Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

Thursday, December 22, 2011

yes you frank

you new york fucks
always autumn
by the time you
get around the next corner
how could you ever see
things as
i do wind howling down
eighth avenue tore up
fucking field jacket no wonder everybody
froze in korea
gotta make it out of here lord god
no cash left for cigs or a trailways
nobody who knows me
to borrow from
answer the goddamn phone bitch
if not you

Sunday, December 18, 2011

ever notice how musicians

ever notice how musicians
love to share how
they can't get together without giving
ballplayers too same
sort of thing
and kids with their yo
yo's and bubble gum and texting each other
so fast it makes the head spin
but poets
poets can hardly bear
to stand next to
one another
and can't seem ever to do anything
but steal and kiss
and tell and wish every day
of their lives
they could sing and dance
or even set up an easel on the boardwalk
and make charcoal portraits
that make the subjects clap
hands and suck
in their breath and swear it looks just like
if you took it with a photograph
but it won't be will it
same way we vow not to take
the lord's name in vain
and slip up again
the very next day if not the next hour
and forever be wishing
all our lost ones
would drop by in the morning
to surprise us
or we still had the breath and the energy
bottom of the ninth
to catch one more long one
on a clear summer's day
with the only person we ever truly loved
sitting in the bleachers to cheer
us on

Friday, December 16, 2011

what do we do

what do we do
when things
are more real
than they ought
by rights to be
when some moments
hurt more than
we can explain
like the mortally
wounded meg ryan
saying leave
me your m16
in courage under
fire like warren
oates in two lane
blacktop saying he
was sick and tired
of people getting
in his car and
telling lies or
like in the wild
bunch when pike bishop
said let's go or
when that three-year-
old boy stood by
the open coffin at
his father's funeral
in a bad translation
called the wrath of god
and told the preacher
his daddy was going
to heaven in a boat

Monday, December 5, 2011

father of the man

my son had a schwanz
as big as mine
when he was ten years old
but as he matured
how was i to know
i would one day grow
even smaller

Friday, December 2, 2011

whenever i reach back

whenever i reach back
into the past
to beg forgiveness
from one of you
i'm often stupefied
that those i've wronged can recall
how great it still feels
to be so fucking pissed off

Friday, November 11, 2011

death is not

death is not
a person to me not
an individual like lucifer which
is kind of odd
i guess
for i give names
and faces
to most all of them
god jesus mary
mother of
excepting of course
the "holy" ghost
but ghosts aren't
supposed to be real anyway
are they and death
is not much different
you might agree
but when we're off and gone
i do have to wonder
if any name is waiting there
to tell our names to

Saturday, November 5, 2011

here we all are

here we all are
scribbling in rapturous release
and blood red love
over the loss of our children
which is heartening
in a way for there was a time i thought
i was the only one
now here comes mary jo bang
here comes wanda coleman
and multitudes more
holding hands like compassionate friends
until we each
are given to know
how things are meant to be
that this death
bestows the very breath
in you and me

Saturday, October 22, 2011

part of world war ii

part of world war ii
was the taste
of hershey's chocolate
when i was in the third grade
at berryhill elementary
and would get off
the school bus
at logan's dairy farm
where mr. logan kept
melted hershey chunks
in a big vat
to measure out into
the milk cans for
chocolate milk and most every friday
he would give me a wrapped up
broke off piece of hershey's to take home
that was bigger than
two candy bars
which mama made me save up till
saturday night
when she would pack a picnic basket
and daddy would drive us out
to morris field
to watch the a-20's come in
and crash which happened
a good bit maybe
three or four times a month with
the saturdays being
the best of all
and drew some pretty big crowds
not that the army would
ever let you get near them
except that one time a pilot overshot
the runway and went down
in the middle of wilkinson boulevard
and had traffic so tied up
it took forty minutes till anybody could get moving
so much time that i ate
all my hershey's and got
sick and had to stand outside of the car
in the red lights from
the ambulance and mama said well that is
the last time you ever bring that stuff
home with you
but daddy put on his deep foreman's voice
like he would use at u. s. rubber
and said now eva
where is your heart anybody can see
the boy has got the flu
aint that right jimmy i told her
to bring you a sweater
but that was the last time i ever ate hershey's
and to this day i tend to favor
the kind they make in england
that has these bubbles in it that
you can't taste the chocolate right at first
and then it explodes
when you don't expect it
till all of a sudden it's all inside your cheeks
and it has a real different taste too
but if you don't have
any teeth like me and you're not careful
it will sometimes drool out
the corner of your mouth like the blood used to look
in a black and white movie
when a jap pilot got shot down which
made people feel good and forget some of the awful
things going on
in the rest of the world
like after the war mama and daddy were running
a little convenience store
in kannapolis and living
in two rooms at the back when daddy
fell over and died from a stroke
before i could even get there
and by the time i flew in from atlanta for the funeral
somebody's little kid
was sitting in the candy aisle at the store
with a whole box
of hershey bars between his legs
but mama didn't care
not me either not even if it
gave him the flu

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

well at last

at first i thought
it was just me
but i'm beginning
to sense it
in the others too
a gradual acceptance
no more pretense
just watching waiting
the way jennifer is
quick to forgive me
for wanting to skip
one of my days
or when robert says
don't feel guilty
dad mom doesn't know
if you're there
or not like say
somebody stops by
to surprise her
and she goes how sweet
why don't you get
under the covers
with me where
it's warm even if
the visitor is only
her dead  sister
patsy ruth
and it's back
to when
they were just kids
and used to play
little women
trading places till
they forget
which one is it
wading out
to greet her death
their jo
their beth

Friday, September 30, 2011

we ask them

we ask them
to forgive us
for dogs and clubs
and shootings
the innumerable rapes
and lynchings and the ones
we drug off
behind our pickups
and we beg them
to kneel down great god free at last
just like one of us
in remembrance of our lord
white jesus

what you think

when you try
to help a walker-clinging
cross the street
and she
jerks her elbow away
what you think
is if she only knew
how much
she resembles the you she never
she would be

Friday, September 23, 2011

khan job

this overcast fall morning
i thought at first
to get a take-out breakfast
but if i did it that way
what assurance
would i have that my hash browns
would be soft enough
and light enough
i could eat them without any teeth
pretending as i do
that i'm almost like you
like all the other like-you's when
you really get to know us
like that six hundred pound haitian
woman on tv who could
no longer walk and lay in her bed
surrounded by audio recordings
of bird-sounds and poetry
her daughters brought in to soothe her anxiety
but try as she may
could not stick to her supervised diet
and snuck fried food and two
liter fruit drinks
under her mattress saying
you i be more
beautiful than you
and you don't
watch out i taken your little man away
and hide him in my

Monday, September 19, 2011

the real you

in our high school art class
back in 52
you hardly ever spoke
and kept your eyes lowered
when the teacher would hold
up your work
for us to admire
so later on when we were seniors
and started to date
i had no way to anticipate
the fights you
would have with your mother
screaming matches
the neighbors could hear two houses away
and only fell silent when you'd
take my hand and pull me outside
to my daddy's
olds futuramic
and our usual friday night at the drive-in
where time and again
trembling with rage
you'd swear that when you got your
teacher's degree
you were going to leave this linthead town
and never come back and you
wouldn't have to
jack me off anymore and we could do everything really really
for real

all of you

it wasn't till after you died
that somebody else
told me the meaning of that perfume
you wore
left bank she said
but you can't
find it hardly anywhere anymore

Sunday, September 18, 2011

i dont know much

i dont know much
but i know what i like
not like some who
cant tell
a rc from a coke
or a beretta 92 from
a glock 17
which are not complicated things
at all except to that guy
who says
he is dying to own
that plain white canvas over there because some
like that
woman with all the hair over there
said in a article in the sunday times magazine
the white
could dance a solo
around whatshisnames green one

Saturday, September 17, 2011

when you talk to the animals

when you talk to the animals
i act like it too they're
still with us and how i care for them
the way you used to and call
them by name and tuck them in every night
cause what good would it do
to tell you the truth
that i had them all put down except
your old pom rex
or that he sleeps in your place now
where i can feel his faint little heart
close to mine
when i beg him please baby
don't leave
let me go first one time

Monday, September 12, 2011

the way it felt

the way it felt
when i thought
i was falling in love
the last time
is so far gone i can't even
recall her name
just the tiny glass gazelle she had
with three legs
that would shimmy on
the glass-topped dressing table
and fall over
every time we fucked

Saturday, September 10, 2011

the quickening

my body is sloughing away
even while it gains
but waste as it will
what's inside
is fading faster still
and listen don't tell anybody i told you
but only just yesterday
i had to go look
in the bible again to make sure when it was
mama died

Monday, September 5, 2011

over there

what good is it
for her to say
she never wanted anyone but me
in her whole life
when that nobody over there she's talking to
has stolen my name
and i'm just the one who stops by
to close the blinds and turn off the light
and tell his hunny bunny
night night
don't let the bedbugs bite

Sunday, September 4, 2011

sitting here with a people

sitting here with a people
from last year
i am suddenly aware of all the excellence
in the world
how each of us no matter how low
will get our reward
before it's all over
if not the presidential medal of freedom
why then a scholarship
in animal husbandry
or half an unrestricted mil from the macArthur foundation
all the way up to
us blessed few
with perfect attendance
in sunday school

Saturday, August 13, 2011


reading the poetry
of galway kinnell
at random
on this soggy saturday morn
his work as it
invariably does
brings on my little rain as well
these tears of a old man
not quite as long gone as kinnell
(what is he now eighty something
but certain still
i will never
catch up
(turn to his rapture and feel
my despair)
though i sense
he too even one such as he
must still wish he could go back
and repair some things
for who among us
ever reaches the end
where it was we dreamed we could be
like the surgeons who
found a way to amputate a boy's leg and reattach it
so he can walk again
soon as he can teach himself which way
he's going

Saturday, July 23, 2011

When I Got on the Bus to LaGuardia

When I got on the bus
to LaGuardia
there was a guy in an aisle seat
both hands waving up and down
with a chopping motion
as he pleaded with the woman beside him
saying but that's not me that's
not who I am can't you see
except when he glanced up and our eyes met
we both knew
if the woman did not
who was who
and what was what

Sunday, July 10, 2011


been so depressed lately
which has to do
with several things
from the oxycodone for one
and then when i went to visit barbara
at the nursing home yesterday
she didn't recognize me at all staring
blankly trying to understand
who was this smiling and holding her hand
and then this place
i've come home to
none of it the same somehow
even the dog doesn't trust me
and back on prednisone for the gout
waking up drenched
in sweat and robert sleeping
all day and terry awake
early coming upstairs babbling to herself
as much as to me
so what do i do but turn to the past
seeking some relief
in what used to be and for some reason apart
from all the others you
came to mind so i went to the white pages first
and found two addresses right away
with a shared phone number
but it was disconnected and then i googled
for a while and found this lovely
formal portrait you had made
back in '92
when you were what 58 your hair already white
wearing a corduroy dress with
the zipper undone just so
not at all a sexy photo to anyone but maybe me
so i took a stab
in the dark and called your ex
remarried now but hope-a-hope he
had stayed in touch
and of course he was out doing a documentary
for pbs but his wife said listen
they did have your number for all the good it would do
cause didn't i hear you have alzheimer's
poor thing
and who will be next she wonders cause wasn't it you
(meaning you)
that kept saying don't cook nothing
in aluminum or drink diet drinks and nobody now
to look after you
but this guy called bob
and what she wants to know is what happened to that woman
you said you were married to which
is against the law in carolina so who was
fooling who
if it's not between a man and a woman
where is the truth in it anyway
and when you get old and crazy what does your queer wife do
but call up somebody named good
ole bob to leave you to
(or gunga din or one named jim i think)
but if ever you should wonder
why i don't call
(if you can still wonder at all)
it's cause i can't bear to be a stranger
one more time
and settle on this poem instead
in the wiggly  hope
it will live at least as long as there's a barbara or you or me
if not our dead and gone memories

Saturday, June 25, 2011


when i was a child
i used to watch them
i hoped)
as the women
towered above me
in their adult splendor
often braless
cantilevered and swaying the way i imagined life
must be in hawaii
or california
framed in isolate wonder
a verdant horizon shimmering with bananas
and grass skirts
such a confusing metaphor i see now
chalk it up to a confused young mind steeped
in national geos
but back then everything
came into view as vivid and conflicted as betty
boop or painted velvet senoritas
from cabo san lucas
yet with a fascination that lingered as i matured
and found me asking women
if they could bring the breasts to their lips
if the kisses
turned them on when
the nipples were their very own
but the answers varied
with the person and also whether she
was drunk or sober
or dangling helplessly upside-down out of her  window
and the mystery remained
until the day i woke up
to pinch-me-can-i-really be this old
and beheld
my sagging senior magumbos
in the mirror
and cupped them in my palms
and yes by god
could damn near kiss them for real
just praying for the moment
when some stupid jerk would sidle up
with a smirk
and try to cop a feel

Thursday, June 23, 2011

ode to my new poem

i like everything
about you
so much except the way
you keep saying
and and
but and such to weave things
together that don't
really fit like the ordeal of getting used to
all the stents as if
they really went together
with that broken-hearted woman who said she
could never have
another "relationship" that would even begin to replace
what she had for all those years
with her husband who died way back in '95
and if that was what
i was sniffing around for i may
as well just forget it because the only thing that would make
her happy would be to be
down there reaching out to him
in the grave
and what was i to say to that but
i love my wife too
on her way to kingdom come
same as me and you
except her dementia kind of accelerates everything
and i have to admit
i'd rather get laid in the here and now
instead of a hospice bed or beneath the ground
but poem o my poem!
neither entombed love nor my own diuturnal mementos
can hope to match the joy
of your wanton kisses
and all your ands and buts and iffies

Friday, June 17, 2011

when i got my dentures

when i got my dentures
they fitted perfectly and everyone
said how handsome i looked
sans the protruding
uppers that had been such a part of me
gone now mirabile dictu
each tooth evenly spaced
nor did i have any difficulty getting used
to chewing apples and steak
and the ritual
of gluing the things in
every morning
and storing them away for the night
was no greater effort
than a good flossing
but there was one problem that never went away:
the disguise wasn't really me
and the lie got to be such a bother finally
that i stopped being my new self
and became just another toothless old coot
but secretly i would
congratulate myself on the courage
and truthfulness of my act
until the day came when i was waiting for a light to change
and i saw her there
jogging in place ahead of me
nipples showing
through her marine corps tee shirt
steel legs
brazenly in the sun

Saturday, June 11, 2011

miracles don't care who you are

miracles don't care who you are
like don't forget
measles whooping
mumps chickenpox yes
we had them all
plus i have to add in for me
personally diph
theria which got us
signs posted all around warning normal
people i was conta
gious nailed on the door
by the public health nurse while
the doctor stuck me
with this enormous needle
and i can still hear
mama asking will he die is this how
he ends and he hardly got started
but i came through of course
just like buck puckett's sister with her polio
stuck away in a iron lung till we about
forgot all about her
but next thing we knew there she was in the back
of buck's pickup helping him
deliver the charlotte observer in
the early morning dark
with nobody around but the milk man and the ice man
who she would wave at curled up
like a pretzel surrounded by the news of the world in stacks
taller than she was and then poof
one day she was gone and everybody thought
she had a relapse
and died but buck said no nobody would have guessed it
but his little sister
had got married and moved to
the skunk works they called it
where her husband worked on the you too
a plane that flew
higher than ninety angels
which buck's sister's husband said is about as close
to heaven as it gets