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Beat Down

How fitting
That the printer
Beats
To a time of 5/4;
The most savage
Of rhythms.

Between the Lines

As you were describing the novel

plot and symbolism
character dispositions,
rising and falling
actions
twists and turns in
theme, setting, time
line for line

your friend

lifelong chum
whose booze-
breath babbles
but can still saddle a
stallion sentence

interrupted you

hurdling himself
to the middle of
the mute in
your mouth
between words

to laugh and say, “ha that’s clever”

never  can your momentum
find its way back
now that the conversation
lost its slack

because he didn’t understand you

intelligence
is social currency
you mustn’t act cheap

And now three years later

three years packed into
the empty space between
the lines of this poem

when you think about that novel

infrequent but happens
time to time

you ponder what significance

a different denomination
of social currency

your friend understood in that one part

understood an
overstatement

What clever irony

the currency
of past
prospects

eluded you,

our poetic protagonist

you thought

infrequent but happens
time to time

,that your friend realized secondhand

he was always able to read
between the lines

How to Get Good at Anything

Manuscripts, like muscles,
need rest to build.

Yet, the breath and the body
only hone when willed.

The breach between beauty
and the ugly, unskilled

is the distance from deprecation
to a glass half filled.

Talents lackluster / talents that glisten =
talents laid down / much repetition.

Those who succeed are those who are smitten
by the love of the language no matter who listens.

Dust

…other people.
They are
The city.

The city is
A person forest.

The city park
Bench
Marks
A person for est.

The city is
An (est)imation
Of
A nation.

People concentrate hard
When not
At parks.

The city washes blood
Red hands of
White collar crimes on
Blue collar backs.

The city
Evokes in me
The cliché,
Which is itself
A cliché
Now
To call
Something a
Cliché.

The city is
The common man –
Home from work,
Covered in filth,
Pours a drink,
Sits down to unwind:
Wound up
From drinking
At the filth
Of Work.
Work.
Work.*
Work.
Work. [1]

(*Driving to Wednesday work
Following a marineairforcearmynavy
Semper fidelis veteran:

I hate his truck,
And bumper labels
(adhesive fables),
And I think all American veterans
Are pathetic,
Because any child
Born under the sun
With a magnifying glass
Can burn ants.

I hate him as he
Leaves, turning
Left under
Leaves that
Left tombstones shadowed.

Living domestic partnerships
With drugstore flags,
The tombstones told tales
Of domestic abuse.

Realization shot,
And now
I hate myself
For hating him.

I hate people
That I barely know.

I hate myself
For writing poetry,
And for thinking
Poetry is art,
And for thinking I’m an artist
Because I say Poetry
Isn’t art,
And for thinking I’m making
An artistic statement
By saying I hate myself
For thinking I’m an artist
Based on my realization
Of thinking I’m an artist
For claiming poetry
Is not art
Ironically
In a poem,
And so on.

But I don’t hate hate.

Love
Is the (square) root
Of all hate.
Hate
Is the product of multiplying
Love against itself,
And fear is a factorial!)

1. Sometimes I happen upon ideas within my head that I think are marvelous, and I instantly sit down to work these ideas out into art, or craftsmanship, or utility, or for no reason but compulsion. But as I get through the work, I realize that the whole idea was fleeting and broken into pieces not fully materialized.

The meat of the work comes out instantly, because it was given to me in insight, in epiphany, and the completion of the rest will rely on a substantial amount of personal energy and commitment. So now the work gets abandoned, neglected, and every return meets me with another layer of dust, until the idea is unrecognizable. I might come back and try to complete it, but it won’t measure up to my original vision.

I don’t know… these are no more than just pixels on a screen, right?

And oh ya: Sartre something or other, blah blah, because hell is…

Social Etiquette

At the party,
you’re shoved into a room
because your feet keep pushing you around,
because they’re bossy and without direction,
because they realize that, without them,
you would never stand up for yourself.

The room has nothing for you,
and you,
nothing for it.

The only other organisms
are sewn into the bushel of beige carpet
and nestled under the rims of beer bottles,
solidified in cells of saliva.

Your feet push toward the hall
when another organism,
similar in size,
froths forward into the room
by the same footy misfortune.

You hesitate departure,
pretending your placement has purpose,
only to clear your throat
and let out a single interested hum,
looking at pictures on the wall
as if you’re still the only one:
a compulsive fidget of acknowledgement,
impersonal, impassive and indirect –
like being thirteen and uncomfortably shifting
your position on the couch
while watching a sex scene
in a movie
with your parents.

Turn to leave again,
orphaning your bottle
to its brethren.

Make eyes for the first time,
raise brows,
half smile,
as not to be rude.
Leave.

“Homeless in Sacramento”

harpers-march-2011

This is a poem I wrote based on the March 2011 feature article in Harper’s Magazine. The poem and the article go by the same name.

“Homeless in Sacramento”

I wander the streets, looking for pieces of copper and silver;
I can eat as long as change remains the only constant.
Although,
There’s often more change in my life than in my pocket,
Because the currency of change is predetermined by possessions.

And have very little.

No abode with a basement…
No permanent placement…
Consequently my circumstances change constantly.

Even the constellations, which I myself will arrange
Into figures I’ve fashioned – some normal, some strange –
That broaden my roof to an infinite range
Change:
Perceivably one degree west every night.

There is but one quality I envy in such physical laws:
Stability.
Unfortunately,
State laws imitate the inconsistent chaos of homelessness;
Their similarity in polarity causes forces between them to repel.
– The forces of a place to sleep –
– The forces of helpful humanitarians –
– The forces of a decent meal –
All are repelled by laws administered by a force known as ‘police’.

Until their law coincides with physical law
I will always be a victim of change.

 

The Sky/The Sun

The Sky

The sky,
Cast iron
Overcast;
While
Egg-yolk
Sun Slipped
Under
The skillet

The Sun

Bottom of sun
Pokes from clouds.
I’m mooned
By sun.

The Fruit of Rejection

cameos

I submitted this poem to a Los Angeles poetry journal, and naturally they rejected it, so I decided to edit it and add some.

Cumming of a Creed

What we need

Is the cumming

Of a creed:

 

A doctrine of divinity that

Hurls human from slumber

With

Word thunder,

Instantaneous

To strikes of wonder.

 

It’s near.

 

An over-

Bearing,

Catastrophic

Dogma;

 

Or whatever

Your spirit animal.

 

It shall be of us,

By us,

For us,

In the Abrahamic tradition.

 

It shall encompass

Perfection,

And end compass

Directions

 

Guiding us astray

To the ashtrays

Of our minds

Where thoughts are pinched out

Embers

Laying in heaps

Of perceptual filters,

Yet shielding the Formica countertop

Of life

From collecting dust.

 

It shall explode

Explode

**EXPLODE**

Upon the Hiroshima

Of humdrum humanity,

And

The Nagasaki

Of dismal dailies.

 

It shall be a specter haunting. You erupt

27 years later

When the values

That vested you

Are vaporized off your body by

Napalm napalm napalm napalm napalm

During Vietnamese Kodak moments

That warp your face

Into Edvard Munch hallucinations

Of harrowing beauty.

 

It shall Socratically “WHY?” you

While you worry “why YOU?”

Until your ever present thoughts

Strip the Y U

From intellectual ubi-quity,

And you declare “I know nothing”

For the second time.

 

It shall deflower your comprehension

With Joycean oceans

Of cryptic cry,

And it won’t call the next day.

Or the next.

 

It shall be

Crowley

Circling above

The flower of truth,

Waiting to descend

Once “what thou wilt”

Wilts petals into wonder.

 

And word thunder

Will rumble

As long as

Tongues tumble,

And tongues tumble

All down to the bottom,

Because even this

Fall has an autumn.

Click Here To Skip this Poem

I saw him on my ride to work.

waving from the side of a brick building

telling me his toothpaste will keep my teeth whiter than the rest.

I saw him again laying in my neighbor’s front yard,

sticking himself from ground, telling me who deserves my vote.

he interrupts my favorite shows and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and talks and takls and talks.

I stopped watching television because I’m terrified of him.

he didn’t go away.

I can’t even watch a movie anymore without him stepping on screen for a cameo.

he proudly wears new clothing, imprinted with big letters telling others where he came from.

I’m constantly finding him in my mailbox… I throw him in the waste, but he comes back daily

always looking for attention.

he’s schizophrenic and obsessive compulsive, but I don’t think he knows it.

he turns commodity into necessity by exploiting peoples’ insecurities.

he taught the Joneses the rules of one-upmanship.

he stands on street corners, whoring himself to the public, proclaiming his love for God and country.

he is God and country. (they were created in his own image)

the minds of good people have eroded in his wake.

he wants everyone to share his taste in music…

his sense of fashion…

his hobbies…

his interests…

“The unexamined life IS worth living!” he shouts.

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