Christmas 2017

It’s Christmas and nobody was at the Car Wash so I went through quickly and wished “Merry Christmas” through a closed window. It’s the day we get with family and drink alcohol with breakfast. It’s the day the entire country shuts down for a pagan tradition. It’s the day we celebrate when a boy without a father discovered a message from a princess on a droid.

The super-industrial dryer blows the water off my window. It smears into progressively smaller drops until the final one is wiped from existence. I drive out without vacuuming because I don’t want to get out of my car. I drive down La Brea, the only car on the road.

I play the game where I pretend I’m the last human left in the city. Everywhere I go I’m the only one. I wonder what I would do? And if it would matter without anybody else to see me do it? If a tree falls without social media, does it make a sound?

Playing Tennis on an empty court, the balls just pile up against the opposite wall, a yellow ring at the base of a green mesh fence. I’m sure after a few months I wouldn’t even use the free car washes.

I get home and clean up to go out for a Christmas meal. The city is hazy and the news is shitty. Donald Trump is being a Grinch and confrontational, throwing a presidential tantrum on Twitter… such is our world now.

George Clooney gave 14 of his friends a million dollars. I wonder what I would do with a million of George Clooney’s money.

It’s Christmas in Los Angeles. My friend is waiting for me with spiked cider.

I’m so grateful for my friends.



silly little stilt walker

A crevice apart; splitting hairs and sharpening darts…
A neon sign blinks, when the last softball team clinks
their glasses… all asses, holding our soup hands out.
For stew or ghoolash; when did you see me smile last?
I was a gladiator, Scrabble champ. I’m going places,..
I’ll send you a postcard from the goddamn mountaintop.
I’m a son-of-a-gun, hole-in-one, dimple in my cheeks.
I’m your humble parakeet. Mermaids and layaway plans.
Burn through journals. Hard-boiled gargoyles are so loyal.
Lay down like a speed bump; cut down like a tree stump.
Snuggled up in the back of a banged-up red pickup truck.
Silly little stilt walker, come be my apple orchard manager.
We’re extra everything extravaganzas… George Costanzas.
I’m half vowels; an easy score. I’m transcribed from afar,
from the back of an oblong bar singing Smith songs…
I could be the boy on the moon or your cornstalk menace.
All the seasons at once, every year… I’m a LA angel.
With all the proclamations of a drunken preacher,
I drink orange juice and make sure the cat is fed.
Ain’t this a diamond mine of dynamite.
Ain’t this a drag…

This skinny dance avalanche
life of a hologram…

One or two
more of them
is all I ask.


Colliding Particles

charcoal on the walls
diamonds in my lungs
troubleshooting on a whim
getting high on self-doubt
overloaded by memes
cancelled by debt
intermediary friends
smoking pipe dreams

crate and barrel roll into the street

All hail the burger king

Comedy in threes but tragedy only takes one

Colliding particles dancing at the show
window down California sun
Megawatt Instagram smile
Riding on a camel’s back
fingernails cropped out
in the corner doing poet work
living through the dissolution of truth
documenting every feeling
till they’ve all lost all meaning

The word counts swell
poems fail
ships set sail

Dissecting texts till your heart collapse
translating tremors till they taper

Battle Scar Galaxy

I’m an astronaut on rotting cheese. I’m six feet deep buried to my knees.
The whole whirling world is whorls, earthquakes, hurricanes and whores.
I’m a snail afraid of the razor’s edge with a 21st century laser in my hand…
Shifting through the gigabytes… drenched by dripping fuel from jet planes.
I’m a little like Buck Rogers… but nobody’s heard of Buck Rogers anymore.
I’m not sure I know who Buck Rogers is anymore. I’m an outdated reference.
I’m a little like a velvet Elvis… star of my one-man self-centered crisis center.
This small world of shopping malls, selfish selfies, and soft-served hearts
has me transfixed and entranced — my pants fall down doing a white boy dance.
I’m going to a party of mimes. Everybody’s eyeballs pointed sideways nowadays.
We explain our strange feelings by copy-and-pasting other’s strange feelings.
I’m a crustacean on a Central Coast pier. I’m crawling out of a Cubic Zirconia.
It’s a diamond made of radio waves and gaslight. Carefully curated masks.
Gorging at the News Feed trough, living through a paranoid pretend presidency.
Not sure if I’m the brave puppet or the cave shadow, or if it’s mental telepathy;
I’m paintball splatter… but it don’t matter in this beautiful Battle Scar Galaxy.

Speaking into a Cricket

there’s a shining sea,
somewhere beyond plains
of shimmering billboards
and bumper stickers
and shit towns,
and if you come around,
you can hear the sound
of the bald eagles
fighting the sea gulls,
California people
wetting their whistles
in the wind,
growing opium poppies,
taping old sitcoms
we are
the lost albatross,
raised on fear factors
and disappearing factories,
we are
the blast from the past…

Didn’t even get a license plate
Lighting incense, acting like shit’s just–
Car alarms and disco balls
Earthquake faults
underneath the asphalt
consumed in an avalanche
at an avocado pit stop
a stethoscope on the velvet rope
anthrax in your syntax
sweet poetry in the envelope
doing somersaults on trapeze
trap doors, I always trail off
at the ellipses…

My head’s a half gallon of Hennessey
(but I don’t drink the stuff)
Got leftover Halloween candy in a junk drawer
Got pinched in the nuts by that drunk dwarf
(make myself laugh like crazy Uncle Mort)

If there was one word you could put on your tombstone?
Oh, fuck it, I don’t like that stuff anyway.
What? The mush. Oh, I forgot.

My grandfather died 28 years before I was born.
But he worked on the trains. Riding them in the midwest.
That’s why I wonder if I have train whistles in my blood.

They say print is dead. I write this on an Apple.
Eve is on Instagram. I swear I’m a righteous man.

This is such a nice cave of winddings… living in L.A…
get my smoothie from the dive thru… speaking into a cricket

I got a pocket watch tower.

Change my email signatures every month.

30 Seconds

Not often do you come across a story about a stick that is worth transmitting to written word, but I believe I possess such a story.

Five years ago my best friend, Rob, was in a horrific house fire. I got the word that he was scorched on 70% of his body and clinging tenuously to life in a San Francisco Burn Ward.

The man, my friend I knew since 16 and considered a brother, in one form, or all forms, was gone. That’s all I understood.

I told everybody I knew about it. I told them how sad it made me. I was mad that my girlfriend at the time wasn’t sad enough. I went out that night with friends and we got shit-drunk. We shared stories and wept and talked about him in the past tense in a Fairfax bar, warm and untouched by fire, always catching ourselves awkwardly. Then my friends and I went on a walk through the sleeping neighborhood and were comforted a little by pin-dropped stars in a vast and mysterious sky.

I was wearing the robes of despair when I came across a stick, a plain old branch from a rather unremarkable tree, and instinctively picked it up and carried it with me. It wasn’t bigger than two feet. There was nothing unusual about this stick except that when I held it in my hand I felt within it a special power. I got the feeling that as long as I held onto this stick, and protected it, and as long as the stick was intact, Rob would be okay.

I came home and placed it on my mantle. It didn’t look strange or anything. I had a gold-painted rock and a stuffed tiger with gold chains in my living room already. The stick was right at home.

The stick gave me hope, even though I knew it was just an ordinary stick.

The stick stayed on my mantle for many years, and when it left the mantle it moved to a spot in the corner. Rob not only survived the fire, he recovered spectacularly. Last December we went on a ten-day trip to Europe and had the time of our lives. I was wrong that night when I thought in one way or another, Rob was gone, he is very much the same man on the inside I knew from before the fire, just with some scars on the outside.

I know the miracle belongs more to the fine doctors at the hospital than to my “magic” stick, but even Rob would agree that the stick at least factored in somewhere.

Before I get to, I hope, the interesting part, let’s recap…

In a time of emotional need I selected a stick and bestowed upon it a higher meaning. I knowingly manufactured a myth around the stick that gave me hope. Something to believe in. This on-the-spot spiritual story gave me succor when I was suffering and that’s probably why I held on to it for so long after the danger had passed. At this point it WAS a magic stick, because I had declared it thus, so I needed to make sure that stick was safe, even though I knew it was silly, that Rob’s life wasn’t somehow protected by this dead piece of a tree leaning against my wall, that it was just some thing I had drunkenly conjured up.

So this takes us to today; wherein our story takes a tragic turn.

While moving furniture around I placed an old window frame on the ground and heard a loud crack. If you’ve ever collected firewood you know the sound. It was a sharp severing that reverberated off the wall. It slapped my ears with an unmistakable, cold finality.

I stopped. I didn’t look down. For a brief moment I was terrified at what I carelessly done.

An episode of 1ooo Ways to Die flashed through my brain and they all starred my friend.

Right that instant, in my head, I saw Rob slip on a banana peel, choke on a milkshake straw, and break his back doing a mean windmill on the dance floor. All because I didn’t look where I set that damn window down!

When I opened my eyes I saw about a third of the stick had broken off. I also noticed how the leaves on the potted plant next to the now-broken stick was drooping. I had to make this right but I couldn’t put the stick back together again.  Inspiration struck. I picked up the larger piece of the stick and dug it into the dirt to use to prop up the drooping branches. Rob is now healthy, happy, a great friend and supporter to all, it only makes sense that the stick is now being used to support the tree.

It was the stick’s destiny to break and now be used in this fashion. Breaking the stick was what was meant to happen all along.

That’s what I was now going with.

For five years I held a sacred belief that the stick held one meaning, that it protected Rob’s life like a magical amulet or talisman or what have you, and within 30 seconds of that belief being tested I made the switch to believing it now represented Rob’s personal growth and supportive nature…

Rather than face the negative conclusion of my beliefs, I revised and altered the story so that both Rob and the myth could live. It now holds another form of symbolism, one that doesn’t result in the spontaneous and/or bizarre death of Rob.

I mean, spelling it out sorta confuses it, but it’s akin to immediately going from the bible being literal to allegorical. In 30 seconds.

I’ll let you decide whether this story about a stick is fascinating or not. I guess I’m being clever because it’s obviously really not about the damn stick, but the stick being a representation of something else (much like these words are just a crude representation of what it felt like to hear that stick snap and have to come to terms with five years of myth-building being tested; a stick figure drawing in a cave, if you will).

It’s strange that I was very aware of this primitive, almost pagan-like event as it happened, but was still powerless to prevent it.  It’s a rather strange reminder that as far as we’ve come, we’re still very much like our ancient ancestors, constructing Gods from elements and royalty from bloodlines.

We live in a stranger and dangerous moment of human evolution where we’re capable of capturing killer whales and teaching them to do tricks in a giant bathtub but still primitive and dumb enough to believe this was a cool thing to do. We built rocket ships that can carry us to the moon, but only because the two strongest countries were in a pissing match with each other and were seeking a strategic perch with which to obliterate each other.

We’re living in a time where we’re too advanced for our own good.

We’re monkeys holding loaded guns. Just because we have thumbs doesn’t mean we know the best things to do with them. And though I comment with a better-than-thou snark, I know I’m very much half man/half caveman too.


Ferocious Still Life

Amid all the noise, in the middle of all that crowd, with a vast sky above and an Earth filled with bones below, somehow we keep dancing like the only two people in the world. In that little space we find ourselves still. Atoms no longer oscillating individually.

I never thought I’d crave still life so ferociously.

Locked by a stare that contains novels, masterpieces wrapped in lips. If I could capture a tenth of the feeling your hand woven through mine produces in words this poem would embarrass Neruda, Keats would tip his hat. There would be seminars based on what I meant when I wrote: the quenching of Latrice brought phantasmagoric delight to every corner of the hobbit house.

It’s the way you dance that makes everything alright. Like there was no yesterday and no tomorrow and all that matters is the next chorus. Your eyes find mine like the butterflies find Mexico.

I think it’s your laughter that makes California poppies super bloom.

When I hear your voice, inside my heart a bird nest takes shape. And I crave to hold something so delicate that it makes my entire body shake ever so gently.