Our Assassin is Inside of Our Selves

I’m 16 feet deep in the swamp.
I’m breathing through gills.
There is a cat giving birth
on my doorstep.

There is a plane
with 127 passengers
flying overhead:
half of them sleeping,
half of them dreaming,
half yearning for
someone to want them.

The refrigerator hums.
The dryer rumbles.
Somebody knocks 4 times
on the neighbor’s door.

There’s nobody home.
I’m only 6 steps away,
but they don’t come.

There’s 13 possums under the porch.
Stars torch the purple horizon,
screaming to be left alone.
You and I riding bikes by the sea.
It’s glinting like an assassin’s sword
slashing across your chest.

Everything we dream of one day will be,
and then we’ll know the results of
our hunting and our farming,
our epic voyage home, and our
62 attempts to be somebody else.

359 poems of wordy rascalism…

27 stab wounds in the poet’s chest,
still he marvels at the snowfall
and the raven’s soundless flight.

Is stab wound 1 word or 2?

My shoes are a size too big
so I can feel my toes bend with
each step and it makes me wonder:
Did God know what he was doing
when he made 8 billion of us?

The wind is blowing from the North again.
The wolves are muzzling into their fur.
The drunks are pouring out of the bar again.
The moon is spinning through 8 shades of night.
The night is piercing my tongue again.

I’m walking barefoot in a snake pit…
Crossing mountain bridges in icicle shoes…
Hailing cabs in 6 feet of snow…

I’m an explorer exploring myself.
Counting down to infinity.

images

Salamander Days

I’ll be good, I say, half-meaning it, half-threatening.
My phone is on the charger and I leave the door unlocked.
I’ll be fine, I say, half-lie, half-alibi.
Los Angeles, your crucifix, my dominatrix…
my self-portrait’s a pirate’s mosh pit.
I left without saying goodbye
because I was never good
at spinning a yarn.

My camel is drunk.
My wallpaper is weeping.
We’re all face first in the scraping.
We’re all mixed-up with the leaping,
lunging leopards chasing their spots,
and the ducking, darting dragons
hiding from their warts.

I’m a wizard and a wayward wanderer
wondering where my wand went. I’m an artist,
an alarmist, and an anarchist attacking
the artifice, 3/5ths of the populace are
standing in soda pop and propaganda.
I’m 13 ft. tall eating lizards.
8 miles down a derelict daydream.
I’m covered in mud marauding down
maudlin lane.

I’ll be fine, I shout, half-serious, half-accusatory,
doing emotional acrobatics with a backseat full
of paperbacks and matches.

Caveman graffiti and goose down feathers.
Swallowing your makeup and Instagram feed.
I’m unzippered and undone under a silicone sun,
dwindling and dawdling through these salamander days,
a marionette on Percocet, splintered and unkept,
staring blindly into the rhubarb pie, a perfect aggregate
of animal and food and animosity.

wizziees

Drone Love

If my life was condensed into a GIF, it would be me crossing my arms,
giving you the stink-eye.

As the planets pinball back and forth, I buy new shoes and tape my mouth shut. As the subways take us to work and home and back again, I write poems on my arms and watch you watch the spider watching the fly. We talk under our breaths but kiss with our tongues. We look out the corners of our eyes, but post 6 photos of our outfits… daily.

We’re running out of bandwith. Terrified to walk outside. Disgusted at the sound of our real voices. We’re stalking the satellites and crushing the stars with our midnight projections.

***

We were at an outdoor movie in the park, sipping white wine on a quilted blanket. She was wearing a knitted cardigan with a Sex Pistols tank top underneath. I had on boots, jeans and a scowl. There were hipsters all around us. The scent of moneyed-ennui-mixed-with-vapor-fumes permeated the air. The movie started and played over the sound of crickets and whispers. Halfway through she put her arm through mine and whispered, “This is dumb.” I asked, “The movie?” “No, watching it in a park. I’m being bitten by mosquitoes.” Right then I knew I loved her, because I wanted to be one of those mosquitoes.

***

Across the top of the country there is a train in the middle of fields of wheat. The billowing gray coal-smoke can be seen from 30 miles away — a sign there’s more of the world that exists. There is a little cabin by a creek where deer come to drink. From the porch, you can see the sign for the tire store, a stack of neon tires rotating next to the highway; it’s a wobbling obelisk of rubber, a meth addict’s daydream. The earth emits a hum you can only hear if you kneel down and put your ear to the ground, while behind you drones drop leaflets advertising dollar hamburgers at Jack In The Box and your ex-wife packs the kids’ belongings in a brown station wagon from the last century.

We are the band aids and the scabs and the knife plunging in.

***

The marines drove up at midnight. The moon was a grizzled face peering into its own heart. There were fires every twenty feet. Voices hushed when their trucks appeared through the canyon, headlights drawing on the rocks, families and couples holding still. The marines jumped out, big men with tattoos and shaven faces and knives on their side. They went to work while the people sat in the dark and watched nervously. One came over, his voice booming out like metal shrapnel, guttural, sharp. “You guys want some extra firewood?” He asked. “We brought a whole pallet.” The campers smiled, sipped whiskey from a metal cup, held their cigarettes loosely on their fingertips. “Sure,” they said, dismissing their fears and prejudices with a laugh.

***

“There’s something about you,” I told her, “something terrifying and soft, beautiful and brutal.” She laughed, tracing a line down my forearm, each nerve-ending exploding in fireworks. Everything about the moment was perfect, the lighting, the sheets on the bed, the small, purple smell of Eucalyptus sneaking in through the window. She turned and looked at me, fragile and fiery all at once. Her voice was like honeysuckle, tickling, then stabbing my ears. “I’m just a figment of your imagination,” she informed me. I turned and tried to get the meaning, taking her in. Her smile sent silver shivers down my spine… then, hearing her say, “Wake up,” I opened my eyes to the sight of still life. A succulent planet weathering time.

***

We are the watchers and the watched, the machines and the mechanics.

***

Open the blinds, let the blind in.

tiress

Talking in Elevators

‘Congratulations’, the envelope says. I open it and pull out the letter. It reads, ‘One day you will die and so will everything you love.’ It’s not signed.

I fold it back up and stick it in my back pocket. I pull up the blinds and inspect the dusk and doom. There are streaks of vapor trails in the sky, a man with a construction hat directing a truck into an alley. The beeping sound it makes reminds me of the letter. The letter reminds me of my mother when she was young, long before I was a trail of dirty diapers. The young we all once were, captured on photographic paper, a distant, fading memory.

I pour a glass of wine and think about who would send me a letter like that. The postmark says Idaho. I don’t know anybody in Idaho. I’ve never been there. It’s just that funny-shaped state on the map. I know there are mountains there. I’m sure there are farms and towns and nice people too… but Idaho can go fuck itself!

There is a record that is collecting dust on my stereo. I put the needle down and listen to a worn groove spill out. The singer OD’d in 1973. His voice is just an echo, like passing light through a shade. I drink my wine, think about writing a poem, and then remember poetry is disgust turned inside out. Instead, I get up and put on a suit, and prep myself to go out. I tell myself there is no reason to sit alone and ferment. You need to get out there and experience the rollicking rickshaw. The night is young, you are vibrant, the world is waiting. You know, lie.

The night, actually, is a teeming, claustrophobic nest of anxiety and ego. Buzzing bastards. I should never have gone out on a Friday… by myself. Feeling like this…

I enter a bar and order a glass of Cabernet, smile like a man in possession of counterfeit coins. My teeth and tongue stained by grape. I grab the glass, gobble up the poison, groan inside. The computer program in my brain starts spitting out upside down algorithms. A kiss. Clouds. The sun on the bay. The winning slot machine. The frozen dog. The pretty smile. A ball sailing over the fence. The crowd chanting my name. A message on my answering machine… her voice, 600 miles away. The person in the photograph disappearing like Marty McFly’s brother. Barak Obama. Heath Ledger. Moisturizing Cream. Mint chocolate chip ice cream… gat damn!

A woman in a sheer, cream-colored dress with cowboy boots, a scarf, and a tattoo of a tiger on her arm leans in next to me. “You look perplexed.”

She says this without emotion, like she’s reading it off of a menu.

I reply, “I’m at my best confused…”

She smirks. “Do you do this often?”

“What?” I ask.

“Wallow in your own cuteness…”

I’m not sure if she is flirting or putting me down. There really isn’t a difference most of the time. However old we get, we’re still just kids pinching each other on the playground. Punching each other in the face because we like each other.

She has devious eyes and exfoliated cheeks. Her confidence wafts through the room like a ghost. Part of me wants to marry her; another wants to break into her house and smear shit on her walls, break her favorite possessions.

I answer with more cuteness. “When the moon is the right height,” I say. “What adorable form of voodoo makes you so damn observant?”

She rolls her eyes. “You’re the only one here in a suit.”

I tell her, “I like to dress nice.”

I smile, thinking I have her… She laughs, but not with me — at me.

“It’s weird,” she tells me.

I watch her take her drink back to her table. A group of hostile monkeys surround her. They’re dressed in hoodies and jeans. Everybody is so casual in this town. Talking in elevators. She never looks back. An uneasiness creeps up my spine. I don’t recognize the music playing. Everything is in a foreign language.

I look around the room and everybody is ten years younger me. And lighter. Not in weight, I’m slender and built like a bamboo pole, but in spirit; less burdened by memories and regret.They look like balloons that haven’t drifted too high yet. I want to shoot them down.

Does anybody ever like growing older? Are we not all disgruntled Bukowski’s, waiting for our farewell serenade?

The room grows more crowded and my personal space shrinks until I’m nothing more than a coat rack wedged into the corner. The hands on my watch spin around. Touching me. Touching everybody. Playing ‘ring around the posey’.

What do you know about the circle of life? Hanging out in the corner pocket?

If you drew a picture of my heart, it would be an arrow. Pull it back, release, and watch it spear something… I’m at the end of the radio dial… transmitting fuzz.

I finish my drink and flee…

The night is bleeding. The stars cauterised my wound, but only so much… I drag this hurt to the next bar. I don’t know what I’m looking for. It’s not a girl, it’s not a friend, it’s not even… something.

I’m just riding the carousel. Maybe there is meaning in this rotary? Maybe I will find purpose in the propaganda… part of me wants to move to Peoria and learn accounting, start counting… meet a girl, have a kid, start changing diapers.

Part of me wants another glass of Cab. I drink a Dos Equis instead. Somehow count this as wisdom.

THE FUCK YOU LOOKING AT?!

I end up in line at a taco stand. The man in front of me is wearing a beaver skin hat. I’m wearing a wife-beater underneath a cotton button up. Cars zip by, full of intoxicated assholes. I’m an asshole. The man in the beaver skin hat is an asshole. Finally, I order a burrito.

It’s the only thing about this night that makes sense.

I pull out the letter and hand it to the Mexican man fixing making my burrito. I tell him, ‘I believe in you.’  His eyebrows look like caterpillars. He takes a look, shrugs, and hands it back to me. I don’t think he understands. Neither do I. Maybe he’s Peruvian. I want to move to Peru.

Touch your toes. They’re yours.

Make me holy… order a side of guacamole.

Everybody that loves you will leave you… either in anger or death or that job in Kansas City.

Tattoo a tic-tac-toe board on my chest. Hope for the best.

This isn’t a true story, but it could be…

Plus minus subtract. I love you all.

burrito

Bubble Bath for Men

If you could make a house out of white light,
where would you sleep?

I’ve thrown more credit card offers
into orange-scented trash bags
than I’ve stopped to take in sunsets.

It’s 2015 and it’s safe to say I have no idea what
modernity is… is it Mumford and Sons, Twitter,
iPhones, woodworking, Online Dating, ecotourism?

I want to fly a drone back in time, to the park
where I played baseball when I was 13, and bring back
the smell of wet grass on a Saturday morning.

If you wrote down every secret you ever held,
would you have the strength to carry the book,
physically? Emotionally? Would you hide it in your closet?
Would you burn it with those love letters and midnight whispers?

I’m an enigma in an igloo. A safari in succotash.

I’m a goldfish in a golden fishbowl.

I’m an unread book in the back of a locker of an unloved Freshman.

She said she liked a man with charisma, so I bought tap shoes,
I wore them to church and everybody looked at me like the devil;
I gave them to a homeless man and now he’s with my girl.

I waited all afternoon and when the spaceship came down
the boss didn’t let me on board, something about my dependency
upon puns and self-effacing negativity. But I don’t get it.
I guess his logic is just alien to me.

I want to carry a video camera everywhere I go
and film the stones turned over and the roses smelled.
And when it all goes to hell, I’ll hide under a bridge
and watch my life in rewind while the sky turns purple
and the forests vaporize, humming a tune from 1996.

But the quintessential question at the root of it all:
should a man take a bubble bath?

Brickwork

Like brickwork.
Laying on the pieces:
this shirt, this jacket,
this ego…
this maniac.

Come to me, naked like a child.
Squish my bones.
Hijack my mind.
Fly me to a foreign place,
and ransom off my pretty face.

Binary codes explode…
I release my breath,
watch it fog and dissolve
in the vast midnight cold.
Each particle turning
into an icicle.

Christmas cards on the mantle.
Crustaceans screaming in the pot.
Black and white movies on the TV.
The dogs digging holes in the yard.
My mind marbling…
wobbling…
marveling.

The birds warble, the wind blows scarves
and coats and opens secret drawers; I stand
in the steam of this dream moving forward,
a man trying to hold on to my hat and courage.

My bibs and scabs.
Books and Instagrams.
This hurtling, hurting dance.
This prophetic meeting of chance.
Coming together in the ether,
the dead and the breathers,
the unreal and the believers.

Mix-and-match mishmash.

Stop Signs and Wooden Crates (repeat repeat repeat)

Bubble gum bubbles.
Heart-throb heartache.
Record player playing records.
Come repeat my repetition with me.
A simulated simulation of a hologram,
a planted plant wilting in the wintry days.
Everything gray, everything drifting away.

I’m here, if you knock, I’ll answer.
I’m waiting at a stop sign, waiting for a sign.
I’m digging through previously dug holes,
looking for a new route to Chinese factories,
where I heard they’re manufacturing a new Me.

Blow in, blow out.
We’re like turbulence,
shaking old ladies’ beehives,
just a sand drift on the seaside.

There’s an empty bottle
on the window sill…
still…
I don’t know whose it is,
which booze it is,
but I’m sure I had a sip,
and maybe I had a fifth.

Define the definition of the repetition.
Sitting in the kitchen, staring at the kitten.
We’re both waiting for milk, for something real.
Innocent and vulnerable; only…
my thoughts kill.

Hers purr.

She jumps in my lap, I jump back.
The mouse runs across the floor,
we both attack. We measure our fur
against some foreign odor.
I think I’m human. She thinks she’s a cat.
She’s more sure. The world rotates
like a rotating plate. I stand at the window,
I stand at the gate. The wind comes and oscillates.
Our bones shift and grate, end up in wooden crates.

The last thing you’ll hear from me, sung by a singer
in a Karaoke bar, is “I’ll stop the world and melt for you.”
But we’re living in a tundra with no sun ta’ warm up ta’.

T.S Elliot
B.S. Smelly Shit.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I’m beat.

cat