Monday, April 15, 2019

i say to myself

the trick is to remember those lives smudged by my fingerprints 
when a single hand is around my throat;
to hold triumph tightly between my teeth 
even when my mouth is full of

i have gazed upon so many
upturned faces, need slipping from
their tongues while
secrets crowd my open
i have delighted in the
shuttered rooms
of so many minds,
and tasted
more than most will
find in a lifetime of intention or
questionable decisions;
i have sought out the
decadent and bizarre with
eyes open, unafraid,
fists wrist-deep in both the
oil slick and fresh-fallen

the trick is to remember.


i danced with Lear and tasted smog,
the dew, and memory slipping, lithe,
from brain and greying, bruising limbs,
drenching fingers, reaching toes,
spicing errant, lustful whim -
i danced though he did not know me
and swore my arms were water's weight,
another prison: padded, mild;
a room devised to thwart old age and
redact his will, a screaming babe -
how he stared and draped his  mouth
about my laughing, reddened tongue -
how he gasped the music mighty!
how it gaped, that hollow maw!
falling from my tongue, he wept
while blood diminished and flesh despaired -
i left him dead with flowers strewn:
joy and oblivion fully paired.


spend the time -
spend each second
with the thrift you've afforded
each heart slipping
through gloved hands;
spend each moment!
spend it, now,
before you've forgotten its source,
before you've found a better
means of enjoyment or
a more stable

Sunday, April 8, 2018


poetry doesn't keep me safe, or even help me
learn from my mistakes - at best it clings to the synapses of
a misfiring brain, rearranging myocardium in order
to give the heart a more steady


you've got a mood like a sound wave that
never grew out of its fear,
head in your hands and a brain filled
with bitter bravery that only trends
toward disbelief.
you're in a mood like a black hole:
a drastic dancer, drunk on persistence,
asking for a partner to help him
fall down.
you've got a mood like a beer at nine
o'clock in the morning, the only lifejacket
you're willing 
to wear.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018


i don't want to fall apart,
but it always seems to be the least time consuming way to
find the silence -

if i throw myself off every soundscape's precipice
and shatter again and again and still yet again
i can rest, if only for the succession of a few

i want the stillness that's usually only nestled
between two bodies that have just
melted into one another -
no speech or song or second-guessing;
just soft, slow lungfuls of air that owe
nothing to
the world. 


the truth is that i see so much, presently,
of what you refer to in past tense:
beauty, talent, stability, possibility, promise, and

i keep seeing you, though i'm nowhere near
the seat next to yours,
with your eyes turned in every direction but

the truth is that you're stuck with my analysis
and prodding
and pushing
and love
because i see in you so much more
than your well-thumbed past;
i see the chapters you are currently writing,
the music that beats and thrums and
in you.

i see you, and i'm proud of you;
proud of your mistakes and relapses and falls and
triumphs and progress and persistence.
i'm proud of you and, whether you believe that
pride to be misplaced or not,
i'm going to keep leaving you these notes.

Friday, March 30, 2018


who were we
before we were strangers
meeting over a wooden table and
the autumn air stubbornly rattling rusted windows?
who were we
before we figured out that
our brains operate on a similar frequency,
that our distress signals are so terribly
who were we before i fell apart
and you held yourself together
in so very similar, self-destructive
who were we before we were strangers
whose minds, to one another, were suddenly
no longer


i've taken baths, recently, more frequently than showers;
i try to be more accepting of this body that seems to shrink a bit more
every day.
i'm afraid of the lessening of me, like a moat that suddenly isn't as deep or walls that are
no longer quite high enough.
it's not as safe, you see, when i can wear less clothing (i still never look for the appropriate size, always searching for something a bit looser, a bit wider, a bit longer).
it's not as safe when i take up less space and no longer have impenetrable layers
of flesh and more flesh to keep out the eyes or touch or appreciation
or emotion
of someone else.

mute button

i haven't got any gin, and that's suddenly highly unnerving;
i haven't got any beer, either, but that's not exactly perturbing.
i haven't got any wine, but there are so very many exquisite goblets waiting to be used;
i haven't got any vodka, and this is, of all things, the clearest case of
disproportionately poor priority. 


you've got to remember to breathe, every so often, amidst the dives you take during baths in the middle of the night.
you've got to remember to stop talking, just for a moment, and shelve that nagging doubt that digs at your ribs during well-deserved silence.
you've got to remember to remember, though it costs tears and streaked mascara; you've got to remember to

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

for Sean

let me be your color, darling,
let me be your course;
let me be the carving wind,
the unsaddled, racing horse;
let me be your palate, darling,
let me be your wings;
let me be the wildness, yes,
and all your stranger things.

for Robert

i've been meaning to fall into oblivion,
or be blown there by an image i cannot forget -
i'm hoping to wind up in oblivion,
but, sad to say, i've not made it there, yet.

(along comes the water, along comes the muse
along comes the artist, along comes the fuse;
along comes the dust, along comes the rain,
along comes the lust, along comes the pain)

i've run all the way to oblivion!
the colors are running, here, too!
there's a dreamscape, a haven, Valhalla -
there's just one thing missing, here: Truth.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

work in progress

she won't tell you she's hungry,
making her own pads, and stealing 
toilet paper -
she won't tell you she's been
using that same outfit for
a week, washing it by hand in her bathroom
sink and hoping,
that they won't shut off the power
or the gas
or come repossess that car -
she won't tell you
and she won't beg
and she won't bother your
simple and stable sensibilities because
she knows better than to
expect her problems to be 
fixed or flatlined or frozen by
any body, anyone at all -
she knows there's no credit line to restore
her comfort or her sleep or her security,
in spite of how much
she has to give,
in spite of how much she


i do it for the joy
and peace
and the knowledge that i can finally
pay forward
what my mother and friends and lovers
gave to me when
i was drowning and wanting to die and wanting to disappear -
i do it because i want you to see what i carry
within my heart (you are in my heart), upon my shoulders,
and between my fingers
as i leave it in your washing machine
and sink
and upon your tables -
i do it because i want to do it, because it is what i can give, and
you are
so incredibly


there you are,
across the great divide of screens and fingertips and keys that never seemed to play the perfect song;
but there you are,
and here i am,
and finally, finally,
i can see your words and understand that
you felt my love and
you knew it lived and
you know you let it


and i'm sure you prefer the later
and the better
and the tomorrow
and the next,
but i am here to affirm that your present
and your self
and your best
is here
and now
and suddenly within you,
just as it's always been.

Saturday, May 6, 2017


Now comes the reality
The slow creep of sunlight through mist and mistakes
Branded on sheets throughout a midnight that memory
Didn’t quite net in her silken strands –
Now comes the dust
The fingerprints and ash that somehow become a part of our skin,
The way music gets under the eyelids and between the lips, intention
And deeds seep beneath the doors and gates we build to keep
Words like home and safety and love and grace
At bay –
I built a reality,
One that was a tent in the deep woods of two brains
Thick and gnarled branches entwined to hold back the sunrise
Lest it show up the faults and flaws and the crags beneath our
Wide wide wide open eyes – I built a home for the moment for that
Brief shining splinter of a second in which we were at peace, and still, and lucky,
And enough.


Bright colors and a slim frame and oh my goodness but doesn’t that
Smeared makeup make her an enticing little piece of midnight
Isn’t her helplessness and her brokenness your cue
Your safety net those limbs that slump against you and
Those fingers that snake their way into yours
That minor key that warns and pulses at the base of your skull
Telling you you’re holding a time bomb, less, a piece of tinsel
Caught in the flame, it’s shiny and mesmerizing for a moment but
It’s not what will keep you warm, oh  no little boy,
It won’t set your nights on fire or kiss your forehead when you wake
In the grey dawn hour, it won’t hear your truths and return them with compassion
Passion isn’t found in the weak and the lost and the ever falling –
Call me cruel but my time is short and it is not for the taking and
Breaking and manipulations of a clumsy set of hands and
Eyes that dance for laughter that comes from a throat other
Than mine.


We get what we deserve
We get what we knew would come our way
You know how I feel, oh you know these words -
That long lingering hatred of love
That wish for emptiness
That panting grasp for the starker things
The lesser things
The mistakes and the pain and the undiluted
Rage that somehow destroys our impulse to trust
To lust to touch to find worlds within each other -
We get what we deserve
The freedom from what we yearn to have
The raw wounds unbound and bleeding freely
The notes that rise up from the depths of us
The basements we’ve let flood over and over until the water lines
Are our only link to love or at least
The games we played in the shadow of its altar
I won’t call them lovers we won’t call each other
Any sweet words, no, no, no, I’ll only call this like I’ve called
Every other game I’ve played every other beggars prayer
Every other sudden spasm mistaken for the reality
Of arms and a beating heart and hands that did
No harm.


I watch you and I walk beside you
All softness and the way you
Meter out my steps, the way you leapt
From page to backstage and the periphery of my unkempt
Heart –

I hear you and I listen while your thump-strum voice
Rolls over my skin and rocks my brain, giving me but a single choice
To connect, to reject the fallacy of automatic gratification, the insinuation that I should not
Feel –

Here and now, this room this music this shared
Experience of safety and the joy that’s paired
Between minds open to the lush promise of
No, don’t say it yet, don’t put a name on what this
Is becoming is ending is beginning is striving and starving and
Breathing and pulsing between two mouths that have
Been given permission to