The Great I Am

Our creator of Sunday mornings
should be kissed by prosperity
given an island off Cuba
or receive a free parking voucher for life.
(We don't speak of long-gone virgins any longer.)
In the meantime I sit in this symphony
of highlighted dust particles
floating through my living room air
the sun's angle sharp enough
to accentuate every missed sweep.
No one's here to judge my lax housekeeping
the limp I've walked with for weeks
too stubborn to get that ankle checked out
or the fact that I've let the kitchen faucet leak freely
despite my claimed profession out of doors.
The Latin espresso I've brewed
tastes like the heart of my dead grandmother
singing church songs to me in Spanish
before I'd picked a language of my own.
My father has news that he's neglected to share
the last two times I've called
so I'm bracing myself as best as I can
while these charlatan snowflakes
swirl around me on the couch
in a safely sterile world
where words like 'cancer'
and 'abandon' aren't allowed to exist--
But damn this coffee's good
and that first butt will be better.
I think I'll hit the park with a book
and pretend to read
while searching for a woman
walking her dog with a bag in her hand
who's as sick of filling the void with shit
as I am.
Ain't life grand?


Need a Lung, Too?

Thrown together as the day fades
we encounter fellow time bandits.
Don't ask about the weather:
The sun's dying.
The air's thinning.
The flood's coming
for all of us this time.

Bumming a smoke
from a soul who was a stranger
20 seconds or 20 days ago
even though your own pack's
in your pocket
is the best way to get closer
to whatever God who dreams us.

What's said will be forgotten.
Don't trifle with semantics.
Taste the chosen poison
of another for five minutes
since the seating after this life
is undoubtedly assigned.


Ode to a Union Pipeline Hand

They cut those inner seams
at the bottoms of their jeans
to accommodate their cowboy boots
since the real ones cost extra
and per diem ain't enough up north.

Town cops don't know what to do with them
when their gypsy ways lead to late-night altercations
in the motor home parks and dimly lit dives
where they spend their shortened nights
and overtime on suds
shoving singles in the jukebox
in search of country-western.
Once the paperwork's complete
they're locked in cells for an hour or two--
harmless, hard-working vagabonds
with too much sweat and whiskey
embedded in their flannel and denim.

Their women don't smoke
but like the smell of cigarettes
and men with that lingering stench
since it reminds them of promises on hold.

Snuff costs more above the Mason-Dixon.
Bills keep coming in.
The farms and rigs aren't paid for yet.
Their youngest kids have forgotten
the faces of their fathers
but that sin seems worth the check
and the alternative.

Wives back home in the Bible Belt
wonder, worry, get lonely.
People are only human.
Replacements are asked to pull out.

America needs its natural gas
despite what the protesters think
and pipe doesn't weld itself.

If only it was all as simple
as snipping that seam
with some scissors.


A Ramekin Blemished by Wedlock

"You're the first person
I thought to call," she
after her neighbor's pit bull
attacked her, even though
we'd sworn each other off
for the eighth time
in five months.

I talk her through police calls
unsavory pet owners next door
and animal control
since I'm not as fanged
as the swearing prophets claim.

Two days later
she's throwing banana nut bread
in the trash
as though baking a loaf
could erase the acid spat.

There are two types of fools:
Those who know they are
and those who don't.

Sweet tooth or not
I'm neither.

Currently reading:
"jubilat 29".



Maybe he savors the swelling
somewhere other than his head.
Maybe all that purple
reminds him:
There's still blood.

Crooked as a preacher's son
his ankle bends toward Heaven.
The other wounds he's working on.
For this they make a pill.


You Need to Speak About Going Lone Wolf 'cause That's What's Killing You Fastest

I work with talented brutes
whom I love, though
they'd never understand my saying so;
Come home to a barren apartment
where woman nor cat purrs my name;
Go out in a town that gets off on itself
full of artsy charlatans
and imports duped by articles
who don't notice my tall gin;
Can't tell you the last time
a drink was bought in my honor
for more than my hefty tipping;
Forget what a campfire feels like
while warming bones I'd ignored;
Curse the place I came from
while missing those
who can't afford the bridge toll.

I'm the loneliest man
whom you pretend to know
but I swear my stories
are better in person.
[It's the smile
I've mastered in mirrors.]


Saved by a Dull Blade

During a planned pipeline blowdown
you sit in your truck and smoke
while natural gas spews out
of the two-ton relief valve
a hundred yards away
wondering how far
is far enough.

Jackie moved to Chicago last year
but you still spew flames
for miles every night
with or without
her knowing.

Spark up.


Domestic Flesh Wounds at 2 Vanamee St

I'd contemplated it for months
en route to another's abode:
Pulling down that side street
where we almost bought a house
together five years ago
to see what ever
came of the place.
Work ended prematurely today
and the sun was on my side
for once so I swerved right
for the sake of burying the unknown.

The lawn was still in need of the manicure
that your green thumb would have given.
Boxes of shingles cluttered the doorway
in what could only be an ominous sign
of the type of leak inside
that these plumber's hands don't fix.
A few haphazard lawnchairs circled
a makeshift firepit implying informal revelry
despite the need for labors of love

and therein laid the problem
bold-faced and blatant; italicized:
We gave up working
at building with bricks
we were too busy
throwing at each other.

The impenitent shall not
inherit the Kingdom of God
but a night doesn't pass
that I hope that you've found it.


So It Goes

Everything you've wanted
walks into a bar.

You buy her Jameson all night
since there's no way
she should pay
well aware that it's only
pleasant conversation--
safe, fleeting
and forgettable
like the punchline
to the one
about the priest's untimely entrance.

At least the clergy
would call you back
the next day.


Too Hot to Smoke

Our one hot date
when she sat on my face
left nothing in its wake
but some well-placed
magnets on my refrigerator:


Of all the half-decade's
I think that's where I came