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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012

ahh me, if i only had a brain

oops.  here's the new blog with its shirt and tie on:

Saturday, June 9, 2012

hate to be so confusing, but i'm moving to a new blog.  can't promise where it's going or how long it will last, but it's all i can give for now.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


every year
as the day draws near

there's nothing left here
but who we were

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


all those
years i said
i love you
only to find out
too late
i do i do

Monday, May 21, 2012

essay on life

how wondrous
to be given all of this just
for dying

Saturday, May 19, 2012

so she said

she said
it's not so difficult
what you do
is write it out first
word for word
then break it down
and rearrange it so
things are working against each other
and you have to now and then pause to
find out the sense of it
maybe go back and try to say it like you remember
you said it to me
and don't worry what
other people will say
they will say
that is so fucked up if that's all
you had to say why didn't you
just say it
the right way to start with
like say

joe baby i think i got a piece of glass in my eggs

only you'll know 
by the tremble in her voice
you're the one
that reached way back there where she lives

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Conversations with Lowell

He stops by
only on Wednesdays when he says
the traffic is lighter
and he needn't worry too much about getting
run down or lost if he decides to
pause somewhere for a drink or maybe
visit one of the magnificent
cathedrals along the way, monuments he says
you hardly ever find in the other place
where so he's told everything
is mostly just ethereal
in the manner of Claude Lorain or cool and shadowy
pastel copies of Turnbull nothing
like these where you can actually reach out and touch
the stones and come to know especially
when approaching from above that the “oversized” steeple
isn't out of scale at all but an integral
part of the whole and the bas relief statues of the saints
that line the walls
my god it's like James said
in my Union Dead you can almost
hear them breathing
but that's the kind of surprise and delight
we've come to expect here and no feeling of confinement at all
you can wander anywhere you like
with only the great river for a boundary which
is much like the Mississippi
near Little Rock more shallow
than one would have thought but treacherous nonetheless
and no ferry no way to cross except to take off
your shoes and step out
barefoot into the darkness.  I've considered that don't think
I haven't because let me level with you
there are times when I still think about Elizabeth
and if I truly thought she was over there
I wouldn't hesitate for a moment but how is one to know?  And
on those occasions when I've written her the letters always
come back Address Unknown which
makes me wonder if it's like this with her as well
that perhaps there is enough Hell to furnish everybody
with at least one.

Monday, May 14, 2012

In the Forests of the Night

Christ you're afraid of alligators
and won't leave
the house when you make one
of your

infrequent visits won't step
off the porch and keep

the latches before we sleep asking
can they climb

in the windows I bet they could
you say standing
on their tail and using those little shortie
legs they have to grip

on the sill and knock the glass out
with their snout but
it wasn't an alligator that got your cat was it

it was you who let her crawl
in the clothes dryer
with a load of towels and damn near

burned her alive from the heat
before you heard
the bump bumping and got off the phone
long enough to figure out what
was going on

and now the poor thing hugs the carpet and growls
when you bend down to feed her
crouching over her food like a lion with its kill
this no other way to say it this beast
your little sweetie that
you raised from when she was just a kitty
how can it be

that nothing we ever plan on ever stays the same
and if you didn't
have enough to worry about your daughter
has taken to walking in her sleep and what if
one night that goddamn cat
should leap up out of the dark and bite her in the neck
or god forbid
the face what then
oh god what

if the latches don't hold and everything flies loose
and it's all of a sudden the end of the world

like Cayce said like
wherever you try to flee it's still another


Azure is a good
isn't it I wish I always knew what azure means
it's so beautiful sounding
but I have to run look it up every time
it comes around
just like it used to be with learning how to spell
that part at the end is such a tricky bitch
it had to come from France
or somewhere
like the Romans
where they say shay when they mean shet
and if we've got this given
sky that is really really azure what color
are we talking about anyway
can you
say that right off the top of your head and don't
say blue
blue smue it isn't just blue it's "heraldic" blue says here
which god only knows
what that means
means maybe what the heralds used to wear in the days
of heraldry. No? Well just
forget it then
blue is not my color anyway
it's ochre
which when I forget what that means it still comes in good
all those times I need a rime for azure.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

if i saved up

if i saved up
all the portraits
i've made of you
and stapled them
back to back
like the scrawled pages
of a child
you wouldn't care
who it was
did these things
only why
he couldn't learn
to color
within the lines

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Elegy for What’s to Be

On the porch the chimes shimmer
and in the stand of old pines down by
White Park Mill
a brushfire the city is slowly winning out over
smoulders in the twilight
like what like if I tried to explain it to somebody
like everything else around here I guess
like this trust you seem to have that nothing will harm you
an attitude you maintain even after suffering
two years with glaucoma
eyes blurred open
like a slave punished by his master
who has brushed them out with a burning
stick for no good reason
but unlike any slave you never complain
and can still perform your duties
barking at the mailman
chasing away birds or bird shadows what is the difference
you think
the shadows are just as mean
just as real as the other ones
and our widowed neighbor wonders how it is you can still go
for your morning
constitutional as she calls it
without somebody having to carry you like a baby
although that too is something
you’re prepared for going way back to your granddaddy’s time
like one day when they called his name
he simply wasn’t there like you like me one blind
one always in the dark
chasing shadows in the slanting smoke
together or apart

sonnet for ethan

dont we hate it
you will not live
this very life we have lived
that everything
you accomplish has yet to be
frozen in blurred motion
at the other end of binoculars where we watch
our own days whirr away like startled quail
and dont we hate it
we cant assert yes yes we were there first
at that jumping off place before
you were born
telling ourselves that long after you arrived
we would still be here teaching you how to die

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

sometimes when i feel down

sometimes when i feel down
i go pick out one of them
rodney jones maybe or stephen dunn
andrew hudgins
people who've been
through the fire you can tell it the first
time you read them yes these
are friends
men that will step out on the porch with you
before dawn
unafraid tasting the air
from off the river
and their dogs beside them
because that's what dogs and friends are for
to be there when you need them without
your asking
or even knowing what it is you want
living or dying what's the use
the way it is when only a poem will do

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

yes i thnk to myself

yes i think to myself
we would have done all right
you and i but
can we truly draw the line
and swear to the one lie
we would not have told
or how
our beauty wreathed
in intelligence and creativity
would have been more
than this 
sitting at her bedside
with a spoonful
of black-eyed peas held close and trembling
as a kiss
saying take eat
it's me
can't you tell it's me

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

today in a spring

today in a spring
that seems so much like summer
i watched through the vine-covered
crape myrtles
as the sun went down on the old white park mill
empty now lo these many years
but with a dark glow like banked embers
in the painted-over basement windows
until with a sudden phantom urging
the flames rose swiftly from basement to roof
and the walls the very bricks seemed to disappear
in a shattering burst of light
and i held my breath wondering if there would ever be
such a season again
everything conspiring to let go, yet remain

Sunday, April 8, 2012

new book ...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

for deirdre ...


so today the assignment was okay
write me a gazelle i mean
excuse me every time he says that word i think
back to when
i was sixteen and my constant dream
was going to africa
where every morning when i would wake up
on the savannah there would be these herds of ghazals
pressing all around but so gentle i never
thought they could be mean or hurt me even
by accident
but later on i decided
the more practical thing was to apply to be
an airline "stewardess"
we called them back then but mama put her foot
down on that one saying
i will not have you ruin your life fucking pilots that won't never
marry you anyway
because you will find out soon enough
that all the good pilots are already
married and live
in the suburbs of savannah georgia and never
spend any time with their families
no they
all the time are out hunting when
they are home hunting
poor helpless canadian geese that don't have an inkling
of what lies in wait for them
just like you you damn fool i can't wait to see the day
when all my intuitions turn out to be true
but by that time
i guess i'll be dead and gone if you don't go
before me like your brother did
so you better listen which i did which is why i guess
i ended up
working at the strawberry
farm where every year
off by the yadkin river you can see the geese flying over
and hear the hunters
shooting off their shotguns like crazy to kill something they almost
never eat only sometimes they will stuff one
like a trophy like it was a gazelle or something instead of
just a goose

a variation of a theme by e e cummings

i once closed a poem
with the couplet

things would not be so bad below
if hell had got hold of van gogh

which seemed okay until
a smartypants editor from
el ay

allowed that something that lame might work in a song
but if this was a poem
i was pronouncing the name all wrong

which critique embarrassed
me so much
i changed the meaning just a touch like so

if hell was not already bad enough
it had to put up with van gogh

but when at last
my courage to the sticking place i screwed
and i submitted the piece anew

the former smartypants
was no longer in residence

and his replace-a-ment
a young lady
from the infamous town of kent

said nah there is some shit
even the internet would not partake of it

Friday, March 30, 2012

attacking in a different direction

i was tom sawyer in a musical
one of the drama professors had written
based on huck finn
and in the scene where we prick our fingers
with a knife and write our names
in blood
something happened at a matinee
we did at the veterans
hospital on a tiny stage all of us crowded together
none of it making much sense as
we bumped into
one another entering and leaving from stage right only
because stage left was just a fire
exit that would set off the alarm if you opened it
so i whipped out
my knife which so frightened one of the paras
on the front row that he
started screaming and yelling and racing his
wheelchair this way and that until
the orderlies finally got him cornered and put the jacket on
and dragged him away far off somewhere
in another wing
which was his favorite place they told me later
and he would use just about any excuse
to get there because
of the view of the courtyard below
where the aides liked to go on their breaks
and he had these pentax binoculars
that got him in real close especially to this one woman
from the mail room who he said
was the ghost
of a pregnant korean girl that he
had stuck in the belly and killed her and the child both
with a k bar he got off a marine only
when they would show him
a k bar and ask like this like this one here
he would say no it
was longer like the one jim bowie carried in that movie
john wayne made about the alamo
which was not accurate on a lot of things but they got that right
you don't bleeve me you can go ast her

Monday, March 26, 2012

to the woman who gave me acid

i loved the way
you walked away
as a wraith will seem to drift away
yet suddenly
there you were again the kissing
the laying on of hands
and how you convinced me
to lie face down
on the stinking
carpet next to the footrail at the bar
so you could
walk on my back with your bare feet
and heal me
heal me you said but the next day or however long
it was i knew i would
be afraid of you and those fucked up
candles for the rest
of my life

Thursday, March 22, 2012

christ with his head shaved

as i sat up in bed
this morning
i saw him that way domed
and deeply tanned
like an iraq war vet not bearded but
stubble-faced sweating
behind aviator shades, wearing a ballistic cammy vest
over an olive drab tee shirt
a beretta service automatic strapped
to his thigh
and he's standing on the shore
of the sea of galilee
amid his seated hadjis all
of whom are dressed
in traditional robes, sporting beards, sandals,
long hair, etc., but seem not
alarmed at his odd appearance and he wastes no
time explaining
nor is himself surprised at the sight
of a juggler a sword swallower
a belly dancer nearby
must have washed up from that fellini film he muses
the one about the whore
with a heart of gold and a name
he can hardly ever spell right
which was another thing
about the damn romans he thought
they never took the straight path to anywhere
or gave their whores
a good christian name you could put your arms around
like mary maggie

Sunday, March 11, 2012

all around

all around
hordes of people
mostly women
it seems
are writing
glorious unforgettable
prose and poetry
and every day
i learn a little bit more
that i will never
enough to catch up
with them
like this morning
overcome with despair i sat down
to take a crap
but could only throw up
and nearly forgot
to thank god for teaching me to hold
the waste can
my jittery knees

Saturday, March 10, 2012

did she ever have an equal?

Friday, March 9, 2012

i've put so many

i've put so many
of them down
that most of these
old man days
unlike the gattare in rome
i don't much
think about
how their little souls 
abide within me
but now and then
like when
reading molly peacock's poem
i bust out bawling all over again

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

notes of a good old soul

as a child i wondered why
i could never do
the true coo
cry of a mourning
dove nor in my thirties mimic
the sound
of a broke down merry
-go-round inside
an mri
yet who else but i could paint
the white noise of these northern lights
whilst the surgeon
beats back a warring cataract inside
my eye

Thursday, February 9, 2012

if i did dream poems

if i did dream poems
i would tell you
about this one last night
where i was staying
at trump towers
and the donald had invited
himself into my apartment
(If that is what
they call them there) because
his tv was not working
and he needed to watch whichever
debate it was
that was running then and he settled down
into my favorite chair
smoking (i don't know if he smokes
but that was how it was) a pall
mall in a holder
and the ashes kept
building up
and falling on his wine-colored
smoking jacket and through
my great long windows
i could see the city glowing below
amid sinuous tracer bursts of traffic
and i tried to tell the donald
how wonderful it was
living there and how thrilled i was
to have him pay me a visit
even if the occasion was only a broken tv
but then some raw oysters i had eaten
made me kind of queasy
and i had to be excused to the bathroom
to throw up but then
when i got through the donald had just left
slamming the door behind him
and i thought oh no
i should have known my puking
would upset him and what
if he would cancel my lease and i had to
crawl back to carolina in
so i went running down the corridor after him
and it was a pretty long hall
that corridor but there he was jogging
ahead of me in that loopy
kind of motion he has (like a young girl
it said in the new york post)
and i was much fleeter of foot and caught up
with him as he was just letting
himself into his trumptuous
digs which i only got just a glance of before
he managed to escape inside and he didn't
even have a doorbell the place was
so private and i had to pound on the cushioned
damn door like some stranger
only my fists sunk up in the padding
and he never even heard the knocking or my
frantic cries and i was all broke up
saying mr donald please please
it was all a terrible accident brought on
by some take-out from
a hole-in-the-wall joint that somebdy had highly
recommended and i would give anything
to right this dreadful faux pas
just say the word and i will do your bidding anything
anything at all but there was only
this terrible silence and i was just about to leave
when a note was slipped under the door
on official trump towers stationery and all it said
was would i go down to the newsstand
on the corner and get him a pack of pall malls
and he would pay me tomorrow when
the bank opened but i was
not about to fall for that one because
i had heard
from my neighbor that the donald was so rich
he had never learned how to write a check 
and i backed off then
knowing it was the end and i guess it was
but when i woke up i was still dreaming and got
in the car to go buy some
pall malls before i remembered this was tuesday
and i had to gather up the recycles
before the pickup truck arrived and if you
ever had a dream you didn't want
to end before you found out what was what you
will know what i mean
when i say mr. donald trump has to be the stingiest tightwad
i ever met but
all morning i've been thinking what
i should've said like
what my daddy would have said like
this was a free country
and he didn't have to be somebody's jitney
not even for donald trump but
the only times i ever
dreamed about daddy he wasn't talking
he didn't say anything at all
just like the recycle guy like if he gets mad at you he
will just bite his lip and turn your container over
on its side and just leave it there with all your stuff spilling
out in the street because he has already lost his pension
and his 401k and pawned his wedding ring
so what else have the fuckers  got left but do a donald
and fire him too

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

some days

some days
it's all i can say
oh god oh god oh god
meaning every
fucking thing that's going on around here
meaning nothing
i can even translate meaning
i am yours god don't
pass me by

Thursday, February 2, 2012

You Know More than We Think You Do

You know more than we think you do she says
as we get you from up on the shelf
and finally
unwrap the brown paper down
to the square white box inside and I lift
the lid checking for what god knows
and actually put my fingers down deep
inside you
and she says what does it feel like and I say go on
see for yourself but she shushes me
and leads the way
marching determinedly
out back
to where the creek used to run and we just do it quickly
without any words
because words are a foolish way of asking forgiveness
for these five years we've left you
up there stacked amid the empty shoe boxes
and children's playthings
and I swing you back
with both hands now like sand in a pail
and scatter you up
and around
in the rain and the wind
into the evergreen shadows
where little bits
of ash stick for a flickering gray moment
like early snow
tiny flakes fading away in the dusk
as you find your way home she says just like the whole
rest of your life
without anybody's arm to hold on to

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

it took me years to understand

it took me years to understand
that what i was really looking for
in porn
even as a teen
was not some exceptional
act or marathon of activity
but a couple
who appeared to be
actually in love
and what i was waiting for
no matter what else
they said or did was the most
intimate expression two
people can share
the open
unguarded moment when
they kissed

Sunday, January 29, 2012


i had been reading
that book about jfk why he died
when the new preacher
paid a visit completely unannounced
and there was nothing
to do but let him in although
i do my best to keep
everybody away from here
a house which like
the title of the book is
unspeakable and
i stopped him at the kitchen
i mean i don't even
visit the living room myself
with its clawed-up furniture and powder-white
turds and the lingering
smell of cat piss and the preacher
an erudite man obviously
(what lutheran minister is not?)
asked me if i liked the book
and i said yes but like most of
the jfk efforts what else can
it reveal still it was far better
than that chris matthews
pastiche he calls a labor of love
and hawks at every opportunity
while unspeakable
has a distinct point of view
evolving from its title
i said which
is drawn from thomas merton's book
raids on the unspeakable
a concept he defines as a disorder of such
magnitude it can be broken open
only by a miracle
but when i mentioned merton's name the preacher
crossed his arms in front of him
and pursed his lips and brought forth
a reaction of almost unspeakable loathing merton he spat
that papist monk!

he's maybe even older than i

he's maybe even older than i
in dog years
but his health is
remarkably good
and he sleeps soundly at
night after sleeping
soundly all day
and he never complains
if my foot should graze him in the bed
except to give out a soft growl
of warning
so unlike the way it used to be
with us when
you would wake up screaming
bloody murder
if i tried to fuck you in my dreams

Friday, January 27, 2012

it's not that i hate you

it's not that i hate you
or love you
it's like everything else in this life
mostly, some
in-between thing or combination of the two
like this poem itself where
all the fractured elements i want to let out
are the very ones
it will seek to deny,
so that no matter how i try to nail the moment down
the reader is almost bound
to conjure up another life entirely
one that has almost nothing to do with either
me or you

Thursday, January 26, 2012

i wish

i wish i had a place
to go to a church
like you

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

daddy's sister ethelda

who we always just called
aunt miss
was one of those people who
when i was a kid
already had a refrigerator in her kitchen
and kept cold water inside
in a glass
bottle so when you wanted a drink you never
had to take it from the tap

and she had a television too
where you could see
milton berle that uncle milty
he made us all

get the giggles

and her house had three whole
separate bedrooms
and a screened-in
patio porch with a cement floor where if you were

it came right up through your feet to your
chest it seemed like

and whenever aunt miss had a cold or the flu
our uncle george who
was the pharmacist at black's drugstore
uncle george would bring home
green bottles and little brown ones
that would make aunt miss
sit up and wink at people and sing  oh
the doo dah
somebody bet on the bay