It's a good thing
I wasn't born
a woman.

To be expected
to throw a baby shower
for a friend or relative
the same year as my miscarriage
or abortion--
they don't make a bourbon
strong enough for that.

To be slowly, unsurely
entered by a man
who barely knows himself--
what can be more frightening?

To bleed for days
without death;
to live for decades
without a level table;
to stare at false perfection
dictated by children's dolls--
such standards would crush
a lazy drunk like me.

Tonight I take my whiskey
like unholy communion
thanking long-dead cells
that met to form a louse.

With hair unkempt I'll sleep it off
and wake to imperfection.


Eastern Standard

The hands read correctly.
Her living room is right.

"Did you fix the time?" she asks
like such a thing is feasible.

"No," he says
with grapefruit on his breath
and ruffled hair.
"Twice a day
even broken clocks 
can pull it off,"
as he tugs away the blanket
they've been hiding in
all weekend.

The forecast called for snow
though windows seem so far.



"Leave it for the Emperor
of Doggerel," they threatened.
Coke off college toilet tanks.
Clinging to an era.

The angel wings on shoulder blades
you slept between were flawed:
heavy-handed shading
not centered on her spine.

Wine obscured her recollection
of the time she grabbed your hand
walking home on Main Street
both too gone to go.

But she always wiped her makeup
to spare your favorite pillows
and she understood innately
why you left her for a chance.

Currently reading:
"The Picture of Dorian Gray" by Oscar Wilde.



His mother sends a message:
something vague about
the status of feral cats she feeds--
how they're freezing
in this record-breaking February--
and a birthday, coming like
taxes; asking of his plans.

"I've got somewhere to be,"
he says, leaving out key details
that imply his girlfriend's insides.
"And besides, I haven't seen you
in three months. How's Monday

She retaliates in form
throwing guilt likes balls of shit.
It doesn't matter.
His family's changed
to men who pull wrenches
and a kid who still pisses his pants
when he's excited.

"Spend it with your cats,"
and he means it
feigning nothing.

There are homes
without an address.
There is love
that doesn't break.



Shamefaced and gelded
the aspiring numerologist
drowns himself in fever dreams
Rivers That Have No Names
and the milky discontent
of a dozen ex-lovers
poised for cruci-fiction.

(You'll conjure yourself
in here somewhere
so I beg you
to refrain.)


Noble Slings and Arrows

I used to play guitar;
sold most of mine to strangers.
Now I lend lines to the faceless.
It seems a better fit and pays about the same.

My favorite chord has mostly been A Minor (Am).
I've written songs around it. 
People left the room.
I plucked its notes in solitude.
People left my life.
It came to be my friend.
It came to be my life, for awhile.

Some would compare it to E Minor.
They'd be wrong again.
A Minor requires more digits.
A Minor necessitates more work.
Isn't that more admirable?
Besides, even lifted fingers find it just fine.

A Minor only uses five guitar strings.
It says more with less.
Isn't that the aim?
That's another one you don't answer.
I loan the lines--remember?

Maybe you play already.
Maybe you'll learn someday.
The next time that you strum that chord let it be for me.


Cold War Carcinoma

All points west--
The women come
from sunsets
and tongue sex

too much of life dictated
by ersatz stunt doubles
and dry Irish pussy.

For fuck-stains:
hydrogen peroxide.

A mess of succulent sin and semen.

The only feat harder than finding her
is leaving her in the morning.



A ball of gray fur caught the corner of my eye and bounced across the linoleum without the aid of traction. I picked it up, palmed it, and showed it to my father.

"Get rid of that before she sees it," the old man said, referring to his skittish wife reading in the living room. She was from the city. Mice were miniature versions of giant subway rats to her. To me he was an unexpected guest, but it wasn't my place to extend an invitation in the home where I grew up. I was a visitor in a museum that housed a separate story. There was no bed, no dresser--but the heat pipes sounded the same.

I opened the porch door and tossed him toward the yard, the arc his body made like a living howitzer round. It was a quick response to an old man's request, something done under the assumption that benevolent actions yield happy endings. It was before I learned that only cats always land on their feet.

I slid into boots after dinner, taking out a bag of trash as a convincing cover. The mouse was lying motionless. It'd escaped the trap in the pantry, but not my lazy liberation. I winced with executioner's guilt and tossed the corpse into the bushes, hoping my kid brother wouldn't find it.

There was much to learn on mercy. There was ice cream for dessert.

Lover Fell Late

Nose against cheek
her mouth smells sourly of me.
I rock her like my mother did
as we lie, digesting breakfast
thinking of good names
for the children
we've prevented.

There's a blister
filled with blood
that will rub off
with some work.
There's a time
for being stubborn.
There's a blender
in my chest.

Late is always better.
Great Ones don't look back.
Taste the wine of yesteryear
and deserve it every day.


The Drawbacks of Having a Vivid Imagination

Faces change, but
the Dream's the same:
-Pistols won't fire
-Cars won't start
-Legs too numb to run
from personified subconscious.

Waking in ripped sheets
to dial fathers, lovers
"It isn't real,"
you tell yourself.
Still, you load for bear.

Currently reading:
"The Dark Tower:  The Complete Concordance" by Robin Furth.



I'd lodge merciful lead in him if I could.
The dog's been hobbling, nearly bedridden for a year.
My father's wife won't put him down.
He pisses and shits on a pad in the kitchen.
He yelps and whines with no goal in mind.
It's horrendous.
Someone should make it look like an accident.
Instead they thread their needles blindly.

"They're collectibles."
"What's that mean?"
"Don't bang them."
It's useless.
The kid will do what most boys do.
My Hess trucks are six times his age.
Somehow they survived one childhood.
This second bout will kill them before long.
They were safely retired in the cellar for decades.
"Why's this one missing a tire?"
"Because it's twenty-five years old."

The ankle-biter whimpers in the kitchen.
I pick a bone from tonight's steak out of the trashcan.
It's too big for the wounded Chihuahua to lift.
I trade it for a smaller one.
He pulls it into his bed and stops crying.
The miserable pooch almost looks happy.

I hear a collision of plastic on plastic in the living room.
A wince hits me until my brother laughs.
My muscles loosen to a smirk.
Nothing lasts forever.
Nothing is collectible.
The only love that matters is the type that doesn't hurt.