Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What the Doctor Wanted

Doctor talks you out of having the procedure
Doctor walks you through the process
Doctor paints a picture of the inside of your liver
Skirts the word cancer
Doctor closes the door of the dreary office
Doctor overcome with desire

Doctor cracks the plastic
Doctor uncaps the bottle
Doctor throws the leather
and swings from the rafters

Doctor defers to the elders
Doctor pulls on the lever
Doctor ignores the evidence
Doctor abandons the center

Doctor interrogates a lover
Doctor kicks off the covers

Doctor wears a stethoscope to the strip club
Doctor hits the snooze, returns to the nightmare
Doctor reads the horoscope
Doctor heads to the barbershop, never does get
that haircut

Doctor attends a lecture
Doctor loses track of the big picture

Doctor gets easily distracted
Doctor dicks around on the internet
Doctor wins twenty bucks at video poker
Doctor gets suddenly inexplicably tired

Doctor in danger of losing their marbles
Doctor starts to slip backwards
Doctor sabotages the practice
Is encouraged to take a leave of absence

Doctor dithers over the price
Thirty thousand dollars
Doctor chooses a color
Mustard. Olive

Doctor starts to slowly move forwards

Doctor motors over the Rockies, dragging a trailer
Doctor crosses Utah, measures the desert
Doctor stops to watch the Colorado River, ponders
Doctor finally waves that flag of surrender

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

San Berdoo

     I would do anything to distract myself, would love to send my thoughts anywhere but here in this waiting room. On the seat beside me is a recent issue of People Magazine, featuring the 25 Most Intriguing People of 2015. In the upper left hand corner, in a solemn black font, reads "San Bernadino, the Tragedy Changing America." One more thing I don't want to think about. The world is gunfire and bloodshed, yet every time I hear the name of that town that stupid song runs through my head:

"Five little miles to San Berdoo
I woke this mornin' and thought of you
Looked out the window
What a view
Five little miles from San Berdoo"

     "Plus! The Year in Pictures, Hall of Shame, and More!" It's a gorgeous day outside. Blue sky, bright winter sunlight. I take deep, slow breaths. Stare at the plants, so generic I have trouble even seeing them. Stare at the pattern on the carpet, geometric flecks and blandly-colored  blobs. A smiling little boy is carried into the other room. His mother explains to his sister, "Hayden has to have a picture taken to find the penny." I reach for the magazine.

"Three little miles from San Berdoo
My bag was packed and ready
I said to myself, 'Steady!'
Two more miles and you're in heaven!"

     Before I can open it, A teenage girl with braces on her teeth and a pair of crutches starts chattering on about her injury, how she felt her leg go out from under her, how she screamed when she hit the floor. The pain was so bad she blacked out, she says. She laughs when she says it. She has a beautiful laugh.

"One little mile from San Berdoo
My heart was skippin' a beat or two
Oh what thrill when I saw you
Waitin' at the station down in San Berdoo"

    I give in and flip through the magazine, but it's all a swirl of colors and unreadable blobs of text. I try to steady my breath but it keeps skipping ahead of me. I don't want to go into that room. The sound of gunfire echoes inside my head but it's only the pounding of my blood.
     An infant across the room begins to screech. His parents don't say a word, keep tapping their phones. I feel like my brain is being squeezed from my skull. Everything in the room disappears, sucked into the maelstrom of that unholy yowl. Even my own pain and fear is driven from my mind. I am pure and clear, I have disappeared. The sound is horrendous, relentless, ear-shattering. I pray it never stops.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Ray Charles Sings Georgia on My Mind Whether You Want Him to or Not

I saw Ray Charles perform
at an outdoor concert years ago.
All I could see of him from where I stood
was a flash of silver sequins
as he rocked robotically back and forth,
face frozen in a grin,  performing slick renditions
of Unchain My Heart, A Fool for You,
of Hit the Road Jack, and of course,
that overbearingly maudlin melody
Georgia on My Mind.
He was old, it was understandable
that he no longer burned with youthful fire.
And people want to hear the hits,
to bask in the familiar. But still I kind of wish
I wouldn't have been there
It wasn’t worth the bragging rights.
I would have been better off
going to my grave without having seen
that once great man reduced to an empty shell,
a hologram, a husk shuffling blindly along
beneath the moonlight, beneath the pines
along the road leads back
to someone that never really was you.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Hotel O. Henry

She was a plaster wall painted
with fake bricks, hung with sepia photographs
of what the building used to look like
I was a bathroom door someone had
scribbled filthy graffiti all over the inside of
I was busy looking for answers
instead of just loving the questions
She was busy needing to be right
instead of savoring the mystery
I flapped like a wing on my rusty hinges
She trembled every time the guests
blasted the television or fucked against
the headboard.
I kept straightening out her pictures
She kept painting over my graffiti
She sold all her photographs
to buy me a can of grease to lubricate
my deadbolt
which I had sold to buy her a roll
of picture wire
just like in that stupid maudlin story
Now we just sit quietly, waiting for some
city flunky to notice
that this building is certainly not fit
for human habitation.
In the meantime, my toilet overflows
and the stream of water runs down the hall
spelling "Merry Christmas Baby"
in pale yellow cursive on the linoleum.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Tell Me About Your Day

I barred you from my dreams but you found a way
to burrow in through some loophole, wormhole, knothole,
you managed to squeeze in through and stand before me,
feigning surprise to find me there, in my own mind,
then proceeding to prattle on about your house,
your husband, your adorable baby daughter.
I tried to convince you to at least put on some clothes
but you just strutted back and forth, flaunting how good
you still looked after all these years. I knew I was dreaming
but I didn’t seem able to will you away. I tried to conjure
a pit beneath your feet, a tiger to tear you to bits, but you
were still there, and now you were showing off your new
yoga poses, stretching and flexing I tried to strangle you
but my fingers went flaccid, slapping your perfect throat
from which bubbled that beautiful laugh I’d hoped
to never hear again.

How did the dream end?
It didn’t. You are still there before me,
shaking your ass and telling me all about
your day, about all the things you did
About  how the weather was
About all the beautiful things you’re growing
in your beautiful garden at the end
of the beautiful world.

Monday, July 4, 2016

49th Annual Nez Perce Nation Mens Basketball Tournament 2013

It’s Cypress Hill vs. Depeche Mode
as the coffee shop dukes it out
with the open door of the bar next door. 
Sunday night the rains have finally begun 
so there are only a few determined hipsters 
running from awning to awning.
The Vietnamese Christian owner 
of the convenience store on the corner 
is changing fluorescent bulbs 
while his wife nervously clutches the ladder. 
 I used to buy wine with a picture of a frog

on the bottle from him, never did 
learn his name. He'd taken over the store
when his brother was shot dead behind the counter 
one Sunday afternoon.  Ever since 
they’ve been closed on Sundays.

I’m pretending this is my first time 
visiting this neighborhood, pretending I didn’t 
live here for nearly a decade
before being forced to move across town.
I’m a freshly minted tourist with no baggage,
no memories of spending time at that store,
that Lebanese restaurant, that sports bar
this coffee shop…all of them forming
the four corners of the apocalypse.
A pedestrian gives a friendly wave to the car
that almost hit her when she crossed 
against the signal.
The graffiti in the coffee shop restroom 
is the same, only there’s more of it, 
all more advertising than art. 
It must be 80s night in the bar, 
Modern English and the Buzzcocks 
make their rounds while the coffee shop
remains committed to playing the entire 
Black Sunday album. I stare at the layers 
of ripped and decaying band fliers on the pole
outside the window as a kid struts past
wearing a sweatshirt that reads 49th Annual
Nez Perce Nation Mens Basketball Tournament 2013.
 I’ve never thought of Native Americans as being
particularly interested in basketball.
There are cacti in the window, a kid whose copy
of Paradise Lost sits next to his cell phone.
I couldn’t help myself andI walked by 
my old apartment. They've repainted the building
and put in new windows and taken down the tree,
no one’s moved in yet, the stickers are still 
on the glass, with rain covering everything,
and soon I'll go back across town
and tell them of the new land I've been visiting,
so different and yet so strangely familiar