30 November 2009

Excerpt from "The Silly Ones on the Backs of Receipts"

Use more verbs instead of adjectives. They have more punch.

(I'll have more punch, especially if it's spiked.)

He wondered aloud if the world would end on a cute note instead of a gruesome one. What if our days were numbered once a giant teddy bear appeared and hugged us out of existence, rainbows taking our place?

My teddy bear Velcro is as old as I am. He has no fur left.

Words I use most often in my poems: scatter, intention, and, tired...

My thoughts are scattered today, displaced. I wonder if there is a universal mind; I wonder if said mind catches these thoughts as they slip away from me.

Or perhaps I'm elevating humanity like we always do, like we are the be all, end all of everything, when really, we think more about nachos, bills, and attractive swimwear than anything remotely theoretical and salvageable.

I would now like some nachos.


29 November 2009

Anagrams Never Lie

Evangelist, evil's agent--
a telephone girl, repeating "Hello."
Conversation, voices rant on.

The eyes, they see
the meaning of life, the fine game of nil.

Protectionism, nice to imports.
Eleven plus two, twelve plus one.
Admirer, married,
Spiro Agnew, grow a spine.
Anagrams never lie—reveals a renaming…

Untitled

Light                     scatters, your face, lined with light and shadow, a balance of dream and wake.

I told you of my nightmare, the cat screaming in an overflowing pot, backburner,         covered

to muffle the horror. That was the last time I saw you, tears connecting      your lashes, your eyes

      my mirror. I shake and you hold me. I yearn for a lullaby so that my dreams are filled with the

vibration of your song, even if the         words blend with the stains on the ceiling, take shape in

         imaginary clouds.


Negative

A
grainy image
leaves more to
the imagination.

Out of focus, it is
an unreliable inter-
pretation of your
face—

An
inkblot for your
nose—eyes are
speckles, or holes.

Somehow, I feel
shaken, like you-
’re missing your
soul.

The
canvas is there,
but not the pic-
ture. Instead,

A
blur, a shell
distorted, re-
imagined.

No Birds (Sung at Vauxhall)

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
“If you squeeze a little too tightly, you might kill the bird.”
– Ed Gein, famous American murderer and grave robber

Through trial and error, consequence. No birds, no bush.
When they found her, they said she was hanging by her feet,
headless, ripped open like a deer. Skulls used as soup bowls,
corner posts for his bed and living room décor. Her head,
however, was never found. When he was arrested, he did
not fight. He confessed to using human skin to upholster
chairs and lampshades. When given anecdotes by a
psychiatrist, he answered truthfully. “There are always
consequences,” he would casually say, sometimes unprompted,
sometimes through a grin. “I don’t care much for birds. They
make too much noise. I like silence. I can get more work done.”
It was a little bird that told me to be careful of silence.


Sleepy Printer

I dream. I leave a
tiny print on the glass,
the surface of your mind.
It’s still. I hear the hum
of machines, the beeps
of a sleepy printer.
I dream. The words wrap
around my fingers tightly.
They bind my hands. I can
only press one key at a
time—poke, poke, poke.
The computer forgives me.
I dream, close to the
canvas, microchips warm
to greet me.


28 November 2009

Catch

For Dan

I think I know this land, the shape of it,
the baldness of each shadow, the curve of each tree.

And then I fall forward, and instead of flying,
I crash-land. I'm surprised at the strength of my
call for help, my guttural howl.

I'm surprised at the rhythm of concern that follows,
as the ground warms from the sun and the birds land near
to investigate.

It's hard to be angry as the wind
whispers, "I'm sorry," and the trees sway
to compensate, catch falling leaves.

I am thankful for the wind, and the trees who dance with it.


24 November 2009

Show Me Mary

With five minutes left in my back pocket, I approach you (all superficial smiles and long underwear). This is the cute one, in all white, and she reminds me of some child I saw in a coffee shop in my hometown, her mother all Triple White Out, mostly foam. Everyone loves the coffee as much as Clint Eastwood loves the snarl.

I'm almost late, and I feel like the White Rabbit without the vest. MY heart is pounding, MY stomach is growling and wants more than coffee, dark juices sans vitamins. I am the typical polite one; the cute one in all white looks like me only from a different time, one with imaginary tea instead of coffee, with principles instead of obligations.

I'm late, and yet I'm always the first one there anyway. Show me, Mary, how does it go?


Potential Storms

“You don't have a soul.
You are a soul.
You have a body.”
- C.S. Lewis


i am not
from a rib
but from a kiss.
i am not
from the sand
but from the stars.

sometimes i pretend
i don't have a body--
i am not contained
and i am infinite,
energy that cannot
be created or destroyed--

a constant breath, a breeze.


Clingstones

O, culture. You can't fill
a scrapbook with bullets.

It takes so many hours
to forget to fix the clock.

As the orchestra of frogs
prepares the instruments,

I'm reminded that I'm not
supposed to be in awe,

because it's all been done
before. The familiar isn't

supposed to be exciting.
(Unclasping the same bra,

kissing the same woman.)
O, culture. I wait.

The children's eyes
are covered--I wait.

Like the meat of a plum,
I hold onto the center,

because of magic, because
when the flesh rots, I know

there will be some-
thing left to cling to.


Entropy

I lack punctuation like the droplets
that scatter Id like to think

Im absent for a reason like I
leave residue the heat
from your palms

There is no safe space in fractured
time minutes that scatter

It isnt surprising to go days without
using my voice waiting for you
to call to know to answer

I dont share unless Im invited and I cant see
the forest for the trees because I dont want to

It is easier to be invisible scattered
amongst particles
and the days spent counting them


19 November 2009

Paper Hands

I got these paper hands don't wanna hold nothing that won't cut that isn't delicate.
Drug fizz got her brain all wonky no talkie just sips and leaves with a stick man.
Stick man no Hunter no Allen no Neal, just a wannabe fuckrocker with bad intentions.
At first seems nice now seems rapist now seems fizz fizz fizz see through hands.
The voices drown out other voices and silence just happens suddenly inside an egg.
Reminded of that short story, we are all eggs but we don't know it until we are drunk.
Until we pretend we are empowered radio action scared into origami into folds of oblivion.
Until we pretend we are noise white noise stuck between pages don't wanna hold nothing.

18 November 2009

Unintentional

I wonder if the shape of this flesh
is complicated by the electricity within it.
(The sky can't be a cruel joke.)
In my dream is a face I've never seen,
electric eyes. I look to the ceiling,
the pasted stars--glow-in-the-dark--
and trace the shape of a storm cloud (unintentional).
I've spent a lot of time in this body,
and yet it feels borrowed, not mine.
Are faces recycled sometimes, a Julia
in Eighteen-fifty now a Sandra in Twenty-oh-nine?
A different face appears, and I swear I've seen
those lips before, those eyes, but where?
Feeling electric, I caress this dream, careful
to ignore this (clumsy man-made reality).
They don't know how the electricity
got in our brain, in our heart. How can it keep
time, this constant dance? The sky can't be
a cruel joke but it's silent.


Good

I haven't been writing very good poems lately,
but that's ok. It's about process, forgiveness,
growth--being the flower instead of the weed,
being the voice that stretches, tickled
by the sun. I try not to prick clumsy
fingers, and I forget that no one blames
the rose. I guess this is a fine example
of my predicament. I don't know what is good,
if I'm good--a good person, a good
friend, a good artist. I wonder how much
it matters. We ignore the dandelions
until they're out of control.

16 November 2009

Clock Checker

I wish I could spend
a little more time with these ancestors.

If only I could return the favor,
give them something lacking circumstances,

cliché: the-rain-that-greets-Seattle,
the I-love-you of process and habit.

Sadly, a screen is not a face.
I inherited this gap from someone.

I inherited this depression.
The scraps of cloth that compose

this quilt stretch-to-cover-gaps,
bare evidence. This child is cold and hiding.

The monster can't hear me breathe.
It is with this insight

I hold my breath anyway. It concerns me
when I relate to songs about addiction.


15 November 2009

Creep

I'm helpless or helpful, depending
on which piece of land I'm standing on, and yet
the grass gives under my feet all the same.
My shoes feel the difference. My head is in someone
else's dream.

I'm assuming you can read this.
If so, you should know that I have a song for you.
It isn't well-written, or even pretty,
but it has to do with the skeleton of your goodness,
how it's buried in a shallow grave, a collar-
bone sticking up out of the ground.

This is your shining moment.
I wait for you to remember me.


Untitled

Something tells me
that the big bad wolf is getting carried away.

In San Francisco, the buildings are the woods,
shadows in the alleys without
the blessing of trees.

But we can pretend, as the pigs sit dazed
in their offices, waiting for faxes, filling
spreadsheets from memory. Facebook is minimized.

The wolf can imagine it really clearly--plump
creatures, warm and average.

Our tension is where we least expect it.
We fold a page over, somewhere
in the middle, and forget to return to the scene.


13 November 2009

Tenant

First, she's twenty-three, with a coy expression I recognize in myself. Then, she's twenty-six, and the bass player is lighting her cigarette in black and white, a coffee stain in the corner. That half grin is solid, knowing, and I'm stricken by how much she resembles my mother at that age, all fresh and dangerous, a dab of color on each eye. Flip the page and she's thirty-four with shoulder pads, pointy breasts, another few pages, and she's forty-something, a wig for a crown, at a tea party with mis-matched dishes and deviled eggs. And I wonder where the first expression went, that coyness exchanged for wisdom, for heartache, a whisper instead of a yell. That half grin is still solid and knowing. I never knew her, and yet her finger prints smudge the corners of my visit, and somehow, she's permanent, a tenant in a memory revisited, casually observed, mourned by an outsider.

11 November 2009

The Answer, My Friend

How hard I try. Dylan on the radio. Clumsy whispers against glass--we draw shapes in the steam. How hard I try to recognize slow hums, your throat, boiling water in your chest.

I'm alone here. Pillow is damn cold. Answer's blowing nowhere--it's a rattle in my skull. I am alone, watching bubbles rise, multiply. I blow at the foam, my dinner almost done. I burn my hand by accident. Clumsy whispers--"shit!"--and I eat dinner alone.



10 November 2009

The Right Way

I want to be a writer, she said, in her telegram voice. I want to lack indifference.

I didn't mean to alienate you, her eyes shiny and silver, fingers crossed and tongue tied. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings.

There's an awkward pause. She thumbs through the notecards in her head. This is the right way to speak. This is the right way.

I want to be somebody, she said, a crack between words, crabgrass sprouting. I want to live with books. I want to be polyamorous, each page a lover, each book a world.

I didn't mean to make mistakes, her lip chapped, stretched, cracked, red creases. I didn't mean to apologize so damn much.

There's a slight wave. She wonders if it's friendly. This is the right way to cry. This is the right way.


Do Not Eat

To cut it without ruining the frosting,
Use a long piece of floss—
A knife isn’t delicate;
It will tear at the design,
Smear the roses,
Completely disjoint the letters
That form Congratulations
We don’t want to do such a thing
To something so lovely.
Be patient while I slice.
Be patient while I try to maintain
This perfect confection.
Perfection.
We won’t eat until I’m done.
Take a picture of me while you wait.


On Xenophobia

The object is to walk faster than the moth can fly.
Bigger games are abandoned as little ones push
past—puzzle pieces, small fragments, little truths
to make chaos seem organized, meaningful. Even numbers

are more comfortable than odd. Soft sounds are gentler
than harsh ones—static in my ear, sharp esses stinging.

"Shut up," I guess, is your favorite phrase. I suppose
the trick is to keep on walking. I don't look behind me.

A moth gets stuck between the screen and the pane. Don't
watch as the moth escapes, the shape of a bird in the
background. The object is to not sense its longing,

or even imagine it. The object is to not identify with the moth—
a small fragment trapped between safety and fear.


Dear

She uses all the best words to describe the freckles on an apple,
the grainy skin of a pear.

You have your phone, your business voice. She has her patience.

When the phone is off, she notices the thud in your chest as she rests her head on it.

She’s soft, a ripe apricot—
She dreams of orchards.
You dream of machines.

At the end of the day, her nails are stained with juice—
she laughs as she touches your nose with a grape finger.

She settles for a lazy embrace, a wound you call enchantment, as you settle
further into bed,

silent and dear.


05 November 2009

Indirectly

It took an afterthought to realize
I was the graffiti of your past,
a secret alibi tattooed in places
only the lucky get to see.

I posted a declaration on your door,
made it public, without the intention
of starting a cult. But here we are,
throwing the rotten fruit away
and saving the ripe ones for worship.

I wrote my name on the back
of your shoulder while you
were sleeping. We had fruit
and conversation for breakfast.
"These are the times that try
men's souls," you said, spurting juice,
and for a second I forget who said
those words before you did.

Instead of smiling, I remembered
my role, and left the words for you
to imagine, like the etchings barely
painted over, a trace of an idea covered
by others, an afterthought for sure.


On Nostalgia

Sunshine with a blade in his mouth, we're supposed to assume that's ok somehow, drawing lines across our faces--mustaches, caterpillar scars.

To be told you are a list of disorders, diagnoses, it smacks of predictability, quantifiable somehow. And yet we are always more than the sum of our parts, our squeaky wheels, our oiled joints.

Sunshine splits that chill in me, falls short of raising me up, but with perked ears I know that sound--those leaves, now dust--is too good to be true.

I long to trample in piles, slice them into sections with my legs, fall suddenly only to have the crunch save me, like it always does.


04 November 2009

No Deal

just an aside, i guess, not that anyone
asked for it, but I sometimes question
the weight of numbers, the population status quo,
the data figured and manipulated to persuade
everyone that money is good, worship money, money
is the new love, the old love,
the resurrected christ, round two.

waste those nickels and dimes and enjoy
your addiction, cigarettes piled high next to you,
you're on your fourth martini, and all she wanted was
to be seen, wanted to marry the woman of her dreams,
and it doesn't really matter anymore, because
christ loves money and not people.

rub buddha's belly for luck at the tables,
kiss that rabbit's foot before the races.
the people have spoken, and they want trash. the people
have spoken, and they want more, more, more,
more, more, more, more, sung to the tune of wheel
of fortune, sung to the tune
of deal or no deal. no fucking deal.


03 November 2009

Wrong Number

pick up the phone an absent caller, wrong number, or maybe it was on purpose, to plant a seed in my ear, if venom was fertile. but to be open about the matter invites opinion, sharp teeth, feigning concern. all i know is that i'm sorry, if i hurt you enough to drive you. i do the best i can with the smile, the pen, the frailty of words, of mistakes. all i ask is please don't spear me. spare me. i cross my fingers you got the wrong number.

Stolen Footage

a life, a page--cotton fibers woven into shapes, we wear the brand, walking billboard, walking life, two-dimensional.

is there something behind the crosshairs--the blurry victim in front? the mental trial, devil on each shoulder?

this is right and wrong, a different brand--singeing hairs, bubbling flesh.

a life, a page, a short story, a blurb in the paper--the shape of a man, three children, divorced, he wears the brand, walking life.

elsewhere, a brain splattered on the convertible, she scoops chunks as best she can, not knowing any better.

the blurry victim, a meditation on hits, runs, circumstantial evidence, a devil on each shoulder. we dream.


01 November 2009

ghost of reality

memory
ghost of reality
or shadow,
interpreted
fragment of minutes

my brain,
a filter
i want the pure
experience
i want the whole

eat you up
drink you up
plate for plate
cup for cup
this is the blood i shed for you
this is the flesh
take and eat
take and eat

what
that face
in the mirror
that face
reflection
refraction
a fraction
of worth, of self
not real
ghost of reality
one-sided

like our argument
like my memory
an interpretation
half the story
half the truth
ghost of reality
or shadow,
interpreted
fragment of minutes


The Feed

This is the shape of the machine.
This is the shape of the god you created.

Wrap your legs around magic, spliced
for your entertainment, for a fraction of the cost.

We don't know where to stop.

This is the shape of things to come.
Send me a text while you slap her around.

Hush, child, while we gather, spliced
for your entertainment, for a fraction of the cost.

I kill you all with a six-barrel shotgun.

This is the shape of the terror.
This is the shape of the system we do not want.

Crave, come despair, headlines spliced
for your entertainment, for more than we bargained.

I'm in love with something that I can't see.