Prophet on an Empty Stomach

"I swiped it from a bar,"
she says, passing me the book.
A gift from someone who gets me.
I fan through the pages
like women wipe
and notice that one's missing.
The black wool coat
I've had for thirteen years
carries the novel
for the rest of our gin-fueled evening.
That knife I thought I'd lost
is discovered in a pocket.
More triumph on a small scale.
More belated redemption.

The next day
with my bank card forgotten
in the register where we left ourselves
I wonder if that page was so poignant
that someone had to steal it;
if I should buy another copy
or fill in my own blanks;
if it's time that I stop finding fault
in open books before me.

I pry the blinds apart
enough to peer outside.
It's unseasonably warm for February.
There's still no pity
for the village idiot
or men who've scuttled seaworthy ships
screaming of scripture and Socrates.

I decide against wearing pants yet.

Currently reading:
"Illuminations" by Arthur Rimbaud.


A Unicorn in Suffolk

I'd been working on the tip of Long Island;
a project with an alleged friend
whom I should have let struggle alone.
The ride was four hours of aptly named parkways.
A midway point was sought and found.
She liked sci-fi and fellatio.
I shared some of her interests.
We were two lonely souls
looking for love on the Internet
wondering why wheels were spinning.

Her place was a renovated suburban basement--
polar opposite of my third-floor Main Street apartment.
My transparency about the circumstances
appealed to her jaded sense of romance.
We both knew it was doomed
and filled those voids regardless
making Hannibal Lecter jokes
while waiting for 'X-Files' to end
so we could kill the lamp without shame
as soon as her glasses were placed on the nightstand.
I'd drive the remainder the next morning
and show up in Montauk refreshed
ready to build what awaited me.
Three or four times, always no snoring.
Three or four times, never a note.

A few months ago I looked her up
to see if she'd found a better arrangement.
She had, and I was happy.
Her fiance moved her to Portland
where they'd manage through the rain
for decades to come, sans cellar.
Graciously forgiven for dialing unfairly
I deleted her number and poured one.
Now, as she'd rather
I couldn't tell you her name
with steel between my teeth.
The wrenches still don't pull themselves.
I doubt they ever will.

Carbon Steel

At least I didn't need it
at the time; only noticed
its absence when fumbling for a pen
in the pocket of my jeans
where it used to reside for years.
I made a mental note
to search once I got home
but I knew it was gone forever
like birthday museum dates.

A knife is something
you don't want to lack
when the time comes
to slice through the madness.

I've calculated the mileage
to write off on my taxes
and realized I haven't
gone anywhere
this year.


To the Moon

Chopsticks make the food taste better
since you've got to work for it.

So hard to laugh alone
that the honeymoon is vague:
Is it a test
or a testament
to the end of those awkward innings?

Jackie Gleason made his threats
but Alice had it easy.


To Tame Their Folklore

The stream underfoot feels suddenly too fast.
He trips on a stone that's tumbling
beneath the ancient current.
A trout darts under an outcropping of rock
but he doesn't bother to grasp for it.
Damn, he thinks. I'm getting too old for this.
The gray hairs on his calves
tingle at their roots in response to the water's chill
like the brown ones did
for centuries.

He's never understood
why humans have searched for him:
documentaries made, photos faked
entire lives devoted to evidence of his existence.
If his intellect could handle a Christ complex
he'd be wearing sandals in the forest.

It's been harder to sleep in caves and hollows.
The rabbits still run, but more out of pity.
He knows his time is coming;
only wants it to be quick
and without the flash of a camera.
A female peer was never encountered
but the wilderness kept him company
as best as nature can.

He lies down at the base of a massive hemlock
and would pray for the fate of Socrates
if reading were in his skill set.
His big feet rest atop the thickest root
as he stares at silver birds
that leave white streaks
in their wakes.

Where is mercy
when one needs it?

Hindu Bodega

It's only when you're down
that you can fathom out.
No one lands it large
when the odds are in their favor.
It cracks through your consciousness
like ringing, precious crystal.
An overpaid photographer
has watched them cut the cake.

Oh Christ, the sirens
arrive in time
for the Mexican standoff
and morbid paint-by-number.
Reduce your carbon footprint
playin' 'possum
for the year.

So this is what they mean
by getting sandbagged.

Chalked and Choked

You admit to yourself
that three eggs don't cut it.
Volume gets lost in the scramble.
Some gets stuck to the pan.
By the time you scrape them
onto your plate
there isn't as much as you'd aimed for.

It dawns on you
that there are people
who earn their livings
by figuring loss percentages.
"If...Then..." Mathematics becomes a reality
as you take the first bite
and wonder why you spend more
on "natural" maple syrup.
Some of those statisticians
make the same calculations for human lives
to help determine the worthiness
of political decisions, military operations
whether or not to parachute food down
to starving children in Africa
or let warlords and starvation
duke it out through natural selection.
There are classified reports in filing cabinets
playing God with fates
comparing faceless people
to a mess left in a skillet
as you sit and sip espresso
chew your waffles, chop your eggs.

It's Sunday morning, 10:00 am
Valentine's Day
and you've got nowhere to be
until 5:00.
Making your own critical assessment
you decide to add booze to your coffee.


Lick the Lips of Genesis

She was all legs and heart
as always
lithe limbs protruding
from the pumping pound of flesh
that most had taken for granted.
In the nocturnal stillness
of her bedroom
my eyes not yet adjusted
to the Darkness we could see
I swore her legs multiplied
turning herself into an octopus
that strove to entangle
my own throbbing mass
of ill-informed humanity.

A recent addition to her decor
caught my crux in a sling:
Creeping to her bathroom
a series of night lights
plugged into wall outlets
illuminated my path
all the way to the porcelain
detecting my motion
and aiding the steps--
But it wasn't that simple;
We'd been there before.

Sure like virgin snow
and twice as deadly
my love is twisted poison
like the Snake that fed her fruit.

Currently reading:
"On Cats" by Charles Bukowski.


Lord Willing and the Creek Don't Rise

To be made in love intentional
and not through an accident.
A thousand failings of the Rorschach test.
If Pete Rose bet on himself
why can't we?
Honest Injun
it's the good type of sore.
There's so much more than just the juice.
Readying the goats
to heroin music
your uncle clipped his wings
for a prostitute
so who's the harlot now?


This Time Last Year

I can only explain it
with the comfort of a used Buick.
The speeding ticket on my birthday
didn't matter
since I knew our destination.
That art museum was a waste
of time and space
but her laughter echoing
throughout its concrete corridors
made it memorable.

12 months after
her change of heart
I'm left with distance
between myself and every other.
Unable to think my way out of it
I fumble for the door.

"Hell is the impossibility of reason."