The Traps of Small-Town Dating

This week's toll necessitates the oak
but the only seat in the house
is right next to another botched attempt.
You take it anyway
because if you don't
then you've lost twice.
There are worse fates
than sitting next to the most beautiful woman
in the room who's pretending not to notice.
You could be laying in a hospital burn unit
or your socks could be wet.

Of all people
she's with the biggest fraud in town
laughing at his overplayed jokes
writing notes on napkins
shoulder dancing on stools to the band
you wish you'd cordially ignored.
The first time her arm brushes against yours
you think she's rubbing it in
but by the fourth offense you realize
it's that you're not even there.
You could tell her how much
that latest painting moved you
a moment captured in a medium
respectfully out of your grasp
but you settle for watching her buy
their round of beer
and take the consolation
in knowing you wouldn't
have let that happen.
You wash your aspirations
of chivalrous nobility
down with one last swig
clap for your friends
descending from the stage
and walk back to the guillotine
where you pay to lay your head.

On your way home
a handful of stars
maintains your gaze
and you remember
that you met her
at a barbecue
where you caught fireflies.
One of you's still trying.


Bastard's Apology

To Whom It May Concern:

I'm writing in regards to a shower curtain
your company produces and distributes
Saturday Knight Ltd.
100% PEVA
Wipe clean with a damp cloth
Made in China
[Spanish and French translations, respectively]).

While it "makes" the bathroom
with its novelty nature
and has provided hours of efficient
multitasking in the name of education
I find it necessary to voice a concern.

There's a small country
between Pakistan
and Tajikistan
without a label.
Everyone deserves a name.

[Oh God, Olivia--
I'm sorry.
If we had a place for you 
right now
I swear on my life
you'd be here

Please devise a plan
to alter future runs.




Ahab's Lament

The vain do not suicide.
The meek never live.
Those who bless most
have nothing to give.

Caught archers lose fingers;
trapped thieves, robbed of hands.
Brash fornicators
meet higher demands.

The whoremaster's humbled.
Prepare the harpoons.
Here come more allies
to suck on his wounds.

So march from the gallows.
Rise from the Chair.
Heaven's tomorrow.
See you all there.


An Antephialtic Sabbath

I remember Sunday afternoons. They've been crystallized in brain cells, impossible to repeat.

Church was a prerequisite for lounging on the couch with Dad. Mom couldn't get me to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich like normal kids did, but I'd wolf down sardines and Saltines with my sole male role model. Childhood is a time of emulation in its most comedic form. Life gets more perverse as the cans and communion cups pile up through the years. It seemed that "Stand By Me" played on Channel 11 every other month. That adolescent quest became a form of pop-culture folklore. Rays of orange sunlight would pour in at low angles through the windows and all would be well in the world, at least until the school bus made its rounds on Monday morning.

Fast-forward fifteen years and the imagery gets bleak. A man without a father fumbling through young adulthood. Unchecked debauchery of Gomorrahan proportions. Hangovers so bad that legs are nearly useless. Sunday afternoons in bed with sour whiskey on the breath and sour women driving home from an evening of regrets. Sleep is the best option and water can't work fast enough. The words of long-dead men fill the few waking hours until the time comes to drop the novels and pretend to be fit to pull wrenches on Monday.

Now they're not so polarized. God is arguably dead, but we understand the intended purpose and find our own replacements. Father figures abound and brothers conjure themselves in the strangest of ways and places. Protein comes in multiple forms, some more appealing than others. Bottles are reserved for the coming of company. Dirty laundry never goes away, but its washing guarantees a break from the race. River Phoenix is now dead in reality as well, but at least we had him for a little awhile. Now, more than ever, the back ends of guns and pens feel like home.

There's good news for most species: The sun has not burned out yet.

Currently reading:
"Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley.


With Benefits

I tried to sneak between her ribs.
Her thighs have done just fine.
I'd love to be the man she calls
when family's on her mind.
I'll never play the song she needs.
It's me or stranger swine.
I'll eat her like an elephant:
One bite at a time.

Currently reading:
"Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley.


Frightening Words From the Lips of Children

"Mommy and Jesus made me this scarf."


Zero to the Left

To rape a sage who lives by signs.
To hope she doesn't notice
the mascara on the pillow.
To speak now of lassitude
seems a trite endeavor.

The Morning Star's aroused
by talking his way into temples.

Had I known what you meant by "never"
I would have acted the same.


Another Crock

"Snowed in," he sighs to the showerhead.
"I should make soup," he says to the soap.
That would've happened three years ago 
but now green sprouts grow from the onions 
hanging in baskets they searched for and bought.

He'll finish and rinse and try to repeat;
trim eyes from the spuds, thaw ancient stock.
None of what stays in her wake is malign.
He knows what ingredients stick to his ribs.

Curently reading:
"American Gun:  A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms" by Chris Kyle (RIP).