This Poem is Like a Poem That Isn’t a Poem

Sarah had a kiss like a communist, she believed in sharing it with everyone. Lauren loved like a trucker, alone and always leaving town. Tony opened up like an atlas, letting Jennifer make a map of his heart. Ken made love like an accountant, keeping track of all the figures. This town is a spiderweb, we’re crawling in silky Louis Vuitton, up all day and night, rolling around in Corona Lights. My heart is a hunter, it’s also the fawn. Carol stood in my doorway and started singing, bringing the wolves out of the cupboards. My phone is an octopus, always tangling me in its tentacles. Instagram is a monkey, throwing its shit at me. My mind is a beach house on a cloudy day, these lines are driftwood, drifting words, shift and blur. The smell of cut green grass makes me think of baseball practice when I was young, filling me with sweet melancholy. Sam had a name like a boy’s and an uppercut to match. Meeting you was like being pushed into the ocean. Your love was like a riptide. Your eyes tide pools. This poem is like a poem that isn’t a poem, this poet isn’t alive inside. Jeremy had tattoos on his eyelids, a secret written on his face.  Veronica liked to visit the cemetery to talk to dead people she never knew. My life is a silent movie, the man falling down the stairs, the damsel tied to the track, the villain with a mustache. This ennui is my bomb shelter, keeping me safe from you, or you safe from me? She had a bow on her underwear, if you pull it loose you lose thirteen teeth. I’m an old black and white photograph of a buffalo in a wooden frame sitting in a haunted house outside toxic lands. Everything that is one day won’t be.

DSC03291

Descending Order of Totems

20140328_110307

The daffodils were now blooming on the table. Lauren had placed them in a small mason jar before leaving for her errands. They were still tightly enclosed buds this morning. It’s amazing what can happen in two hours, Packer thought. Time is its own perpetual engine. We’re just its clogs. Everything will eventually get grounded down by it.

Packer was supposed to be working on his novel, but 60 pages in he was stuck. His character repulsed him and the plot was gossamer thin. Writing isn’t supposed to feel like jagged glass running through your intestine is it?

Instead of writing, he shuffled through the mail.

Cable Bill.
Credit Card Bill.
Junk Mail.
He stopped breathing.
There was an envelope addressed to Lauren, conspicuously featuring no return address. Her name was written sloppily, frantic..

It had to be from him.

It only took a few seconds to give in. Packer got up and locked the door. Lauren would be coming home any minute and he wanted some warning. He then sat back down and sliced the envelope open with a kitschy letter opener they brought back from Alaska – a trip they took two years ago after everything went down. There was a totem pole on the end of it, an eagle perched on top, but do you know totems actually gain significance in descending order, the bottom of the totem is actually the one most revered?

Packer thought about that trip, which he referred to as ‘their salvage expedition’. They took a cruise of the glacier inlets. Big, shinning, white and blue mountains of ice. They drank steaming cups of hot chocolate on the cold deck. They watched in awe as giant chunks of ice broke off and crashed into the arctic waters, felt the waves sway the ship.

He felt a large wave under him right now.

He opened the envelope.
There was just one folded-up piece of paper inside.
The only thing written on it was:

I need to see you.

He didn’t leave his name. He knew she would know who it was from.

Fucking Hamilton!

Why can’t he leave us alone? Packer thought.
Why can’t he leave her alone?!
What kind of name is Hamilton anyway?
He was thrown back two years, just like that. His hands shook.

The sound of the key jiggling in the lock snapped him back to the present. Packer roughly folded the paper and stuffed it back into the envelope. Lauren came in with a bag of groceries, a french baguette sticking out the top, like some prop from a TV commercial featuring the perfect family in need of home insurance or the right dog food for their beloved pet.

“Hi, baby,” she chirped.
“Hey, how was the store?”
“Busy. How’s the writing going?”
“Great,” Packer lied.
“Good.” She came and stickered a kiss to his forehead. He felt like a wall being vandalized. “I’m going to go to the gym after I unpack these,” she told him.
“Need help?” He asked.
“No. Keep writing. I got it.”
“Wait,” He beckoned. “Here.”
He handed her the letter.

There was a second where he could feel the Earth beneath him heave and sigh. She took the envelope, turned it over in her hand and paused upon seeing the handwriting. He could tell she knew who it was from.
“You opened it?” she asked.
“I’m a small man,” he admitted.

Lauren removed the letter and glanced briefly at the contents. Her eyes were like actors in a poorly produced off-Broadway play. Her expression remained stoic, deliberate. He read her face and it was more horrifying than an Edgar Allan Poe story.

Fucking Hamilton!

“Baby, it was two years ago and I don’t know what I was thinking,” she told him.
He asked, “What kind of name is Hamilton anyway?”
“I know, it’s stupid. Look, I love you,” she said. “I’m throwing this away. I don’t want to see him! Don’t worry.”
“I’m not worried,” he answered.

Packer watched his wife rip the letter up, then dump it in the trash, and marveled at how good they’ve gotten at lying the last two years.

totem

Underwater Somersault

Down in the deep end.
Submerged like a baby thought.
Encased in silence and water.

Floating, like a debt,
like a blank check,
like a dead pet.

Come swoop me out,
like leaves after the storm,
leave me alone and I’ll drift
on a raft with a beer can in the hole,
till the sun goes away
and the moon frozen grey
rotates in the chlorinated haze.

I close my eyes, take the plunge,
pretend I’m an astronaut,
spinning in slow circles in
my anti-gravity palace,
my womb, wet room,
my dripping cavity.
This summer salt,
underwater somersault.

My Last Post (Changing Room)

Being a writer… when you hate writing… makes no sense.

When you sit there and struggle with the words. When nobody reads the struggle, or understands. When you can’t stop writing just because you told yourself when you were young you were going to be a writer, but all it is is empty satisfaction — well, it’s time to stop beating your head against that wall.

I know I’m not a writer. Not now. At least not in the traditional sense. And it’s taken some time to get here, but that’s where I’m at.

I have 3 screenplays, 60+ short stories, 400+ poems, 100+ “rap” songs, but I don’t feel like I’ve created anything worth the energy it took. I don’t feel like the world would be shortchanged without this contribution of mine. I will explore other avenues to express myself, but I’m tapped out, it’s not going to be in literature. This emotion needed to be put into words, though. The final thought. A fitting end. And it’s shit, too.

I’m done. Thanks for reading…

See you in the changing room.

Lonely Dancer

You are the blacksmith’s hot iron.
I am an expired star.
You are the victory lap.
I am an uncoiled extension chord.

Broken bottles.
Smoking cloves.
Fences posts.
Ghosts of New Year’s past.
I laugh to keep my lungs from collapse.
Elliott Smith on the jukebox.
This year I’m going to fall down,
be ready with the chalk.

I’m a million miles away.
Stuck in place.
Adrift on my own planet.
Roaming outer space.
Get my Alpha Centurion on.
I’m the bottom bonbon.
One man Jamaican bobsled team.
Making dreams deflate
when you show your face

Listening to The National,
like a professional
sad guy.
Oh, why
did I have to play About Today?

Put on some Johnny Cash,
throw a glass at the wall,
watch it go smash.
FUCK RHYMES!
LeAnn ain’t got shit on mine.

Walking to the corner.
My eyes look like a foreigner’s.
You said forever, but meant till Tuesday.
Aimee Man doesn’t give a damn.
I guess we speak a different language.
I need a filter for my pictures.
Wash out my Brita. I still won’t kiss ya.

There is no airbag.
No snorkel mask.
My watch doesn’t run.
My brain doesn’t stop.
This heart isn’t empty,
guess what’s inside.
But don’t look.
And don’t cheat.
And actually…
don’t guess anything.

Walking home from the bar.
The night like a wet dog.
You are the tiny frog in my throat,
the one that makes me croak.

My mother was in my dream last night.
So was my ex-wife.
They repossessed my car.
But left me with my knife.
There was a tiny beach,
with tiny sea shells,
a hut,
where horny little tourists fuck.

Got a random call from Atlanta.
Ran out on my bill at Canters.
Ran into the street, a lonely dancer.
Got a death threat from Santa.

I am the prisoner’s lucky stripes.
You are the avalanche’s bugle horn.
I am the bouncer’s wet nipple.
You are the universe’s endless churning.

Let’s drink the mead,
time’s running out,
Let’s do the deed.

dancer

Screaming at Spiders

She described the wine as the color of bloody gauze, which seemed harsh, until we talked some more and I realized she meant in as a compliment. We were on the third bottle when I started to notice that when she spoke the corners of her lips were perforated, as if words pierce her mouth when they emerge. Or somebody had stapled her mouth shut at one point. The waiter seemed to find himself unable to stop by our table, but there was still wine in the bottle and we were too full to order dessert, so I didn’t mind. He stunk like Christmas ham anyway.

Conversation was painfully trite. Weather. That new movie by Quentin Tarantino. Her recent abortion. In a deadly lull, I remarked, “There was an art exhibit on my last trip to Helsinki that was really fascinating.”

She rolled her eyes and slugged back her glass of wine. “Oh my god, you’re as interesting as a dancing Santa.” I couldn’t tell if that was good or bad, so I just stared at her and waited. She went on. “Who fucking cares about art? I don’t. I’ve taken shits that are more interesting than modern art.”

I don’t think she was paying attention. I explained. “I was finishing off a deal that will bring Finland its largest shopping experience ever. 300,000 square feet of commercial space! Now Fins are able to shop and catch a movie at the…”

“That’s great,” she interrupted. “Where is that waiter? I want to see the dessert menu!”

“You’re still hungry?” I asked, annoyed she wasn’t listening.

“Fuck no, but I’ve never had Tiramisu. As long as you’re buying I want to at least taste goddamn Tiramisu, right?” She laughed, a mean, hollow cackle. I don’t know if she expected me to laugh as well, but I did, because it was safer than telling her what I really thought.

In Finland, there is a hotel in the north where the rooms are dug into the snow and there is a glass dome so you can watch the Aurora Borealis from your bed. I rented one of those rooms and smoked a Cuban cigar. They’re legal in Finland. The smoke from the cigar swirled in patterns and the light from above colored the smoke so it looked like the Aurora Borealis themselves came down from heaven and entered my room. I could just reach up and touch them. Charged particles emanating everywhere. When I cough it’s a phenomenon. I wanted to tell her this story, but it would be wasted on such a creature.

I found her standing outside the hotel, smoking a cigarette like she had inside information the world was going to end and it’d be her last. The first thing I noticed was that, although they were vacant, her eyes were a startling color of blue, like cold water you jump into and immediately regret. I told her I’d buy her dinner if she would tell me about herself. Pretty clever. She laughed in my face. Spittle landed on the tip of my nose and stayed there, like a snowflake. At that point I knew I wanted to use her.

“You can have the Tiramisu. Three pieces, I don’t care. Just pour me some more wine,” I told her.

“Man, you drink more than I do. You’re a big time, suit kinda guy. Why are you messing around with a girl like me, huh?”

I looked down at my Patek Phillip watch that cost me over $200,000, which was a steal because I haggled some crummy Hong Kong watch broker down from almost $240,000, and wondered how much money I could offer this woman to have sex with me on the spot. To give me that most holiest of place. It’s probably less than the price of this dinner. “I don’t like talking about myself. I’m more curious about you. Tell me about you,” I said. “Do you like it when men play with your asshole?”

Her frivolous look turned suddenly sour. “You’ve never even asked me my name,” she complained.

I felt my teeth gnash together… she was offended. I couldn’t stand it if she had feelings. “Oh, please. Let’s just enjoy this conversation before we get too specific. Don’t you agree?”

“My asshole isn’t specific?”

I didn’t answer. I thought about Deborah and how she stubbed her toe on the bed right before walking out the door, and how I laughed, and how I still hear the echo of that laughter, my own, haunting me. I wanted to change the subject. “I’m sorry. Do you think we should order another bottle of wine?”

She stopped scowling, nodded. “But I don’t think our waiter likes us very much.”

“Well, you did call him an idiot when he dropped the cork on the floor,” I reminded her.

“Fuck him — wine monkey!”

She was drunk and classless and totally wrong for me. I couldn’t have been happier with my selection. I pictured what my VP of Operations would say if I showed up with her to our stupid holiday party where we lie through our teeth about what a wonderful job our employees are doing while they tipple lavishly on our dime, grope each other, and flail about like children on a snow day. Her cracked, wine-stained smile, leathery face. I bet he would pull aside me aside and question if I was trying to personally sink our stock price. If it was part of some power move to gain full control of the company. What a schmuck!

“Your lips look like you’ve been eating bats,” I told her.

The waiter slithered over. He was holding the bill in his hand and his grin was not pleasant. “One more bottle,” I insisted, and before he could protest I pulled out of my pocket the three-inch clump of hundred-dollar bills I kept for kicks, peeled four off the top and said, “This is your tip.”

His face lit up like hot filament. “Same variety and vintage, sir?”

“That’ll be fine,” I answered.

The waiter disappeared and I noticed that she was now looking at me with the eyes of a babe. A lamb. A lamb that lies down with wolves. There were dark specks near her pupils and they may or may not have been methamphetamine-induced. I may or may not have cared.

I told her, “I’ve received 36 Christmas Cards this year.”

“You must be loved.”

I corrected her. “They’re all from business contacts who couldn’t care less about me. It’s just business.”

Her ghoulishly blue eyes dimmed to a level of humanity I felt uncomfortable with. “I’m sorry,” she said. “Does that make you sad? I would send you one.”

“Please don’t. That’s not why I told you.”

“Why did you tell me then?” She asked.

“Not for sympathy!”

She went on. “Don’t you think there is some reason, though? The same reason you asked me to dinner, maybe. Maybe because you feel you can talk to me?”

Her damn questions made me upset. “I told you because somebody should show you how the world works — that it’s not all pretty eyes and free dinners. That it’s empty greeting cards and, and wine monkeys! You should see how people bend over to do what I say — just because I run a company that has malls in 17 European countries. In addition to America, land of the fee and home of the slave. There’s a tide that is sweeping us all out to the sea and you can’t trust anybody,” I shouted. “A tide of sucking up, selling out, giving in… Trust nobody, dammit!” I was wound up and breathing heavily and it felt good, like sex when you never have to see the person again.

She wasn’t bothered by my anger, which only heightened it. “You take things very seriously. I’m like that at times, too,” she confessed. She didn’t look scared. She didn’t look offended. I didn’t know what to say. She was looking at me with something like, I could be wrong, but respect, maybe even tenderness. And not just from the stack of cash throbbing in my pocket. Like she knew exactly how I felt. Like she could read my eyes. I felt tenderness back, which annoyed me.

“We forgot to order you a Tiramisu.”

“No thanks,” she said.

“But you never had it before. I once had a piece in Florence that cost 80 America dollars. We opened a high end fashion plaza in the City Center. Cheapest thing you could buy there was a pair of wool socks for 100 Euros.”

“That’s okay, I’ve had it before,” she admitted.

“We can get it to-go,” I suggested. “Then go back to my suite at the Ritz. You can see the bridge from there.”

“Which one?”

I laughed. “Does it matter?”

She looked uncomfortable. “No, I really have to go,” she said.

“Where do you have to go?”

Maybe I said it a little rudely. She pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes. “I have places to go!”

“Of course. I didn’t mean anything by that.” Oh my god. I was groveling now. “Please don’t get mad,” I pleaded.

What’s happened to me?

I could see blood come to the front of her face, her hands constrict into fists. “Why did you ask me to dinner?” She asked. “I fucking missed my dealer for this.” She started fidgeting with her elbow. The waiter returned with the fourth bottle of wine and I was positive we wouldn’t be having a sip of it. He displayed it to me and I gestured toward my glass. While he poured a small taster and I swallowed it, she folded her arms across her chest and stared at me. Like Deborah used to.

“It’s good,” I told the waiter. “Can you box up a piece of Tiramisu and bring the check now?”

“Of course, sir.”

“I told you I didn’t want it,” she said, then added, “You’re pathetic.”

“Ha! Most women get to know me before they realize that. You must be special,” I told her.

The waiter quickly filled our glasses then scurried off. If he had a tail, which I’m not ruling out, it would have been so firmly lodged up his ass that he could have used it to wipe his shit stains. I was sick of this restaurant. I was sick of this conversation. I was sick of her. I don’t know what I was thinking in picking her. It’s like business deals, the easiest ones always turn out to be the most trouble.

She pouted. “You think money makes you better than everybody.”

“I know it does,” I corrected.

She took her napkin and threw it on the table. “Well,” she said, sniffling and wiping her nose with her hand. Whatever drug she was strung out on was starting to call her. “Enjoy your fucking Tiramisu,” she growled.

“Look,” I said. “Don’t go.”

“Give me one good reason.”

“I can meet your dealer with you. Whatever he has in stock, I’ll buy for you. The whole load.” I could see the calculations going on in her head. I had no plans to do it, I only wanted to stall her, so I could get one more word in. “Like every other bitch, you’re only happy when I’m defeated.” I smiled at her like when I know I have somebody beat on the bargaining table and the slow recognition travels across their face and their palms sweat and I take a sip of expensive water bottled from some pristine stream.

She grinned like a lousy trout. “And you’re only happy when you’re fucking somebody over. I got news for you, you’re not the only asshole on the planet.” Then she did something that made me fall in love. She turned and tracked down the waiter, grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him toward her. “Come here, wine monkey,” she yelled, then kissed him savagely on the mouth, their lips grinding together like industrial machinery. She then slapped him hard across the face so that his tongue whipped against his cheek. We both watched her stomp out of the restaurant, grabbing a mint from the hostess stand on the way, throwing the wrapper on the floor and popping it in her mouth like an ecstasy pill at a rave.

The waiter looked at me with a mixture of fear and confusion, like a child waiting for his punishment.

I shrugged my shoulders and sighed. “Women…”

spider

Nerd War

There are red lights stationed at head-height. There are rubber mats
on the sides of all the Bowling Lanes. There are Nutri-Grain® bars
in our candy jars. We are the next-day
overpaid robot monkeys
malfunctioning, sleepy
TV junkies
sun-drenched unrest, a subdued
Sup’, dude!?

The get-gone mind state
18-wheels on the highway lemonade…

There are signposts on every fence in the high forest. Cash registers
among the terminating pine. Lois Lane leading the Locust Chorus©
There are time machines in our Visine®. A thank you card for Mr. Mean
We are the unconscious accomplishment and hollow wit
that fills the populace of falling-apart fodder
a new hit every 15-second tornado twist…
the halfway house celebrity diving mask.
A tiny face in the lens laughing
at the camera click.

WHO IS THIS???
The little man asks…

I say, I roll down the line like the Michelin Man.