Friday, March 31, 2017

Wissahickon Dogbite

down with minimal design racks dragged down
with little flutter locked in frozen swirl
clockfoot ticking down the toes, can opener the shoes
cloak us in a clicking keratin shroud shower curtain
travel size cartons of Fruity Pebbles Frankenberry
shag carpet on the stairs to trip the color of caramel

didn't knot didn't pick didn't pluck didn't spin hours into dope
didn't spit it up before it slapped you after it swept you
flabbergasted by the fuss, by the absence of fuss
clicking velvet clown Burger King crown crying Judy Collins
Culture Club the fragrance is consuming you potpourri
Depression-era tract housing goldfish belly up eyes gummed shut

there were crosses you knelt down you prayed
your prayers were answered they all start singing now

Philadelphia suburbs underwater troll stickers
graffiti on the elevated ketchup on potato pancakes the dog
that bit you through the sneaker, knew it was cheap
parakeets and Pepsi backyard screamer didn't break the skin
some time later they had to put that dog down
not because of me I heard it bit someone else
an acquaintance or stranger never family a little girl maybe
why aren't you crying your prayers were answered they still
put that dog down

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

January 3rd, 2003

On a cold, clear day
a teenage boy hurled
an chunk of ice the size of a basketball
off the rail of the overpass

A family of five was driving home
from an afternoon of skiing in the Poconos
the kids were in the back, the mother was asleep
in the passenger seat

On a clear, cold day
an 18 pound ball of ice
fell through the air
toward the highway, toward the traffic
and has not landed yet

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Der Kommissar

      His glass beard tinkled faintly as we piled into the back of his station wagon, inside smelled of peppermint and gasoline, the car belched and chugged along, bumping over the rails and potholes.  Electrical wires hung heavy like vines, the game was letting out, traffic dense, trains crammed as we barreled past, watching all the faces blur into one. The windows fogged up he drove faster, drove in and out of paintings, into holes which deposited on the other side of town, dragging fences and trash cans behind. We woke up the dogs in every neighborhood, they strained at their chains and barked like mad at our screeching tires. We begged him to turn on the radio and he did and we all sang along to songs we knew half the words of, songs from when we were small, Der Kommissar, You Spin Me Right Round, Rock the Casbah... suddenly we stopped singing and listened: from his thin translucent lips were slipping words, with the barest excuse for a melody stringing them together. Moons crashed from the sky all around us, crescent moons and half moons and a few full moons, even a new moon or two, most dangerous of all, smashing the windshields of the parked cars, denting their hoods, he stopped singing to concentrate, swerving to miss them, one split open a hydrant and the water sprayed up and froze instantly in a gorgeous rooster tale of ice, we laughed and passed around the cigarettes and offered him one but  he waved it away, we could see right through his hand, just drove and drove between the factories, toward the canal that had been drained and filled with steel wool, toward the river so thick and sluggish it didn't reflect any light but clutched it deep within its depths, knowing it might come in handy some day. He stopped on the edge of the dark water and turned off the engine. We'd forgotten how much we needed silence until that unlit moment, sat there in the dark a few minutes before tumbling out, cackling and slapping one another stumbling through the greasy reeds down to the water's edge, the old man remaining in the car, every glass hair on his head  standing on end as he thumbed the dashboard lighter and reached for the pack of cigarettes we'd left behind.

Thursday, March 16, 2017


     That screeching kestrel pokes its head from deep within my throat up between my teeth to open its beak and scream at the a night of scalding cruelty everyone wrapped in someone else's skin the girls wearing glittering tiaras of teeth the boys swinging femur scepters chopping the air with scapula axes even the softest furriest creature lifts its cute little muzzle slathered in blood even the most harmless bit of fluff will choke you if you swallow it smiles dissolve like smoke and everything on the street is rattling and jittery and shaking the picture jolts and jumps there's no stability nothing solid or predictable the ground threatens to open up peel back the crust turn the skin inside out volcanoes rumble the twinkle in the sky swells bigger and bigger the great beasts pace and thrash their tails nervously knowing something is about to happen but not understanding what or having any idea of what to do about it eyes darting back and forth in fear never even thinking to look up

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


     I stir the soup with my spoon and watch the gray eels writhe and dive, pale teeth glowing in the flicker... there's a pounding, pounding, the whole house is shaking, the surface of the soup is rippling, the eels are knotted in fear, each trying to burrow to the bottom, the floor buckles, the table leaps, one eel is thrown clear of the bowl and hits the floor with a wet thud, without thinking I stomp on it, squishing it beneath my bare sole, the glass in the windows is rattling, beetles tick against the roof, the pots and pans clank against the walls, knives shiver on their strip, slavering to get away; we don't need to stab or poke, they say, just let us have one little slice, a little shave and we'll be happy... there's a high pitched screech as the train strains against the curve, if it was up to me I'd let the thing derail, I'd let the plaster crack I'd let those knives fly free flashing bright like sardines or anchovies for just one moment as they pass, I'd shatter that lantern in the tower, watch the great eye that watches out for the ships grow dark, I'd let the eels crawl up my hand and wind around my wrists, slither up my sleeves in search of that legendary fat blue vein their parents and grandparents and great grandparents whispered of, that source, that never-ending, ever-beginning stream.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Spitting Sparks

Your breakers got flipped, every appliance
turned inside out, muscle transformed
into conduits into flab. Red sky turns acid green.
Wires flail like sparking noodles. Holes burned
in your jeans but you can’t be bothered
or don’t have time or are not permitted
to patch them. I miss looking forward
to dusk’s jarring transition, miss looking forward
to feeling myself shudder beneath your boot.
I miss looking forward to not being able to sleep
beneath your weight.
Spend every night alone, and the loneliness accumulates
and makes it harder to reach out, keeps me digging
that deep hole of isolation, until I feel buried alive.
The sunken chest, scuttling with filthy crabs
instead of gold, dangling from a single strand
of fraying rope above a coral cage.
Centipede in a spider web writhes
until the entire structure is pulled down.
All the trapped insects fly free.
I whisper you bedtime stories
of hammocks and inner tubes,
of raccoon families waddling across the road,
while all the while I’m tearing off your legs
one by one by one, watching how long it takes
for them to grow back.
My fingers smell like a damp dishrag,
like a fishing line knotted around a sock.
I remember when night would rise
and we would huddle together
against a memory foam log
beside the air conditioned creek.
With my dentures lost, I can no longer chew
your flesh, I need you minced and chopped
and pureed so I can suck and slurp you up.
Beyond the taped up electrical cord
I’ve looped around us, robot snakes spit
robot venom. I miss the days
when I could keep myself better company,
when I didn’t bore myself stupid, when we
were more than mere dimly lit screens.
When I was able to speak in a booming voice
of unshakable authority. I miss drifting off to sleep
with my cord in your little hand,
miss seeing your withered smile
glowing in the dark.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017


They should have hated him
or maybe they did and I didn't notice,
too busy traipsing through fields of goldenrod
and ragweed, skipping through waiting rooms
wallpapered with daisies, through supermarkets
glazed with rainbow entrails.
They should have hated him,
it should have been long since over
by the time I finally mounted the beast
that would carry me through the wrought-iron forests
and red brick trees, galloping between the factories
with gray flakes clinging to its mane and lashes.
I didn't see the bloodshot eye-roll it gave me,
thought its whinny was one of exhilaration
rather than fear.
They should have hated him,
should have strung him up then cut him down
and doused his carcass in piss before
dragging it through the streets
before I arrived at the gates, my poor steed
frothing and heaving, clattering into a heap of hooves
as I stepped lightly off to stand at the edge of the crowd
that clung to every word, stretching their mouths wide
to catch every morsel he flung at them.
They should have hated him
but instead they gobbled it all up, swallowed it all down,
and having safely arrived, ruddy and fat
and wrapped in the bright ribbons of my travels,
I swallowed it too.

Monday, March 6, 2017


How old were you
when you got hit by that train
and afterwards stood up, unscratched, unscathed?
Where were you when you first set yourself on fire
and strolled calmly down the street until
the rain dowsed the flames?
You didn’t mind becoming a pillar of salt
until you noticed all the deer creeping out of the woods,
all of them staring right at you.
You didn’t mind falling from the 92nd floor
because you knew there was no pavement solid enough to stop you
from passing right through the world,
emerging feet first from the Indian Ocean.
The sailors who discovered you there
would go on to tell the story
to anyone who would listen
in the nursing home lobby, in the food court
of the mall, at the pancake dinners at the fire hall
where you wink at them from the kitchen
and grin as you press your palm against
the sizzling skillet