Monday, December 29, 2014

Merry Christmas, they said

Dec 24. 
Half hour to closing time. 
The setting sun crosses the produce section. 

My shopping cart full of turkeys and potatoes
Christmas-colored light bulbs, pies and tomatoes
okra, calamari, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos,
I celebrate; I am finished shopping. 

I kick the front of the cart, it spins 
in a perfect circle; I twirl likewise, 
bow to the fruit and vegetable stands, 
and snap my fingers over my head.

“Wow, what flair!” says someone behind me, with a little boy. 

“I used to be a bullfighter.” I say. The boy’s eyes pop. 

“I see!” says the woman. She holds a bottle of wine, 
bananas, bread, cold cuts, one Twinkie, and 
a Thomas the Tank Engine DVD 
in a basket in her hand. 
She says, “  well, bye ... ”  and starts off, 
bus schedules in her other hand.  

I spin again, and say, “Wanna come over? To our house?”

The boy’s eyes pop again!

Monday, December 22, 2014

One Seagull over Christmas

Circling high, a hundred miles offshore,
banking, hovering, probably hearing 
the grinding of cars 
and Christmas carols
from the planned-out world below. 

So there he goes, banking away
from the shopping center
gliding even higher, over the wild pines
the shopping center didn’t get,
away, toward the unplanned sea. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Small talk on a jet 

The jet wakes up, points up, takes off. 
We wake up, sit up, turn on our computers. 
But me and the woman next to me 
still like the old black and white paper
news, rustling crispy in our hands. 

Coffee comes, then reading. Then, I say - 

“There was a school massacre in Pakistan this morning.” 

“Mmm, I know,” she says, behind sunglasses. “200 dead kids.”

“When are these people going to stop killing each other? And when I say these people I don’t mean those people.” 

Rain rolls back on the windows, and the sun rolls out. 

“I mean everybody.” 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Still Life with CIA, At Home 

The news, now unhidden, made him frown. 
His wife felt the frown crease him, and 
the house. She said: “Honey  may I
do anything for - um, can I get you anyth-”

Go stand over there all night. He said. 

She did, she did, she ... did. 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Me and Abraham Lincoln at Count Basie’s

I was talking to Abraham Lincoln up in 
Count Basie’s place in Harlem. 
Abe was listening but also watching Basie’s DVD of Amarcord 
out of the corner of his eye because he’d never got 
over the ocean to Italy in his life, but mainly because 
Abe’d heard Fellini was fun and full of life and people, 
all those flaws and triumphs. Basie was somewhere 
out on the road. I said

“I was a thief, often, in Kansas City. 
I was working, of course. But minimum wage is,
you know, minimum.”

Lincoln looked at me with his worn weary wise eyes. 
He was really listening now.

“I was arrested. I have a record, Mr. President.” 

Abe looked all the way into me - that’s how it felt - then 
he looked around Count Basie’s rooms; he was smiling, 
then he was laughing. He said, 

“So does Basie, I’d imagine. A gold one. So don’t you worry.”  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Millions of Midnight Stars 

Tomorrow, always the boring routine 
but always too, the burning 
romantic unexpected 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Hannah Arendt was right 

Believe it or not 
Two grizzly bears are talking 
with full voluptuous vocabularies 
walking in flying snow 
on the northernmost rim of the Yukon
talking about the nature of evil 
and how they don’t believe in it. 

“Hell, it doesn’t even apply to us, we just get hungry.”

Then, reminded, they sit down on a snowy branch
and eat berries. 

“They throw that word around a lot 
down there in those countries and cities. 
It makes it easier, I guess, but I don’t buy it. 
There was a woman ... there was 
a jewish german philosopher woman - I like her!
who didn’t buy it either
calling people evil and cartoon monsters, 
and she was right there in 
the middle of all those Nazis!
How do you like that?

The other bear gnaws some bark off
a branch, chews it a little, and says: 

“So you’re the bear that knows about
jewish german philosophers?”

“Yes, in fact, I am that bear. 
And she wrote in her book that evil is banal. 
Well, that was profound, though some thought
she was being a little casual about it all. 
Do you know what I think?” 

The other bear, mouth full of bark,
nods at him to say.

“Conformity is the problem, not evil. 
Automatically joining in, signing up 
without the powerful private moment of pause,
to chew it with your own jaws
touch it with your own paws
square it with your own laws. 
You get me?”

“Yes, I believe I get you,” says the other bear,
swallowing chewed bark and sticks. 

“What would you do if somebody like Hitler 
- and there’s always somebody like Hitler - 
walked up to you and said: 'Come on!  
Come with us, we’re going to kill jews 
because I want to, and I want us to, and 
I want you to,' what would you say?”

“I’d say: Are you nuts? Are you drunk?
Are you a psychotic jerk? Are you mean, stupid? 
Are you kidding? No, I'd say, beat it, get lost, fuck off! 
Something like that. Get some psychotherapy, maybe.”  

“Would you join his army, or his party, or
go to the meeting? 

“Doubt it,” says the other bear, “but I’m a non-
conformist, like you.” 

“There you go.” 

The wind whistles through the tall pines
blowing out of the golden glowing sunset 
to the west; the bears shake snow off their coats, 
beginning to think of shelter 
for the cold night coming. 

They stand up together 
and walk east into deeper forest
looking behind them,
their eyes gleam yellow and brown 
in the day’s last sunlight. 

Ahead, they see their path splitting 
off into the trees. 

“Uh oh, the road is diverging in the woods ahead.” 

“So you’re also the bear that knows poetry?”

“Well, hell - it is sort of frosty around here.” 

“See you tomorrow, old friend.” 

The bears walk slowly into the trees
waving goodnight to each other,
and disappear in the dark and 
the sound of the wind;
into sleep and 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

No pawn to no bishop 

Nuns having fun 
in the abundant sun 
          dilating their papals!  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Carpe Diem Cleaners 

Mexican maids in a used cop car 
(refurbished for their new business logo
painted red & yellow on the doors) 
out patrolling the neighborhood.

That’s a poem, right there. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Bring on the stillborn

Mad Responsible Men 
say no abortions you women
say yes guns you men

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Namaste off my back 

That poor kid was up all night.
Dreaming and planning and really 
about how to kick a field goal.

I know it. He tries so hard and
I like him. I am on his side. 

So, this morning at school,
on the football field
I watched him come out in the helmet
and uniform and tee up the ball. 

(The goal post is along the fence
and over the fence is the biggest house 
in the city, with a pool, furniture imported 
from maybe Paris, and a blue, bubbling hot tub. 
This is Monday, and the tub is full of 
the richest people in town, on a retreat.) 

The kid runs up, kicks the ball, and the ball
goes sideways over the fence, lands 
in the hot tub and explodes in the heat 
and steam, scattering the bathers like 
fireplace sparks. 

The kid walks back to me, head down,
helmet off, dangling from his hand. 

“I worried about that happening all night,” 
he says. “I worked and practiced so hard.”

My name is Chester, the kids call me Coach Chester. But I moonlight as a Zen Buddhist teacher. The other coaches call me Coach Moonlight. It’s not very zen of me to say this, but the hell with them. The kid raises his head and I look him right in the eye. 

“Mistakes are for the very alive; only the dead are perfect.” I say. 

“Thank you,” says the kid, pulling his helmet back on. “I feel a little better, but I worry so much, especially at night. What do you think, Coach?”

I gaze off into the distance, through the goal post, over the fence, beyond the rising steam of the hot tub, toward ... the east. 

“Sometimes you have to still your mind. Sometimes you have to let it go. Sometimes you have to say to your brain: namaste off my back!” 

I toss the kid a fresh football, and he kicks it straight up to the moon. 

“Thanks, Coach Moonlight!” he says. His face is a sea of tranquility. 

(I made some of that last up.)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Legal and Alive  

She came at me friendly but with too much patchouli force. We had in common checking out groceries. 

“Saw you in the parking lot, saw your California plates. I just moved here, from Topanga. You like North Carolina? I’m BrassyLady - one word.” 

“Yes,” I elaborated. 

“We were smart to leave, you and me,” she said, moving even patchouli closer. 

“Oh, that drought, yeah, I was getting all dried out.” 

“Yeah. But more than that, the illegals ripping everybody off.” 

“In what sense?” 

She gave me a blank look. On top of the other one. 

I loaded my groceries on the black conveyor belt and rolled my eyes at the hispanic checker (name tag: Guadalupe) who BrassyLady didn’t see at all. Guadalupe was a shopping cart. 

“In - the sense - that the aliens are upsetting our economy, stealing our jobs.”

Guadalupe bagged my bagels and batteries and Perrier bottles. 

“Oh come on, BrassyLady. Are you listening to your parents again? You can tell me.”

“This is America. My parents are American. I am an American.”

 Now Guadalupe was rolling her eyes at me. 

“You’re an immigrant,” I said, “like your parents. Like me. The only people not illegal in America are the Mexicans. Or the Indians, and they’re all dead.” 

I checked Guadalupe’s reaction to this one. We smiled together, did that funny rolling thing again. 

We could’ve shot craps with our eyeballs that day. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Floor it 

It’s never too late to drive out of your fucked-up childhood; FLOOR IT! 

You don’t have to stay married to it, though you’ll drag it through your life like the cans tied to your back bumper after the wedding, and every time you stop the car to think it over, those cans will bash the back of your brain. 

So, as a man in a bar on the west coast of Ireland said one morning,“don’t think alone.” 

Get to the therapy garage, go up on the rack ( yes, this metaphor’s getting a lot of mileage on it, but who cares? ) and lose the cans, one by one. 

Then, floor it. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Uncle Sam is Needy 

Mind you ignore uncle
Sam, he's way dysfunctional
a drag, but always punctual 

dragging you off to war
so ...

don't ever be malleable
as he's ever as fallible 
as your body and soul are flammable. 

(...but enough of this cute rhyming
run like hell when you see him
or have a drink or go get dinner; 
what would uncle do with his time, then?) 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Gandhi with the Wind 

It doesn’t matter how I know this woman
I just know her, and you do.

I’d been out for a spin, come back in
she was in the bathroom so I killed time
looking at her refrigerator door.

Taped up there was Jane Goodall
and Obama
and Gandhi
and Martin Luther King
and Maya Angelou 
and Pete Singer 
and Buddha

I could hear her coming out of the bathroom
and down the hall, so one last big swallow of
the Starbucks, and I dropped the cup in 
the recycling bin. 

She stopped in the door; staring, alarmed. 
I sniffed for smoke; it was clear as mountain-fresh air. 
I checked my fly; it was flown. 

“Wrong color, wrong bin,” she said. And waited, glaring.

I was going to ask what color to put her in, instead, 
went for out another, permanent spin. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

4th of July

It was Iowa again, the midwest again.

Big storm upstate, river way up high, almost to the bridge 
people all along the bridge, Americans all of them 
fat, again.

Under the bridge eight ducks were trapped and stranded 
in a backwash, trying to fight out, trying to fly out. 

Cop on the bridge said they’d been trying to get free
for two hours, you could see their orange feet trying hard
under water.

Cop said if they’d just tire out and let themselves be pulled
down into the underwater current, they’d pop up downstream,
resurface free, and live. 

Then, the cop left.

The ducks kept fighting on the surface, twitching their tails dry, necks leaning 
against the surf, little black eyes trying to SEE their way out and over the trouble ... 

A fat woman, really fat, laughed a greasy gross screen-addicted laugh, looked down 
past her gut to the trying but tiring ducks and said

“Well, at least it’s entertainment!” 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Them fucking cell phone cameras 

Truth, Beauty, Love ...

{ cool stuff; iOS devices; }

 ... sweat, flesh, let me kiss you you kiss me ... 

{ 8MP sensor; f/2.2 aperture; A7 chip; 1080p HD; }

... musical vibration on the floor, sex & skin on skin, broken guitar string, eye contact with the singer, with the lover, with the father, with the mother, beautiful wild bird flying right into the windshield, dead now, but she WAS alive!, so anyway ... 

{ got to send this to mom and dad, to the kids, college graduation, weddings I gotta get this new COOL STUFF,  everybody, all of us together, anytime, our special moments, how cool is that?

... don’t miss your life. 

You brought your Apple to your teachers and they said you’re more powerful than you think but 
they don’t know the half of it. 

Don’t miss your life; you can’t take it with you, all those photos; won’t be any autofocus on your dead body but your own original soul will always get the point and know when to click. 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Kansas and Profound

I’m saying this with a straight face.
When I was entombed in Kansas as a kid
I was always looking around for something profound

And when I looked across that long state 
from the second floor window of tv and tv dinners
I knew that there was an infinity over the state line of

And while that profound thing occurred to me 
in Kansas 
and that was profound too,
I didn’t see any reason to stick around there
with that knowledge.

This lesson can be applied anywhere, anytime
so be ready to run. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Great Expectorations 

I came to this city first in the second grade 
this city of smoking hot juicy dripping black
men and women and rare red meat but then
I got here and the school field trip 
was to a closed slaughterhouse with a polite 
white tour 

Well, hell: some things you heard about end
or get kicked to the city limits like a dirty ball
that used to be pink; now everything pink 
sleeps sweet

Be careful; what you couldn’t wait for gone sour -
3AM jazz turned to PTA jizz 
- you got to spit that shit right       OUT.                                         

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Two guns, talking 

Two guns
a sawed-off shotgun and a pistol 
talking in a McDonalds attached
to a NASCAR racetrack 
and the shotgun says,

"I know I'm a gun, but 
I feel out of place around here."  

"As do I," says the pistol, 
"and do you ever listen to these guys?
Ever think about who's handling us?"

"I do, I do," says the shotgun. "It's 
disturbing. Unkind, a bit blind, which
worries me, me being what I am."

The pistol clicks it's trigger, yes.

"Again today I heard him talking 
about how women can't be leaders because 
of their feminine bodies and curses
and changing moods." 

The shotgun nods it's barrel. 

"Yeah, like they don't have their bodies,
this testosterone; do you ever feel it 
in their hands?" 

"Of course I do; and then they have their
bodies chasing down every schoolgirl they see."

"And they just can't help it, they say
because it's their wiring." 

"Bodies," the pistol concludes, yawning now. 

McDonalds closing, the manager nods at the door. 

"I'm bored with it all, sick of it," 
says the shotgun to the pistol. 

"As am I," says the pistol. "Maybe we 
should turn on them and fire, they who
love us so much." 

"Are you loaded?" 

"No, I don't even have any bullets on me."

There's a little shine on the shotgun's barrel.

"Even better. We'll just shoot them with nothing. That's all they ever do." 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Potpourri Poetry 

The night I ate the home decor 
at the Christmas party my life 
changed, really opened up. 

There I was, in the green and red 
and silver and blue and pine and pumpkin
pie and pink champagne, at a company party 
the Hallmark Cards company, 
the Kansas City holiday party of the year!

And me, the "token heterosexual."
or so the guy at the door told me,
under the mistletoe.
"Well, not literally, but symbolically 
maybe!" he said. 
I liked this party already. 

Through the door and inside
the snow-covered mansion 
it was like an old Christmas movie
with some Menorahs thrown in; warm
and colorful and musical and friendly. 

I didn't really work at Hallmark yet,
I was a temp at the time, directing traffic
in the holiday overloaded shoppers garage 
and yet - tonight might be the night
I dreamed, mingling...
to send a good impression. And I cared enough 
to send the very best.

I mingled through the festive dark;
there were some men in suits - the executives - 
letting their hair down and ties loose.
I sauntered through the dining room the kitchen 
the nursery the bathroom the bar and then 
back through this entire route again; now 
I was HUNGRY. 

The more red wine I drank the darker
it got in there, the more festive 
and merry, but maybe my judgment was off. 

Either way, I was happy as I spied delicious
food on the green velvet-topped cherry-wood table 
by the out of control fire in the fireplace. 
What a night! 

My sauntering now turned into indoor
cross-country skiing, kind of sliding across
the carpet, but I made a bee-line to the food. 

And beautiful food; brilliant unusually bold 
red potato chips, some of them dark brown, dried 
orange peels mingled in, salad too: maybe iceberg 
lettuce, probably romaine, absolutely arugula, 
lots of it blue and even bright yellow! 

The bartender was watching me and smiling,
quite a few people were watching me and smiling; 
I smiled too, walked over to the bar and ordered a drink. 

"To wash it down with," I winked, 
gesturing back at the still, so far 
untouched multi-colored bonanza by the fire. 

The bartender winked. They all did. 
I went back to eat, winking once more.

The first bite was crispy, I could tell
it was going to stick to my ribs, and yet...
as I was chewing and swallowing, I had a flashback
to the Bloomingdale's Cosmetics Department

Back then, in New York City, visiting my sister
at her job, I had the security camera feeling
didn't belong anywhere at all in posh Bloomies 
now I was feeling that again.
And the people at the party were laughing. 

The laughter was large, out of control
like the fireplace and the color in the room
and the snow covering the house like 
blanket over everyone for the night, 
but the laughter was kind. 

The bartender came over to me
told me I'd eaten the Potpourri. 

And as the laughter went onI looked around the room 
and saw that the suits had left
they had let their hair down too far,  
had to go home and do some shampooing and combing.

Now there was a circle around the bar, around me, 
and a line of food ran through the circle -
pink ham and brown turkey and white clouds 
of mashed potatoes and bright green beans

Someone asked me how I felt now? 

"I love this party. I always feel at home 
with homosexuals and Jews and women
and you black guys over there." 

This stopped the laughter cold and
the fire almost went out. 

"I think that was awkward," I said, 
and the fire came back a little. 
Also, the laughter. 

"So, how is that you feel at home with us?
asked a hot woman by the fireplace. 

I looked around the room and out the window 
a blizzard out there, the flames in the fireplace 
red and yellow, hot and relaxed. 

"I guess because I think you've all felt 
shit on at one time or another 
by the straight white suits, and though 
I am a straight white, I'm not in a suit, 
like those guys that were here earlier. Also,
they wouldn't have eaten the Potpourri."

The bartender, black, leaning on the bar,
and on his boyfriend, who was lighting a Menorah, 
smiled at me and popped a cork on champagne 
passing the bottle. 

"You know, of course, that 
the straight white suits get shit on, too.
But...we get what you mean, yeah everybody?"

Everybody toasted that. Except me; 
was back at the Potpourri bowl 
wondering how I ate it, but not ashamed. 

The bartender's boyfriend waved at me,
"Hey, you want a Patchouli on the rocks? 
With a twist of Potpourri?" 

The laughter from this, 
including mine
practically blew out the fire.