Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Fear

What do you say to this face that you meet?
Eased in by simple smile, those dark, searching
eyes: how they pull you in, hypnotize. You
cannot, you must not, you don’t want to look
away…until they become too much, too much
to take; break through like frozen earth by a spade.

Those eyes! Like the piercing laser light that
cuts right to the zero point, locked in, so
precise. Staring into the abyss, even
the abyss would open its darkened fist
and readily step into the warm glow
that shows like bright vapors on thawing snow.

And suddenly it’s there, the moment that
you share. And everything seems so perfect,
so right, like the day’s first dawning light, that
pours through the windowpane and takes away
your sleep. A new day! As if born again.
The freshness is the essence that you crave.

More than anything
More than nothing

But time weighs like a rock, the ticking of
the clock. It can never last, always drifting
into the past. Hurrying to action, the
need for satisfaction, it becomes so
overwhelming! Maybe, just maybe, you’ll
take the leap, maybe something will strike, this

could be the time. But you hold back, why? What
is this fear that you hold so near? Why not
go for it, risk it—the leap—to land on
your feet? But weighing indecision and
there is the fear, threatening an early
night to fall, causing it all to disappear.

Monday, December 1, 2008

End of Summer

I was quite drunk. Even by my own high tolerance standards. Stacy had just run off late to work, and as her sad lovely image receded into the night and the vague whispers of an all too familiar nostalgia mixed with an unnamed loneliness began to fill the chilly night air like the sifting plumes of smoke from the embers of a dying flame, I found my mind reeling, rushing to think of how to spend my last few hours in town, the last of the summer, as it were. What exactly did I still need to do? It didn’t take long to remember the first thing, and I turned, rounded the corner of The Pub, past the Bus Depot, and made the short strut down the block to the loft located above the fitness center.

Once inside, having climbed the long winding creaky staircase, I was met with the familiar faces of Mike and Booney, who had wandered up there earlier from The Pub and were lounging in the living room with beers and some unknown program running on the small screen across from them. They were making little jokey comments between the action while Frank sat in his big relaxing chair holding court in his calm, stoic manner. There was also another guy there with them. I only vaguely recognized him at first but then very quickly, as my scattered mind began working the pieces of the past back together, realized it was an old friend from pre-high school days, a guitar player who I had played in some early bands with. Someone who I hadn’t seen or so much as spoken to in years, I was momentarily stupefied, having only briefly, in recent times, thought back to that period while writing the introduction to a short retrospective story before hitting the road in late June. Now here he was. We chatted briefly in the kind of excited, summarizing way that is customary for people long out of contact, as if trying to construct bridges over the ever-expanding waterways of time.

This went on for a while and I became so could up in it that I almost forgot my original intention for going over there. And so when the program ended and the beers were finished and everybody was getting up to leave, I took Frank aside and in grave, earnest tones reiterated my regret over an episode that had taken place back on the night of his birthday when, in a moment of indecisiveness had allowed an unwelcome guest to crash his party, briefly, and make a whole big drunken scene. He coolly reassured me though that all was forgiven, laughing the whole thing off, along with the gravity I brought to the matter, and at that moment I had the palpable sense of a great weight being lifted. The rest of us made our way down to the street where I said my goodbyes to and continued my journey through the night.

From there I stopped off at home, trying in stumbling, bumbling disorganized fashion to get the last of my things in order, until, noticing the lateness of the hour and my promise made earlier on to Raven to go over and make personal—in person that is—goodbyes to her before I left. How could I not?

So back downtown I went.

When I got to her house the place was dark and quiet. She was somewhere in the front of the house listening to music, waiting for my eventual arrival. I apologized for the lateness of my getting there and she seemed to silently forgive the jumpy, boozy state I was in, inviting me to partake in a late night vaporizer bag session. Once flopped out on the her way-too-comfortable couch in the patio, enjoying a couple clean, calming tokes and relaxed talk it didn’t take long for the adrenaline, the ceaseless energy I had been running on all day and the day before preparing everything in anticipation of my imminent departure, to give out, and within minutes, seemingly in mid-conversation, mid-sentence, I was out cold—

The next thing I remember is waking on her leather couch in the living room, not knowing how I got there, a blanket spread out overtop me, and the sounds of random noises, movements, coming from the kitchen followed by the sound of Dino’s distinct drawl—which is not exactly the first thing you want to hear upon waking any day of the week, and only slightly less annoying then the distorted blare of my old junk alarm clock. I let out a groan, turned over on my side and thought for a moment of continuing on with my slumber. Then suddenly the reality of the day and the long journey I was to embark on dawned on me, and all at once I pulled my half-conscious carcass off the couch and made the first gestures towards making the day.

It was as I was grimacing at the harried, beat mask glaring at me from the mirror next to the couch that Dino and his goofy hangdog mug appeared. I turned to face him with a sleepy, wearied grin.

“I was hoping I’d catch you here,” he said. “Since you’re leaving today I came over before work just to check and see if you were still around so I could smoke you up before you left.”

“Yeah, sure thing,” I said before retreating to the kitchen to pour out a tall glass of hang-over water to guzzle.

On my way back to meet him in the patio I popped my head into Raven’s bedroom, having assumed she was still up after letting him in, only to discover she was back asleep, or at least half-asleep, and tried to delicately but insistently remind her that I’d be going soon and she should come join us for a last going away toke. She mumbled something like “Yeah, I’ll be right out,” and I slipped back to the patio where Dino already had a bag inflating. A few minutes passed and then a few more and Raven still hadn’t showed, and Dino finally decided to go ahead and start smoking without her. While he did this I glanced at my watch, thinking, in how many hours can I make it to Canmore? My concern over time given to the fact that I was informed by the proprietor of the Motel at which I had booked in advance (having been unable to find a single free room during the earlier drive out and forced to sleep outside in a park somewhere on the edge of Kamloops) was a 10 or 11 o’clock cut off time, with my chances of claiming my room any time after that substantially diminished. In other words, the sooner you get there the better.

The bag is almost finished off by both of us by the time Raven had finally dragged herself into the room, all bundled up in blankets and heavy, downcast features. An argument of sorts unfolded over whose decision it was to not wait for Raven before smoking, with Dino saying over and over, “It was mutual. Come on. It was decided between the two of us,” and repeatedly nudging me with, “Hey back me up on this.” Incredulous, hurried and generally exhausted with the whole scene taking place before me, I stole away to the kitchen to start putting a big breakfast-on-the-fly together: eggs, toast, coffee, juice, the whole bit.

It’s after cracking off a couple eggs in the frying pan with a crackling sizzle that there came a knock at the door. With a sudden jolt of surprise I nervously and uncertainly turned in the direction of the sound. Before long Raven was there informing me that it was her landlord come over for a check up of sorts and that I should go back and join Dino in the patio while she handles it. “But I’m cooking my eggs,” I said, holding the shells in my hand helplessly.

“I don’t care,” she said. “Get back there. Now.”

So I did, abandoning my half-cooked eggs in the process. Meanwhile, back at the patio, Dino was rushing around packaging up the vaporizer, brushing ash off everything, and conspicuously concealing all ashtrays from sight. “We’re not supposed to be smoking anything,” he said. “Pot or cigarettes.”

I anxiously paced around the small patio, occasionally stretching myself out against the door to peer through the high small window to see if I could gauge the situation. About ten minutes later, after I’d settled down and it became clear he was not going to be coming in to do a survey of the house or whatever it is that landlord’s do when they “pop over,” Raven came back to tell us coast was clear. Back in the kitchen my eggs were burnt black and so I went about frying up a couple fresh ones.

“Raven says sorry for ruining your eggs,” said Dino as he re-entered the kitchen.

“Its fine,” I said, “I don’t really carry. I just don’t get why it’s such a big deal that other people were here. Since when is having friends over to visit a crime?”

He shrugged, put a cigarette between his lips and shuffled out of the room.

When breakfast was all made up I went back to join them in the patio and ate hurriedly.

“I got to go use your shower before I go to work,” said Dino.


“There’s no hot water at my place,” Dino continued, “and I figured I could just as easily use your one downstairs. What’s the big deal?”

Raven let out an exasperated sigh and relented.

“You know,” I said once he had left, “if you don’t cut ties and make a clean break he’s always going to be around like this, always finding a reason, some excuse for stopping by.”

“I know that,” she said, “but he, he’s so persistent. He refuses to take no for an answer. I tell him it’s over. I tell him over and over that he’s not getting anything more out of me, that there’s nothing left here, between us, but he just stares at me unbelieving. Like, ‘Kay, whatever.’ He just doesn’t get it.”

She turned her head to one side looking out the window at something, perhaps at a low-flying bird, wings outspread, gliding by majestically, or perhaps at nothing, at something only she herself could see, and took a drag of her cigarette, serene, composed, as if it were a kind of meditative act from which she was able to gain a newfound mental resolve, strength.

I didn’t know what else to say. There was nothing more to say. The time was up. The summer was over. The only thing left to do was hit the road and make my way back west. Weigh the gains against the losses, brood over the results, begin from scratch, rebuild, start all over again.

While the shower ran downstairs, we said our goodbyes. Outside, in the bright light of day, I adjusted my eyes, turned with sad sullen smile and took one last look at her standing in the doorway at the far end of the hall, still clutching the blanket she had draped over her slender shoulders. And as I pulled the door shut and it snapped closed, her figure all but disappeared, vanished, and through the reflection in the glass I was left with only my weather-whipped face staring back at me.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

All That Could've Byn

It’s on reflective nights when so moved I
Sometimes think back to all those plans
We made, that toast to our future lives as
The day broke across the sky, and think,

No more. The canvas is empty now;
Your brushstrokes no longer fill the
Page. And all your past works,
They’ve been put away.

Was it a temperament you couldn’t control?
Or did sober days simply take their toll?
Who knows? But even though your life has
Changed I still wish it was different, somehow.

If only it could all start over!
Act in a different way,
Step up above the fray,
Instead of let silence rue the day.

Not so. But though dreams may be dashed,
Thrown aside like life’s discarded trash,
You’ve found your true destination:
Your very own Haven. A child of your own.

She is your art, your masterpiece—
The saving grace I could never be.

Monday, November 17, 2008


The road was long, the road was full.
Loaded rucksack on your back and
Thumb pointed north, you bummed your way
Across the country back and forth.
Down to Mexico and Old Bull,
Chasing visions of love down old
Dream sidestreets, fish markets, brothels,
Scribbling in notebooks tales of trips

With N.C., of morphine queens, by
Candlelight on rooftops of piss
Rank junkie hovels. And then the
Return to the States, spending days
Banging away at that big black
Underwood, during those weeklong
Coffee-fuelled sessions, onto
Scotch-taped teletype rolls stretching

Hundred miles, spring of ’51,
In downtown apartment, you and
Joan, her quietly expecting,
Soon to be left there, abandoned.
Restless, you fled to the West Coast
To seek out salvation with mad
Dharma poets. Trying to find
Mind Essence at the bottom of

Wine bottles, instead found yourself
Alone, frustrated, staring at
Fir trees and snowy peaks atop
Desolation. It suddenly
Struck you, mourning the hut mouse you
Killed out of fear, learning of death
For the first time, truly knowing
You could never bring back the years.

(Driven by the need for constant
Movement, the desire to make it,
To break free of convention and
Attain starry-eyed connection;
Taste, savour the rich exotic
Flavours of reality, to
Go go go, burning out of sight
With the electric fiery night.)

To Tangiers, Morocco, Paris
And Madrid, it was in New York
With Joyce, fall of ’57,
When you finally hit it big.
Month-long celebration ensued,
What proved both your ascent and your
Doom, singling the end of youth
Beat down, howling for a lost moon.

In that cabin at Big Sur, three
Years on, paranoid, hung-up, your
Mind snapped, way gone. Wanting to
Run away, hide, you retired
On the fly to Florida sun
And sky. Beloved Memere and
Third wife there, watched as, bitter and
Broke, soul-dry and empty as the

Steady succession of bottles
Of scotch that lined the walls of your
Study, you bashed out another
Batch of slapdash manuscripts,
Blew and told all, in a last sad
Dash towards immortality.
Sporadic interviews, aired for
The world, all but confirmed what the

Critics said: He’s washed up, done in,
Finished, a hack, nothing left but
Bloated imitation, poor cat.
But you knew what was coming, first
Neal now you; last letter to
Nephew little Paul, it said it
All. Sign it away, the papers,
The house, and most of all the fame.

But what if that wasn’t the last?
What if, like Neal, you too grew a
Beard, changed your name, disappeared to
Some far off place in Spain, living
Out your eternity writing
Long buoyant letters to Memere
With hardly a care—and breathing
In sweetly the fresh morning air.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bright Moon Sings the Blues

"Hope, love, create, or drink and die:
These shape the creature that is I."
—Theodore Roethke, Long Live the Weeds

Pour another drink, get
up out of your seat, the night
Begins to hit on that perfect smoky beat.

No calls coming in, disconnected,
But that’s OK.
Who needs phone love anyway?

I communicate with the dark.
She is my mistress, the black
Robed lady who haunts my desirous heart.

Through her I speak my words
In voiceless nervous utterance,
And so lift my spirit and heart, up and up and up.


Cool November is here,
A cold without despair.
It is the safe turning in
From a world grown gray.

It is the hiding away,
So why complain?
Make your own world
Out of the inner, where it’s at.

For who wants summer
All year? The green and blue
And yellow, ripe, immodest, grows dull.
In its own way it is false, unreal, why stay?

The colors of fall
Work on the senses a different
Way. Alive, they are nevermore to fade.
Perceptions grow out and fly off into a breeze,

The chill that carries
Along our silent dreams
To be frozen, sealed, locked,
In the coming winter months.


It is nothing really.
The waste. I heard
My mother once say
That all days are sacred

But every morning
I rise in good faith
Knowing milk not sour
Cereal no expired play-doh smell

And I shower in hot water
As hot as I can get it
And play my music with feeling
And spread mustard on sandwich

And when I meet the world
I know that what waits for me
Is the same as before and
When I end it will still go on

Just as before.

What flut?!

Whizz chiff sneeze
The monkey calls to thee
Eek, creak, boheez stiffy
Sucking knocka cheese

Eep cheep the sunken drunken
Lunk nut thar breakin the whomp bat
Choking on hibernating bearskin
In shoop shop hastin case made lacin.


Conservative dentist drilling
Tar-stained molar. This will
Hurt and you cry out MERCY!
Hits you quick a shotta gas

There it is, the GOOD stuff.
Start to go under…this aint
So bad. Crazy cast iron dragon
Shield, protector of Morheed

Mountains, where Princess Anapas
Awaits your return with shining eyes
And long golden hair. Fight against
Sprays of winged beast flames and climb

Scaly flesh to get at the heart flap
That proves Achilles heal even to
Such a mighty creature. Pull back, swing
Penetrate thru that thick skin, digging in

With hard thrusting side to side till he done in.
Triumphant, make your way back
To castle atop mountain where princess
Show the gentle touch to your ache and tender.

Jam and grind in that last tooth-capping
Snap and suddenly you come to,
The victory in vain and nowhere to go
But the car for joint with numb gum painless pain.

Fruit Tree

In dreams I eat from your fruit tree
And bite in, bite after succulent bite,
Sweet to savour, cupped in hand, to
Chew down to core and still want more.

Shining Music Gold

"Bright moments is like
Making love to a moonbeam."

Yeah, yeah, make it with that swirling beat.
Play that flute, toss off the weight.
Blow! Blow! Awake the heavens—
Magic comes alive like gold dust

In the energy of the stage light
That beams down on sweating
Brow. Work it. Swinging, hip,
All for the nighthawk crowds, appreciative, elate.

Fancy fingers, puffy cheeks, spitting lips
Whip smack and beat behind cool
Black eyes that see beyond the hall
Into the deep halls of eternity, yes right!

Mr. I Don’t Need Me No Label,
I got the soul to burst the sad
Swollen world of woe that cries
Tears of CO2 gases and black smog, pitiless.

Our love is pure and will carry
Us on this cascading wave to a
Place without shame and decay
That will reach out and touch the sun’s rays.

Hurray! Hurray! We all make love today!

This House

In this house I give myself.
In this house I give to you.
In this house I ask myself
What do I mean to you?

Please Don’t…

Please don’t say no, I know
Nowhere else to go.
Please don’t give me cold shoulder
I have no shoulder to cry on.
Please don’t put on coat and go
I have black roses to give as show.
Please don’t fight with the landlord
It is the Lord’s land that we share.
Please don’t hate what maybe, really
Was, could have been fate.
Please. No? Why not wait and stay.
Give it a chance, just one more day.

The Other Tenants

Why do they do that, every night?
Leaving on the hallway light only
After final load of laundry complete.
I used to go out there, walk the length,

And turn it off before bed or click it off
When coming in for the night. But now I
Cease caring, let it shine in thru crack
Between door bottom and floor and wonder

What bugaboo they so scared of that comes
Creeping in the dark night hallway and eats
The mothballs and hides in the furnace vents but
When push comes to shove is terrified of harmless florescent light.

I Got a Love for You Blues

I got a love for you yes I do yes I do
I got a love for you yes it’s true yes it’s true

I got a love for you that runs laps round the equator
I got a love for you that towers over the space needle
I got a love for you that shines brighter than starry nights
I got a love for you that cut left and right down diverging paths

I got a love for you that sings with the heavenly minstrel
I got a love for you that does handstands across the Atlantic
I got a love for you that turns snake’s poison to ointment
I got a love for you that tamed the snarling hounds of hell

I got a love for you that laughs at the secrets of the universe
I got a love for you that saw death coming and did not turn and shudder
I got a love for you that dug to the earth’s core and came out shivering
I got a love for you that made even Buddha jealous

I got a love for you that out-blew Miles Kirk Dizzy Trane Coleman Bird Dolphy Young
I got a love for you that out-blues’d Blind Howlin’ Muddy Son Elmore B.B. Bo Johnson

I got a love for you that ate the sun and came back for seconds
I got a love for you that drank up the oceans and was still thirsty
I got a love for you that kissed the angel’s virgin lips divine
I got a love for you that sealed shut the continental divide

I got a love for you that beat back the furious winds of the South
I got a love for you that fed the starving countries of Africa
I got a love for you that emancipated the Chinese people of China
I got a love for you that brought democracy to Mother Russia

I got a love for you that rewrote the holy scripture
I got a love for you that never thought twice
I got a love for you that danced and danced with the night
I got a love for you that is forever

I got a love for you that they all want
All of them, my love, except for you

She Don’t Know Me Blues

My baby says she knows me
But she hasn’t got a clue
Came to get me after work
And went home with the boss, it’s true

No she don’t know me
She never has
Said she would make it up to me
I’m still waitin’ for her come back

If my baby was an island
She’d be out in the middle of the sea
I’d swim all the way to be with her
And then she’d sink away from me

My baby says she know me
We go out about the town
But when the night’s over
She ain’t nowhere to be found

My baby she says she knows me
I ain’t got me no doubts
Except for the other guy she’s livin’ with
I’m the only game in town

No she don’t know me
She never has
Told her that I loved her
She said that’s a bunch of jazz

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Another chill autumn day
The clouds hang in the sky, gray

Today I was so tired and it
was so cold in my apartment that
I fell asleep at the sink running
hot water over my hands

I feel a strange ecstasy over my own stupidity
All the weird, nervous energy normally restrained
Escapes me and fool I be it feels right and good
To not give a fuck where once would

So what for cool sullen appearances?
My indifference is honest but not all
I let my spirit shake and shout and leap
With the drives that rise and beat with the heart

I am the dog
running around the yard
slobbering uncontrollably


Listening to Klaus
Schulze thinking nothing exists
beyond decay

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fight and Slog Thru the Stormy Darkening Hours

"If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise."
—William Blake

Mind like a Hurricane, Soul like a Sieve

Grab a line you want to use
Never know what passes thru
Like a sheet of metal a shard of glass
It has strength of form in conception
That holds till the last

Not even a break in the continuum
Can shatter, snap, expose. It is resistant.
When the lines of connection, the dire exertion
Of speech, caught by force, momentarily,
Necessarily, tires in the expression.

It remains complete, unharmed, undiminished,
Like the void.

Moment’s Hesitation

There are those who rely on firm decision
Mixed with honest, thorough revision.

Long this has been the way, the means, to
Weave patterns of one’s perceptions.

Only now clearer it becomes to all, known, true,
That there is a cost in such a process, though rigorous.

What you cover, discard, distort is lost
In a moment’s winking hesitation.

Underneath, the true natural flow continues, unimpeded.
Trust the senses that fill such impulses. Ready, go.


My assumptions blind me like a beggar.
I am in the street, irate, wishing death
On all those who don’t gratify my position.

Such are the actions of those sally fools,
Those loser outcasts, drop-outs, wanders,
Listless and dispossessed,

Casting their shadows from the oil drum flames,
Heartbroken, wounded, their lusts soured,
Scorched, left to rot in bleak winter sun.

Down here in the bowels of the soul,
Furnace fumes and urine alleys,
The meek wait in vain.

In this land of decay, where the
Watcher stands on guard eternal,
Where men of flesh and time

Seek reason in the irrational, here,
Brought together thru dispersal,
Like the fragments of the mind, they

Wait in the rain-soaked weary night to
Die like fair Buddha with knowledge
Of earth’s crimes.

Asking for no repentance nor
Acceptance, there fate is our fate.
Their plight is one known to the ages.

Now how could you dare to doubt
The tempered wisdom of the
All-knowing sages?

The Crimson Hour

A reckoning echoes thru every common phrase.
Boredom of the day matched only by the
Restlessness of night. A shock of realization

Jolts the body awake. To rise and grip the day.
Gaze upon the barrenness of the land that
Stretches across the horizon like a hundred traffic jams.

Don’t deny. Don’t delay.
Hours passed in withering haze.
Tired, shrill laughter booms
Like the saxophone wail.

It is hollow, inert.
Artless, and what’s more,
Therein the words spoken (between
Croaked chuckles) drop like dirt.

An element lacking fusion,
A heartbeat lacking blood,
If in time the division lessens
Than the spoils can be found in another lifetime.

But not this one.


I’ve noticed in recent times my instincts weaken,
Deplete with each passing season.

I hardly make efforts to fortify myself against
Such an obvious (to me) fact of daily existence.

This brings its own kind of watered-down
Contentment. My mood seldom changes.


Over the hills the new dawn gives rise
The safety, comfort in those clear blue skies

The children laugh and play and scream without reason
In the garden the flowers bloom fresh, ripe, in season

Over the hills the day divides
The imagined from the actualized

The chemist’s growing fear in daily rumination
The conductor gasps at his symphonic creation
The office-worker darts off in cloud of exhaust
While construction worker continues to smile, at a loss

The leaves turn, the flowers wilt, the sun
Dips low, jagged, like a slanted crown

Over the hills the night begins
Time to crack another bottle of gin

Parents add up their losses hoping to remain in the red
Soon to tuck freshly-washed children into bed
All along the window-pane the frost begins to set
Outside the flowers dead, and naked trees bend to the west.

Eulogy for the Intellectual

Sensitive, you always were the best at dismantling
The abstract. Acute with strong sense of the
Absolutes. The fiercest of intellects
Marked by the precision of each decision.

Rational, refined, arguments held together against rebuttal.
Nuanced and biting, without shameless posturing; remaining subtle.
That you always had a quick retort,
Nothing different could be said of the sort.
Your lofty ambitions
Set against a strongly analytical mission.

Where did you go, run?
Where the turn come?
Did finally they lock you up?
Was it the madhouse destined?

Or worse—sealed, trapped in your own over-cooked mind,
In some cheap Cracker Jack room, sitting cross-legged,
Day and night, like on repeat, fretting and spitting,
Drinking and rhyming out your worries in incoherent verse.

How drab. Undefiant.
These days and nights now mindless, quiet.
And over and above it, the echo of crickets, like
Late-night television static, grows to a terrifying roar.

You will not be missed.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Don't Say My Name: A Lament

Forget the nights we walked together drunk,
Like strangers, thru the whirling downtown streets
After dancing to the wail of honky jazz and
Sitting on cold concrete stage, passing round
Bowl of grapes, whiskey flask, under full
Bawling moon cradled by starless sky immense,
Talking of the dead writers who haunt our dreams,
And the glamour girl, martyred, whose sultry gaze
Haunts your studio walls.

Forget the sunny days driving sweaty hours,
Miles and miles down clanging, banging back roads
To bask on deserted sandy blanket beaches,
Wading out into cool waters, the ground spongy,
Loose between toes, the pure shallow lake
Stretching to hill-marked horizons.

Forget the rainy nights, late coming over, a few
Quiet knocks at your lonely, expectant door,
Climbing creaky crack hardwood stairs,
Sinking into soft chair, with bottle of wine
Brought specially at your request, under
Stained lampshade light watch in wonder, delight
As you bring another blank canvas to life, electric.

Forget the gut rot, the hangovers, the rendezvous’
With Fate down blind back-alleys where
Shifty-eyed barflies congregate to bullshit
Sly, dark girls in candy-colored dresses.

And forget that last night sitting out under patio roof,
Feeling the first sad chills of fall, cool, chatting up
Hot shot hipster guitarist all dressed in leather,
Local young poet, sullen, beat, starved and beared,
High school geek, grown but still the gawky grin,
With jovial old man claiming to be great great grandfather.

Drinking too much and, still, drinking more,
Time continues to tick, the countdown until
Those bar-beating hacks you wait on,
And wait on, demanding their orders,
They take you away—forever,
Into the night.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Don't Ask Me to Write a Poem Today

Don’t ask me to write a poem today,
Can’t you see what I’ve been through?
Days on days of coughing and choking,
Crumbling nerves and sweating thru clothes,
Rewashing the same old t-shirt and jeans,
Having to borrow a dollar from the neighbor
Who has to borrow it from the bank that
Has to borrow from me to do so.

Don’t ask me to write a poem today,
Don’t you see what’s going on?
The president is making insane demands,
Calling on us to die for
Democracy in far off countries,
And now wants us to cover the cost of his
Socialist-corporate agenda.

Help! he’s bringing shame to our moral lack of decency.

Meanwhile we eat day old bread, drink expired
Milk and suck sugar cubes for sweets
As he wines and dines the
Faithful fundamentalist, the oil tycoon,
The right to lifers, the
Left to right and left of center.

Don’t ask me to write a poem today,
How can I afford to make such a concession?
I tried to pay my last phone bill with one and they
Sent it back covered in illegible criticism.
Who is going to pay me for my work, my time?
There it goes...vanishing quick, quickly vanishing.

Where does that leave the seeker, the student,
The saint? Trapped all day in long lines
That lead to nowhere, with nothing
To do but wait, wait, wait.

Don’t ask me to write a poem today,
I’m not a machine or some assembly line producer
Giving you fresh insights, visions, illuminations by the minute,
Clocking out at five to go home to wife and children who
Want none of it, laughing in my face when I offer to share
What I’ve finished. They even call me faggot.

Don’t ask me to write a poem today,
What more is there to say?

Don’t ask me to write a poem today,
You’re going to have to find your own way.

Don’t ask me to write a poem today,
Today, tomorrow or any other day.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Here we go again, another blackout town. A town
Like all the rest. Fact every town’s the same, at night.
And it’s night when I make my way, away from all
The scurrying, screaming, gawking day-hustlers.

The endless footsteps headed down some nowhere street.
The punishing rain like spray of gunfire under the
Cold gaze of streetlamps. The stinging glare of a
Million signs that hang like neon snakes off buildings
That seem to stalk my movements with bullet-hole eyes.

A gathering of dead-enders by a doorway, dry
Under canopy cover to the same motel where the
Desk-clerk shoos out all frowners and loners with grim authority.
GO AWAY. NO WELCOME. The words spray-painted on the door.

Out of nowhere a woman takes me by the arm and speaks in
A voice full of false lust. “You ain’t from around here, are ya?”
Cracked lips curl to reveal bent, smoke yellow teeth.
“Well I’s bet I can make you feel more at home.”
I burry my hands in my pockets, hunch over,
And keep moving.

Steam rises from grates like ghostly pitchfork arms as
I catch glimpses of others who pass by.
Pale faces, sallow faces, faces faded of hope.
No acknowledgement.
Is their life behind those shattered expressions?

A man more resembling a wet dog, half-naked, filthy, kneeling
In the gutter trying to wash but only dirtying himself more.
He catches me with crazed, shimmering eyes and says,
“Cleanliness next to godliness,” rubbing down
Bony shoulders and jutting ribs with a brillo pad and cheap wine.

Another man, this one in a suit with peroxide hair but no less
A beast, shouts mad words over me, spittle flying as he
Shoves a pink pamphlet in my hand, all about salvation and
Ruin. Our ruin. I throw the crumpled papers on the ground,
Watch as they quickly shrivel up, going all soft and blotchy.

Far off sirens pierce thru the blackness. Car horns
Blare, the traffic roars along, their fumes hanging
In the air, pungent, harsh, choking-harsh,
Like death. My death. Her death.

But what choice is there, now?
What’s done is finished. Over. Obsolete.
Gobbled up by an unquenchable past. Got to
Keep on moving. Where to next?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Seven Poems

Lonely Prairie Home

Open field where nothing grows
Dead meadow open breeze blows
Each year the farmers collect smaller harvests
And ever winter we grow weaker, more famished.

What is this disease of the land?
We hope for better next year but still the same.

I hate the gray days of endless want.
The dry creek bakes in the sun.
There is emptiness all around.
No more shall the leaves turn in fall.


The tree bark is thick, brown.
I want to eat it. I want the crunch
And the digestive rumble, rupture all.
Resist not the wounding of organs, choke.

Broken Associations

I want to believe but past records show
The ache wrought by beauty’s curse.
It is from this knowledge I escape learning.
How the heart continues to beat, unknown.
The time of living has not arrived, woe.
Come together at once!
Nothing is here to stay.
I pray for you. Do you the same?


You, out! Now. My room
Is not to be disturbed.
Cracks line the walls which are
Bare and white.

Black is the sun which I turn from.
See me not. Close the window. I dream.
Come in. No, it is hopeless, and so are dreams.
What? You with answers. Send them away!

Night is here to stay.

My Vision


Exploding the page
My mind the trigger
Words left in wake
Like craters

Wham-boom! Exclaim!


To make it so I can’t mistake
The I for another I.
Whose I? Mine I?
These subjects left undefined.


The woman at the bar takes a
Drag from her cigarette, exhales
The bitter loss and nostalgia sift
Through the curls of smoke


This is the day of promise
Wishing only a wink away
I control all, don’t you see?
Flick, flick, click
This is the world—
My love screen glow

No one but me
Shall enter

I create the whole
Disregard the fragments
What left with then?
Half-formed expression. Me! See?

Beat the Dog of Repetition

Don’t make me beg for your affections
These knees already scarred and bleeding

The pure wisdom of water
Drink from thy cup

Suck blood from the wounds
Never can get enough

Eat the earth, the day, the night
Make nice with shadows, taste the light

Hurt the dog
He lame, brute

Curse him, like all the others, doomed,
Justified, return to your caves: stay

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


The spider crawls across the floor and so goes my heart. Over and over it tries to call to me; I shut it out. Heavy, heavy, nothing I can say, nothing worth saying, to tame, to draw out the patterns that twist and curl, connected in their intricate web design.

Silence now, but still it lingers. Creeping, at first, then growing, rapid, towering like a rising tide. When will it break? Never! I drown my love in an ocean of desire, swirling and moaning, and—

Thoughtless, unconscious, I lie upon the beach, waiting to be taken out to sea, to join the frothing waves that lap at my feet. The crab scuttles on pin-needle feet. A wave crashes against the rocks. This can’t be right. Soon the dark clouds will roll in and rain will hammer down, washing what’s left out into the rushing currents. Take me! Take me! Only I’ve forgotten how to swim.

Wake now! The dreams are not dreams, only the mind’s broken screams. Thoughts like seepage from the sea, drip, drip. There is no consistency. The flood is soon to resume. What to do? What to do? The spider scurries up a wall, pauses a moment, plotting then disappears into through a crack. Gone.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


There was a knock at the door, I got up off the couch to answer it, there was Nick standing in the dark hallway, the pay laundry next to him, chugging thru another endless load. I greeted him with as much enthusiasm as I could muster and invited him in. Immediately, as if on instinct, he went for the bottle of Chivas Regal that sat on the extended ledge next to the breakfast nook, there with the few other bottles. "You mind if I take a shot of this," he asked, taking a backseat to courtesy. "No," I replied. "In fact, have two, might as well, since I can’t drink anything," I said, "not with the drugs they've got me on." His was the first familiar face I had seen in almost two weeks, since falling ill with some sort of throat infection, strep, virus, not all that sure, the old British doctor, with deep-lined Beckett face, who I’d seen earlier in the week, not offering much in the way of a formal diagnosis. Typical walk-in clinic. Look you over a moment or two, feel around where its bothering you and, having finished with formalities, write you up one prescription or another and send you on your way, next, ha! Efficient, you’ve got to give them that. For whatever that’s worth. Next thing I know, Nick’s over by the kitchen counter, dish towel in hand, cleaning up a spill made in one of the frying pans, having poured himself out a little too towering shot. I tell him as much, and he replies that it’s for sipping, then proceeding to slam it back. We talk for awhile, about nothing really, school, getting caught up on things. He didn’t have any intention of coming to visit me, necessarily, so he tells me, but was just out driving, a few runs, here and there, and then suddenly found himself near the church and realized it was my block and decided to stop in. How nice of him. But it's true, the way these roads loop around in this city, the way they tend to always be circling inward, it seems, as long as you stay within certain borders and not drift off onto the highway, you’re bound to end up going just about everywhere, the city as maze, as it were, or else you may wind up going halfway up a mountain, completely lost in some dark backwoods region, retracing the paths and roads you followed to get out there, which happens, on occasion.

Anyway after that we end up going downtown, even with the clouds and the rain, the fresh air doing me some good, after being cooped up for far too long, far too long, not even being that productive, a little bit of reading, but not much, just being sick. Isn’t it strange sometimes how after recovering from some recent illness, looking back, you realize you were a lot sicker that even you were aware of at the time, in the midst of it, thinking you would be ready bounce back anyday, as the days and weeks carry on? You need something to compare it with, I suppose, to relate it to, outside of your present condition. Yes, for the body naturally adapts to whatever set of circumstances it finds itself in, for survival. At least I was sleeping well. Downtown we stop in at a couple of the book stores. Actually three. All in a row. Well there’s the used record store, maybe not even used, and also the clothing store, some chain-brand-whatever, in between. Usually skip over those. Also while walking around, notice both the Pita Pit, the one which we often would hit up after the pub for late-night snack, and the old cool fifties style diner, where we would drive to mornings for eggs, sausage and hashbrowns to go with our hangovers, had both closed since the summer. Pity. And across the street the new city building, now fully erect and open for business, hovers over, like a great modern monstrosity, blocking out the view of the harbor. This used to be a swell street to wander down, minimal traffic, unique, artsy sorts of stores to stop in, peruse, to hang out at, dig the scene. Used to be. That’s all slowly being moved out, in favor of the mass shopping centers that are all the rage now. Maybe, but they only fill me with rage. No, not rage. Not anything, really. It all feels so unreal, so disconnected. But we adapt to it, in time, live with it. The gap widens. All you can do is run from it, hide away in little book stores, pass the time, waiting it out. In one of the stores Nick shoves a copy of Dubliners in my hands, tells me to get it, great read. Its two bucks. The price is right. Also grab Thoreau’s Walden and Other Writings for another four dollars. Meanwhile, at my urging, he picks up a modern translation of Crime and Punishment in almost new condition, ten bucks. "Including my brother's, this is the third one I’ll now own." It’s the only one you’ll ever need I reassure him, and it’s true.

After that we walk down the block and around the corner to the Thirsty Camel, one of those, how would you describe it, new-age, laidback, hippy joints, exotic eastern-pop music that greets you when you enter, with a menu consisting of things such as Indian-spiced hummus pitas, organic fruit smoothies, gluten-free cookies, and so on. The tops of the tables are all made of corkboard, with a hard plastic covering, protecting the newspaper clippings attached to them, for the patrons to read over while waiting for their orders, presumably. I don’t bother to read the one in front of me, but instead pick up a copy of some locally distributed paper/magazine, whatever you prefer, skipping over the feminist action articles and landing on a profile of the Sri Lanka/British MC, M.I.A., a promotion for her new album. I skim it over while Nick orders a chicken pita and tea. The waitress who brings over the tea is a pretty young thing, with teased shoulder-length black hair and smooth features that, at first glance, had me mistaking her for oriental. She advises Nick on proper procedure with this particular type of tea, a mate (maw-tay) full of finely ground herbs that you drink thru a metal straw. Very strong, she warns. And bitter. First you pour in some of the hot water, wait for the ingredients to rise a bit, then add the rest, and enjoy. It really is bitter, I find out, trying a couple sips Nick offers me, but not altogether unpleasant, with a bit of kick, would drink this over shit coffee any day. True, there’s decent coffee, freshly ground of course, but what bloody effort, and the buzz, the kick you get is never that satisfying, more that kind of anxious, uncomfortable feeling that gives you the urge, I fall into the second person at the mere thought, to jump into a shower, clean yourself up. Maybe not quite like that. What does it matter. I see my former neighbor, the one who used to live in the suite next to mine, attached, separated by only a thin wall, come in and place an order. His hair was a lot longer than I remembered it, but the soft-spoken, almost timid, approach, yes that’s him alright. What has it been? Eight months, since they moved out? And not a single noise complaint since. But I suppose that’s what you get for living next to a librarian, or whatever it was he did, travelled a fair bit if I recall. And his wife, where did she work? Oh yes, I remember seeing her behind the counter at one of the second-hand places. But that’s only volunteer, I think. But still work nonetheless. I’m glad I’m not working right now. School takes up all my time as it is. Or else I would find something, somewhere, try to at least. Not even enough time for that as it is. Being sick didn’t help matters. I start to get antsy sitting there, watching Nick munch down on his pita, thinking about the work I should be getting back to, soon. Still, good to get out. He takes a call from someone, having to verify his identity with them, before they will begin. They talk a few minutes, hard to pick up about what exactly, making some sort of places, then he clicks off. "That was Dave. He’s so formal over the phone, then he tries to make a joke," he shakes his head in disgust. "That guy. Anyway I’m going over there later to hang out and drink gin." "Sounds like a good time," I say, wondering for a moment if he’s going to invite me to tag along, having not seen Dave since that night at the Chrome Horse, back in the spring, before it closed, and not since he moved back into town. He doesn’t though, not even as a gesture, but it doesn’t matter anyway since I can’t drink, and would have turned it down anyway, too much work to get to. Nick starts in about how I should be drinking green tea for my illness, and just in general really, going on about all its health benefits, this from the same guy who I've always known to be constantly smoking, bumming smokes every chance he gets in fact, every opportunity that arises, on campus, or anywhere else. But to each his own. Nick decides to order us both a couple of green tea lattes, no, that wasn’t the name, but the equivalent to it at any rate, a mocha latte substituted with green tea. The cute black haired girl brings them over, Nick has a try at talking her up while I smile at her, trying to maintain interest, engaged, then finally look down, staring into the green and white frothy swirls of my drink in front of me. Two weeks without a single thought about any girl. Too much. Well, there was one girl, occasionally, but she’s a long ways away. I really should write her, soon, now that I’m finally better, after the work’s out of the way. But there’ll always be work, always in the way. At least get thru this weekend, catch up on late assignments, then maybe think about other things, people.

The latte turns out to be delicious, energizing but calming at the same time, mellow, a smooth buzz. When we get outside, not raining anymore but still beautifully dreary, I make a suggestion to go up to one of the second-hand stores, nothing but an excuse to walk around somewhere, feeling good now, energized, almost wired but not quite there. But Nick having other plans, we simply start walking back in the direction of his truck. As we approach a group of disenfranchised goth punks hanging around outside one of the shops, seeing an opportunity, Nick asks to borrow a dollar, to bum a smoke, naturally. But I don't have one, tell him to just go buy a pack, he's going to eventually, at some point, between now and whenever, later. "You don't know that," he snaps back, "nothing is certain, I'm not necessarily going to do anything." "Yeah, maybe that's true," I reply. "But based on your past actions, I would venture to say it's a pretty safe bet, odds are, you will." Then: "Twenty bucks, how 'bout it?" He declines and, with simple resignation, I say, "That's all life is anyway, a gamble." We reach the truck and start off, driving back to my apartment. On the way he points out the Conservative's election signs that have been defaced, vandalized, with red circled Vs spray-painted on all of them, all in a row, some even having the -onservative covered up with duct tape and replaced with -orrupt, brilliant! Only too appropriate, Nick agrees. As we draw closer to home, I’m suddenly filled with a weird notion, and, turning to Nick, for whatever the reason, suggest to him we both turn out to vote, forget the usual apathy, and not for the Liberals either, not NDP, but for the Green Party. Even making a whole argument for it, why it's the right way to go, the decision to make. We’ll feel better for it, I tell him, having known we’ve exercised our democratic right while avoiding contributing to the laughable bullshit party system we’re presented with, in the guise of real Democracy, yes. We can even go smoke a joint and play music or something, afterwards. When did I suddenly become so politically conscious? I must be getting old, the first signs at any rate. But whether I believe it all or not, most of the time, thinking on it now, it just gives me a headache, futile. What does it matter? Will it matter? Who knows. Once parked outside, before I get out, we make plans to meet up next week, on campus, get back into the boxing. "Sounds like a plan I can get behind," I say. As he drives off, I head towards my suite around back, back to the work.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bartók, Auden, and the Question of Freedom

Woke up to another sunny morning and listened to a recording of Bartók's Divertimenti. Turns out is much more upbeat than most of his stuff, though no less complex. Can still hear his influence on those great mid-70s Crimson albums like Larks' Tongues, in fact maybe even more so, more pronounced, for whatever reason. Read a few of Auden's shorter poems from a collection of his over breakfast. Great stuff. Those people who accuse him of coldness, detachment, lacking emotion, or being too systematic, didactic with his poetry know nothing. Sure, he wrote his share of middling, banal poems, they all did. But when he's on, which is more often than not, he's able to bring image, observation and word choice together as good as anyone, any of the so-called greats. Is Auden considered one of the so-called greats? Who makes up such a list anyhow? I hope it's at least people who actually read poetry, few and far between as they may be, sadly. But what do I care? Their loss, those people. Maybe they have secret elections, held by the academic elite, deciding who to consider great, who to focus on, heap praise, canonize, and who to trash, throwaway, forget about, lost in the annals of what could have been a great, new, inventive literature, if only given more notice, paid more attention to. Or maybe it's just one guy in a room, pulling levers, judging the rest of us, telling us what to think and read, do and say, in secretive, controlling Orwellian fashion? "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!" That's ridiculous of course, but probably closer to the truth than any of us would be comfortable admitting. I don't think it can be denied at this point that that's where it's all heading. And I'm no conspiracy nut. Tho I know those who are, and withhold my judgment. Nothing more infantile, detrimental, and altogether pointless than one person's judgment over another, really. Who's to say what one person says, does, believes is any less absurd than yourself, than the next? All you're doing, really, when judging another is exposing your own prejudices, limitations as a free-thinking person. Freedom promotes idiocy. That might just be a half-assed generalization but there are enough examples out there to back it up. Maybe if would be truer to say idiocy is one of the end results of freedom. Now that's even more general. The opposite of freedom is oppression, and there's nothing more idiotic than that. But there's a difference between something that is and something that creates those conditions. Like say, North Korea is a dictatorship, while the Bush administration, they have, effectively, created for themselves a dictatorship, by ignoring, writing off, silencing, eliminating all opposing thought, opinion, any dissenting points of view, and, instead, preach to the faithful ideological base, even if it is the minority. This wasn't meant to get political. Honest. So what was my intention when I sat down to write this? Does one need an intention when sitting down to write, especially something as open-ended as a blog? Doesn't matter. Why does one do anything? That's what that line of questioning leads to. The most pointless question of all.

So to wrap this thing up, let's grab a quote from Auden. Remember him from earlier, one of the so-called greats? His eulogy to Freud might be even better than the more famous one he wrote for Yeats. At least as good. In it he wrote, "To be free is often to be lonely." Might explain why so many people are afraid of it, freedom, what it means to be free, what are its ramifications, the responsiblities that come with it. And why so many others just don't understand it. Like a lot of other things, it's just easier to leave left alone, forgotten, disregarded. Passed over. On to the next thing. Whatever that might be. Wherever it may lead.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Welcome random internet wander. This is my blog. I started it because it seemed like the thing to do. All the cool kids are doing it, so what are you waiting for? Don't you want to be cool. Everyone wants to be cool. And anyone who doesn't, sure isn't. But remember, now, being cool involves not caring what others think or do. Very important. It requires a certain amount of distance, detachment. Keep that in mind at all times.

So that's it for today's bit of useless pejorative wisdom. Thank you and happy surfing. Shine on.