Unfashionably Late to a Funeral

It's no wonder
that the full moon affects us
drawn like the tide.
Textbooks profess
that we're 60% water
the rest mostly corn.
"Split the difference,"
the scientists would say
if they'd been born
to pull wrenches.
It's a tradesman's euphemism
for "make them both a bit wrong
for the sake of seeming right."

On my way to sling pipe
one guilty Sunday morning
I spot a dead hawk
in the shoulder of the highway.
It's close enough to the guard rail
to say that some maddened motorist
had aimed for it.
There are sicker souls
than those who would work
on the Sabbath
or put metal in their genitals.

With the quarry next to the predator
three feet beyond
the white line that means wrong
I nod and take note at 75
that there's room on the cross
for two.


When Paper Mache Carries Clout

Allow me to draw you a square
in the sand that's been poured
from every nearby vagina
within a two-town radius
and across a crumbling bridge
o'er the Hudson.

Let the first line represent
the time wasted
waiting for action
inhibited by prolonged
teacher's union health insurance benefits
and the sad comfort of shared pets.

The second line is for
animal magnetism--
The way we fit so right
physically, anatomically
in the stillness of either bedroom
with the box fan on
to supply white noise
since I've conditioned myself
to need it
in the absence of other consistency.

It makes the most sense
to carve the third line
in honor of that weekend in Manhattan
I had planned in my head
when she'd sell off her rings
and we'd celebrate
new beginnings
possibly involving
pleasantly naive offspring.

The fourth can be
anything really
though for the sake of this exercise
I'll dedicate it to the lap dog
I miss more than the spite
that tainted every angry word
spewed in fits
of mutually frustrated confusion.

Now I'll draw a 1 in the center
of the square we've fashioned
to appease a stranger soaked in gin.

That's where we are.

Desperation is an ugly color.
When's the last time
you called your mother?


Building a Bildungsroman

Harvesting scalps
of those less aware
is forcibly noble
to those who would dare.

You cursed the Colonel.
You'll have to hang.
One of these days
we'll know you by name.

Running is working.
Working is paid.
Sooner or later
the axe finds its place.

You cursed the Colonel.
You'll have to hang.
One of these days
we'll know you by name.

Sweat doesn't matter;
neither does blood.
Kiss all the right rings.
Shake off the mud.

You cursed the Colonel.
You'll have to hang.
One of these days
we'll know you by name.

Measurements falter.
Tools aren't the truth.
Mentors are chosen
by misguided youth.

You cursed the Colonel.
You had to hang.
One of these days
we'll know you by name.


Cowboy Science

I'd guess he's in Human Resources
the way he spills himself all over the counter
well after he's been handed
his change and morning coffee.
This pencil-pusher's sweater
is a few shades sour of caramel
the color of junkie vomit.
An equal sensation is conjured
in my gut by the way he festoons himself
atop the Formica, hitting on middle-aged women
whose husbands' hands alone
make more sense
than whatever this marital brigand
is spewing at 5:43 in the morning.

Two of his underlings
enter behind me
dressed in crisp uniforms
cursing at last night's game.
My toes curl under steel tips
as I fight myself from stating
that they sound worse than the men
they're allegedly paid to guard.

I recall visiting the local prison as a kid.
They'd walk my uncle out
into a large cafeteria full of worried faces.
There was a Pepsi vending machine.
Its giant logo with its patriotic colors
is what stands out most in my mind
aside from the concertina wire I saw
from the back seat of my mother's sedan.
She told me we were visiting him at his job
and in a way she wasn't so wrong.

"I'd rather be in jail,"
the amorous civil servant says
of his day's upcoming duties
to the woman who stirred his sugar;
added his cream.
"It's death by PowerPoint presentation,"
he chortles with undue pride.

I wonder if any of these men
these hooligans with tin badges
had a hand raised in wrath
against the inmate murdered
a few years ago.
It could have been my uncle
had he not been released in the 80s
after doing 15 years.

Back in the safety of my truck
the heat vents blasting away
what remains of the frost
I take a sip of coffee
followed by my first drag
that somehow cures
the smoker's cough
for now.



Using the mirror
that backs the bar
loaded with untapped top-shelf
I monitor who passes my 6.
Deprived of depravity
I opt to tip heavily
and head home
on snowslick sidewalks
dodging squad cars
and unneeded eye contact.

Jacklyn, what you've taught me
of thinly shaved Manchego
supersedes all I've shared
with every fresh apprentice.

Currently reading:
"Last Sext" by Melissa Broder.


Fed Exes

Emptying the night stand
on her side of the bed
into a box again
was the easy part.
Her last words my way:
"Remember what you want."
I didn't give the same privilege.

Her car was running
in the driveway
when I dropped off
that cardboard
I'd sprayed with the cologne
I've worn since 14.

The plan was paint-by-number
but I wasn't ready
for the little black dog
that always followed me
standing at the storm door
shaking without barking
her head cocked in perplexion:
at what we'll never know.


Cardboard Sarcophagus

Nah, Freddie, Jesus--
You're reading this all wrong.
When they don't ask
for their shit back
you know they're finally gone.
It was dry and self-contained
with no wet spot
left to dodge.
Think of all the Sunday sheets
you'll never have to wash.


Life Sans Genitalia, Day 47

It's a hard thing--
seeing the curtain
drawn too soon;
watching your heroes
bleed out in the dust
with guts keeping
bankers' hours.

[Christ omitted
for spatial purposes

He said something relevant
about more than
fixing that shotgun:
A sucker for hard cases
nodding like a god
at the lost souls
around him.

Blessed with many fathers
we have also
many sons.
Time has been squandered
naming constellations.

The surgery was useless.
The tailbone cyst came back.
All that faith in friends was lost
since medicine is practiced.