Open Season

Not old enough to buy a 6-pack
he's pacing in and out
of the streetlight's yellow ring
by the time I arrive around the corner
behind the bar where ice is melting
in my unattended gin.
Yelling at life's unfair lessons
more than the foes before him
he rips a rag in half to cover his knuckles.

I've never said two words to the kid
prior to tonight, but I know him
since I've been him
so I know my words mean as little
as the fact that I'll walk him home
still shaking, adrenaline dumped
in our stomachs.

Currently reading:
"Poetry East", Number 86 (Autumn 2015).


Blood Work

Unexpected company
comes and lasts
like Caesar's tariffs.
He almost has her shooed
back through the door
with vagabond hands
and silverdipped alibis
when she makes way
past the frame
to pick up her son's pistol.
There isn't time to scold
and she tenses under pressure
so he plants his perch
crossing fingers and toes
in a perversion of faith
outside the cathedral.

"This is heavy," she declares
lifting the chrome six-shooter
from a marble-topped table
he'd bought from a local junk merchant.

"Stainless," he says, ready to swoop
should her thumb get ambitious
and head for the hammer.

"Is it loaded?"
Her face turns gray
the jovial smirk reneged
as the whites of her eyes grow.

"What good would it be
if it wasn't?" he explains
considering confession
to crimes uncommitted.

The .45 back on his furniture
her hand reaches now
for the brass knob instead.
"See you next week," she says
as his mind drifts to red meds
and comatose slatterns.

It matters not to some
if those who must suffer
suffer less
but a gentleman expects
to kill cleanly.


For Lack of Combat Hospital

Watching grainy clips
of broken-nailed debauchery.
The actress is familiar.
The mattress is the same.

Shaky-handed camerawork
exceeds the poor direction.
The script that wrote itself
loops like alibis in hell.

Bracelets clang and jangle
for a score without an orchestra.
She pulls her hair behind an ear.
An artist at her best.

Laying on a flank
lethality in hand
until is milked an offering.
Stalactites hang
like dish soap.


Lessons in Convalescence

It was one of those late-night cigarettes
where you're hungry
and get a thin layer
of saliva on the filter
so it never sticks right to your lips
and nothing about it's enjoyable
except for its end.

He'd considered endings
for months, bleeding through bandages
kissing hands and shaking babies
in an effort to take the edge off.
The sheets changed for scandalous reasons.
He'd dealt with his transgressions
like a cat burying shit
while foulweather acquaintances
solicited for pills.
No one left gets it, he hummed
as he jingled his keychain around in his hand
pursuing the one
for the front door of his building.

It didn't appear.
He thought about Japanese soldiers
falling onto blades
equally forged of honor and steel.
It was well after midnight
on a Thursday.
No neighbors were returning
who could help him get upstairs.
He walked around back to the parking lot
but his car key was missing, too.
He thought about necromancy
and his grandfather's rifle cabinet.
And then he kept on walking.

Don't be alarmed, but
the rent's now two months overdue
they towed his car five weeks ago
and police knocked down his door
when the stench of his rotting trash can
was mistaken for the odor of corpses.
The landlords aren't happy
and tacked the repair bill to his rent
muttering of a security deposit.

There are rumors hydroplaning
through circles feigning friendship;
southward sweeping seas;
the spiral down to heaven.

If you see him
tell him I get it.
Home is where you're wanted.

Currently reading:
"Suttree" by Cormac McCarthy.


An Ounce of Gauze and Gumption

Being unable to walk
has shown me where I stand
in eyes with whom I sat
to talk
when others ran.


Designated Hitter

Lifting couch cushions
in search of bygone artifacts
I find a handful of change
among the ephemera.
Aware it's not mine
since I pay debts with plastic
I wonder what poor dame
left her quarters, dimes
and dignity
at the end of this regrettable ride.

Like a carnie scanning for money
shaken from roller coaster patrons
I palm the spoils of brief entertainment
and toss it into the jar on my dresser.
It's a slick business, a tight ship
a shimmering panacea we run.
Step right up and swing that sledge.
The endorphins will last until breakfast.



Unable to master
originality either
she told me
she didn't want to be a poem--
"Relegated", she meant
without saying it.

"So don't," I could have answered;
or, "Me neither."
The two-syllable replies
are innumerable
in the shower
months later
with a cocktail nested
in the soap dish.

I've represented us
as the mockingbirds
we are
mimicking others
and better versions of ourselves
with virtuous intentions
bound to slaughter strangers
while mothers weep in evening
for the sin of repetition.

Currently reading:
"Spoon River Poetry Review" 41.1 (Summer 2016).


The Perils of Dating the Artsy Type

They'd make such great co-conspirators
crafting garland out of my guts
but the fact here is that
waxing candles with fat
culled from lovers
means that they're nuts.


The Only Time I'll Type a Poem About Politics (Though I'm Not Hard Up for Material Yet)

Whatever the outcome
whichever evil prevails
whoever shames our nation greater
when moving into the White House--

We, as a country divided by media moguls
will get what we deserve
(in real-time, streaming live).



When's the last time
you were yelled at
by the goon in the guard tower
drinking white wine?
Maybe too long.
Maybe never.
Maybe this is your lucky night.

What I have to tell you
is fool's gold 'til you burn it.
What I'm here to share
can't be stored in silos
for a later date
another life
a second chance at rapture.
The blood on the pages--
Don't fight it.
I've willed the man in the kilt
into coming;
forewent the aphrodisiac
and grabbed your gods by their throats.

All attractions are fatal.
A C-section mother knows best.
What made man modern
was the ability to make fire
bought and sold for two dollars
at the nearest filling station.

We sing our dark harmonies
trying not to touch off the acetylene tanks
with our shattered high notes
as the straw boss makes his paces.

It's about time you steal photos
from the albums cloaked in dust.
The hands have crossed redemption.
All that tics will toc.