Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Manifesto of Affirmation (A Blessing)

Yes to the crust of dried snot clinging to the upper lip
Yes to the faint aroma of urine whose location you can’t quite pinpoint
Yes to the cat yowling to awaken you in the middle of the night
Yes to broken dreams, to wasted opportunities
Yes to failed kidneys, limp dicks, cancerous tits
Yes to crushed skulls, to severed limbs, to peeled skin
Yes to plundered tombs and burning libraries
Yes to ripped seat cushions, to strewn stuffing
Yes to Napalmed jungles and smears of human residue
Yes to worms crushed beneath the boot
Yes to orphans huddled in the crawlspace
Yes to insecticides in the reservoir
Yes to the thump of knuckle, talon, horn and hoof
Yes to the charnel house, the sewage plant, the psyche ward
Yes to meat scraped from the windshield, wings plucked from the grill
Yes to a whiff from the jar sitting in the back of the refrigerator
Yes to rope and gasoline
Yes to vaults and skyscrapers
Yes to broken teeth and black eyes, to infections blossoming underneath the skin
Yes to the decapitation of babies, the hacking and gobbling of their tender bodies
Yes to piles and stacks and heaps and mounds
Yes to alligator bags and human trafficking
Yes to handcuffs smeared with frosting, to pacifiers dipped in feces
Yes to incestuous siblings, yes to child molester chatrooms 
Yes to robot priests shooting lasers from their asses
Yes to the lover's cold, blank stare
Yes to dodo foie gras and passenger pigeon fricassee
Yes to cockfights and live sex shows with donkeys
Yes to rubber bands cutting off your circulation
Yes to the clank of armor, the snapping of snow chains
Yes to the ever-tightening ratchet
Yes to frying fat and sizzling sky
Yes to mountains of barbiturates
Yes to bullet holes in the ice
Yes to the whispering, glowing screen
Yes to hookworms and gangrene, earthquakes and tomahawks
Yes to suffering in all its forms, yes to agonies without number
Yes to every humiliation, to every mild irritation
I say yes to death in all its guises. It’s the only way
I can remember how to live


Claude slouches on the corner,
smile like a jar of pencils.
He flips and spins his Mattress Warehouse
Liquidation sign, knowing that any day now 
hes likely to be replaced
by an inflatable windsock version of himself
that will bop and shimmy and flail 
its nylon arms tirelessly, unlike Claude, 
whose arms are starting to ache
from all the sign-twirling, and whose leg muscles
are screaming like rabbits pierced
by an eagle’s talons.
Inflatable Claude doesn’t even have legs,
doesn’t need them, he’s got a fan
rammed up his asshole to make him dance,
and as long as the extension cord
remains plugged in, he will never have to stop.
Non-blow-up Claude recognizes
the precariousness of his position,
knows they’re always watching, circling the block
in their newly-waxed sedans
with shiny rims and tinted windows,
waiting for him to crumple.
Bathed in sweat and exhaust, Claude flips his sign,
shuffles back and forth on the sidewalk,
and flashes his lopsided grin at the rush-hour motorists,
hoping his fake cheeriness and halfhearted gyrations
will goad one of them into rolling down the window
and chucking something at him,
preferably something sharp and pointy
that will puncture his nylon hide
and allow him to wither, hissing,
to retire in last in wrinkled repose,
deflated on a concrete slab of pavement.

Friday, March 15, 2013


A bronze buck bounds after a bronze doe
outside the banquet hall of Deerfield Country Club
just south of the Pennsylvania border.
Through the glass walls can be spotted
the bride and groom, in the middle
of the sectional dance floor
undulating to the thumping club music. 
The old people huddle
around the tables in silence.
It's too noisy for conversation.
The final sparks of the sunset
are snuffed by the trees. The links grow dark. 
A possum shuffles across a sand trap.  
I sit alone beneath the glass chandeliers,
tossing back bourbon and leering
at the jiggling bridesmaids.
The deer couple remain frozen
mid-pursuit. He will never catch her.
The possum's eyes gleam
in the headlights of the hotel shuttle bus.
The driver drums his knuckles on the wheel,
reeking of weed. 
The music pounds, a heart beating
much too fast and too loud, 
pummeling our eardrums,
smothering all utterances, even
to have and to hold, 
even 'til death do us part.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Pile of Clothing Found at a Rest Stop in Stutsman County, North Dakota

     State lines unstitched beneath your wheels, the tapestry unraveling as if never strung up in the loom. Your past flapping behind you like a rag knotted to a fender, you hurtle westward with one hand on his knee, kneading the denim beneath your fingers, the bucket seats squeezed so far forward by the trash in the backseat your foreheads kiss the windshield. You have become a pinball machine with no flippers, a pool table with only two legs. As you skirt the lips of sinkhole volcanoes and whack the axles on the faultline speedbumps, you hold up your energy drink and cry: Here’s a toast to all the meals we don’t remember, the identical restaurants where nothing of interest ever happened. Here's to the giant plaster animals by the side of the highway, the illuminated dinosaurs that cry out for us to fill our gas tank with their liquified bones.

     Was there ever a moment when you actually thought the search for love was over? No, you claim there was but you never really believed it. You always foresaw some massive stroke, some toppling from the roof, some public stoning, some tractor trailer crashing through the living room, making you at last truly one with the couch. You wipe the grease from your cheeks with your index finger and stop pretending to smile. The stars (or were they polka dots?) and stripes of your youthful wardrobe suddenly seem pointless and infantile, mere surface decorations to distract from the fact that the clothes were flimsy and didn’t fit that well to begin with. For years you tried to wriggle free of those garments but the fabric kept snagging.

     Your glances always slide into the corners of any room you enter and get stuck there. Your boots thunder like bison hooves across the linoleum. Your high cheekbones arouse in strangers the desire to confess every microscopic sin. Not him, though, your stoic sidekick, your passive passenger- his lips are buttoned, zippered, velcroed shut. You should face each other, stare into one another’s eyes and not say anything until you can fucking live with it. Because it’s just you and him now, out here in the billboard-infested wilderness, collapsing backwards into the gaping maw of history. I mean victory. Either way, it means nothing. You lie on your back and flap your arms in piles of ice dumped from motel buckets to mark the spot where the glacier used to be, the one named after your great-great-grandfather. You eulogize the days of desperate dredging, pretend there had never been a thaw. Rent a U-Haul to speed across the busy page, try to rewrite this manifesto of density. You crab your fingers along the wheel, make room for every dark impulse to slip through, clear a space on your scalp for a brand new backwards baseball cap to be erected.

     Until finally, weary, you pull into the lot, disregarding the yellow lines painted there to help you align yourself. It’s too late for that now. You’re scraping the bottom of the national barrel now, my love, my favorite fellow citizen. You’ve burnt all the milk and soaked all the toast, and you’re left staggering along the side of the highway with each hand stuck in a jar, the soles of your shoes sticking in the tar. Unzip your trash bag trousers, peel back every patch with your ragged nails, expose those holes in the khaki landscape. Wear those gaps in the fabric of your memory with pride. We are the last of the American amnesiacs. This land was built on our limitless ability to forget, to effortlessly step out of our old skins and leave them by the side of the road for some wandering stranger to discover, our footprints in the dust weaving toward the setting sun.