Poet Laureate of Tinseltown

One:  I’m sitting here alone.
Two: if you get this letter, please don’t reply.
Three: I’m coming to get you — in an El Camino.
(It’s half car/half truck, but all useless;
just like me, half man/half shit-for-brains.)
When I pull up to your place, I’ll honk three times.
That way you’ll know it’s me… come to take you to the beach.

But don’t just run out, make me wait, then bring your dog,
and then tell me you don’t have time for the beach —
you’re going to the lake. Make me wait. Make me beg.
Like your dog for a treat.

There’s a major arctic melt — that’s why I’m drowning in beer.

It’s 2 am and I’m working the words so they stand up and inflate,
take up the stars, make children stare up at them in wonderment,
like a blimp over a sporting event, or their father yelling… drunk again.

We’re slide projectors missing a slide.

I have a coupon for two hamburgers I don’t think I’ll use.
I have two hamburgers in the pan that’s dripping grease.
Grease is playing on the TV, I don’t think I’ll watch.
You’re watching me — I’m staring at the ceiling.
Is it just me? Or the minute you think too deeply,
you begin to get that claustrophobic feeling?

I can’t get parallel to myself, even if I wanted to.
Perpendicular? Yeah, every damn day.

When I call your name in the middle of the night,
come give me hell — because 9 to 5 or 5 to 10, we’re all in a jail.
I’m pouring my pennies onto the shelf, and you’re telling me,
“You’ve got nothing to sell.”

But I’m just here to buy. Buy. Buy. Buy.
That’s why God gave us thumbs. To act all dumb.
Masturbate and cum. Make yourself numb.
Because we’re born and then we’re done,
and along the way we get some gas…
like a road trip.

Don’t trip.

If I don’t let you lift me up, you won’t let me down.
If I don’t text you, you can’t autocorrect me.
If I don’t let you in, you can never leave.

The Hollywood Sign hovers like a waiter waiting for a tip.
Out my window I can see the palm trees and the breeze
and the rat race running out of cheese.
I can see scantily, I can see breezily,
I can see desperation and intimidation…
I can see the piano on the mountaintop,
I can see the archetype you based your heroine on.
I can see princesses in towers,
I can see succumbing. Bludgeoning. Pummeling.
I can see a man with a shopping cart and a novel he wrote… dirty-torn.
I can see dirty porn. I can see thirty lone women wishin’ for a prince.
And here I sit, fistful of wistful and a tin crown, poet laureate of Tinseltown.

piano

Ode to Beyonce (the trickster unearthed another word-world, ha!)

The water is stained. Rust. Something else. Blood?
We move through it, up to our knees. Mosquitoes everywhere.
There is applause on the mountain top… or thunder.
Most of the recruits have fled. Afraid of bombs and God
and their publishers… We hiked through a pile of bones…
surviving on fairy tales and tequila.

The spine of our books are crooked,
contaminated, beaten down by brazen bandits
and bad news bears… thumbed through by careless
interlopers that turn operas into heart surgery,
blankets into badlands…

I’m a collection of free radicals,
protesting nothing…
buried in a mineshaft of J Crew coupons
while an owl swoops silently over the battlefield
and hope dries up and becomes powdered sugar
in a bowl of cartoon commercials.

Come dissect me. Come protect me.
Come put me in a formaldehyde jar.
Plant me in the garden. Punish me.
Pulverize my bones.
Vaporize my poems.

Talk to me in Icelandic.

When we’re alone your fingers are cold.
There’s a grassy knoll I want to walk with you.
There’s an island in Mexico I want to die with you.
When we’re alone I can barely hear you.
We sing like Elliot Smith
with a belly full of shit,
yell like Modest Mouse
about dishonest crap.

Put gas in the car.
Feed the cat.
Tell your mom
you’re not coming home.
Tell your dad
you’re going to make him proud.
Throw kerosene on the cabin
and have a smoke.
Hike to the river
and throw in a joke.

There are cattle horns on the Chevy,
a bevy of women stripping in the back,
there’s a poet crying about his shadow,
and a white rapper looking to battle.
Is it a fantasy or 1997?

We throw rice
at the newlyweds,
lice at unruly heads,
dice at the screwy kids.

Do it twice for the movie reel.

I’m a cannibal comedian on cannabis.
Self-contained foxtrot dancer,
magniloquent and magnanimous,
I’m Los Angeles, I’m Palmdale.
I’m raw as a coconut, cocky and kinda nuts.
I’m here in the flesh but I’m not all there.
I’m kind of a slut.

Sniffing wasabi, eating uncooked chicken,
tattooing Xs on my heart like a man that just
read a good book. Wear cutoff sweats,
and my girl says it’s not a good look.
String poetry along like a married lawyer,
dripping sarcasm like a wet cat in the froyer,
squeal like a teenage girl eating fro-yo, oh no,
the malconents are renting next door, overtaking
Luxor and making pie with gusto.

Figuring out algorithms for rhythm…
Building prisons for wisdom…
Scurrying wildly like a lab rat in a bathtub.

Some say we’re doomed… just hush up and put on your joggers.

Clip my fingernails.

Your shirttails stained with shit trails.

Be kind to me…
let me linger like a curse word in church.

Insert metaphor and malaise here.

This one’s for you, dear.

heart

Just the Onions

All the vegetables were lined up on the tile counter. Peppers. Onions. Mushrooms. There was oil heating up in the pan. Her favorite song was playing on Spotify. Everything was ready, perfect…

Oh, except she hasn’t poured herself a glass of wine yet. She put down the knife and uncorked a bottle and poured it into a glass. She took a sip and it tasted good. It was a dark color of red that immediately stained her lips. She heard the oil sizzling behind her. Shit! She still had to cut the peppers and onion. Her timing was crap, wasn’t it? Always has been.

She took another sip to calm down. Now, where did she put the damn knife? Her head swiveled, searching for it, bobbing around like a broken Pez dispenser. The oil was now burning, a braid of smoke staining the ceiling a brindle color. She turned the stove down, looked for the knife, found it on the bar. She breathed in, trying to keep control. Her favorite song was over. It was a song by Loretta Lynn. One of those tragically beautiful songs about loving a man who is up to no good. Her cat strolled into the kitchen, peered up at her, squinting, then turned around and walked back out, indifferent.

As a slow burning sensation rose in her chest, she reminded herself that all you can do in this life is take things as they come, don’t rush. Another sip. She picked up a green pepper and cut it in half and scooped out the tiny seeds. Seeing them spill out made her stop what she was doing and put the knife down. How many future peppers could come from just one pepper? A million? A billion? She knew this was an exaggeration, but it made her feel better, anyway — like when somebody says ‘I love you more than you’ll ever know,’ when you know they don’t love you at all.

There was just a finger of wine left, she finished it off and poured another one, this one all the way to the rim. She looked at the clock, calculating how long until he was supposed to arrive, then figured she had to put on the meat soon. Where was the meat? Shit! It was still in the fridge. Now she’d have to put it in the microwave to defrost. How could she forget such a basic step? It’s not like making fajitas is hard. Why was she making fajitas anyway? He told her they needed to talk, not eat Mexican food.

She pulled out the ground beef, threw it on a plate and shoved it in the microwave, took a gulp of wine, and then started to chop the onion, whacking down hard on it so that the pieces went flying off the cutting board. Bam. Bam. Bam. “What’s the point of making a man dinner, if he’s just going to storm in and change everything out from under you?” She mumbled quietly. A hot rage ignited inside her, made her see red. “And I hate fucking mushrooms!” She screamed.

She picked up the small pile of white porcini mushrooms and dumped them in the trash can, then slammed the lid. She put her hand to her chest, struggling to catch her breath. It was happening again. The locomotive of anger was speeding out of control. At this point she gave in, realizing there was no point in trying to hold it back. She unfurled a ragged banner of profanity that would make Sam Kinnison suggest she tone it down. “Fuck him! Fuck him! Fuck him! Fuck his fuck-face! Fuck his small fuck-dick and his shit-fuck tattoo, and his mother and his stuck-up cunt-sister. Fuck them all!”

The tirade exhausted her. She stood in the kitchen, leaning over the counter, panting. A tear exploded out of her eye, bouncing off the tip of her nose like a snowboarder on a half-pipe, and plopped down on the cutting board next to the onions, followed by a series of even larger tears. A gushing stream of salty rivulets eroding away her cheeks created the world’s largest tear delta. She was heaving, gasping and choking, exorcising the demons of every heartache and disappointment in her young, fragile, fucked-up life when there was a knock on the door. Three masculine raps upon wood. Bang. Bang. Bang.

She steeled herself, wiped her face, and picked up the knife. She held the rubber handle in her hand and analyzed the steel blade, twisting it around so that it caught the light and reflected it about the kitchen like a disco ball. Was she always going to be the victim? She asked herself. Was she always going to let men hurt her?

He knocked again and called her name through the door. She inspected her face in the reflection from the blade, her eyes heavy and lupine, then took the knife with her.

Just before opening the door she swept her bangs to the side and managed a smile. “Hello, darling,” she chimed.

“Hey,” he said, a bottle of cheap wine in the crook of his arm. Just like him to bring two-buck chuck. Cheap motherfucker! He deserved everything coming to him, she thought.

He was dressed in jeans and a denim shirt unbuttoned to his chest. His face was slightly unshaven.

The oil was still burning in the pan.

When you stop and think about it, we’re always at the furthest edge of our lives: always as old as we’ve ever been, always as young as we’ll ever be again. We’re forever on the boundary of what was and what will be. The precipice of everything, and nothing, at the same time.

He gave her a one-armed hug, then kept his hand gently on her shoulder “Have you been crying?” He asked her.

A seedling of a smile sprouted on her cheeks. “No, it’s just the onions,” she told him, and stepped aside so he could enter.

fajitas

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