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Tuesday, December 22, 2015

I Believe (My Testimony)

Nothing will prepare us for
that angel waiting at our final door
who'll beckon us to come explore
an afterlife we can't ignore.
Unlike the view we've learned before 
no flames are coming through the floor
and there isn't torture, fear or gore
only love everlasting and nothing more.

So listen now, as the truth I tell,
I believe there is no everlasting hell.

Your life unlived, full of regret,
you've dug your grave with a pile of debt,
as eternal challenges go unmet
and childhood dreams you must forget,
but please don't worry or even fret
this rollercoaster ain't over yet,
there's still time to change and get
all that cannot be lost on a bet.

So before this situation worsens,
I believe God will save every person.

Immerse yourself in sacred pages
decode prophecies of ancient sages
but literal interpretations so outrageous
can lead to justifiable rages.
Don't surrender logic in subtle stages
or let fear of death become contagious,
ask the hard questions, be courageous
and let God free you from any cages.

It doesn't matter how it is said or done
I believe, the Lord, our God, is One.

Cherry pick what you believe
and earthy praise you might receive,
a pious halo you might achieve,
but you'll be the only one deceived.
I've been called worse than naive
but I've nothing heretical up my sleeve,
for my Savior born on Christmas Eve
loves us more than we can conceive:

In His family I am your brother,
so Love the Lord, our God 
and love one another.

[Posted for Real Toads' Tuesday Platform; http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/2015/12/the-tuesday-platform_22.html - Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy New Year y Feliz Navidad, mis amigos!  Dont drink and drive! Don't text and drive! Love, Moskowitz the Humble]

Monday, December 07, 2015

The Lady Who Never Says No

The Lady Who Never Says No
whispers that no one will
ever know.

She's all dressed up
for the holidays
like a call-girl,
wearing her best
skin-tight
electro-amphetamine
frosting.

She knows how
to make that sound
with her perfectly
lipsticked
mouth
that makes even the
most innocent utterance
sound slutty
and tempting.

She's giving me that
"Take Me into
That Darkened Corner
and Do Whatever
You Want" look

and she's right
no one will ever know,

but I know me.

And one time
will tumble into 20,
then into a hundred,

and we'll go at it
cheap and angry
in my car
in the far end of
the Wal-Mart parking lot,

and then I'll be
sucking down mouthwash
before coming home,

and I probably
will only stop
when the red and blue lights
stop me,
and I lose my license
for a year.

Then,
everyone will know.

Fuck,
just keep on walking.

For Christ's sake,
it's just one aisle in the grocery store.

After 26 years,
ain't you got over her yet?

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Size Doesn't Matter

“Listen, brother,
you ain’t missing
anything.

Bigger women
got bigger everything,
and that ain’t always
good,
if you know what I mean.

Wear your size
like the badge of honor
that it is.

Besides,
there's always a few
who’ll do us
because
of our size.

That’s when you
show them
what a real freak is."



Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Andy Warhol's Quote, with an NRA Rewrite

In the future
everyone will know
someone caught
in a mass shooting,

but the wound
won't be forgotten
after 15 minutes.

So, Wayne LaPierre,
where the fuck
is that Good Man
With A Gun?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Like Magic (for Anita)

Like magic
the sun went down
and when it came back up,
the world was changed.

Like magic
he went from affluent bachelor
to husband-stepfather
with the utterance
of a few words.

Like magic
thirteen years whiz by,
faster than memory
can capture.

Life is sweeter
and richer than ever imagined,
and as I stand in the middle
of all this wondrous,
miraculous happenstance,

I know it wasn't
accomplished
by magic,

for there is no secret
to reveal,
only love.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thankfulness, a list from Moskowitz

Dear Colorful Ones:

Smarty Fireblossom
Mama Super Zen
Angie Inspired
Shadorma Girl Paula W
Difficult Degreed Amy Jo
In The Corner of My Eye Mary
Brudberg, wherever he is
Di Domino
Kimolisa
De Whimsy Gizmo
Sue the Laundry Goddess
Candy Bug
Clairey Love
Writing Outta the Mary Bachs
and Joanna the Tenth Muse,

it's easy to feel
invisible
in this virtual world.

Thanks for seeing me,
reading me,
writing me back.

Thanks seems so small
when your words feel so big,
and on many days
are the best part of being me.

So,
anyways,
thanks one and all.

I hope you know
how much your reflection
means to me.

Amen and
onward.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Vanity

With a fierce determination,
these architects plan
and sculpt
and build
their bodies
into monuments
of self-discipline
and sheer will power.

They are temples
worthy of awe
and admiration,
but some display
their weakness
as peacock feathers.

Those who graffiti
their bodies
until they've no more
skin left uninked,
display the worst
kind of weakness:
vanity.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Today's High: 81

Rust in the trees,
turkey shopping
in short pants,
Thanksgiving
In Moreno Valley.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Brown Privilege

I can arrange
to be around people
of my own race
most of the time,
whether I
want it or not.

I can avoid spending time
with people whom I was trained
to mistrust,
mostly because
I’m unwelcome there.

I can go shopping alone
most of the time
at la carniceria,
la panaderia,
or any of the price-point,
mini-mall variety stores
pretty well assured
I won’t be followed
or harassed.

I can turn on the tv
or read the front page
of the newspaper,
and see people
of my race widely represented,
mostly in stories about
illegal immigration,
narco-trafficking,
and quinceaneras .

I can be pretty sure
of having my voice heard
in a group where
I am the only member
of my race,
as long as I am
amusing and
non-threatening.

I can do well
in a challenging situation
without being called
a credit to my race,
although I have been called
“one of the good ones.”

I can worry about racism
perpetrated against
white people
without being seen
as self-interested or
self-seeking.

I can take a job
that I am overqualified for
with an affirmative action
employer without
my co-workers suspecting
I got the job
because of my race.

I can be late to a meeting
of MECHA
or La Raza
without my lateness
reflecting on my race.

I will feel
welcomed and “normal”
in the usual walks of public life,
institutional and social,
provided I know my place
and stay there.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Queen of QVC

The parcels arrive daily,
like seaweed and shells
from the tide.

She keeps calling,
buying,
collecting,
gifting and re-gifting.

She’s hates if someone
calls her a hoarder,
and can’t understand
why she was prescribed
an antidepressant.

When I visit
there’s no place to sit,
and it resembles less
the home I grew up in
and more a packaging
and shipping depot.

In a rare moment
of lucidity and candor,
she confessed
she’s trying to find the
perfect gift
to give so people
would like her.

Digging further,
she knows
she’s trying to find
the perfect gift,
and I ask her
what’s the one thing
she wants.

I already know
the answer,
and she sobs
and I just sit there
unable to do
anything about
my father’s death.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Only Golden Time

I play these records
until the grooves
are etched deep
in my soul.

They remind me
of growing up,
when Christmas was
the only golden time,
the only magic time
of the year.

These days,
I often see my parents,
and my heart aches
because in my memory
they are together,
not separated
by an early passing.

"...through the years
we all will be together, 
if the fates allow..."

These days,
we have our own
private tradition,
and I live to fulfill it
every Christmas Eve,
and I look forward to it
because it is
the single best
moment of the year.

Everything after that
is just a
thankful exhale.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Weight (for Sarah)

When The Weight returns
just nod,
but don't try
to make friends.

He doesn't hate you,
but he sure ain't your friend,
and he especially loves
kicking down
your lovingly built
sand castles,
while sitting on your chest
making breaking difficult.

No one knows why
The Weight
chooses who it chooses,
but it's clear
it's tragically random.

I'll try to distract you
from it,
and even though
I'll probably fail
miserably,
I'm here,
and I love you,

and as best as we can,
we'll get through this
together,

eyes forward,
waiting out
The Weight.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Squint

Don't get
too comfortable
because everything
changes
all the time.

Everyday has
its own problems,
so don't feel like
you must
solve them all
upon awakening.

Don't forget about
the sweetness
In the breeze,
the music
in the flowers,
the kindness
In the small animals.

Hope is always
hiding in plain sight.

Just squint,
And you'll see it.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Which One?

If I tell someone
"I believe in God,"

and they reply
"Which one?"

then I know
if I am talking with

someone holy
or merely
religious.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Strongest Fragile Person

Her injury didn’t happen
on a battlefield,
but rather in an unsecured,
off-site Army barracks,
with a poorly locking door
that she reported
immediately upon notice.

They did nothing.

She would have to replay
the memory of
her rape at knifepoint
everyday for a year
(that’s how it felt),
until the matter was
closed.

She wasn’t offered
psychological counseling
at the time;
it was 1968.

She quickly married,
and her husband’s only advice
was to try and forget it.

When I met her in 1994,
she was the strongest fragile person
I ever met.

Eventually,
she received treatment for
her PTSD,
and a partial medical disability
from the Veteran’s Administration.

That assault
cost her so many things,
including our love,
and Teresa,
I’m sorry
I couldn’t help more.

When you can’t see
the injury,
it’s hard to know
how deep is the wound.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Kiss Me

Kiss me
like a fall leaf kisses the earth
like the sea strokes the sand
like a misty November moon.

Kiss me
like a quiet cup of coffee
like a poem you’d forgotten
like an Eric Clapton solo.

Kiss me
like a rose pressed in a yearbook
like Thai tom yum soup
like an eternal haunting melody.

Kiss me
like its déjà vu
in the emergency room
before we jump.

Kiss me
before I drift to slumber
like the first time
like it’s the last time.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Thankfully

I wish I knew
what brings her
rotting, pathetic soul
to my door.

She is sick, ravaged
and promises nothing
good.

She is a bony hag,
splotched skin,
mottled hair,
decaying smile
offering me
a blow job
for a hit.

Still, in the right light
or a bored moment,
I recall

her empty company.
insincere embrace,
loving facade.

I hear
her voice,
a coo stifling
mocking
laughter,

and,
thankfully,
I close
the door on her.


How I Became a Racist in 1973

Imagine my confusion
when my fourth-grade teacher
kept correcting the way I
pronounced my cousin’s name.

Mr. Brown (ironically named)
confidently proclaimed:
“Roza Linh-deh”
and I countered with
“Rosa Leen-dah,”
which is how I heard it
my entire life.

We did this two-step
for about a minute
until I realized
he was getting mad,
and I didn’t want
to cause trouble
because my Mexican father
would have no problem
belt-whipping me
if he found out I disobeyed
the teacher.

I pretended to struggle,
pronouncing her name
in his blanched,
sterile way,

and then finally
it came, stumbling out
“Roza Linh-deh,”
and I faked smiled
as though I were proud
to have mastered
this deficiency.

He smiled,
genuinely oblivious
to my ruse.

It was one
of the few lessons
I remember from
grammar school.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Pat's Worst Season

November through March
Is Pat's worst season.

It's nothing but anniversaries
and holidays
and commemorations
of days passed,
days before her mate,
my father,
died.

When the hurt
is this big
there is nothing
bigger
that will take away
the pain.

So I went smaller,
and brought her Trini,
the cast off I found
in the Jack in the Box
parking lot.

Trini can't take away
the pain,
carry on a conversation,
or even watch tv,

but Trini can love
and be loved,
and can be embraced
if needed, when crying,

and I know
she carries
something divine
in her,
and I trust that will
find its way
and comfort the wounds
in my mother's heart.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Sleep, A Plea

Sleep,
wrap yourself up
in the sweet narcosis
of letting go.

When you awaken
I’ll be right here
and we’ll pick those apples,
paint the kitchen,
and do all the other things
we never have the time
to finish
because we’re too tired.

Just sleep now
and everything will seem better:
every worry, diminished,
every sadness, lightened.

Sleep is just
what we need,
so don’t let me wake you
as I slip in at your side
and take your hand
and follow you
into dreamland.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

An Old-Fashioned Judas Day

"Remember, people,
it’s not about
who has the fanciest
Betrayal Cakes
or whose Lights of Regret
flash on and off
to the updated versions
of the traditional
hate-spew carols.

The shops may start
hanging effigies
earlier and earlier
each year,
but neither are they
the reason
for the
Judas season.

And it’s certainly
not about which kids
get the latest, flashiest
Judas Day toys.

No, we must remember
those who sacrificed
themselves
so that we survivors
would band together
in hate
against a common enemy.

Remember
Lord Benedict Arnold,
Saints Julius and Ethel Rosenberg,
and of course
Mohammed Atta and the
18 other al-Qaeda martyrs,
who gave of themselves
so that we could have
glorious unification
in their self-destructive
aftermath.

This year,
let’s try to remember
what Judas Day
is really about."

[Written for Real Toads Out of Standard prompts at http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/2015/11/out-of-standard-remember-remember.html .  Thanks, Isadore.]

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Tranquility

Tranquility
is the moment just born
and the moment just died
and the understanding
that these are the same
moment.

Tranquility
is the breath drawn in
and the breathe sailing out
and the knowledge
that they are
the same breath.

Tranquility
is remembering
there is no You,
no Me,
no Other,
but rather,
there is one
continuous
existence,
infinite and forgiving,
and once
this is known,
all that remains
left to do
is smile.

[Written for Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Tranquility,  http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2015/11/poets-united-midweek-motif-tranquility.html ]

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

United/Untied

We are united by blood,
untied by skin.

We are united by country,
untied by party.

We are united in Christ,
untied by denomination.

We are united in wedlock,
untied by death.

We are united in cooperation,
united in competition.

We are united by attraction,
untied by distraction.

We are united in each other's eyes,
we are untied looking past each other.

We are united at good luck
We are untied by bad breaks.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Surrender

Surrender
to the rhythm
of your beating heart.

Do not do.
Do not act.
Do not react.

Just be,
and surrender
to whatever
fate or God or luck
may bring you.

Our misery is caused
by fighting that which is
bigger than all our
wishes and dreams,

so
stop fighting.

Surrender
to the sweetness of sunrise,

to the soothing random song
of the birds outside,

to the warmth of the sun,

because you
didn’t cause these,

because they are
what you need.


Sunday, November 01, 2015

March 2, 1999

I slept soundly,
head sunk into
a cool, feathered pillow.

The morning sun,
soft and bright
gently roused me,
bestowing upon me
the sweet blessing
of disorientation.

Nothing stuck in my mind,
I just enjoyed the warmth
and softness of my father's bed,
not remembering why
I was there.

In an instance,
I remembered,
and it obliterated my peace,
and nothing was ever
the same.

So, I got up,
summoning all my strength
and praying with every exhale,

the morning after
my father died
from a heart attack.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Ofrenda (A Dia de los Muertos Offering)

Were I “that kind of Mexican”
I’d make an authentic
ofrenda,
instead of this:

por mis abuelos,
for Trini
who always had hugs and
warmth in her smoker’s rattle voice,
y Juan
and his ever present stubble which
scraped my face with each embrace,
y Irene
whose caustic humor
belied a broken life and body.

Then there are mis tios:
Rudy the bear,
Ray the quiet genius,
Fernie the garage philosopher,
Eddie the passionate spark,
Kiki the gentle soul,
Carmen the humble and strong,
y Nancy the loud, proud eagle.

Then, there are my cousins,
Celia and Johnny,
both taken too damned soon.

Finally,
mi Pop,
Daniel (pronounced Dan-Yell),
called Copi,
short for “el Capitan”
who gave me everything he could.

I send my prayers
to God
in thankfulness,
in wonder,

and I pray
for each of you
to send me
what I need
from wherever you are
now.



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Things I Love the Most Are Not Things (for Anita)

You don’t need to
write me a poem,
or pen me a song,
or bring me a fist full
of fresh picked daisies.

A mountain of possessions
will not persuade me,
nor will a watertight argument
convince me to your side.

The things I love the most
are not things,

so bring me your passion,
long for me in your breast,
swaddle me in gold compassion.

Your joyful laughter,
your melody
sweet and true,
is the dream
from which
I never hope
to awaken.

Written in response:

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Kissing Contest

The theme of
her 8th grade
boy-girl birthday party
was “Tonight’s the Night”
by Rod Stewart.

Barely teenage couples
slow-danced and
laughed in the
nervous darkness.

Then came the
hotly anticipated,
much whispered about
“who could kiss
the longest?” contest,
a gauntlet
presumably intended
to discern some kind of
bravado and boldness
for its participants.

Despite my overweight
bookworm status,
I knew I could win this,
and I was matched up with
Debbie,
the only other Mexican invited.

The timer started
and the competing couples
all lunged in:

the others catcalled, hooted,
vicariously enjoying the
implied bravery
of this all,
but,
it was just an act,
there was no passion –
just lip-to-lip suction.

Like most guys,
I learned how to
disassociate my feelings
from my body
in kindergarten,
when boys are taught
to ignore their boundaries
of privacy
and learn to urinate
standing next to
some random 5 year old
in an accompanying stall.

Compared to that,
kissing a girl
was a piece of cake,
a party game
to be won,
and we did,

and I still have
the prize:
a 45 single
of Peter Frampton’s
“Do You Feel
Like We Do?”

Friday, October 23, 2015

Imprisoned

Even in your
unrelenting, oppressive darkness,
we see you
because your light still shines,
your spark still dances.

Imprisoned
as you are,
we keep writing letters
to the warden,
and searching
for the key
to release you.

The next time
you go over the wall,
we’ll go to the library,
sing all the verses of ”American Pie”
when it comes on the radio,
and practice driving in reverse
so you can get
your license.

Mija,
the sun is always shining
somewhere on this planet,
the trick is
putting ourselves
where it is.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Golgotha 5-1479

After meeting with
his press agent,
campaign strategist,
personal adviser
and astrologist,
Pilate thought
creating a martyr
would probably
come back to bite him
in the ass
in the long run.

There was something
about the demeanor
of the accused.
He was too cool,
too controlled
and it made him
rethink his initial
assessment.

"This Jesus probably
had some kind of trick
up his sleeve,
like that
cockamamie
loaves and fishes schtick,
and maybe I should
find a way
to bring Jesus
into the Roman fold.

Besides,
don't I always say
“keep your friends close,
and your enemies
closer?”"

He summoned
his Chief of Staff
to put in a call
to Mount Golgotha
to stop the execution.

As the rotary phone dial
slowly zuzzed and whirred

each

of

the

seven

digits,

one of his lackeys
sauntered in,
sucking on a lamb-pop,
causally announcing
that Jesus had just died.

With that,
Pilate hung up the phone
and stared out
at the desert,
vast and unforgiving,

wondering at
the array of
the ramifications
now before him.

[For Fireblossom's Friday Challenge - here's the linkarino 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Rivulets of Desire

These wet
and slippery
tongues caress one
another,
as lovers share
the same
hot breath.

A niggling,
ticklish
drop of sweat,
waterslides
down the small
of her back,

and joins the droplets,
the rivulets of desire,

the slick anatomy
finding and
reuniting with
one another,
resulting in
the grandest,
and most sumptuous
mystery of all:

how can so much
moisture
cause so much fire?

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Even She Deserved Her Dignity

There were tales about her,
rumors and gossip:
she doted on the
decrepit star,
plied him with compliments
and sexual pleasure,
orchestrated his return
to public life and relevancy
as his days waned.

A friend of mine
who also liked
Hollywood’s dark side,
worked in a mental hospital
in Norwalk, California.

Once night she smuggled
contraband out of the hospital
she knew I would appreciate.

I looked at the photo ID
and I confirmed:
yes, that was her.

She gave me the card,
knowing I’d appreciate
it’s macabre and unique value.

I looked at her face:
crone’s wild hair,
wide blue eyes,
wrinkly
weather-beaten skin,
and wondered
about each ignoble step
that led her to that place.

I stashed the card
away.

Through the years,
I learned when the star
died,
she was kicked out of the house
where his children decided
she had milked his fortune
for too long.

Without an income
or an address,
she descended into a world
from which she never
returned.

I don’t know
if she really
was his savior,
his paramour,
his twisted puppeteer,
and probably
never will.

Years later,
I found the card
I’d stashed away,
with the shallow hope
I could maybe sell it
to an even more callous
and selfish freak
than I.

But I threw it away.

I no longer
wanted the proof,
the indictment,
of her insanity,
her weakness.

Whoever she was,
she was a daughter,
maybe a sister,
maybe even
a mother,
and even she deserved
her dignity,
her privacy,

even if the rest
of the world
thought she was
just a starfucker.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Mutant Messiah Speaks

“I hate that it’s come to this,
but this world just doesn’t unite
voluntarily.

We need tragedy.
We need chaos.
We need an attack.

Only then is the world
unified,
set in the same direction.

Only then is there
cooperation,
brotherhood,
a shared recognition
of life’s preciousness.

A plane flying into a skyscraper.
A twisted warrior in a kindergarten class.
Unidentified white powder in an envelope.

These are the things
that unite us.

Fear binds us
and perhaps
in our vulnerability,
we will learn trust,
and find love.

If you’re no longer
afraid of God,
then be afraid of me:
I’ve strapped on my explosives
said my prayers,
and am coming for you.

I am not trying to be
some mutant messiah,
but please remember,

I am
sacrificing my life
for you."

Friday, October 02, 2015

My Review of The Holy Bible

It took
seven and a half years,
a chapter a day,
five days a week,
but I finally finished
reading the Bible.

My review:

keep most of the
red letters
where Jesus spoke,

interpret those
red letters
with the same
breadth and imagination
as an avant garde
filmmaker,

red-line everything else,
except Proverbs,
Ecclesiastes,
and James.

Ignore the Book of Revelation.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

The Mexican Carnival

The Mexican carnival
creeps overnight
onto the empty lot
next to the dollar store,
across from the storefront church,
grimy,
miles worn,
paint chipping.

The smell of
sickly sweet
deep fried pancake batter
wafts over the
loudspeakers blasting
Adriana Grande
y las bandas ultimas,
enticing the crowd.

The rigged games offer
plush prizes,
faded by the sun,
mutant knock-offs of
Spongebob Squarepants
and slightly misshaped Minions
made in Viet Nam.

It’s only when
night falls,
and darkness obscures
the spit smears,
overflowing trash bins,
with the music blaring
from invisible demonic speakers,
the red, white and green twinklers
give everything an
ersatz showbiz glitz.

It's pretty,
even inviting.

I stand in the middle
of it all,
every sense engaged,
quietly smiling,
feeling very much
like Bukowski,

an unassuming witness
to the unlikely pageant
before it all packs up
and is gone.

[For http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/2015/09/the-edge.html and http://dversepoets.com/2015/09/17/open-link-night/ - come along and play!]

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Reflection

I see you there
staring back at me,
wondering if
or where
or how
I’m going
to touch you,

and there are
infinite internet nodes
in between us

so, here I go
trying to connect
my thought
to your being,
trying to elicit
a goose-bump,
a curious blush,
an elevated heartbeat,
a chuckle,

and I await
your reflection.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Hate Poem

I hated the
greeting cards,
love notes,
and ticket stubs
I kept as reminders
long after you left,
so I unceremoniously
dumped them
on the trash heap
with the spoiled milk
and used kitty litter.

I hated that
you had to hide me from
your racist parents
for five years,
and
I hated how
when I tried to learn
their language,
your family made fun
of my pronunciation.

I hated those
Michael Bolton concerts
(yes, plural)
I took you to,
and I want those hours
back.

I hated how much
I tried to demonstrate
my faithfulness,
my love and dedication,
and that it still
only came down
to my paycheck,
and even that
wasn’t big enough.

I hated my weakness
for giving in to intercourse
that one last time,
and I hated
that I intentionally
hatefucked you
with more anger
than I ever knew before.

I hate that
someone convinced me
not to throw out
every single picture,
and that I still have
two snapshots of you,
hidden away,
proof of my failed
seven-year experiment
in self-debasement.

I hate that 21 years later,
I still remember
that September 1st
is your birthday.

[Written for RealToads at http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/]

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Every Year at the End of August

Every year
at the end of August,
I try to remember
what life was like
in those weeks
before
that September 11.

I search newspaper archives
for what was happening,
listen to the music
of the day,
I reconstruct
my own recollection,
trying to understand
where we were,
where I was,
to somehow
quantify,
to measure
the effect,
from then
to now.

Every year,
I try but
ultimately decide
it’s pointless,
because no matter
how much my mind
can understand
such historical
artifacts,

my heart,
my soul
only knows the horror,
the division
of life
into segments of
“before 9/11”and
“after 9/11”.

The bumper sticker says
“Never Forget,”
as if I had
a choice in the matter.
[Alicia Keys, from "America: A Tribute to Heroes" 2001]

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Welcomed Silence

The saving grace
of the funeral service
is rather than
the awkward volley
of stilted talk
with distant relatives,
it is perfectly
acceptable
to sit silently,
and offer
a supportive smile.

In this rare,
welcomed silence,
it becomes
profoundly clear
there are
no words big enough,
no sentiment tender enough,

to explain
what has been done
to my 49 year old cousin,
Johnny.

Posted for Poets United .

ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response)

Chasing that feeling,
that giddy calm
ticklish sensation.

It is something
in the feminine voice,
and it cannot be
demanded.

Take me wherever
you can,
your vibrating
vocal cords
and my submissive
aural surrender.

I cannot prove it,
but I know
it exists.



Monday, August 17, 2015

Feed the Desire

Who are you
waiting for,
by the windowsill
looking up, longing
at that indifferent
moon?

Your thoughts are
dancing in imaginary ballrooms,
lounging in
candlelit hotel rooms,
waiting to slip
in between rented
silk sheets.

The beginning and middle
are always exciting,
but somewhere between
the middle and the end,
the magic vanishes
leaving you with
the moment
of realized sadness,
the emptiness
and thus,
the search begins
again.

Feed the desire
but you'll never satisfy it,
and if you can
it's better to leave it
somewhere off
in the distance,

where the perfume
never stales,
the bottle never empties
and the dream
never awakens.



Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Commencement (for Sarah)

I’m more thankful
than articulate:

for every doctor
who looked at her
and helped her through
cerebral palsy,
visual spatial deficits,
even the quacks
who made the true healers
shine brighter,

for every therapist
be they medical
or physical
or psychological,
who never lost hope
and kept trying
even though
there were many dark days
and almost as many
misdiagnoses,

for every kind
and loving soul
who wished her well
and didn’t think we were
bad parents because
we didn’t know how
to quell
the inconsolable, crying child
who turned out
lived in depression,
suicidal ideation,
and crushing desolation,

and to those
never relinquished
the dream
that she would be
standing in
the foyer of life
in her graduation robe,
deciding which door
to approach next.




Thursday, July 23, 2015

Countrypolitan

The sadder the song
the sweeter the sting;

tales of regret
spun around
countrypolitan arrangements
call to me
as sirens
cutting through the AM static.

Why I am helpless
to I follow them
in bittersweet masochism
though their poignant goodbyes
and scenes of
unrequited splendor?

As I watch my sleeping angel
the answer
comes to me:

once she and I lived in
one of those songs
until the day
I dared to leave
my self-imposed prison
and join my life
to hers.

As the songs play
I hear lessons learned
a little too late
and smile

that
for at least
once in my life

I got it right.

[The definition of countrypolitan, "For the Good Times" by Ray Price.]

[Go post at http://dversepoets.com/ - say hi to Anthony Desmond and buy him a drink!]

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Invisible in a Hyperconnected World

This hyperconnected world
makes invisibility an impossibility. You can stay off the grid only if you want to pay for everything in cash and work under the table and not own property, even if it’s only your name. There’s just too much to steal. Give them a SSN, a street address, zip code, mother’s maiden name, 4 digit PIN, your first phone number, or your saliva off a discarded paper cup and they’ll use it to find out everything about you. I change all my passwords once a week, starting Friday at sunset and ending Saturday at sunset. It’s as close to a religious ritual as I observe. I keep all my money in my security mattress, which is made of metal and is fireproof and I change its password every day. No, you may not take my picture. Don’t invite me to the high school reunion. I ignore anything mail from the government. I have no pets, no spouse, no children, no extended family, no surviving kin. I commit everything important to memory, which leaves little room for anything else, but that’s ok because I’m safe, and that’s the most important attribute of all.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

My Philosophy of Life (for Brian Miller)

When I was 7
my first poem
was published
by the Fullerton News-Tribune.

I was inspired
by a late-night
tv sermonette
themed
“people are to love
and things are to use.”

It was the first time
I remember pondering
purpose, meaning.

(My grandmother
had the clipping,
ragged and worn,
in her wallet
when she died
25 years later.)

Then came
the long silence
between that poem
and trying to listen
for the voice of God.

Hearing nothing,
I embraced
and espoused atheism,
becoming a
material empiricist.

I embarked on
a life of modest
hedonism,
a suburban epicure.

It made life so rich,
so vibrant,
but ultimately,
it felt empty.

I needed a place
for all my gratitude,
for the roses,
the orgasms,
and the pizzas.

In all those
experiences
I was connecting
to something grander,
something not material,
something divine.

Eventually,
God and I
found each other,
and surprisingly
my philosophy
hasn’t changed much:

Why are we here?
To love
and take care
of one another,

just as God loves
and takes care of me,
and just as I try
to love and take care
of God.

[Written for the great dversepoets.com and my friend, Brian Miller.  Congratulations on getting your Master’s Degree!]

Big Ass

Big ass SUV
to carry big ass man
with his big ass kids
to his big ass home
with a big ass mortgage
and a big ass pool
that distracts you
from his big ass
insecurity

and his big ass wife
wears a big ass ring
on her big ass finger
to show all her
big ass friends
the kind of big ass
love this big ass
man has for her

and they eat in
their big ass dining room
with lots of big ass
space between them
and their big ass kids
who want very little to do
with big ass mom and dad
because they have their own
big ass concerns waiting
for them
in their big ass rooms
each equipped with a big ass
big screen tv

and the big ass son has a
big ass truck
and the daughter has a big ass
tattoo just above here
big ass big ass

and they're all in a
big ass hurry to
get to the next big
ass thing
that they think will soothe
the disturbing and unsettling
big ass questions in their souls

so the next time I see
the big ass overfed and
well to do
flaunting their big ass
out of control
desire

I’ll be thankful
for my modestly placid
small
world.

[Posted for Listen to This: Anaphora at dversepoets.com - come along and have some fun!]

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Rotting Gift

“God gave you a gift,

a beautifulstrange
caramelhotbutter
cherrylippedjaggedchin
gift,

and it took you to places
no one ever knew.

You fed your darling
mutant child,
shined a light
up under all the
maggot infested
earthworm crawling
guck on the bottom
and somehow made it
all
wonderous,
and the gift led you
to where the secrets
were hidden.

You knew you were
gifted,
but you didn’t care.
You let it rot
in the back of the closet,
moldy with black fuzz.
It needed light,
it needed air.

Now, you’re this
soft, aging suburban
Beanie Baby,
no hard edge,
no juice
where it counts.

Go ahead
and comfort yourself:
tell yourself
you sacrificed your gift
to take care of
your "blessings".

You had so much
promise,
so much fire,
but you pissed it all away.

You could’ve been a
superstar.
We could’ve changed
the world.

Enjoy your widescreen TV
with 200 shopping channels
and your paid-off mortgage.

You now have
exactly
what everyone else has.

Hooray for you.

May you never regret
your decision
to forsake your gift,
schmuck.”

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Pennies

I hate pennies.

They are so
not worth the effort.

They’re dirty,
they’re practically
meaningless,
especially if you use them
to buy someone’s thoughts.

They nag at me
when the check comes
and they mock me
in my drive-thru hurry.

A penny candy
can’t be bought anymore
and there is nothing
melodious about
the jangle of them.

So I say
fie! fie on you miserable
worthless pennies!

“Save your pennies”

Why? so I can take a hundred
useless dirty things and
exchange them for one
ragged filthy crumpled thing?

Nope.
Not me.
What good could a
penny be to me?

Nothing.
So, I toss them
aside
in parking lots
playgrounds
and anywhere I see people
who might need
something to believe in.

So, there, you have your answer:

I’m the one
who leaves the errant pennies
where you can find them and say
“see a penny
pick it up
all day long
you’ll have good luck.”

That’s me:
the good luck supplier.

Please,
no thanks necessary.

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Don’t Wait Up For Me

Don’t wait up for me,
there’s still music playing
and something left to drink
and I am still looking for
someone,

and I get a sense that
person is here,
hiding in a quiet dark corner,
and if I turn over enough stones
and make enough chatter

maybe,
just maybe,
I’ll find what I’m looking for.

I’m not sure what this person
looks like
but my heart will tell me so,
and I’ll feel less alone
and not feel on stage,

so don’t wait up.

This could take a while,
maybe it's the search
of my lifetime

so if you’re gonna sit up
by the lamp in the window
watching the clock and muttering
I say:
go to bed now.

Knowing that you’re waiting
just makes me move slower
because I don’t want to be rushed.

If I come home,
then I'll know it’s where
I'm supposed to be.

The music is still playing,
this pulse is pounding,
bodies are dancing and
I’ve laughter and desire to burn,

so don’t wait up for me.

There are answers
in this dark night
and I will find them

and its nowhere
near sunrise.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Star Spangled Bender

Oh, say can you see
through the cons and the fright,
how so loudly we failed
to make real our past dreaming?

All the hype and fast cars
made us think we were right,
as our futures we botched
we gave in to fresh scheming.

And do we even dare
in the mirror, to stare,
and dispute, if not fight,
that we don't even care?

We'll pay if that star spangled banner
if only for a few waves,
o'er the land of the greed
and the home of the slaves.



Wednesday, July 01, 2015

When the Thing Dies [prompt: dead poem]

Dust for fingerprints,
scrape for DNA,
track cell tower pings.

These only can tell
what happened before.

The greater mystery
is where does that life
go,

that jumping
pumping
springing
animus
that hears the
call of the wind,
follows the scent
of food cooking,
looks up
in silent amazement?

When the thing dies,
laying there quiet, still,
it's the sad miracle
on the far end of life,

the companion piece
to the mystery
of what makes it all

go.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Her World Turns On Weakness

Feeling like a cockroach
that even God pitied,
I went to her street.

I knew she’d be there
and she surprised me
by giggling
“you looking for me baby?”

My blush convicted me.

Giving her the once over,
she looked exactly as I
remembered,
only better.

“You haven’t been around lately”
I had dreamed of her lips,
that playful smile.

“We can make it like old times.
I can’t hold a grudge,
even though you have
been a naughty boy
staying ‘way so long.”

My heart diverted the blood
from all my extremities
save for one.

She was always up for a good time.
She’d let you do any nasty thing
your mind could conjure
and I always wanted to be
the freakiest one
in her collection.

“You’re thinking ‘bout those old times,
aren’t you, Sugar?”

She knew
the phantasmagoria of carnality and excess
we’d known
but my memories were fading in and out
like faulty television signals.

She leaned closer
and tried to sweeten the deal
by whispering in my ear
“I can still suck it good
until your head pops, Daddy.”

Her bluntness told me
she was playing for keeps
and I knew the pathetic cadre
of men
she had snared
and kept.

Her world turns on weakness.

I looked at her, smiling
and shook my head “no.”

She was lousy at being coy
but she tried:
“I’ve missed you.
It’s been almost 18 years.”

Nothing.

She knew she was losing,
so she reached down
and ran her open palm
over my semi-hard Vulnerability
and fixed me with
a purposeful gaze, saying
“I know you want it.”

I continued staring.

“No one will ever know.”

We’d played this game before
and this is always how it ended.
This time would be no different.

As I turned and walked away
her singsong trill trailed behind me
“I’m here anytime you need me.”

I continued walking
thankful I had escaped
with my sobriety
intact.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Once So Perfect, Orderly and Privileged

We must move 
onward,
because there is 
little here
worth coming back to.

Some look back
with soft, toothless 
reminiscences,
while others remember
with anger
that their world,
once so perfect, orderly
and privileged,
must be shared 
with everyone else.

If you have skin
any color but white,
or genitals other
than male,
or had a love 
that dare not 
speak its name,
what is there
for you 
in the past?

By definition,
a conservative
wants to keep things
exactly the same
as before,

and the struggle
is not in bringing 
everybody,
especially those 
originally
labeled as 
subhuman,
as chattel,
into the circle,
sharing in 
the bounty.

No, the struggle
is to convince
the owners
of the wall 
to dismantle it,

before we 
tear it down.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Will There Be Bibles in Heaven?

Will there be bibles in Heaven?
or nations?
or wallets?

The first year in Heaven
will be spent
laughing
at our previous imaginings
of the afterlife,

and the Jerry Falwells
the James Dobsons and
the Pat Robertsons
of this world
will be there too
looking for people
to minister to
but they won’t enjoy it
so much
because it really
won’t be like they thought
it would
or should be,

and some of the inhabitants
of Heaven
will be expected
--like the Christians who
proclaimed Jesus as Lord
and the Orthodox who kept
every one of the 613 mitzot--

but those in the afterlife
may be surprised by the absence
of those who said
they would commit their lives to God
but really never did
and acted holy
for every reason
except the right one,

their souls may be somewhere else
and perhaps that is where I’ll be,

but as I see it
Heaven will have a bible
and a copy of the Koran
and of the Bhagavad Gita
and the Upanishads
and of all the holy books

because Heaven welcomes all books
and all those who find them holy.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pictures of What I’m Hearing

Don’t believe the hype:
vinyl records suck.

The poseurs
can wax rhapsodic
about the warmth
of a record album,
the color…
the ritual…
whatever.

I listen
for fidelity:
truth to what
the musician,
the artist
intended.

Unless
the surface noise
was intentional,
then all the crackles,
and electrostatic pops,
ruin the experience.

Give me digital,
something that sounds
the way it was intended,
not just the first it’s played,
but the tenth time
the millionth time,
every time
it’s played.

But,
I’ll concede
to record albums
this:

those big beautiful covers
that I could study,
gaze upon
for hours at a time
as the music played,
imprinting itself
on my soul,

almost beautiful enough
to distract me
from the

chrrrcshle-sszk
b-bbrrchc-cklle
kcccrmmmlmnnkll
kkmmm-mmmmrllmm

that my music
rode upon.

Almost.

[Written for Fireblossom's Friday My Way Prompt:

The Businessman Speaks Again

"I used to be
a Christian
until I made
a six-figure salary.

Then I became
an American;
it’s easier
to give money
to the poor
when you’re
one of them.

I made it.

I now espouse
the religion
of capitalism,

which I define
thusly:

a poorer man
fellating a richer man
fellating an even richer man
until all that
hot, sticky money
trickles down.

When I was a Christian
I used to believe
“that which you do
to the least of these,
you do to me.”

Now
I believe in survival of the fittest:
it’s easier
and more rational.

Thankfully,
there’s a Walgreen's
next to my bank,
so I can buy
more mouthwash
after I
cash my paycheck."

[Posted for Open Link Night at http://dversepoets.com/2015/06/18/open-link-151/ ]



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Hello, Smiley!

This year
I read the
Father’s Day cards
and my heart
didn’t crumple
from missing you.

I miss your jokes, Smiley
and your soft, brown forehead,
like weathered leather,
with natural, wide creases,
made by wiggling your eyebrows
like Groucho
to punctuate a punchline.

I have a toolbox
like yours,
a pliers-like
pincher grip
like you,
and a determination
to fix the broken things
in my house,
just like you.

I hear your voice
whenever I drop
a screw:
“don’t start swearing,
immediately look to see
where it went.”

Whenever I did you a favor
you’d thank me by saying
“your reward will be
in Heaven.”

When we meet again
in the next life,
I’ll say “Hello, Smiley”
and that will be my reward.

Monday, June 08, 2015

The Vasectomy

“you can’t unring a bell”

is what I thought 
when I woke up 
March 10, 1986,
the day
I was scheduled 
to have the vasectomy.

The abortion was 
by mutual consent,
but the vasectomy 
was a unilateral decision.

To ensure 
no more accidental
impregnations, 
I made the decision.

I was 22 and 
to default
to my partner’s 
birth control 
method of choice
seemed predictable
and unimaginative.

(Secretly,
I was deathly afraid
of getting the wrong woman 
pregnant
and being forever trapped
with a baby carriage
chained to my ankle.)

I arrived at the doctor’s,
and changed into
the paper gown.

As I lay down 
on the examining table, 
I looked up and 
started counting the holes 
in the ceiling tiles
out of nervousness.

Then someone came in,
and I didn’t even look 
as he announced 
he was administering
local anesthesia.

I tried not to think about it 
as he tore 
a small perfect square
from my paper gown
to isolate my genitals
for the treatment.

His self-assurance 
and precision 
put me at ease,
then
I saw the needle
and felt a rush of heat in my forehead
and then soft warm fingers
gently moved my penis
to the side
and before I could register 
the strangeness of the moment,
I felt the pinprick
on my right testicle.

My eyes widened,
I breathed deep,
and when he left 
I realized:
“this is really happening.”

I propped myself up
on my elbows 
and looked at my package,
laying there, 
groggy and limp 
surrounded by a 
white paper gown field.

“Look what we got ourselves into.”

I smiled 
there’s something about being 
the master of my own destiny,
no matter how small,
it was empowering
and calming.

Dr. Montgomery came in 
and he described everything 
he was doing, 

and then it was all over,
all my worrying 
all my guilt about the abortion. 

I ached for three days after 
but I took it in stride
because I had done the right thing, 

and because
getting a vasectomy
made me feel more like a man
than getting laid did.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Abandoned Pet Store

Before the bubble burst
Kittens ‘n’ Pups
was in its prime,
a garish and glittery
anomaly
among the discount retailers
and the Goodwill store in
the less successfully gentrified
section of the downtown.

They sold rare breeds
and traded in
cruelty-free kibble
and mentally challenging
chew toys.

We almost bought
a Yorkshire Terrier there
but something
seemed amiss –
her puppy eyes betrayed
an air of desperation.

Perhaps she was able
to predict what
economists could not see.

Then the bubble burst.

Now it is
an abandoned pet store
and peering into its
shadowy shell
I recall its better days
and wonder

where do the purebreds
go
in a recession?

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

My Modest Change (for Abel)

When I give money
to the holy homeless
of the street,
I ask their name
and assure them
I will pray for them.

I finally figured out
what bothered me
about this:

when I give
from my
undeserved bounty,
it creates
an artificial imbalance,
because I have
some thing
and other does not,
and it really is
only a blessing
of grace
that I have
what I have
at all.

So, today
when I gave to
the vacant eyed
young man
hopefully named
Abel,
I assured him
I would pray for him,
and then
The Holy Spirit
spoke through me:
"and my name is David,
please pray for me too."

It helped to remember
that I needed his prayers
just like he needed
my modest change.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Simple, Sacred

Explaining
social stratification in
post-World War II
suburban America,
or the proper use
of inferential statistics
in null hypothesis testing,
or demonstrating
how to tie a
Windor knot
might seem complicated,
even complex,
but they're not.

They're just a sequence
of discrete,
man-made tasks,
and are, therefore,
profane
and mundane.

However,
the simplest,
most basic,
elemental things:

air
water
life surging
through a living being,

these things
remain
beyond our grasp,
sacred and divine,

and we take them
for granted,

until they are
in limited supply.

[Written for https://aprompteachday.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/prompt-1-simple/ - go and play along!]

Friday, May 29, 2015

Numb

I numb myself
so it doesn’t envelop
me,

so it doesn’t hurt.

Wrapping myself
in my invisible protective coating,
I withstand the quills
of every porcupine I meet,

and I seem to know
an endless supply of them.

My gallery of scars
suggests my plan
isn’t foolproof.

When mistreated,
I just numb myself,
and then I experience it
as though I am watching
a black comedy
starring a tragically
bumbling
protagonist.

Through denigration
neglect and abuse,
I stand firm and
do not fall
in the public eye.

I confess only
to God and this blank paper
as I fear neither.

In the solitude
of an empty parking lot,
with ink and prayer
I step out of the numbness
and inspect my puncture wounds,

some of which
go 51 years deep.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Holiday Poem for Absentee Fathers

"It’s holiday time again
and many of you
are prying yourselves away
from your televisions
and your new families
(the ones with the children 
you chose to raise)
and you probably want to know
when everyone’s coming over
so you can have
your Norman Rockwell
picture-perfect
Thanksgiving
complete with laughing happy children
a bountiful turkey
and genuine warmth.

Well,
as someone who sees
the everyday injuries
that your past indifference
hath wrought,
let me respectfully say:
stay the fuck away.

If your children are really little,
don’t get their hopes up
only to be gone for another
stretch of hopeless emptiness,

they don’t know any better.

If your kids are old enough to have
forgiven you in the hopes
that they’d be able to salvage
some kind of familial bond,
don’t exploit that optimism,
it just isn’t fair.

So,
before you pick up that phone
to invite them over,
remember all the times
you didn’t call
or didn’t email
and treat this holiday
just like it was
any other day.

When you call
you reset their
Hope switch
and they become
little abandoned babies
all over again,
and it is cruel, indeed,
to keep abandoning the same
baby
over and over again.

Those of us
who are married
to your daughters
(the ones you never
made the effort to know)
and who raise your children
(the ones you just won’t make
that weekly visit for),
we carry them past
the gaping holes,
the bombed out craters
your absence wrought,
which pockmark the landscape
of their precious
and hopeful hearts.

Don’t call on the holidays
because it only underscores
how infrequent
your contact with them will remain.

Don’t call on the holidays,
those are the pay-off days
for the family who see them through
the rest of the year,

through every nosebleed,
every disappointment,
everything, everyday.

Those of us who do
the everyday heavy lifting
find it galling
to have to "share" alternating
Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays
with the absentee father.

If you want
to keep your integrity,
stay the fuck away
this Thanksgiving and Christmas
just like you do
during the rest of the year.

Let your sons and daughters
have their day of thanksgiving
with the people
who really love them,
and take care of them
on the days that aren’t holidays.

After the holidays
then you can make contact,
and pick up that phone
everyday,
ask them how they’re doing
everyday,
console them when they’re down
everyday,
tell them you love them
everyday,

and keep making contact
and maybe by the time
the next holiday comes around
you will have earned
it."

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Crow with Heart

Waiting to turn left
I spied a crow
in the opposite lane,
valiantly attempting
to pick up
a brown paper bag
from the Del Taco,
most likely discarded
from a moving car.

The bag was as big
as the slick black bird,
and he kept
grasping and dropping,
grasping and dropping,
the rumpled bag
from his greedy beak.

He kept trying
frantically,
until an oncoming car
turned into his lane
and he fluttered off
with only a scrap
of a used napkin
in his possession.

In my car
I cheered this crow,
because even though
he didn’t win,

he played with heart,
passion,
and determination,

which is the only way
to play this game
of survival.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Translation

Sugar is my kryptonite.
Anger is my pilot light.
Booze is my funhouse mirror.

Music is my fruit.
Time is my mockingbird.

Sex is my glue.
Writing is my revenge.
Groucho is my long lost uncle.

Silence is my prayer.
Desire is my serpent.
Jealousy is my jailer.
Gluttony is my downfall.

Television is my comfort.
Hope is my tomorrow.
Fear is my bully.

Memory is my curse.
Lenny is my prophet.

Forgiveness is my love.
Scars are my receipts.
Life is my material.

You are my mirror.

[Posted for OpenLinkNight #149 - go to http://dversepoets.com/2015/05/21/10429/ and link up!]

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How Richard Pryor Saved My Life in 1980


Back in the late '70's
before it was the OC,

stuck in a high school of
blonde, born again Christians,

I was the Mexican outsider.

Every June
I sighed relief
which lasted all summer
until I returned
in the fall
feeling very Mexican.

Until the summer of 1980.

In a used record store
I found a stack of
Richard Pryor albums
for 25 cents apiece.

Something about those
album covers,
that face,
brown, comical and dangerous:

"Bicentennial Nigger"
"That Nigger's Crazy" and others.

I didn't know
what I was looking for
but it damn sure
felt right,
and I immersed myself
in these sacred texts.

He taught me
and that brown had
its own feel
its own soul
and it was good.

He was my supercool prophet
rarely bowing to authority,

dismantling hatred with ridicule,
especially my own self-hatred,

and he made me laugh
so much and so hard.

So, wherever you are
thanks, Richard.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Drunk (A Magnetic Poem)


A challenge from AngieInspired - go make one yourself at http://magneticpoetry.com/pages/play-online .

Charity

It’s never a question
of whether I’ll give.

I remember His words:
“that which you've done
to the least of these,
you do to me”
and with a grateful heart
I perform my Christian duty.

My policy is to offer
the bill on the outside
of my money clip,
regardless of denomination
(as I trust the Lord
and He will not leave me
penniless).

I try not to feel too good
about my modest act of charity.

Lately I've taken to
asking the recipient’s name
and telling them I would
pray for them,
presumably later.

As I hand them the money
and say “God bless you”
I shake their hand -
a token gesture of humanity
so it’s not just
about the money.

While the warmth of their
handshake is still in my palm,
I return to my car
where I keep a bottle
of hand sanitizer,
squirt a gelatinous glob of it
in my palm,
and furiously
rub away any germs.

I feel a pang
of guilt:

what are you so afraid of?

Eyes Everywhere

What do you crave?
Make up your mind.

A fake
Jean Claude Van Damme
ass-kicking,
a heartwarming scene
hidden in
a Hallmark card commercial,
the cold hard dirty truth?

Pick your poison
because there's a world full
of meaningless
garbage
all waiting to distract us,
take our eyes off
the true deserving targets
of our vitriol.

How many
sit in quiet offices
wondering how to
to fuck up this corrupt system
and leave no fingerprints,
realizing as I type this
my boss may have installed
spyware
and is reading this
before you all do.

Never mind Google sending
every search to the FBI,
I keep looking
over my shoulder
and peering into
the air conditioning vents,
wondering "is that a camera?"

Is this the way a
patriot acts?

There are eyes everywhere
in every corner
of the rundown
mom and pop store
to the highest court
in the land.

Not only is
big brother watching
but we are watching
big brother
as he is watching us

and as long as
we are watching
something
then nothing will ever need
to be done or undone.

We are a nation transfixed
by smartphone screens
and television teats,
narcotized and pliable,
the true objects
of our desires.

The happy distraction machine
and the eyes of big brother
finally married in a culture
where everyone watches
everyone else,

keeping us all in check
so no one gets out of line
so no one does something
different,

as the rows of
black half-domes
peeking from the
Wal-Mart ceiling
watch us
and all eyes are distracted
from the wholesale sell-off
of civil liberties
in the name of fighting
terrorism.

We find reality tv
entertaining
because reality isn't,

and blah blah blah

and you're all probably
fucking bored by now.

So am I.

Change this channel.
I want to be amused.

Monday, May 18, 2015

KC

Just about everything
about him is
in transition,

not yet arrived.

Still wet and unformed
but I can sense
the outline
the nascent adult profile
and his unimaginable future.

His eyes are bright
and he sways from
left foot to right foot
unsure in most situations.

He is an odd admixture
of musculature and braces
and he has big dreams
big ticket dreams,

and I try to show him
that big ticket dreams require
big sacrifices
and long pants.

I know he’ll be
just fine and
maybe I don’t need
to stay on him
every second,

but that’s the
same way my dad
stayed on me,

and he earned my lifetime
of gratitude
love and
respect

and deep down
that’s what I want
from my son.

Love is not always
hugs and nice words

often
it’s honestly
showing your son
how the world works
enough times
so he’ll remember
the lesson
long after
the teacher
is gone.

Mount Rubidoux

I rode my bike
to the top of
Mt. Rubidoux.

I hadn't done
it recently,
so I wanted to see
if I could
still do it.

All the way
my quivering legs
my rioting heart
were both threatening
to desert me,
but somehow I made it
up that bastard
and I pulled my bike
into shady corner
of the mountaintop landing.

I was dizzy
lightheaded,
sucking in as much
oxygen as I could possibly inhale.

I laughed as I lied down
to keep from fainting,

"such a small mountain
and still it kicked your ass..."

my heart
kept raggedly pounding.

I have many other things
to tackle today
but I'm going
to savor this moment
up here.

As I enjoy this view
of my neighborhood
from a mile in the sky
I smiled

knowing the only way
to get such a view
is to make such a journey,

and often
the only way
to do it
is just
to do it.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Soul Mates

"Look!
There he is, Eddie.
Every morning
same time
he leaves the house.

Don’t worry,
this’ll be easy-
he’s predictable
like a Timex.

Yeah, I know,
he looks like a real
tightass.

Yeah, I got your money.
You know where
he works, right?
Just give me
15 minutes.

She never needed much time.

Did I tell you I saw her
at the store
the other day.

Naw, she didn’t see me.
Looks great.
She always looks great.

What?
Naw, he ain’t
gonna give you no trouble.
Kick his ass if you have to.

Just bring him back here
so he can watch it
with his own two eyes.

Of course she still wants me.
We were soul mates,
she said so.

She’s just with
him for his money.
Yeah, she always was
kind of a whore.

I called last night
but when she answered
I hung up.

There he goes, man.
Follow him.

Okay, I’m hanging up now.

Yeah,
got to reclaim
what’s mine."

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Teardrop Indictment

After decades
of male socialization,
they sneak up on me,

sometimes during
a tv rerun
or after hearing a story
of true altruistic love,
or if I hear an
especially perfect lyric
to an especially perfect
melody.

Something in my belly slips
and knocks something loose
in my chest
and it rises and catches
in my throat
and
down the tears fall,

and I should hate them
as my training dictates
but I cannot,

because I have known
tears caused by fear
and adrenaline
and despair that weighed upon me
like cement shoes,

but for the first time
I see life clearly
and I see how beautiful
it can be
and how sweet it can taste.

I also know how
fleeting it all is.

She brought all that
to me
by her touch,
her love,

in a place
far beyond words.

So I stand accused,
indicted,
and convicted
by my occasional
teardrops,

proof of my inescapable
humanity.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Losing the Good Fight

Surveying the front line,
the inevitability
sinks in with an
undeniable gravity.

The General confesses:

“You soldiers deserved better –
you were furious lions in youth,
each with the strength of Samson,
and standing high and proud
as a rooster’s comb.

However, we are locked
in a war of attrition
and time is not
on our side.

But it’s not in our blood
to hire mercenaries
or sacrifice ourselves
in mock-heroic suicide.

No, men we will stand here
staving off the enemy
until there is
not one of us left standing.

History will not forget
and our children
will long tell the tale
of our resolve and true grit.

We never bowed,
we never surrendered,
but rather died
with courage and honor
on this battlefield of

male
pattern
baldness.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I Brush Her Hair

I brush her hair
because it relaxes her,

and I am transfixed
as I watch the waves
of long silken honeygold
sway with each stroke
of my hand
at my command
like a sorcerer-king.

I silently marvel
at my good fortune
as she watches the TV
unaware of my rapture,

thousands and thousands
of strands
each one
beautiful,
perfect,
strong.

I pray
my luck holds out
and that I am given
one day with her

for every hair on
her head.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I Play With Broken Toys

I play with broken toys,

the dolls with missing eyes
and three wheeled fire trucks.

I don’t go looking for
broken toys
but they seem to find me:

orphaned teddy bears
with stained bellies
and torn seams.

I collect my broken toys
and refuse to honor
our disposable culture.

I play with my broken toys
enjoying them,
accepting their shattered dignity
and trying to see the grandeur
of their former nobility,
but I don’t fix my broken toys.

I can’t
because I’m a broken toy too.