, over-stressed
for an emphasis that isn't there.
In a fit of self-conscious floundering
she repeats the offending phrase
just barely aloud at first, then for
her sole intended listener to hear.
He's sprawled out on an adjacent
piece of secondhand furniture, his mind less
attentive to the orator than mine
though I'm fifteen feet away.
I cringe in mild horror, glad that
they're not the muddled cords
that'll someday lull my kids to sleep.
More the cruel critic than erudite ear
I march up the creaking steps
to talk trash about another one
who will never taste the wrath.
"I can love them," I reassure myself
in the inner tone I've selfishly come to love,
"as long as their books don't clutter my shelves..."
and the rabbit hides under the baseboard
while the butcher wipes sweat from his brow
well-knowing that most people, himself included
were born to sound fake in the air.


Sin mi voz.

On a borrowed plaid blanket
and planted grass
betwixt a river
and it's long-dead discoverer
lay two olive lovers
gazing into rough-hewn sculptures
whose sole remaining tests
be those of time, pressure being
pre-determined and defeated

He doesn't notice his hand entwined
in that lazy lock as the aperture opens;
it hereby makes his case

as he now prepares to sleep
unmentionably and alone, wiling away
a countdown just as sacred
as his vow to make
warding off dog tones
a special goal of his.

And it's love.
And was love, even in that big city.
And he thanks God she didn't choose
to learn
until now.

The first thing I did after reloading the shotgun.

Lost a bet with myself and shaved my head
but I'm growing it out again
like Conor used to sing about
back when we were single.
I was standing in a highway rest stop
and instantly knew which man in the crowd
that long-haired broad would walk to
after leaving the ladies' room.
It wasn't me.

Let's get something else straight--
He didn't die for you or me;
He did it so some lonely misanthropes
could write a book, a fairytale
to help them sleep at night.
I've found a better method.
"Mine is a jealous god," the children shall
recite as they dance around the architect
to the tune of a baker's dozen.
"Take it easy, or any way you can get it,"

and we heard the Grand Finale
from the safety of my room
for a reason.

"Let the loser have the last word, Son,"
a welder once told me.
Fast windshield wipers used to
turn his hungover stomach, too.
Those days are done for him now, but
I can still smell the whiskey and women
on his beard if there's no breeze.

Some can't handle the mixture of hot and cold.
This is not for them.

Currently reading:
"Animal Farm" by George Orwell.