Saturday, January 31, 2015


Read the sad poems,
they demanded-
bludgeon us with your words;
fist-fuck our tender ears,
give us adverb-strewn images
that blast the luster
off our eyes.
We can take it.
We want it.

I’d rather not, I said.
I have some newer
Nature poems here for you-

God damn it,
they yelled-
we want to revel in
your silent screams,
make us sob and moan
as you surrender hope.
We want to drink it in
like beer;
gulp it down
and savor it.

All right, I said. I’m  poet-
I always carry a little
venom and angst in my pocket.

So I spit it all out,
stinking and sour,
and they drank it all in.

And the next morning
the bar floor was stained
with the puked-up remains
of experience-envy,
gone bad from getting
what it thought it wanted.
Or maybe it was just
the logical result of too many
beers and vodka jello shooters.
It was, after all,
a college town.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow Days-

The squirrels get no snow day-
just ask the cats.
They get no snow day either-
there’s a full day’s work for them
whiskers pressed to the window
watching the squirrels dig
for the birdseed
that fell from the feeders;
no snow day for the birds either,
between huffling their feathers up
against the wind and snow
and bickering with each other
and screaming at the squirrels.

No snow day for the chipmunk
who darts in and out when
neither squirrel nor bird is looking;
a snow day for the hawk, evidently,
who has forgone this magnificent
buffet of fur and feathers
to brood high in his skeleton tree,
watching the party below
with supreme disdain.

Saturday, January 24, 2015


my amazing technicolor ghost
always told me it loved me
before it hurt me.

people say ghosts
are monochrome,
two dimensional,
dark, or light.

mine had colors,
multiple dimensions,
it was dark, then bright.

it told me it was proud of me,
and then it screamed
I should be ashamed;

I could not imagine ever leaving,
and the next moment
I was fleeing for my life.

my amazing technicolor ghost
is dead now-
except it lives in me.

it speaks to my kids
through my lips;
loves them,
then hurts them,
chilling my heart.

my amazing technicolor ghost
always told me it loved me-
before it hurt me.

Friday, January 23, 2015

In the Footsteps of Captain Scott

I would sell my soul for some heat.
I was told that cold is the absence of warmth,
but that does not even begin to describe
the slicing polar blast that reaches in
and drags my lungs right out of my body,
smashes them, and leaves the splinters
bobbing in the ice-current with the ‘bergs.

I would sell my soul for a candle flame
to pierce the Antarctic night
and cast a shadow on the glacier wall
and heat my last remaining fingers,
grown sullen and crabbed and cracked
with an unbreakable skin of frost,
milky white like a baby’s skin,
but scraped clean of all innocence.

I would sell my soul for the kerosene
that ran out three days ago;
lamps and stove we have,
but nothing but hopes
to burn in them;
and the hope froze solid
the same way Dan and Tristan did;
Unblinking eyes wide open
this dark polar morning.

I would sell my soul for a match
to burn those damned ship’s papers
I signed that got me into this place.
Glory for King and country, they said,
a grand adventure, and
three hot, square meals a day.
Fuck their glory and adventure,
and fuck their damned king,
I’d sell my soul for one last hot meal.

But the hot meals ran out the
same day the dogs did;
roast husky isn’t mutton,
but at the bottom of the world
you can’t pick and chose like a toff
at some fancy London restaurant.

I would sell my soul for the roaring fire
of my mother’s cottage in Donegal
and the musty smell of sheep, 
another chance to lie on the green grass;
Lord, I thought the winters there
were cold and uncomfortable;
what a fucking fool I was.

I would sell my soul for London gaslight,
the flickering iron-perched torches
of the sordid, grimy East End,
the warm caress
of the brown-eyed bar maid
serving more than beer,
though the useful part of my anatomy
is frozen too solid now
to ever again be of much use to her.

I would sell my soul for some heat.
I was told that cold is the absence of warmth
but that does not even begin
to describe the slicing polar cold
that reaches in and drags your soul
right out of your body
and leaves you gasping,
grasping for death,
warm death,
my final savior.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Words Fuck

Words fuck.
That’s something they didn’t tell you
in high school English class-
word copulation is a touchy subject.
Your teachers knew, but didn’t share,
that Romeo and Juliet were not
the only ones getting it on
on that page.

Most words are discreet about it-
at first glance the sentences and
paragraphs appear innocent enough,
but then suddenly you see it-
“Oh my- Look what those adjectives
are doing with that noun-
...and the noun
seems to be enjoying it.”

Words get randy-
don’t ever doubt that.
There is a reason that
adverbs come boxed
with each one in its own
little cellophane wrapper.
There is no such thing
as two adverbs,
and just what did you suppose
that participle was dangling?

But before we get all offended,
and start banning things,
and passing laws,
remember- it’s all
completely natural.
Words fucking gave us
some of our greatest literature.
So leave them alone-
it’s what God,
and Webster,

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

This is the House That Jack Built

Jack was a carpenter.
Born in Italy,
he came to America in 1910,
and for twenty years
he built waterfront vacation houses
on Cape Ann for wealthy Bostonians.
He died of a stroke on his 46th birthday,
and all that’s left of him are a few houses
and a fading black & white photograph
in a box in an attic in Marblehead.

Jack was a cook.
Born in Pennsylvania, he served
with the 28th Infantry Division
during the Battle of the Bulge in World War 2,
and all through that battle he never heard
the roar of bullets and bombs,
only the clatter of pots and pans.
And even though as the years went by
his friends all told him-
"Don't worry about it!
Napoleon said an army travels
on its stomach”,
he always felt guilty
and a little embarrassed,
and would never talk about
what he did in the war
as he sat on his barstool at the VFW.

Jackie grew up on a farm
in western Massachusetts.
She and her husband Peter
ran a greenhouse
in Brattleboro, Vermont
where they raised orchids
for upscale florists and hotels
in New York City.
The day that Peter died of a heroin overdose
Jackie sat alone in the greenhouse
all afternoon,
listening to water drip from the pipes,
and then she got up,
and went back to packing boxes of flowers.

Jack was a truck driver
from New Hampshire.
He drove tankers
filled with unknown chemicals
around New England for thirty years,
and then his hair and toenails
started falling out,
he had trouble breathing,
and he died in a small motel room
in Nashua, New Hampshire,
surrounded by no one.

Jackie was a waitress from Queens.
She waited tables every night
at a fancy French restaurant in Manhattan,
and three times a week
the maitre d’ would bend her over a box
in the walk-in freezer
and screw her,
and she never said anything,
because she was determined
that she was going to put
her two kids through college.

Jack was a firefighter from Boston.
He rode the hook and ladder truck
for twenty-two years,
and he played the dog races in Revere
every weekend,
and raised four kids,
and 15 grandkids,
and never regretted anything.

Jack was a sanitation worker
from New Jersey; he hauled
barrels of trash in Hoboken,
and every night he went back,
alone, to his one-bedroom,
walk-up apartment
and wrote poetry and short stories.
The day after he died
the landlord took it all,
and stuffed it into plastic bags
and put the bags out on the curb
for the trash men.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Ashes to Ashes-

I have a blank sheet
of virtual paper-
and a virtually blank mind.
It’s not that nothing is in there
(though, sometimes, I wonder)
it’s that nothing that is in there
wants to come out.
Or perhaps there are things in there
that I am not so sure
I want to see come out.
Things that could come out,
but then I’d have
to own up to them,
confront them,
deal with them.

And today seems
an especially bad day for that.
As was yesterday,
as will be tomorrow.

So it is not so much
Writer’s Block,
as Writer’s Lock-
I locked those things up years ago.
Months ago.
Weeks ago.
Days ago.
Hours ago.

And words are the key
that will unleash them.

No wonder words
 are so feared-
No wonder they burn books,
and the writers of books.
No wonder Silence
is said to be Golden.
Illusions are gold,
and Reality is ash,
and it is unnerving
to sit in the middle of the fire.

Monday, January 19, 2015


Some poems live on the page,
the black type dancing
against the white paper
and setting the brain on end,
or lulling and mulling it
to a fine introspection,
like a brandy-induced pause
in front of a muttering fire.

Some poems live in the air
and merely crouch on the paper,
muscles tensed and taut,
biding time, hiding their power-
only springing to life
when they are spoken.
Shared aloud with an audience,
the words gambol and dance.

Some poems live both lives,
but they don’t like to talk about it-
The page-snobs sneer at them,
and the spoken word crowd
edge away a little bit,
if a poem admits to being bi-poetic.
But if it can stand the stigma,
poems that go both ways
have the most fun.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Just Say No To Reality-

Reality sucks!
and hey- it may not even be real.
Physicist Julian Barbour of Oxford University
has a new theory that the Big Bang
created a ‘mirror’ universe
that exists alongside this one,
and whatever happens here
happens in the opposite way there,
and backwards.

So screw Reality.
When somebody asks you,
“Is your term paper is done?”
or “Have you mailed that check?”
Just look at them and say-
“Oh, Sorry -was that due
in  - this - Reality?”

And answer me this,
Reality lovers-
If listening to Christmas carols
on my Pandora stream in July
is so at odds with Reality-
then why is July the middle
of the winter in Australia?

Truth is-  there is never
a bad time for a really cool scarf,
and if shoveling snow
in my sandals is wrong,
I don’t want to be right.
 - Having a full set
of fingers and toes after age 40
merely means you missed
some awesome opportunities.

If Reality declares that
my cat only puts up with me
because I am her sole source of kibbles;
 - and I probably won’t win 30 million dollars
in next week’s tri-state lottery drawing;
 - and the earth will eventually
become a fiery cinder;
 - Then who needs Reality?

Reality is an endless flight of stairs
that always goes upwards,
but never actually gets anywhere.
And Reality is full of dead people.
More and more every year.
None of us will ever take on Reality
and make it to the end of the film.

Did you ever meet anyone
who was firmly attached to Reality
and truly happy about it?
Ask any Chicago Cubs fan-
Reality bites.

So next time it knocks on your door-
just say “No” to Reality.
It’s ok- you won’t hurt its feelings.
Reality doesn’t have feelings.
That’s why it sucks.
Put on your sandals,
and join me in the snow-
because in that alternate universe-
it’s July and warm,
And none of our friends are dead.
And we just hit the fucking lottery.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The 21st century may be out to get me-

The 21st century may be out to get me-
I took a Buzzfeed quiz, and it told me
that if I was a poem,
I’d be the John Mortara poem
 ‘The Bullshit’.

My Autocorrect tells me
I am spelling autocorrect incorrectly.
It was pretty pissed-off about it.
When a computer program becomes
that self-aware and assertive,
I start to worry about its’ motives...

Last week Autocorrect changed
“enthusiasm” to “euthanasia”.
Then, when I was typing this poem,
it changed Buzzfeed to buzzsaw

Who’s paranoid now?

The 21st Century may be
trying to drive me insane.
Don’t get me wrong-
I love the 21st century,
but like that passive-aggressive lover
you can’t live with, and you can’t live without-
Parts of the 21st Century
are best dealt with
with the help of pharmaceuticals.

Ambien Dreams are the best dreams,
aren’t they?  Ever had one?
There are entire websites
devoted to Ambien Dreams...

In my Ambien Dream,
My Poetic Muse  looked
a lot like Katherine Zeta Jones,
in that Zorro movie-
She carried a long whip,
and a bag full of adverbs,
and she made me produce
 a tv game show for her 
called Wheel of Sonnets.

We were at a bar with Allen Ginsburg
and Jack Kerouac,
and they were arguing over who had
a better score on Goodreads.
I don’t know who won,
but Dorothy Parker was sitting in the corner
snapping photos of the fight to post on Flickr.

We got so drunk on words
that Charles Bukowski took me aside
and told me, “Man, you need an intervention”.

Emily Dickinson emailed that
she wasn’t going to be joining us
because she’d been up all night
streaming Beyonce videos.

I got instant messaged by Robert Frost-
he needed five synonyms for
“dickhead neighbors” that
the editors would allow in The New Yorker.

Edna St. Vincent Millay kept Skyping me -
Bukowski had been drunk texting her again.

I staggered out of the bar
and ran into Henry David Thoreau,
and he wanted me to watch a dozen videos
he’d posted on YouTube -
God help us, he has cats at the cabin now...

Edgar Allan Poe popped out of a manhole
with a Goth Groupie Gang-
and recited a poem about how
Goths love Depressive Men in Black-

I ran for my car, turned on the radio,
and Shel Silverstein was singing a song
- Dr. Seuss lied about the Grinch.
He never gave back the toys!
He was hunted down, beaten to death
and eaten by murderous, starving Whos.

I woke from my Ambien Dream
to find that I’d used my keyboard
to batter my monitor senseless.

The 21st Century may be
trying to drive me insane.
I love the 21st century-
But like that ear-worm song
that eats into your consciousness
I keep hearing Catherine Zeta Jones
reciting ‘The Raven’ over and over and over-
And I’m out of Ambien.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Writer's Block

If there is one single thing
writers like to write about
more than anything else-
it’s Writer’s Block.
And it is not true
that all writers get it.
Many writers do,
maybe most writers do-
but there are always a few
who never get it,
and sometimes,
after reading what they write,
you dearly wish they would.

Entire forests have been
swept from the earth
to provide the paper
for books and articles
about dealing with Writer’s Block,
written by writers
who’ve obviously never had it.

And, like cures for the hiccups
or avoiding the common cold,
all writers have advice
they freely give to others
about how to avoid it.
Advice which,
in the vast majority of cases,
they never actually
follow themselves.

Picture prompts,
word prompts,
dictionary exercises,
long walks,
short walks,
showers, enemas, and
whiskey are all solutions
of one sort or another
that pale with time
and unsuccessful repetition.

There are a number
of innovative and exciting cures
I am very fond of,
at least in the third-person-
“I have a friend who repeatedly
hit himself on the head with a Thesaurus”
is one I especially like,
not because it sounds as if it might work,
but at least that poet
was taking definitive action.

My own solution is
to sit down at my computer-
draw the window blinds-
lock out the cats-
turn off the radio-
sit in complete silence,
before the blank page-
and then slowly,
with great mindfulness
and intention-
type over and

Poet, Heal Thyself.
Poet, Heal Thyself.
Poet, Heal Thyself.
Poet, Heal Thyself.
Poet, Heal thyself.
Poet, heal thyself.
poet, heal thyself.
poet heal thyself.

and then i go
play in the snow
and leave the page
for another day.