Archive: 2005.1

Left of CenterComeuppance (or American Foreign Policy, Simplified)Mostly PowerlessReincarnation WishlistUntitledEven At 70 MPHStoplightMyths & LiesThe Crows (Don't Give A Shit)Bugs In His Brain (Incomplete Take)Left Eye Brighter Than The RightBlack Was The Color …That Updike StoryA Grumpy Ballerina, Damn It (for Henry)

Left Of Center

I've fallen in love again, fallen for
a writer I've been reading for a month,
a woman I've only seen in the b & w
photo on the back of her book, a
woman cursed, by her own admission,
with tiny, heart-shaped lips and apple

Without even trying, she's found her
way to my heart via the Corleones
and Neil Young, Edward Hopper, college
radio and most things left of center.
She's glib and sarcastic and funny,
passionate about what she loves and
even more so about what she hates.

Sure, she loves Sinatra and the wrong
Elvis but we can work around that.
Anything is possible with the most
amazing woman I've never met.


Comeuppance (or American Foreign Policy, Simplified)

Imagine coming home one day to find
that someone has rearranged you
furniture simply because the couch
in the corner didn't suit his particular
          And imagine this happening
every couple of months, chairs recovered
with patterns you've never seen,
family photos replaced with generic
             the walls a continuous new
shade. And imagine that every time
you readjusted, every time you could
navigate your rooms, the bastard
came and
               did it to you again. Wouldn't
you begin to stay at home, waiting
for the next break-in so that you
could finally tell the guy once and for
all, in no
             uncertain terms, to stay the
fuck out of your house?


Mostly Powerless

Look at all those birds, I thought,
as I walked out this morning, look
at all those fat, lazy birds, a hundred
of them, maybe, not really flying,
more life drifting in some kind of
random formation. But they weren't
birds at all, just balloons -- red, white
and blue, of course. Signifying ......
what? That everything drifts away?
That we're all just full of air?
Was all that latex and helium
supposed to mean something?
Supposed to contain what nothing
short of a body ever could?
Balloon and t-shirts,
sentiment and platitudes --
as useful as a matchstick in hell,
a rowboat on a diamond sea.
Time, I've heard, takes its crazy toll
and we're mostly powerless to do
a thing about it. Or so it feels.


Reincarnation Wishlist

I want Charleton Heston to return as the
bullet lodged in the back of an innocent
little black boy; I want politicians to
come back as deaf mutes with nothing
but a vague remembrance of their voices
endlessly looped; pro-life marchers
should return as crack babies, right-wing
journalists as single mothers. I want
to see warmongers back as the severed
limbs of mine victims, Irish Catholics
as Jews, Palestinians as Serbs, Orangemen
as Muslims and so on. Every crooked CEO
will return as a line-crossing scab,
every unfaithful husband as a woman
scorned. Mostly, though, I simply want
to return to Earth as her and she as me,
we, still and always, as we.



It shows up all the time, my
predilection to write about
burning skies and clouds on
fire, an unconscious desire
for destruction, some kind of
hard-on for Armageddon.

I don't know why the fireballs
appeal the way they do, a black
and orange backdrop for all
these little morality plays, a
biblical passage cribbed from
the back of some old metal album.

Maybe there's a warmonger lurking
somewhere inside, trying to
devour what it sees as a weakened
dove, an opportunist akin to
some or another cancer, a cell
to be destroyed before it mutates
into destruction itself.


Even At 70 MPH

Going to or running from,
at 70 mph we pass a woman
on the Thruway, her battered
car the purplish shade of a
kool aid flavor.
                      We can see
her trunk is riding low and
the back seat is piled high
with junk and no method.
at 70 mph we can practically
see the cheap, chipped nail
polish, smell the stale cigarette
smoke, taste her desperation.
Even at 70 mph, it's obvious
that her purple car will never
go fast enough.



"Honk" said the car behind me.
"Honk, goddamn it" said the car
behind me again, only more emphatically.
"Honk, honk, honk" screamed the
car because the driver, I'm guessing.
was probably pretty important --
maybe a doctor racing to the
lab with the cure to end all
cures or a lawyer off to court
with brand new evidence. He
could've been a senator late for
a vote, a priest off to perform
last rites. Or maybe he was
just an asshole that couldn't
wait for the stoplight to turn


Myths & Lies

It's all bullshit, you see --
John Wayne never went to war,
Jackson Pollock never rode a horse,
McCarthy wouldn't have known a
communist if he was one and Jim
Morrison was as visionary as a
blind cat.

I usually don't mean what you
hear me say and I'm sure I seldom
hear you right. All those words
die slow, torturous deaths, releasing
the vapors that become myths and
lies, filling your lungs and tearing
my eyes.

But they're not the good myths,
there's nothing Greek or Roman
about them. They're just sad,
sad little tales, internal rumors
that have grown wings and headed
straight for the glow of the streetlights,
not knowing enough to stay
closer to the shadows.


The Crows (Don't Give A Shit)

The crows don't give a shit
and that's okay.
They don't know about bloody
wars and the politicians
who start them;
they don't know about poverty
and who blames whom;
the crows don't give a damn
about visitation rights and
cut-rate lawyers, about front
row seats and the smell of
They don't care about out-of-print
books or lousy movies or a woman
dancing naked atop a moving
fire engine.
Not one crow cares about cancer,
death or taxes, not missing children,
drug abuse or all the isms in the
The crows don't care about you
and they don't care about me.
They show up every night at
five o'clock, emerging from
the pink and purple horizon like
army planes on a mission, taking
their places on the empty limbs
and surveying an abandoned
downtown that they'll soon rule.


Bugs In His Brain (Incomplete Take)

There were bugs in his brain,
the man sang,
bugs in his brain.
But he didn't feel any
pain, so I guess it
was a good thing.
Maybe the bugs ate
the pain, feasted on
the aggrieved nerves.

What if all the pain eating
made the bugs bigger and
stronger and meaner?
What if they turned the
man into a bug himself,
like that story about the
guy in the store window?
What if all that shaking
were the bugs trying to get out?

Before the bugs could
make it out, though,
the man stopped, the
music stopped, the
invisible pain stopped,
and, so too, I'm thinking
did the bugs.


Left Eye Brighter Than The Right

What's a little exhaustion between friends?
What's a sudden collapse now and again?
A round of brittle nerves
and some temporary blindness,
left eye brighter than the
right, pupil darkened out
like a classified document.
The ghosts of dying brain cells drift to
the floor to pop like bubbles, releasing
information of no use to anyone anymore.
Information we'll retrieve and reassemble
once again tomorrow.


Black Was The Color …

Black was the color of my
record store clerk's hair,
long and straight and touchable.

Black was the color of my
temporary paramour's clothes
and then blue denim.

Purple was the color of the
backpack I wanted to hide in
beneath the counter, waiting
to be lost and found in one
of her quiet rooms.


gray was the color of the
sky as I headed home, knowing
full well that I would have
bought anything she offered,
answered any question if only
she had asked.


That Updike Story

There is nothing, and I
mean nothing, sexier than
a woman with a cello.

You can keep all the
mannequins and tit-flashers.
Give me a woman familiar
with the shrieks and
moans of that thing, her
instrument in place and
a bow at the ready.

Violins are fine and
some voices will take up
residence in your spine.
But I know all about
that Updike story and
what a cello, properly
played, can do.


A Grumpy Ballerina, Damn It
                         (for Henry)

A grizzled, walrus-like man,
so big and mustached, atop a
magnificent horse. The man
dressed up in western wear,
street-sign belt buckle, Texas
sized hat, voice as smooth as
stubble and rye. He's a
character actor,
medication pitchman,
miserable as a rule.
And every morning, the boy
and I wonder if his off-hours
are spent enjoying the comfort
and feel of a satiny tutu, his
eyes intimating that maybe
he is, indeed, a grumpy ballerina,
damn it.