Potholes and Panhandlers

March 26, 2014

If it has been said that we look like ants—
after a long winter, we now look like bees.
The way we bob and sway between potholes
our vehicles doing a choreographed dodging dance.
And the potholes, God bless them,
patient panhandlers with their hats flipped upside down, take a bow—
will you toss in a quarter?
They wait for alms,
graciously offering to swallow my tire.


March 2, 2014

The most common use of surreptitious is with the -ly suffix: Surreptitiously.
But to use it as a noun, “He is surreptitious” is surely loquacious behavior.
However, I’ve been more interested in the root: Surrep-
which can sound like syrup depending on how you pronounce it.
Although there’s always been something unsavory (no pun intended) about syrup.
It lacks couth, where molasses, with similar viscosity, seems able to maintain integrity.
Syrup, or especially surrep- owns decidedly clandestine attributes.
I stole the idea of molasses, it seems to say, replacing it with an imposter.
And perhaps you aren’t even aware of the difference.


February 24, 2014

According to etymology crisp is defined as meaning
“to become brittle”
though the use of brittle, I attest, would have to be its pejorative form.
Brittle’s connotations suggest something less desirable
as though calling a potato chip “brittle” would be an insult,
which is the highest of inconsistencies,
since I doubt anyone would want their chip soggy or leastways, malleable.
It is not a mistake that Chips and Crisp are nearly identical and easily mistaken in their spatial relationships:
The isss sounds with no ‘Z’ and the hard ‘P’ defends its case with its own onomatopoeia;
the sound of a chip crisply snapped;
or breaded and fried chicken crunching in my mouth;
or a hard pretzel crumbling over molars;
or glacial mountains thundering with a splash into the ocean;
or the popping of meat over a fire; edges browning, blackening until carbon laces the steak in gristle.

Crisp’s associations with brisk are prevalent.
A winter morning is both crisp, and brisk.
And the proximity of both words in tandem is utterly delicious.
Say it, you’ll see. Crisp. Brisk. Mmm.
The crisp briskness is a crisply aural sound;
the hard sucking of teeth in response to pain or in sympathy to it;
the crust of the snow that has melted and refrozen atop the powder;
the temporal slate that squirrels skitter over unimpeded by the snow’s depth.
My own boots, for a moment look like they will walk on water before crashing inward;
Snapping like a crisp chip, salt particles flinging into the air.

God is Calling

February 20, 2014

The backlight is lit and flashing.
The phone is rattling in my hand.
But I wonder if I will answer?

I see him in a hole in my sock.
His peach-colored handiwork swirls
Peek out into a fabric-less world
Where my footprint is his fingerprint.

The words you have said—
I am the door
I am the living bread
I am the light of the world
I am the good shepherd
I am the resurrection
I am the true vine
I am the way
I am the truth
I am the life
I am Jesus

—can I believe that?
Why have you made such a fragile me?

I’m masquerading false humility.
What good is it?
If I got turned inside out
And saw the way I really am
What would I think of me then?

Not intestines, entrails and organs.
But abstractions and presumptions.
I am dead while I breath.
This is fodder to feed my fears
And proof that problems
Never go away by ignoring them.

Hello? I say.
It’s me, he says.
I know.


February 18, 2014

On the sand it all makes sense:
Lay flat, balance, position is important.
Feet at the end of the stick, paddle out
And paddle through the whitewater.

I’ve got to go outside.
I’ve got to go to the unbroken waves.
I keep staying in the whitewater.

Go straight out through the oncoming whitewater—

You’ve always told me
Take that surfboard straight through the waves—
But I’m stuck in the whitewater.

You tell me to trust you.
You tell me to take courage.
That you will keep me afloat.
That you will save me.
Can’t I stay in the whitewater?

Why must I be Peter?
Wasn’t he enough?
I am content, so don’t call to me.
That’s a lie.
I’m in the whitewater.

But don’t call to me.
It’s churning and I could never—Come
Haven’t I come far enough? Can’t you come to me?
But I have
You’re beyond the whitewater.

When will I stand up?
I must kneel first.
Will I ever kneel first?
I’ve got to go through the whitewater.

Brewing Beer

February 17, 2014

—for Mike

I can make a clone
if you give me the right ingredients.

Brewer: Me.
As far as batch size is considered,
taste my preferred draft first and if you like it enough, have as much as you want.
The color should come as no surprise: Dark—one might say brooding—and ambiguous with a bite.
Yes, it’s very bitter.
ABV? It’s called intoxication for a reason. The less I have to think, the better.
And most of my fellow brewers would agree.
I call it the All American Dream Ale.
Equipment? My equipment, of course. It’s all anybody’s got.
The Boil Time is all day, every day. Never know when you’ll need to be ready.
Don’t want to be caught unprepared.
Mash Profile: Single infusion, heavy body(burdensome even), and a lot of mash out.
Taste Rating: As long you’re not a connoisseur you won’t be able to tell the difference.

I can make gallons of this stuff
so close, you can’t tell I’m a counterfeit.


February 10, 2014

there’s roadways, freeways, expressways, throughways & parkways
don’t forget the airways, even the waterways.
maybe we should break away
or getaway
before things start looking thisaway:
down the passageway about midway to the entryway is the doorway
that leads to the alleyway where about someway to another pathway is the driveway
follow that to the hallway & about halfway to the stairway is the gateway.
no way!
let’s throwaway thataway straightaway
let’s go sideways
let’s give ourselves some leeway
let’s fallaway, walkaway, & giveway
let’s be like Wilson & castaway
so we can make headway on this speedway & runway
let’s ditch the highway & take the subway
or vault up the gangway & stowaway
let’s get off the fairway, lose the raceway, forget the causeway
take the byway in everyway
until we’re underway.
which way?
let’s go this way.

Bigger Better More

December 30, 2013

Robert Creely imitation—
“The Warning”

I wish my hands were bigger so that I could hold more of you;
that my arms would grow longer to wrap around you like mummified linens.
I wish I could exhume your deepest secrets like an unstuffed taxidermy;
pull them out, pile them up, and print them in the dailies.
I wish I could pluck your out your eyes,
stringing them like Christmas lights that would glow through July.
I wish I could trace your outline with police chalk,
so I could snap photographs of your curves to shelve in the evidence room.
I wish I could crack your breasts like eggs, pouring them into a molding cast
to preserve them in bronze marvels at an excavation.
I wish I could rip off your ears like pink mushrooms growing along trunk roots;
clasping them up to my throat so you can hear every sweet nothing whisper.
I wish I could swallow the looping licorice crescents of your lips
savoring the finest cut of rare steak with each bite.
I wish I could knock out your teeth and tongue to keep in jars;
shaking an instrument the emanates the sound of your voice.
I wish I could replicate your hair, unsheathing strands like scrolled blueprints,
thumb-tacking each down to sketch the angles with a pencil.

For bigger, for better, for more of you, I would.
And yes,
For love-I would split open your head
and put a candle in behind the eyes.

When I say I love you, this is what I mean: I am never satisfied with being close enough.
I wish I could graft myself to you with a blow torch,
heating our skin until it melts together.
Like when our fingers intertwine into a ball of squirming snakes,
hungrily swallowing each other to get warm.
I want to cross section every piece of you,
So that I can know you inside and out like my own personal Mudder Museum.

At Last

December 6, 2013

Where men are finished with their speeches and can finally hear God
I hold my arms above my head and gravity pulls them down against my muscles
And I can hear the earth spinning—all the groaning of millenniums—
Trucks braking on abandoned highways, wheat stalks bending in forgotten fields,
And all of it spinning—held close—and forever fragilely intact,
With the precarious balance of a top—that in a moment it should fall.

Prescient Children

December 4, 2013

We sat in the basement, my cousin and I,
The prescient phrase, “one more year” exultant on our lips.
We savored the imminence.
One more year until he would have his driver’s license.

What a long time coming that had been, and how far off it had once appeared in the future.
And how far off it is now in the rearview.
Adults drove cars. And we were almost adults.
But all I see any more are children.

In the checkout line there is a tear-off calendar next to the register.
It says, “Born after this date? No Tobacco.”
But I cannot stop looking at the date. 1996?
That’s five years younger than my baby brother.
Those are children.

Can these children really buy cigarettes?
They used to be preschoolers; drooly-mouthed and training wheels.
They’re just kids.
It’s children who are drunk driving.

Did they believe that this moment would come so quickly?
Did they think it would never come?
Will they, like me, find themselves wondering what has happened to all the children?
Do they know they are not children anymore?


December 1, 2013

I wake up, and pull back the covers in my box
to the sound an alarm ringing on my box.
I walk from my box into the box.
I step into the box; soap and rinse.
I open my coldbox to find something for breakfast.
I take my kids to the schoolbox.
I climb into my box and drive to work.
I stare at my box; type on my box; answer my box; write notes on a piece of box;
eat leftovers for lunch in boxes; and at the end of the week
I’ll get a box to take to the bank that’s worth lots more boxes.
This way, I can go home to my family in our big box,
where I can sit on my box and watch my 60-inch box.
Or read a chapter in my favorite box.
Maybe if I save enough boxes I can buy an even bigger box.
Or a new box.
And when I die they’ll put in me in a box.

The Raven in my pants.
The Black Cat in my pants.
The Cask of Amontillado in my pants.
A Descent into the Maelstrom in my pants.
The Gold-Bug in my pants.
Hop-Frog in my pants.
The Imp of the Perverse in my pants.
The Purloined Letter in my pants.
Eldorado in my pants.
The Masque of the Red Death in my pants.
The Oval Portrait in my pants.
The Pit and the Pendulum in my pants.
The Premature Burial in my pants.
The Haunted Palace in my pants.
Annabel Lee (Er—I mean my wife!) in my pants.
The Tell-Tale Heart in my pants.
The Bells in my pants.
The Conqueror Worm in my pants.
A Dream Within a Dream in my pants.

Scars Meeting Scars

October 28, 2013

Scars meeting
scars. While we
were yet sinners.
Squeeze and
exhale. Release. Fall apart. One. Scars.
In the hands. In the feet. The scar from
the rib that
was removed.
The scar from
the spear that
pierced. The
scars in his
hands touch
The scars on
our wrists and
by his wounds
we are healed.

We Are All Monsters

October 21, 2013

A child of God.
Yes, I know.
But when you gaze long into an abyss
the abyss also gazes into you.

But when did the abyss get there?
Did it begin there, grow there?
Who put it there?
And how long has the abyss been waiting?

Since first son killed the second?
Wanting to know what lies beneath.
Wanting to know what crouches at the door.
We who fight with monsters.
Maybe we built it.

The abyss in us salivates at the wreckage:
Gasping over twisted metal.
Moaning with the whining rims.
Thrusting in severed limbs.
Making love to splintered glass.

The abyss in us stares into an innocent chasm.
A one world craving.
It feels so good to fall in.
The abyss is in us.
Look what we have become.

A monster with the eyes of a child.
A child with the eyes of a monster.
Can you tell them apart?
They are a part of all of us.
We are all monsters.

The World’s Only Ocean

October 11, 2013

All of us are interconnected.

There are no boundary lines
separating Pacific from Arctic
the tremor of their waves, the Atlantic, the Indian.
Do not think that the Aegean or Erie are distinct
when precipitation from their currents rises in mother clouds to rotate

over continents we pretend are separated by something more than wars and canals and money
but that isn’t enough to make-believe that we are so very different
separated by space and creed and nomenclature
no, that isn’t hardly believable at all.
None of us remains untouched by the hurricane winds that caressed us as autumn breezes
shouldering in a chassis of slate nimbus
to saturate the gardens that we eat from.
All of us have tasted the savor on our tongue, the salt in our perspiration, migrating to the ocean
where some have said we started.
But do not be so narrow-minded; we are the ocean.

When I look at you, I am looking at my brother
Dear sister, don’t think that we are strangers.

And who is my brother?

We will see the constellations
our bodies return to the same soil
I drink the same water that you drink
drawn from springs stretching back to the world’s only ocean.

Mourning Poem

July 31, 2013

death makes me want to shut down, shut up, shut in and be a child again;
one who doesn’t understand what it meant when grandpa P passed
and mom and dad said he’s in heaven,
one who got excited for him and hoped he’d write a letter and tell me what heaven is like
and for a few weeks whenever we would be in the car I looked at the clouds
hoping I would catch him peeking over and wave to him.
all I want is to be that same child
pulling out plastic figurines and directing toy battles on the carpet with my brother
with an evil boss and his entourage of saber-toothed tigers running and leaping on the hero and his knights and army men.
and even though many of them fall, in the very last moment the good guys win the fight,
killing the boss and his dinosaur minions… and yet, they were never really dead.
as soon as they went into the Tupperware container and the lid snapped shut and opened again, everything was as it should be,
because everyone died, but everyone came to life again to play their timeless part
and even the bad guys got a break…but it’s not like that, and people stay dead
the good and the bad die, the heroes get old and have strokes, and the villains get pneumonia
and I miss them both because the bad never got to know what it felt like to be good, to be loved, to be the hero, to be in heaven.
and I miss the good, because they were good, and it’s selfish and I don’t care because I wish they were here until we could all go together.
but that’s not how it works and grandpa P isn’t in the clouds and I’m never going to see some of those people again.
and I want to cry, but I don’t,
I stare vacantly remembering and wishing I was a kid again;
where none of this mattered, where none of it hurt,
where people like Florence get healed of her breast cancer and where husbands like Danny still got to still sleep next to her at night and hope for the future where somehow they could still be together
and not have to bury his wife
and I tell my own wife “it’s times like these that people get angry at God, when instead they should be running to him,”
and as I say it, I feel myself getting angry.

Beyond the pinpoint of midnight there is a light.
And within that dollop of a spark there is heat,
The flames jockeying for position on a red wick.
From a hand protrudes a slender white candle
That connects to the silhouetted body of a man
There, some unknown messenger of long lost hope.

Like Noah’s dove, he has returned holding hope.
Grasping securely onto the remains of a guiding light
Wax slides onto his fingers as he raises the bright candle,
Incandescence illuminates the hands of this man
Coalescing gently over his skin, it purges liquid heat.
A wavering glow, desperate sparks cling to the wick.

A filament pyre, colors of fire race through the wick,
Cycles of autumn re-imagine the vision of hope
And will long sought deliverance be found in this man?
Has he come that we may walk in his marvelous light?
We in darkness have dreamed of knowing heat,
But until now have had no way to light our candles.

A great and reviving jubilation exudes from the candle
An ever-changing aura of flames frolic on the wick.
The winter of darkness has been overcome by heat.
And with that warmth comes an even superior hope,
As our eyes swell with promise at this newfound light
And it draws deliberately nearer in the arms of this man.

But why would he be mindful of another man?
Who are we that he would care for our extinguished candles?
Why would he come to crown us in his light?
Yet he beckons, that we would come near to his wick.
He promises to generously share this flare of hope,
And we will be renewed by the heritage of its heat.

Carrying the fire, our own bodies will emanate his heat
Selflessly given to us by this figure much more than a man.
And from his coming, we will walk forward in hope,
Abiding in the sight afforded to us by his candle
With his offering we are captivated by the golden wick
That we may forever return with him to the city of lights.

With the consuming heat that radiates from this man
We have understood that he is our only hope and as his candle
Has lit our wicks to burning, he declares, “I am the light!”


July 6, 2013

tell the history, tell the fall, tell the future
from the assembly collecting in the guardrails

half a dozen water bottles, the bright orange caps of gatorade emptied in their pursuit of health,
tinfoil balls, tinfoil squares, bite size crunch bar wrapper with chocolate skid marks,
“made with 100% recycled material” napkins, glass,
stained freeze pop tubes, near a 24 count box,
an entourage of double shot strawberry smirnoffs, doritos locos tacos wrappers,
shriveled trojan “endz” filled with premature passion, mcdonalds mcmuffin, mcdouble,
saturated cardboard and boxes of sleeping pills, caffeine pills, nyquil containers,
newspaper ads bleeding gray ink, cvs bags spider-webbed with wrinkles and brown pools of rainwater,
a flattened pepsi can, tab still intact, sticky with pleasure,
shoprite bags, walmart bags, walgreens bags, one red solo cup,
plastic parts; afro pick, broken kia rims, car parts, happy meal toys, squashed capri sun, no straw,
a condensating reeses cup hoarding ants,
bloated cigarette filters, virginia slim butts, camel cartons, black & mild sleeves, packing noodles,
wendys old fashioned hamburgers, snyders of hanover gluten free pretzel sticks,
cheez doodles, 8 oz, 16 oz, 20 oz, big gulp, two liter, coors, natural ice, pabst blue ribbon,
wawa coffee cups, wooden water ice spoon, perforated raffle tickets with the promise of more

but if you try hard enough
you can’t pretend it’s not there.

meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless!

You Got the Wrong Guy

June 14, 2013

No, no, don’t call me that,
I told you, you got the wrong guy.
He ain’t me, or I ain’t him,
but either way, I’m not the man you’re looking for.
No, no, it’s not up to you, heck, it’s not up to me.
I am who I am, and I’m not him.
You’ve misheard, or been mistold,
you’d be better taking your allegations elsewhere.
Try as you might, plead if you will,
it makes no difference ‘cause I’m not your man.


June 9, 2013

“Nights like these I wish I was dead,” she says
and he nods assent knowing
that could only be but about half true
when she’s been known to exaggerate
every now and then
and how could she know
what dead is like anyway
or if it’s any better
for that matter.

Wouldn’t she be in for it.
But he doesn’t tell her that
because he knows better,
knows that once she makes up her mind
you’d be daft to tell her otherwise.
He tried once and remembers
how well that turned out.
No sir, not at all,
and there’s nothing you or
anybody else can do about it.
So he keeps nodding
and says, “yeah, definitely,” every
thirty seconds or so
but who’s counting?
He’s not.


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