Friday, March 28, 2014

Blue Suede Shoes



cracked open the hound carcass to find gears still whirring, cogs still chewing, rods and cones and pistons all busy sliding and spinning and pumping even though the beast itself had perished. There were also papers, thousands of them, crumpled and crammed in amongst the machinery. I took a tweezers and gingerly extracted a few pages from between the mechanism and unfolded them, smoothing them out carefully. They were still slightly damp and covered with strings of letters and numbers bleeding into illegibility. Which was hardly surprising; what threw us were the dirty pictures scribbled in the margins, drawings of animals having sex with mathematical equations, plants being sodomized by formulas, geometric figures copulating with chemical compounds. Meanwhile the machinery was starting to wheeze and grind and a stream of foul air began to be exuded from its innermost engines. The dog jerked to its feet and lifted its head, snapping its jaws in the air. We all jumped back but it was just an automatic motor function and it soon lay back down, innards whirring softly as a thick, clear liquid started to trickle from its rectum, causing us to rush round looking for a roll of paper towels which unfortunately no one had had the foresight to bring along. I got some on my only pair of really expensive shoes. I knew I shouldn’t have worn them but I had a party to go to afterward and didn’t want to change, needless to say they were completely ruined.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Take 1 Tablet by Mouth Daily (Scatter)



Blossoms rotting the moment they bloom.
Fingernails picking at wet knots.
The sidewalk covered with mysterious stains,
suspicious piles. Puddles that never evaporate.
Fog rising from between your legs, obscuring everything.
I’m groping blindly, it all turns to mush in my grip,
dissolves the moment I fix my gaze upon it.
Scrap metal truck cruising around the neighborhood,
its cage crammed with patio furniture
and dented file cabinets
Teenager blacking in the teeth of all the celebrities in the tabloids
Boxer straining at its leash, choking itself with its need
to love everyone, to be loved by everyone
The sky darkens, turning the world to monochrome. It’s a relief.
The only color that remains is the green metallic sheen
of a fat fly clinging motionless to the window
And I reach toward it, mistaking it
for something else, something that will not
flit away

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Maid of the MIst



Your great skirts rushing like water
We tripped down the metal stairs
stubbing our toes on every landing
as we descended to the turbines buried
deep behind the falls. You shouted
but I still couldn't hear over 
the constant gnawing on the other side
of the wall. My brain rattled, an apricot stone
in my skull. I clenched my fist to trap
the metal granules that clung like poppy seeds
to the sweaty furrows of my palm. Outside,
the ship tore through the curtains, plowed
through the veil of debris that bobbed on the waters.
All the passengers stood on the bow
in their yellow slickers, shouting to be heard
over the rush of the Horseshoe Falls.
Your heel cracked on the last step
but I couldn't catch you before you went down
on one knee on the gangplank, genuflecting
to the great river mistress, Lady Niagara,
her tulle skirts crashing down that 
endless flight of stairs.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Touchscreen

He drags an old metal Underwood
by a rope knotted around the space bar
across the rocks, bumping and banging
and making sounds there are no letters for.

Years pass
He drags a battered Dell keyboard
by its rubber tail across the sand.
He’s almost to the edge of the water,
the tide no words can survive,
where the only language is
a Morse stream of bubbles
rising from the hollow beneath
a submerged stone.

Years pass
The fog drifts in so gradually
he doesn’t notice until
huge swaths of landscape are deleted.
He stops and stares for a long time
then reaches into his pocket
and pulls out a pen.
It leaves no mark in the mist.
He shuffles forward, hands stretched
out before him, groping his way
across the fields
toward the blank page that remains always
just out of reach.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Our Ancestors Clipped Coupons



Razor arrowheads seek to pierce
the bristly hide of the boar as it barrels along
on its spindly legs through the splintery maze
of the threadbare thicket that leans 
like a rickety fence at the edge
of the fallow golf course.
Its eyes stare, unblinking and bloodshot,
mouth stretched wide, eager to swallow 
the piercing spit of its destiny. The beast skirts a sand trap
and passes the sixteenth hole. Hounds and riders
chase it across the highway, the steeds
easily leaping the concrete barrier, chase it across
the empty parking lot of the old shopping mall. 
The automatic doors whoosh open
Cracked hooves clatter on the shiny tiles
(still faithfully buffed every night)
They dash past the grated and desolate storefronts
splilntering benches no one has sat in in years
(the elderly don’t even come here to walk
their slow shuffling laps anymore).
The hounds are briefly distracted
by the mangy rabbits in a cage in front
of the faltering pet store
An empty kiosk or two gets plowed through,
their flimsy walls no match for galloping stallions.
One of the Korean manicurists 
pops her head out of Big City Nails
and is struck in the neck by a stray arrow.
The hunt ends in the back of the remaining flagship
department store, past the clearance racks
where they corner the boar in a dressing room
in ladies wear, where the beast succumbs
in a tangle of coat hangers and unspooling rolls
of price gun stickers.  
The hunters call off the frenzied hounds
and dismount, one of them finishing off
their panting quarry with a dagger bought by his wife
as a Father's Day gift from the sporting goods section
of this very store, years ago, before the downsizing,
before the layoffs, when the countryside surrounding the mall
was still densely forested, thick with game and littered
with printed circulars announcing grand openings,
selection and values you had to see to believe.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Wild Hunt



The ax bit into the stump
and when it was yanked away, they flew out 
from the crack and into the night.
The woodsman staggered back, aghast
at what he’d done, but they ignored him
as they tore down the forest path
in a swirling tunnel of leaves and twigs
and fists of dirt. A shadowy mass 
of horns and hooves and tusks
of talons and feathers, of clawed assholes
and fanged eyelids. 
Whatever does not dive for cover 
became impaled, bitten in half, or merely smashed to jelly.
Antlers sprouted from their heads
and between each pair was strung 
a tiny naked man, bound by his wrists 
and ankles, wriggling and trying to scream,
lashed by the low-hanging branches.
The men were inseparable from their steeds,
centaurs with manes and beards whipping behind 
like cloaks. Between their hind legs writhed
hissing masses of snakes for genitalia.
The women clung to their backs; cold, blue skinned,
fingers digging deep into the chest hair of their mates,
serpent tongues flickering into their ears
to spur them on. The villagers doused their lights
and locked their doors, praying they ride through
without stopping. Armored with masses of beetles
and centipedes that squirmed about the roots of their fur,
feeding on mites and lice as they themselves were fed upon
by crows which constantly swooped in to cram their beaks,
a flapping mass that billowed out around them like black flames.
Slung across their shoulders, quivers bursting with arrows
whittled from bones. Paws gripped iron maces and hatchets
and even a Luger or two carefully tucked away in holsters
made of tanned infant hide. The weapons were mostly for show,
they prefer to use teeth and nails like when they were young,
before bronze or iron, before they even had the urge to grip a single stone.
They still travel the earth, and will until someone figures out a way
to cram them back into that crack in the stump
and once again seals the gate with a blade, to wait
until someone is foolish enough to once again 
grasp that handle and pull

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Trick or Treat (Pumpkins Revisited)

Ten years ago, Elliott Smith stabbed himself to death
with a knife between his ribs 
in his home in Los Angeles, where he’d moved
from Portland. A few days later, Abby and I
tromped through that dismal Pennsylvania
pumpkin patch together, in the process of our slow,
laborious breaking up. I wrote one of my
first poems about that afternoon. Perhaps that's why 
ten years later I can still see the mud, the flat sheet of gray
against which those caved-in carapaces glowed,
can still feel her cold hand in mine, though
there’s not a single cell left in my body now
that was ever touched by her.

This week, I went to another pumpkin patch
here in Portland with a couple of friends.
It was a gorgeous sunny day, the fields crowded
with healthy gourds, laughing children, happy families.
I spotted the perfect pumpkin immediately
and cradled it like a bloated orange infant
through the bumpy ride back, squatting on hay bales
tossed onto the back of a tractor-drawn flatbed.
A few days later I took a knife to it,
stabbed it as if it was my heart, only to find
that the entire thing was riddled with rot.
I put on my copy of Either/OR, scooped out 
the seeds, carved my face into the buttery flesh.

Ten years later she’s married and living in LA.
I am still in Portland, still writing shitty poetry.
I do my best to pretend I am not still waiting 
for her to show up in some disguise
as I sit here on the porch, a candle burning 
behind my eyes to light the way. 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Redondo Sardines



A streetlight runs its fingers across the ridged skin
of a white wicker giraffe in a storefront window.

The night shows its belly to the dawn
as silvery floods of fish glitter on the front lawn of the bay.

Further north, it’s grunions getting sand in their gills
and even further, a red-tailed hawk shot through the head

with a nail gun, balancing itself on a telephone pole
as the animal rescue squad readies a very, very long net.