Monthly Archives: January 2008

Fourth Meal

Swung by in a rush
for fast food Mexican

the voice inside the box
totaled me out
then asked one more
perplexing question:

“would you like to donate a dollar
to help end world hunger?”

I tried for a second
to reason out why this seemed insane
there’s something really ridiculous
in the idea of tacking on a buck
to my three dollar and seventy-nine cent
burrito combo
to help those who are starving

I’m starving
I thought
and that’s why I’m here
in this sticky cement drive thru lane

didn’t my first three dollars
already go to the cause?
isn’t world hunger a little weaker
once I have satisfied my own?

I asked the voice:
how many meals in all
does my dollar provide?

no hesitation in the response:
five meals for one child

oh wow-
I said, excited-
does this mean I can maybe get
one of those meals for like twenty cents
and just skip the three dollar one?

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The Meeting (Dream in Blue)

miles davis and john coltrane
in a giant empty loft

white with a million windows
the sun omnipresent outside
as if there actually was an outside

they approached me
instrument cases open
miles’ trumpet was wood
‘trane’s tenor was darker
but still wood

I took it from the case
and discovered that I played
amazing saxophone
almost as good as ‘trane

I improvised
fluttered notes into the air with ease
while my heroes looked on
approving smiles on their faces

I’m a versatile and inspiring musician
in my dreams, yet
as quickly as the tones rolled from the horn
I found myself flat on my face
the pillow wet
the sun white under my eyelids
the melody held in my mind for a moment
before slipping away

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This Is Michigan, Motherfucker

This is Michigan, motherfucker

This is your ass in the snow
wet and cold

This is you
out on the line
looking for work
on a frozen bench

These are your stiff fingers
smoking a Basic menthol
rock hard and seared with yellow

This is you
tearing down factories
pissing in the river
smoking cement blunts
and sticking your finger up
straight to the heavens

This is your television
telling you things will be okay
in a couple of years
but definitely not next year
next year’s gonna be even worse

This is Michigan, motherfucker

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smirk furrow and smile


want to make money now?

sell your hairspray
your bag o’ cheetos
and your indefatigable soul

sell your words to the devil
your gonads to god
and your plants to the fire

cheese it up
in the meatball stew
that is your suburb

head south and
dip your dreams in queso

disinfect in clouds of cumin
and boil the water for bulimics

buy a suit made of Sacagawea dollars
and polish it with pornstar semen

fire rubber chicken shotguns
at the strip mall shoppers
and run away with their shiny pants

want to make money now?

be vigilant and broker some stocks
in a shady corner with terrorists
while mudwrestling them in gooey crude

and smile


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you’re a staunch tuna sandwich
a familiar mars bar
the drunk guy giving quarters to some floozy
at the end of the bar

you’re the reality
and the meth the billy brewed
in his moldy basement

you’re a dead dream
rolled up and decomposing
in the industrial park by the dam

oh melting molding city
you’ll forget me when I leave

and you’ll keep me warm
in your fungus folds
if I must stay in this
burly hole


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Away For the Holidays


I dream of turkeys without wings
or a way out, trapped in circles
in the yard, burning infinity into the grass

ten birds absorbed in a pattern
detailed with neon brown blur
as the neighborhood watches on
with forks and meat thermometers at the ready

there’s money cascading from the roofs
and our windows are bursting with stuffing,
but dad is on it, he’s looking for the tray
and the special set of wine glasses

(somebody has to know the rules)

sister is in the basement with Jack
mixing 100% juice and acid
listening to Zappa weird up the place
through the one good speaker in the house

mom left with spoons and the carving knife
a trail of chocolate liquor imprinted by her heels
and short-ish men following her liquid scent

I dream of exhaust smoke and money:
thank you for the cancer
thank you for the sex
thank you for the cancer
thank you for the sex

the station wagon gallops away, back into time
the picture growing grainier by the second
while the crossover hybrid shinester
expands into one big pixel, triumphant

(this poem appears in Calliope Nerve 15)

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Hemispheric Terrorism


There are places in this world bent
by terrible doubt and the disturbing
feeling that if you let your guard down
for one second the whole thing will
collapse around you, leaving you
dumbfounded in the ruins of your lifestyle.
Your family will disown you for your stupidity,
the bill collectors will scurry off with your couch,
your love will have been lying to you all along-
see, here is her secret affair with a man who
looks like a model and scampers about
in a Bentley from his eight-car garage.

It might not be places in this world,
it might just be times in this world
where the mind itself bends and you see
yourself peering at what’s in front of you
with a tilted head, unable to make sense
of this terribly emotional condition, the
underlying currents that only some people feel,
and you are one of the lucky ones.
You feel it, it’s between your toes, it slides
up and down your spine and fucks with
your chakras, which at this point aren’t
glowing like they should.

Life is rich and frightening and you really
shouldn’t spend so much of it trying to
explain it in words, you should know by now
that in the end that small feeling of
personal accomplishment will be overshadowed
and eventually overthrown by a shapeless
sense of dread and futility. You should try reading
Hesse again and crying in the shaded corner,
or maybe batter yourself over the heart with Kafka.
Better yet, do both and cry, nobody will feel sorry for you.

(this poem appears in Haggard & Halloo)

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