Crowd Control

poetry

Running afoul of
the law of
the jungle
with a gun tucked in a belt
with a hair trigger
with a sputter and a cough

they will beat you
to death
with clubs and fists
just to teach a lesson

they will set you on fire
but for the gun and
they will tear you to shreds
but for the hair trigger

but the belt
is tight in the humid
and the sun
and it is too tight
when you draw

and the legeslators
of the jungle
call out their laws
and the cops
have come for you

and the clubs
are coming down
now

April 14th, 2021

poetry

Stasis doesn’t stop time
and as the clock tied
to the bomb inside your
skull wound nearer
to the double-zero,
we were all out playing
parlor tricks on porches
for our friends
in open air
in case some other illness
were to wander through
and kill us to a man

But maybe
it’s a roulette wheel
and the double-zero
is just the space
you put all your money on
as the dice bounce
over and over again
but slower and slower, now
as the stasis sets in
and brings things
nearly to a halt

perhaps we’ll watch them
spinning in nothingness
a fraction of a fraction
of a degree at a time
with baited breath
still just guessing
where they’ll land

and things may slow
to an almost infinite still

but stasis doesn’t stop time
so maybe now
you’re just borrowing
against the house

Every Man

poetry

I was king of the broad strokes
he said to me as he leaned back
in the worn and dusty recliner
that was stuffed in the corner
between plumes of cigarette smoke
and a half built chevy 305
but it was always good enough, you know?

in those days, he told me,
it wasn’t so hard to just get by
with a toolbox and some elbow grease
why I bought this place just four years
after dropping out of my junior class
but I can’t hardly keep my car insured
without a trip to the boys on Cork street

but I’m old now and that’s all there is
he said ashing in to an empty glass
I can’t work like I used to
and I sure as shit can’t go to school
but I still got this place, he shrugged
and I guess I’ll at least be able to eat
until the social security runs out

Long Distance Charges

poetry

I called you up
at 12am my time
10pm yours
on a Saturday night
in January
and you told me all your secrets
like it was nothing at all
as you cut onions on a cutting board
and danced to the music
that played in the back
real low

I was laying in a fat recliner
that was jammed against the wall
so the broken spring was less apparent
as I tried to write those secrets down
and trade you some of mine
but they all just came so fast
that my head started spinning
or at least that would be my excuse
because we’d both rather
leave the alcohol
out of this

January 1, 2021

poetry

I held the broken glass to my eye
in the dimming winter sunlight
examining the chipped edges
like a jeweler a gemstone
as the wind fluttered from the distance
bringing a bare chill from the north
until I looked at you
and told you it was perfect
and I tucked it in my pocket
to be forgotten by the following afternoon

Already Dead One Time

poetry

We stood in rapture on a dew-soaked lawn
in a chill that was early for the season
and you were lit up in that little park
with bright lights on every side
guitar and voice electrified
crooning out hymnals of your own design
while for just a few short moments
all those gathered found themselves
at home again

and I cried in that summer dark
swaying behind line after line
of friends and loves and neighbors
as your voice rang loud enough
to cover the sound of passing cars
while I laughed and smiled
while you shivered and sweat
and if that wasn’t home for you
I hope you find your home one day
for just a few short moments
too

10.24.20 2am

poetry

sometimes the feeling of being so drastically alone
hits you in the stomach at 2am on a Saturday
after all the beer has been drunk and the people
you had spent the day with were all no doubt sleeping
in their various beds in their various houses
and you would almost prefer to choke on something
to take your mind off the throbbing in your gut
and the slight spin that your head is reeling in
but the lights are off save for the glow of your phone
and the loneliness would be stark and maddening but it
is softened by the last few texts you answer and cushioned
in the low growl of the furnace until the thermostat
is triggered by the temperature’s rise and that growl
finally
stops

Montana

poetry

You’ll wait for her
watching a single leaf fall
as the colors change,
blowing cold breath over cocoa
as the window fogs over
in January

Maybe every January

it’s been brisk each autumn
since before you could buy your own
but you’re off the bottle, now,
and even the summer sun can’t offer
any respite from the chill

and it’s so much colder

but you’ll wait
as the last orange bag is tossed
in to the open maw of a garbage truck
and the light jackets go on sale
at the vintage store
on Vine street

All Part Of The Plan

poetry

God stands with a paring knife
that has never been sharpened
so it tears when it cuts
through each of us,
through our guts and flesh,
as we are checked
for worms or for ripeness
or for whatever else God
might be checking for

when God makes his checks
we are left to bleed,
to clutch at our pieces
until we figure out
how to sew them back together
so we can keep on living
except the few that find
that the pieces don’t fit
together anymore,
or realize to their shock
that they never really did
in the first place

Sure

poetry

the color ran freely
and warm and thick
and so much brighter
than I’d ever thought it would

Oh and I had been so tough
and righteous in my ways
for after all mine was the truth
for after all mine was the real live truth

my hands grasped and quivered
trying to keep it in
but there was no stopping
the pooling in the low spots
and the running down the cracks
between the rough-worn floorboards
as paint that had been laid on
as reckless as I

Divinity 2

poetry

there was a torrent of frigid rain
cutting through the morning black
cascading over sheeted ice filling
every pore coating every surface
forging an unlivable Hell
and we lost our footing there
clamoring for safety scratching
frost from our eyes screaming
each other’s names in the tempest
praying to anything to hold on
but then the lightening started
and when the woods caught fire
on either side and I could see
the curling haze in the distance
I reached out for you blindly
but my hand found nothing in that atmosphere
and by the time the smoke had filled my lungs
I had already hit the frozen ground
and lost all of the feeling
in my extremities

April 9, 2020 Or, A Poem About Family

poetry

I remember ever scratch
on my parents’ dining table

I can see if I close my eyes
the chipped veneer
on my father’s end

the puncture from a project
by my middle brother
in the summer of ’03

I can feel my quiet frustration
at the grain not aligning
in the center
when the leaf is out
and sheer annoyance
that the lines don’t match
even when it is laid in
perfectly center

Ever stacked with clean towels
government paperwork
off-brand Tupperware full
of different kinds of cookies

a bag of fresh fruit even
within a few days of the market

and wonder at the dinner
that it could have held
but for a global pandemic
and a quarantine order
from the Governor
that won’t let up ’til May