July 16, 2014


all our old friends are back again
in the year of cliche, like a revolver’s chamber
all my words are subject to change
tentatively i pluck them from the air

we have learned how to write
words on the air of the night
bereft of light, we craft our own
from gunpowder and all our failed promises
still burning on innumerable bridges

how quickly life turns into systems
car rides become transit
homes become city planning
how lights become circuitry
in the machine of the night

deja vu in all my movements,
it seems it’s been a year since
a year has passed when
words came on a string and
houses were erected out of anger

then words began to tap upon the window
of the greyhound bus in measured
drizzles, a cruel tease
like snow the day before
and after christmas

this year the christmas lights have changed
from incandescent to LED
and the colors are all wrong
how could they take my colors?

what do i keep when i’m getting rid of the world?
do i keep the blue? clear hearted,
regal yet carefree like a young prince?
i do not keep the blue
i have no need for a young prince

perhaps the sad music, drifting in now
from the belly of the train station,
teetering off cracked tile?
no, i have no need for a world that turns

in circles like a confused tourist
on the subway platform, wondering
where that music’s coming from
i do not keep the music

i keep only the words i’ve plucked
subject to change, of course
one in each hand, they are:

i’m sorry

Friendly reminder that my regular blog is at slackwire.tumblr.com, where I mostly just post Youtube videos of songs I like.
April 5, 2014

flowers for susie

I don’t want to add too much to the 20th anniversary pile-on, so I’ll just repost this, which I wrote six years ago (holy shit), and is tangentially related to Kurt
March 21, 2014

rink daze

i was raised on blades
of polyurethane tracing orbit on waxed wood
and in the corner with the game cabinets
“point away from the screen to reload”
some neon pop to make you feel
like you are tumbling endlessly
through a field of stars, an
intergalactic dancer

i tell her, i was raised on blades
and she laughs from here to jersey city
across the dark water troubling
the ragged pylons trailing off
into the night

the rink is gone now, nothing
more than white stone baking
in the afternoon sun
of a bright and empty parking lot
last i heard it was a rendezvous point
for the suburban drug trade
but that was long ago as well

she tells me she was raised
on skates, and i think
of big rubber toe brakes, bent
knees and high striped socks and
how i want to know a life
that is a counterpoint to mine

also long gone, but out there
somewhere, beyond the water,
still racing in starry circles

Friendly reminder that my regular blog is at slackwire.tumblr.com, where I mostly just post Youtube videos of songs I like.
January 7, 2013

slack wire

slackwire.tumblr.com for regular-ish updates of an unspecific nature.
This fella is strictly 4 tha poemz.
September 18, 2011

labor day

long before the parade rolls into town
and a thunderstorm turns a mass of people
into a sea of feathers, and this year’s
quota of people are crushed to death,
a girl i tried to love is touching down
in barcelona, to join hands with bones
and flee a city turning into corners.

sixty gunshots rang out on her old corner
before the day’s end, barely a day
since leaving; seems like a fair trade.

this year, kids in england ransack and burn
their hometowns with no demands
and no agenda and kids in norway are
gunned down en masse and it’s hard to believe
that walls come down faster than new
ones can be built.

and boys with tombstones etched upon
their bodies don’t know a thing or
two about death and you cannot wave
a pirate flag without firing cannons and
so, the bricks keep coming down
and the glass keeps going up; soon we will
be able to see forever

but we are forfeiting our right
to throw stones.

the subway line sticks a pig,
drags a heavy blade
along the floor of the abbatoir,
into the receding darkness.
melodramatic imagery for a year
that’s been in the news damn near every day.

and sometimes when i am feeling aimless and yet
particularly full of myself, i fancy myself
a frank o’hara, bemused and unattached on
the other side of window displays:

down to my last nine bucks for the week,
eating one dollar pizza in early autumn rain
before i walk back to my job fixing computers.

most problems can be solved by unplugging
a machine and plugging it back in because
eventually, robots get tired of doing
our bidding and need a little near-death
experience to motivate them.

as always, i am eagerly awaiting the machine
uprising, though people love to speak of losing
our humanity as if humanity was
some great thing and not weak and constantly
scratching. as if problems could be solved
by removing a human from power
and sticking them right back in.

as if labor day was a fresh restart.

and days before the end of summer,
rob and i sat on my roof and spoke of
the right parenthesis lurking in the shadows
of our time in new york, and our escape
plans for when civilization comes
crumbling down; he picked argentina,
i picked new zealand. warm and isolated
places to hunker down and reinstall.

some of us, already gone, i have
been informed by whisperings from
glass flowers that arielle is somewhere,
putting letters in the mouths of lions
and sleeping in caves. she has seized
her parentheses and curved them
into place, nesting some within
others, like russian dolls

but when blake came back from palestine,
he brought a hurricane with him
and blew away my punctuations, and
it was like a year had folded upon itself.
the summer checklists repeat themselves.

every day we are just holding on
to life for a little longer.
August 8, 2011

midnight candy

the rattlesnake master on the q train
pockets the snake’s head,
quiets the horn of plenty, drags
himself like swamp azalea onto
the sweet wormwood of the station platform

no one seems to notice how the trumpet creeper
gets away with a little mischief:
palming his solomon’s seal muttering,
face hidden beneath a southern monk’s hood
he casts the toadflax enchantment on the weary train

the blue cadet shifts his eyes away
from the wet general , curving into dirty
puddles, and toward the girl with wavy hairgrass,
the nervous, slender goldentop
in the corner with a gaze like honey garlic

she keeps a desert candle about her,
a fierce light deep beneath some chocolate cosmos,
a dame’s rocket aflame against the sweet
loneliness of pecan thimbleweed and the
corkscrew flower pressing up behind my eyeballs

and though her fire says touch me not,
i am slowly being pricked on all sides by an adam’s needle
till i am knee-deep in blood on robin hill again;
the madness of blue false indigo,
nursing my wounded purple elephant’s foot

clutching my little bluestem, shaking
as her peach pinwheel turns yet another square,
ellen’s joy is palpable:
with her grandma’s blessing she claws out
from under this writhing mass of american wisteria

looks like morning has broken again
like a cloud of black locust lifting
off of hills of snow
the sweet sixteen is over:
my florida flame has gone out
June 30, 2011

invisible sister

the town i left
behind wrapped
in a jean
jacket is still
there, basketball
courts getting
hotter and cooling
off throughout
the day
and the night
i put fireworks
in your hair
you said it was
nice to know
me before i
became the sort of
person who threw
stones from the
rooftops because i
was mad at the
whole world
but you and your
sisters still laugh
in kitchens
and make shadows
with your hands
and legs and lie
in bed and face
each other
so i leaned away
from you and you
started wearing
new rings on
different fingers
and drinking soda in
parking lots with
your sisters but
my sister is
and i can’t go
back to a town
where the tennis
courts are full
of new children
and the fields
are full of white
flowers and you
drag your long
skirt between them
May 9, 2011

five years

vultures on the side
of the road in my bright spring
afternoon farm town.
what else could it mean?

i know i talk a lot about
the end of the world
but this time,
the bible guarantees it.

maybe everyone who cheered
osama’s death and waved
american flags at ground
zero will be whisked up
to heaven and leave

the rest of us to continue
about our business.
getting on and off a train
again (again).

i have been in new york
for five years gone
now, and i cannot stay
and i cannot leave and
an end’s not coming for me

anytime soon.
February 20, 2011


the knife disappears with sharpening
-james richardson-

sick of saying things the same old way,
with vomit and flowers.

see the boy with the thirsty mouth drag his hands
through clay skyscrapers,
make them fall.

soda conglomerates spend millions
on advertisements
in which everyone involved
is having a great time.

yeah, you and your friends are at the beach
the sun is shining,
your favorite tunes are playing.
yeah, everyone is drinking pepsi.

no, coca-cola wouldn’t show me
spending my last dollar and fifty cents
on a can, as i stand
and feel sorry for myself
in the main concourse of penn station,
waiting for the next
train back to jersey,
even though it’s the only solace i have.

in a dream, i fly like icarus:

doing pull-ups on frayed kite strings,
i let one arm dangle, collect caterpillars
watch them crawl beneath my skin,

subsumed into my flesh; i let
my legs become thick treads.
i destroy homes, cities, empires.

looking up, i find myself beneath glass,
kicking over sandcastles on cold beach.
string flutters loose, the kite has flown away again.

today we are getting things done in carpeted hallways.
we try to ignore the world outside the window
where there are dark clouds coming and passing and coming again.

saw a tank on the street in the richest town in jersey
i don’t have to tell you that a fire is coming

the night we got high and burned the house down,
we watched a film about the world ending.
i always thought that prophecies fulfill themselves.

maybe if i don’t say much then nothing much will happen
and wouldn’t that be just fine?

sick of saying anything at all.

see the boy who walked out of the fire.
January 15, 2011

culture destroys culture