A rap sheet.
A rent cheque.

A library card.
A union card.
Birthday cards on the refrigerator.

A credit report.
A driver's license.
Unsolicited mail-order catalogs.

Dental records.
Planned Parenthood bills.
An insurance ID that works sometimes.

But the only thing that proves
that this life was ever lived
is a photo from five years ago:

Two stubborn lovers
naked from the waist up
laughing in the yellowed sheets
of a queen-size hotel bed
on the Maine-New Hampshire border
with no knowledge of the ending.

For that I will save documents.
For that I'll play their game.


By Proxy

Charlie opens his door
to a man he's never met.
"You're late," Charlie tells him
and laughs
as expected.
The man doesn't flinch.
A gold watch
from Chinatown
weighs down his wrist.

Outside, on Main Street
a woman tries three times
to parallel park, but fails.
Her car speeds off down the block
in search of another spot.

"Do I have time for a smoke?"
Charlie asks
tapping the unbuttoned breast pocket
above his heart.
The stranger yawns
tired of his typecast role
without an agent to blame.
He produces a pack of Lucky Strikes
and lights two, handing one
to the man across the threshold.

Charlie, unaware of the rules
takes a free drag and waits for words
from Sleep's tired cousin.
They don't come.

"Making the rounds?"
Charlie asks while exhaling.
The man in borrowed clothing
pulls long and hard
at his cigarette.
Its cherry lengthens at once
and turns to ash
which he flicks
on Charlie's unsuspecting doormat.

His mouth finally opens.
Perfect teeth.
"Time's up."

But the kid is faster on the draw than most
and no one's ever thought
to shoot Him in the knee.
The stranger chokes
on the embers of his cigarette
as Charlie slams the door.

"Jehovah," Charlie shrugs
to the woman
curled up on his couch.
"Where were we?"

Currently reading:
"Chump Change" by Dan Fante.


Bachelor's Ball

A sadist would make this
some problem of math
questioning the Sun's angle
as it moves up his legs
warming more of his lazy skin
slowly, by the fraction of the inch
helping him to remember the sensation
after what felt like his life's longest winter

but he's no sadist
so instead he stares down
at the face rising and falling
framed by naked thighs
eyes closed, lips welded
recognizing this as a symptom
not a cause.


Swinging for a Ring

In names like Love
she bares her breasts
to strangers on the Internet
so that her knight with bedroom eyes
won't have to weave his web of lies
to bring home strays
and feed the beast
cursed by sunsets in the East.

There are few creatures pitied less
than birds on roadsides, broken necks.


Not for Sport for Once

She rides me
as she has for years--
a cold offering
to an idol we'll never share.
"That's a new one,"
I observe between thrusts
and the setting sun.
The ink is fresh;
the body isn't.
she's more beautiful
than in high school.

She shivers in affirmation
and pleasure that's forbidden.

Black text.
Two dates.
Her ribcage.
Foreign epitaph.
Beautifully under
her bra strap.
Her grand-someone
left last year.

But it's false:
We don't die
all at once.
The French say
a little at a time
and they're right.

There's a fine line
between man's laughter
and manslaughter.

Currently reading:
"The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein.


Crossing the Double Yellow

Longer days with looming light
giving reason not to sleep
though he's ginned and catatonic.
Spitting on streets was illegal once.

A mother confides her woes
asks her only son to pray.
He can't lift words to gods
he's sworn off like friends in debt.

His stance on the masses:
Brake when they're passing.
There's no reason now for rushing
to other worlds than this.

Conspirators cast out
like merchants from the temple.
It was comfortable and easy
like missionary
like taking one on the starboard side
like her tenderest of parts
that tasted of grapefruit
and are gone now.

And are gone.