A Proclivity for Arson and Making Fast Friends

like a glove.
like a leaf.
as pistachios.
with sore strangers.

A lie is a lie
no matter the size
Chantilly Lace
a pretty face
and other things
not worth repeating.
A billboard
en route to work
said "Blue suits you,"
but not as well
as a smile.

Say "Cheese."


But None of Them Feels Like Home

Speak not to me of addiction
or the taming of the shrew
romancing of a rock
or a swamp made in the sheets
with mascara on the pillows
and bricks in lieu of headboard
that never seem to stop them
from clawing at the wall.

I talk until I shouldn't
then drink until I can't.
What's a hardened criminal
but a man self-justified?
Face, without the body;
body, sans the soul;
spirited psychosis
runs through dainty veins.

This boor can work with none of these
sodomized aspirations
so sleeps instead with voodoo dolls
indulging in Palm Sunday.
Remember, kids
if nothing else
the lie within the rubber.
No Strings Attached--
there's no such thing
when speaking of a junkie.


Torpedo On the Road

There are mornings
when I must remind myself
I am not Dimitri Karamazov.
Or Ivan. Or Alyosha. Or any of those
Brothers Dostoyevsky dreamed up.
Or am I?

It won't pay to correct them:
It's not a new me they're seeing--
it's the old one, with friends
and the same wanton desire
to decorate the mahogany
with crumpled dollar bills

and that impeccable timing
which tugs at ventricles
like when a nicotine fix
calls me to the sidewalk
right on cue to see my ex drive by
shaking her fists, regardless.
But now you know better
than to blame the cigarette
the clock, and most of all
the skirts:
It's you at the helm;
you and some greedy ghosts.

So what do we do?
We hang prints they gave us
many moons prior
to decipher what they saw
in a spark bound for gas.
We pitch perfect double-headers
and choke down rotten grapes
while recalling glory days
unscathed by sucking bottles
with flame arrestors on them.
Now a stiff wind makes our heart jump

and some nights
truth be told
the rest of us wants to follow.

What do you know of being unhinged?
Of having a compass that doesn't point north?
We didn't notice our shoes missing.
You didn't notice our wave.

"...As we forgive those who trespass against us."


On Earth As It Is In Heaven

Maybe it's the angle
of the setting August sun
or the hole in my shoe
that let loose the tonic
or the bummed cigarettes
that go one way

though more than likely
it had to do
with all the hands held
on the sidewalk down Main
and the sundresses begging
to find a floor soon.

Saint Peter and I
have one thing in common:
We're both sick of standing
outside Paradise.

The Strong, Silent Type

It wasn't on the battlefield that Napoleon lost his war. It was on the wretched roadway.

He decides to break form by not riding the right lane to pass the cars stacked up for the left hand turn when approaching the red light. It's Friday, the last commute of a long week, and some things must fall in naturally. A wait is not always the worst of things. Besides, he hasn't stopped to watch the heat lines radiate from the tops of sunbaked cars in some time; not quite smelling the roses, but akin. Even his right foot which is usually prepared to pivot from one pedal to the other in the blink of an eye is slow to respond during this savored rush hour ride. The gap between his truck and the bumper ahead of him opens up steadily without his boot leaving the brake. Hesitant leisure is taken advantage of yet again as a car rips into the newly formed space.

"Unbelievable," his passenger says along with some colorful expletives.

The statement rolls around in the driver's skull. Not really, he thinks to himself. His uncle used to tell him that the only stupid question is the one you don't ask, but there are some conversations not worth the breath spent; that is, until, the right nerve is pinched.

A prison warden's grin spreads in the rear-view mirror of the offending party, the one that says "You're mine, I've got the better of you." Nerve pinched. Mood altered. Tongue unleashed.

The driver tosses what's left of his butt after taking one more drag. It bounces within inches of his new intended target, a precursor of the barrage to come.

"But in this guy's case it's understandable," he says while exhaling the last of his menthol. "He's clearly over-compensating for something in his shorts with the jet black Mustang convertible. Middle-aged, bald spot, poor driving etiquette. Take a look at that yellow ID badge hanging from his mirror. He feels the need to advertise what his life's amounted to. I can read the word 'SUPERVISOR' from ten feet away."

The Mustang creeps ahead a few feet. Its driver must feel the sting.

"And get a load of that vanity plate," the sobering orator states with conviction as the newly revealed lower portion of the sports car incriminates ever onward. "The man has the audacity to proclaim himself the 'NIGHTOWL' as if his position in middle management wasn't enough of an ego boost. There he is, waiting for the sun to set so he can swoop in on God-knows-what. The man needs help."

It's clear the rant is over. His passenger turns his head forty-five degrees, almost afraid to lock eyes with his rudely awakened cohort, and comments. "You just summed up thirty years of therapy in thirty seconds. That guy's a prick."

"It wasn't rocket science. It takes one to know one. He's a cliche on wheels."

As the light turns green all three men are propelled forward into whatever awaits the rest of their weekends: questions from women that can't be easily answered, lingering headaches for various reasons, a few bottles in which to hide. Monday morning will prove that it still isn't over. The blue collar boogie passes the time, but he rightfully observes for a living.



almost an "it"
stops in the middle
of the intersection
light as green as envious eyes
to pick up some trinket
left on the asphalt
but puts it down gently
after deeming it useless
then wanders on in our headlights
headphones loosely dangling from his ears
sweat pouring from the recesses in his temples
where the curly black hair retreated
like his loved ones
long ago
before the cheap cigarettes
like the one plastered
to the corner of his trembling mouth
became his only hope
and all I can think
as I step on the gas
and cut through the night
"That'll be me someday,"
if it isn't already.


Just Eat the Sausage, Don't Ask How It's Made

Who wouldn't sleep better
with a nine on their nightstand?
Who wouldn't get lost
with a cock for a compass?
Good from far, far from good
like a pack of candy cigarettes.
I'll give my judges
five sincere words:
Tempt not a desperate man.

All roads lead to roam
and the grimace of remembrance.
Mr. Hyde holds office hours
to ignore the undercurrent.
Cut loose the light infantry
move on to heavy hitters
when your tea comprised
of liquor and liquor
exudes alacrity.

The night started off
like a three-legged dog.
Hell hath no scorn
like a slam-pig's revenge.
Ulterior motives
exist in the lot.
I don't want to hear it.
We bleed just as often.

Have a nice trip.
See you next fall.
Backhanded compliments
send young men west.
Dear Saint Anthony
please come around.
Something's lost
that must be found.


The Wet Look

A boatload of Merchant Marines
returned with the tide late this morning.
Parents and lovers lined up for miles
with "Welcome Home" signs and broad sun umbrellas.
Cadets in crisp white descended the ramp
to greet sweaty loved ones they'd missed for six months.

My bird's eye view from the third storey stairwell
keyed in on a chiseled young man on his knee
with a black velvet box and a beauty before him.
My heart stopped to witness a moment unstolen.

Her wavy green sun dress met curled auburn hair
at a set of tanned shoulders of which he had dreamed
while floating abroad, embarking on life
which'd be dedicated to captains and seas.
Her hand touched her lips as he whispered the words
that only the worthy ever should hear.
The drone of the crowd and the tools on the job
drowned out the exchange of vows I hold dear.

A small hopeful corner inside of my chest
lunged to the edge to yell at her, "Yes!"
but I didn't have to succumb to that act.
The telltale embrace told me she'd agreed.
Victories happen on every square inch
of sidewalk and sod if you know how to look.
I felt my mouth widen, vicariously happy
though I'm sure that my eyes
matched the hue of her dress.

His sister came running, rounded the corner
and screamed when she saw the ring on her finger.
His mother strolled over to welcome a daughter
and sighed with relief while the boat emptied out.
There were nods of heads.
There were pairs of wet eyes.
Oh God, there were wet eyes all over the scene.

My partner approached with a hammer in hand.
It wasn't my turn.
I sank back to work.