Questions Begging For a Treat

Do you save the best for last?
Or do you eat it first?
Do you eat the crust?

When you catch somebody smiling,
do you smile back?
Or do you bat your eyelash,
and wish you had?

Do you curse at traffic?
Or get on Instagram?

Do you drink dark beer?
Do you read in bed?
Do you watch reality TV?

Do you hate the sound of your voice,
when it’s played back to you?
Do you ever get a crush on someone you just met?
Do you ever hold your breath when they enter the room?

Do you like to stand on your head
and feel the blood rush down to it?
Do you get excited when your mom calls?
Do you like to play air drums
to the beginning of Black Dog?

Do you answer questions from strangers?

Do you know what your first words were?
Do you ever think they were lying to you?

Do you catch yourself telling the same story,
over and over and over?
Do you ever worry you bore people?

Do you ever wonder if God made the world
so He would have something to laugh at?
Do you ever watch rain collect in puddles,
and wish you were a dolphin?

Do you wish you could play guitar?
Do you wish you weren’t afraid?
Do you wish you could do more than
slide words around a computer screen?

Do you want to cook dinner but have somebody
else do the dishes?
Do you wish you were somebody else?
Do you know the capital of Luxembourg?

Life’s a series of questions,
begging for a treat.
It’s not that complicated,
get up and do something.

Modern Man in a Tin Can Fruit Stand

Digging through junk drawers,
looking for old photos, yo-yos and lollipops,
all I got are receipts for evenings
that happened too brief,

Bracelets for nights I wasted…
Swerving with the Bourbon
The curves I can taste it…

l’m carrying this luggage to New Brunswick…
Setting sail for New South Whales.
I’m done, I’m returning to London.
I come undone when you pop a button.
Trying to remember last December
when I got lost in Boston.
Washed ashore in Myanmar.
On my last legs on Nebraska plains.
I’m lost and legless in Las Vegas.

Folding pages on poems I never wrote,
Hold stories of woebegone I never told,
I’m the Michelin Man on Michigan Ave,
The psycho-ist bicyclist that ever spoke.

Hold me down,
otherwise I’ll be up
inside the clouds.

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Waiting

I was waiting for Henry to come out of the bathroom. He’d been in there too long. The bar was nearly empty and I was impatient to get going. They were an hour late, it was obvious the girls stood us up. The night was falling apart like a cheap burrito.

Henry wanted to keep going. I wanted to get home to see if she called. Perhaps she left a message on my answering machine. Maybe there was a family emergency or something? Maybe her car broke down on the way to pick up her friend? Maybe her friend broke her leg racing down the steps to the car?

Why would she not show? She was the one who approached me in the laundromat. She was the one who suggested she bring her friend. I thought she was better than the rest. There was something special about her, her sarcastic grin, the way she laughed at all my jokes — even the bad ones.

I thought she’d be somebody who stuck around. Now, it doesn’t even look like she’ll show up.

There was a smattering of decrepit regulars attached to the bar. One of them, an older man with a five-day stubble and an ill-fitting suit stumbled over to me. His eyes were sparrow-like and fire hydrant red. He smelled like the inside of a doctor’s examining room.

Without any disclaimer he launched into a rickety sermon. “When I was younger I couldn’t get enough of fucking, know what I mean? But now? Now I think I’d rather go to sleep in freshly washed sheets than with a hot, young piece of ass,” he lectured crudely.

I knew if I said anything back, it’d only encourage the drunk to continue talking. It was just like me, though, to not be able to control myself. “I don’t see what’s wrong with having both,” I joked.

He laughed, a cloud of gin tumbled over me. “Yeah, well, there’s still time for you, I suppose.” He held his glass in the air and with the same hand pointed at me, almost spilling its contents. “Why is it…” he slurred, “that women keep us waiting so long to get ready?” he asked.

“I haven’t the foggiest…”

“I’ll give you a hint. It’s the same reason that you make a dog wait for a treat?”

I thought I saw where he was going with this. “To show us who’s boss?”

He took a sip of his drink and grinned. “No. That’s not it at all. A woman makes you wait, because you will.” He patted me on my shoulder, and gave me an odd look like he didn’t know where I’d come from or why we were talking. He blinked confusedly three times and then drifted back to the bar.

Henry came out of the bathroom, pinching his nose and squinting at the old man. I could hear his heart thumping. “What did the geezer want?”

I felt the odd sensation that I’ve met the man before. Or that he could read my thoughts and saw through me. All the things I wanted and suffered for. I wanted to tell Henry all this but I knew he would just laugh.

“His wife just passed away,” I lied.

Henry swiped his hand through his hair, changed his tune. “Oh, man. That’s terrible.”

“Yeah! Life, right?”

We both stood there for some time, looking at the old man and looking at ourselves in the mirror behind the bar, our cells deteriorating, our fingernails creeping longer, our future sneaking up on us, before Henry finally broke and shouted into my ear, “Come on, let’s get the fuck out of here. I wanna meet some chicks.”

Wolf On Your Roof

I’m a wolf with my hoof on your roof.
I’m a moose loose in the caboose.
I’m squeezing juice from a noose.
You’re stuck on simple,
I’m hiding like a pimple.
We all got the collywobbles.
Walls collapsing like…
socio-economic systems.
I’m the murderer and the victim.
The dolt and the lightning bolt of wisdom.
Wanna be my paypal?
Be my lover and stay awhile?
My friendster?
Kiss my Facebook.
Stay out Myspace.
Wanna be my
downloadable file?
Easily digestible,
with a head full of vegetables,
making just left turns.
I burn, I learn, I merge.
Everybody wants to be a bird,
but nobody knows how to fly away.
Everybody wants to be king for a day.
Everybody has something to say.
I sit on the stoop looking stupid,
looking for cupid, a new you
to deal with my sewage.
Wasting days like pastrami
folding inward like origami,
drop drama on a llama.
We pause like a comma
whenever our lover
walks in with the pharma…
See… what I’m doing here,
I’m on ya’. Clear… as a
long trip after a bong rip,
we can make this shit disappear,
as long as you wanna.
In the meantime — some me time.
Chewing eucalyptus and eucharist.
In the rear view, the thought bubble…
“you the best.”

air-guitar-teen-wolf

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 with 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