Tuesday, June 29, 2004

The sound of stone

Her brother has given her a stone from Nice.
She has it in her pocket. When she rubs it she
swears she can hear the ocean, the waves
colliding into the cobbled shore.
She is going there to return it.
Take the A to JFK,
then a Boeing 757 to Paris,
and finally the Euro rail to Nice,
but first, this downtown D local.
6:30, Saturday morning and it is as crowded
as it is on any given rush hour weekday.
And not because it is running local.
The 80+ in each car, every seat occupied
with shut-eyed strap hangers, are Uptown:
The Harlem Black, the Washington Heights
Dominican, the Bronx Boriqua and lesser
shades of brown from parts unknown.
She wonders how the stone will sound
when she rubs it in Nice. When the concierge
gives her a thick mat of a towel for the beach.

The train stops, inappropriate between stations,
She hears the sucking of teeth, disgust in 3
or more languages and feels their eyes find her:
Sunglasses riding above her forehead,
sweater draped over her shoulders,
Coach weekender at bend of elbow,
Swiss Army Pullman in hand.
An A express jettisons past the stalled D.
She watches, its cars nearly empty,
cleaner, and yes, whiter. Hopefully
she thinks, it will be waiting for her at 59th Street.
She seeks anonymity in her newspaper.

The hostages still suffering in an unwelcome world,
awaiting the shimmering release of another man's sword.
Yes, such a shame about the hostages, the suffering.
They go there to work, make money for their families
back home. They must have had targets taped
to their backs the moment they stepped on the tarmac.
The culture shock, coming from everything to somewhere so sparse.
And then the ungodly happens, capture.

The train jerks and ambles to the next local station.
She balances herself and her luggage to the silver pole.
Watches them, all of their eyes closed, guards down
under the meditation of the subway's motion.
She wants to read the prayers trickling out their lips,
learn the math of their struggle.

The train stops. Doors open. No one gets on.
She looks at the face of an older man.
His face, used to the stare of strangers, is like a mask.
A devil's mask. A wrinkled ruddy barman face.
His hair a thick greased back black. He wears a green
laborer's uniform, rests his bloated belly on his lap.
She looks at the plainness of the teenage girls slumped
beside each other at the paired window seats.
Their summers sandwiched in these air conditioned cars,
getting their beauty sleep between express stops.

In the sports section, the American Tennis pros are fuming about
the line judge and his botched calls at Wimbledon. They want his
head on a stick, and another shot at the tournament. Who remembers
the asterisk next to a champion's name. And who cares about those
who do. They don't write endorsement contracts.

The train jerks, rocks like an empty cradle and she bashes
into the silver pole again. She touches the scab she scraped
off a rough weekend at the Hamptons. Pets but does not pick.
She looks at the man to her left, sees his cell block
green tattoos ladder up his over sized sleeves.
Letters, numbers, symbols she cannot discern.
He is better off, she decides.

The D train makes it to 59th Street. Her A train long left.
She exits into the wave of heat from the platform leaving
nearly all of the passengers. When another A express
comes it will have 10 varied yet more familiar identities.
She will take one of the 70+ empty seats and finish her paper
on route to the airport. When she takes her seat on the plane
she will rub the stone her brother gave her and the ocean
will sound a lot like the D train.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

jerk crash cicatriz

telepathy has taken over. i no longer have to ask where it hurts.
right there behind that uterus ricochet clong, yellow bruises

pattern fate like the hollow blocks of a xylophone.
im thinking of heads shaped like hers.


pero no puedo pensar asi.

waiting rooms are evil. suspense can break even hunger.
their television yanks through my mind master delete

and commercials with smiling babies present themselves,
like this one, at the most inopportune times.

ive ripped out every prayer written from my
pentecostal years and made promises i wouldn’t

normally keep to turpentine these scars before they were wounds.
i ask for a break. symptoms have grown plump these days.

my worry doll from guatemala understands the secrets,
more than the punching bag she uses when no one is looking.

lungs have lost their job description
and i try to barter with god,

my hair for hers,
a poem for a swollen belly.

no armor could protect her there.
a canyon pain like black tears barracuda.

im thinking of visiting hours and what I would say to her
after vomiting a third time that day.

pero no puedo pensar asi.

my face has more lines since wednesday though.
the napalm burns between my ribs and

she wants to be the god mother to every single
one of my children even more now.

her face tells me everything.
the cancer planet has threatened an invasion.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Whiskey & Soda

There is a tiny bottle. Always
this measured dose of whiskey
for the turning of Friday night.
She empties it into a tumbler,
bottomed with crushed ice,
discharged from the hungry mouth
of the refrigerator.
Then adds a spritz of soda water
from their antique seltzer bottle.
A relic:
Gift from a friend long dead
for a wedding long past.
She sips her scotch and soda
in front of the television,
watches whatever he is watching:
the middle of a game or movie,
This does not matter - like walking.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Somewhere Far From Shawano

There are people who are meant to be
with out certain things--
glasses, ice cream, love, dogs.

There are people who are always going
to ruin what they touch;
There are people who give away too much;
There are people that stay silent watching us.

There are days when you need a sandwich
and I make you a sandwich and
you laugh near me and I think of
a stand of maple trees outside Shawano.

There are days when someone steals
all your cds, your bike,
your heart, your favorite pen.

I wrote this because I could not say what I needed
to you today because I did not know
how I really felt until now.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

love, new york, eleven a.m.

and it was during the last round of holy rolling
on a Sunday morning that the hymns became
lullaby/ and the preacher's drone stroked the eardrum
like a tired hand/ and the eyes slipped into the excellence
of a dreamt mattress.

eleven a.m. and all the critics love you in new york.

and it was off the edge of the mattress
after an evening of sweat-filled eyes/ lusting/ open
to the possibilities of love/ and the lack of sleep
heavy in the air/ and the empty
corsets taking up precious room in the bureau

eleven a.m and all the critics love you in new york

and it was the cracks in the photo of san lazaro on the bureau
faded with years of supplication to a god that
listened only sometimes/ and it was the faith that
shook to the bone/ and it was the whispered prayer
that reached the roof

eleven a.m. and all the critics love you in new york

and it was the afternoon of sunbathing on the roof
outstanding like girl you knock me out soaked into pores/
and it was the catcalls of quema quema quemarikwini
bugalu lovely cocoa butter skin smashed the barrio
like no worries, no worries, I got this sun

eleven a.m. and all the critics love you in new york

and it was the first glint of weekend sun
doused in the chrism of holy lovemaking the night before/
and it was the long kiss goodbye when the taxi came
(life has other plans sometimes)/ and it was the phone call
expected sometime after church

eleven a.m. and all the critics love you in new york

and I still enjoy watching the crowd file out of the church
from my perch across Madison/ and I still feel you in
my joints at the scent of fried catfish/ and I still know
your body when lenny plays I belong to you and you (you)
you belong to me too
(but I still hate catfish)

eleven a.m. and all the critics love you in new york

and the catfish frying in the church/ and the lord's roof
pondering the sun/ and the mattress and the bureau
say their amens/ and you are morning gone, still, loved

in new york.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004


I would share this Sunny Day Real Estate cd with you if you'd promise to
sing as if your voice were a black, crushed velvet holding my hand.


I drown my sorrows in women.
Sorrow spreads like crabs.

Sometimes, I need the assurance
of ex-lovers the way most

people read their parents'
newspapers on the beach.

I would sleep in your bed
if the price weren't so high.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

More of a song than a poem

(Imagine Music)

Last night I was
drunker than Jenna Bush
I fell down the stairs
but I swear that I got pushed

I can't tell you exactly what I drank
And I can't tell you exactly how I stank
I puked in the hallways and I puked on the lawn
Then I found a cop who I think that I pissed on

Cause last night I was
drunker than Jenna Bush
I fell out the car
but I swear that I got pushed

I woke up this morning locked away in jail
Without a single friend to come and pay my bail
So, I sat there all day just hanging out in my cell
Til the jailer let me out because he said I smelled

And last night I was
drunker than Jenna Bush
I fell off the world
but I swear that I got pushed.

Friday, June 11, 2004


Pink. Hot pink. With a little, tiny, micro-sized bow in the front. A thong, of course. Victoria's secret. That's all I know, which is quite frankly enough. Believe it or not I don't want to know. Yes I love women, and I undoubtedly love their panties. My question is, why do I have to know all of this? Buy some higher-rise jeans or maybe a nice long sweater. In casual conversation your undergarments should not become a subject of interest. If it was, I would tell you that mine are boxers, with little, tiny, micro-sized thumb-tacks, scattered about in a beautiful color arrangement by Tommy Hilfinger. If I didn't tell you this and you didn't ask then you should never know that my underwear is "tacky."

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Pickle Allergies

Some things develop later in life. Love interests, hair-loss, taste in music, lactose intolerance, cancer, etc.
In this particular case it's an allergic reaction to pickles. Not dill, only the Kosher ones. Not to be anti-Semitic, it's just the use of preservatives is different between the two.
Not sure if it's all pickled foods, and never will, for fear of uncontrollable itchiness and swelling.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

The Most Gratifying Self-Love Ever

is cleaning your ears with a cotton swab.
Yes, I said. Yes. As I turned the little staff.
If I were a lesser man, I would fill my days
with the slow rotation, the slow friction.
Instead, I ration myself to once a day.
After all, I only have 499 swabs left.

Sunday, June 06, 2004


Bathing orange glow
A cement world is empty
Trees have no place here

Blacksmith Sestina (apologies to Abena for the title)

he is learning slowly that the days
between heartbreaks are not fixed
by some preacher, tailor, blacksmith,
or milkmaid. The story of his sleeves
is one of tragic tearing, biting, gnashing.
this is the soul of metamorphosis.

where butterflies begin metamorphosis
by enveloping silk around their days,
the teeth of the evening slowly gnashing
wail their chain gang song, fixed
upon the furious bloodstains on the sleeves
of the woman who would be blacksmith.

the hammer drops. perplexed blacksmith
smashing swords in iron metamorphosis
wipes her brow on frustrated sleeves,
refusing to drink. His are sterile days
of hairs standing on neck, eyes fixed
forward, knuckles and feet gnashing

in rhythm to fingers and bone gnashing
against the forehead of the blacksmith,
stubborn, nihilistic, refusing to be fixed
unconscious of his slow metamorphosis
over these impossible grinding days
etched upon both of their tired sleeves.

the light threads of lace upon sleeves.
a bride's father nervously gnashing
his teeth. a mother prays for better days
like a twitch in the hands of the blacksmith
spending her life living the metamorphosis
of the butterfly, her anvil still fixed

to the ground. today, two lovers are fixed
like heavy stripes upon the sleeves
of the dawn of their metamorphosis
gone are the hours of iron gnashing
iron, here and now, steady blacksmith
smiles at the recompense of dark days.

he will have done with the gnashing.
he will feel the lace in her sleeves.
he will live in the marrow of her days.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Work Haiku

Boss slumbers. Home. Hung-
over. I slog. Sunk. Sober.
Hours to go before

Lune III

He was in
the room when I decided
to go BANG!

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Webbed: A bit part on the W

She sips a soda.
He is being spun
and does not feel the train stopping
what is in the wake—trouble

is not hard to find drizzling on this island.
It confuses him why not enough people carry umbrellas;
around him rummed posters sit wet with advertisements for some
sharper, happier, fuzziness.

Fizzy sips of soda.
And four blocks west old docks clock the waves rocking the boats
stopping the water from being too still—

Still he knows that Jersey does not equal Brooklyn does
not equal him or this sick shooting—shooting something
pretty near him—maybe it pained him just to see that,

Or maybe he misfired.
But deeply wrong streamed red from his finger quickly
like web from a spidered man,
as she sipped her soda.

Where did he go?

Dear God

Dear God,

Old Father Craemer tells me that you'll forgive anyone of anything. He says that it's our own pride that keeps us from being with you. Is this true?


Lune II

This bright white
chair holds my body just
so urging sleep.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

domestic violence

Middle-class families don't go for the face.

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