Poetry

“Game Plan number 999” aka “The Final One”

Because the cavern walls have stretched behind me so long now, from that very first taste of it, and my path has curved deeper and into multiple directions and winding, twisting moments…I have decided to travel again. First, to complete the novel, then, to travel with it behind me, in me, and to master it’s retell. Then, to see wild animals, monkey and all manner of bird. To master something else. To teach. To teach children to master something, and to learn from the people around me wherever I roam. I’ll slowly repay my debt; well no, not the student one, it’s gargantuan by this point, haha, but maybe, just maybe, with the will of my every story, which is really 87 percent other people’s gifting me with theirs, I can carve out a travelling, learning, teaching and feeling empire of moments, to wander through as it crumbles in my old, wise because still learning soul’s, final trek.

I always save something immediately when it’s good. This one is the one. As Beck, quoting in cut-up-Negativland fashion, once quipped, “Things are gonna change I can feel it!”.

To give a Star Wars theater experience to my boy, to make my sister cry at her wedding with joy, and Mom of course too. To give Gramps a star, and Mickey a sober, dry run of it for at least a year at a time.

And then to finish the book, to continue sending messages to the people I love, but to go.

I am going to abandon, for a time, all physical connection to my past. I am going to cleanse, to de-age, and to re-connect with this path. I got back on it. But that’s nothing compared to where I’m going. Out of the cavern and into the pan-every-land triumph. I’ll die broke and most likely in debt, but will not have lived, for a second longer than necessary, for Nothing.

In life thus far I have purposefully derailed my future enough times to cause a sort of series of changes to my perspective. By finishing a commitment to school, and actually embracing changes I had not thought possible, I have gained the confidence to really continue my quest. To actually occupy my moments. And to write for all who have inspired me, a thank you letter that explodes in a dozen mini-narratives, like a fractal of a human set of memories. I have personified the fool, I have shaken the dreams of my life into the rivers of my notebooks, I have panned for something to hold up, more powerful than gold. I have found love, like Burroughs for his cats, in the eyes of strangers, and I have crept into friendships so unique and varieties in their connection’s forms that I can honestly say I am ready to know all love. To know all of the forms of the language of human and worldly connection is my ultimate end now.

If it is possible I will give everything I have for my work, but I am no longer foolish enough to think that process is anything but a divination of truth through other people.

The dark, brooding years of self-derailment are over. For all they taught, I offer a work of that long period’s reflection. To myself I offer the following promise. I will go out in the world. I will share the story, and in doing so, build an entirely new one. There is an architecture to joy and I am learning it’s finer points lately. It’s a pretty fantastic existence.

I think I’ll have a time with it.

I think I’ll make graphic matches with the sky, the ocean and the people in the cities I enter like a ghost and leave like a child, sad but alive with movement within and without, more synchronized, less defeated.

It will never occur to me that I have gone astray or I am lost, except in that perfect moment, looking out at the moon in Thailand, dancing to the craziest music, and alive in the truest sense. And I won’t stop, can’t stop, until I get there. Until I reach the personal, solitary zero hour, and am a phantom of my earlier self.

I think the evenings of my life will fill with my words thrown down at all hours, and early jogging and loads of dancing. I want to teach the kids English, teach myself humility and self-love, and just go, go, go.

I Think I finally understand Neal Cassidy.

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Lying, All Week

I went around with
The Blower’s Daughter and Delicate
in my ears
because I wanted to
look at every person in the street
like we were in the
credits of a movie,
of a great life,
together, and
we didn’t even know it.

I try not to do this anymore
it is too hard to go home
after that rush of eyes
meeting for once,
for only one moment,
just one brief smile,
and a hundred moments

that flicker in futures
that are no more real

than love at first sight,
left alone in an elevator
or peace on earth,
rolled up in a newspaper,
or a last unicorn,
scratching on maps
its last whereabouts,

or anything else they’ve sold
out of existence,
cornered into stalls
of soundtracks,
made typical like
lucky trolls or
Marguerite umbrellas.

I still go out.
Music is still my wet street.
It’s still filled, too,
with eyes like that.
I just don’t write about it anymore.
And that, more than any of the rest,
is the best lie I’ve told,
all week.

poem for La Mer [NIN]

Graduation

I am almost done it,
that quest I told you about, and
I promise I will make it back,
and I will no longer try to
save you from yourself.

I will let the kiss in the bus stop
rain go unnoticed I will not
smile at the driver from
outside, dampening with
every extra tug back toward you
in your sleek bomber
you with those Docs on your feet.

Because I have read more
of Gilbert and Gubar now.
I know it is me who,
like every power hungry fool,
has been your bane, and
I know the boon is knowing better
than to tie rocks to a feather,

I am going to shut in on myself,
I am the book of hate for objectified
love,
but I still miss you.

I will find a way
to make it back
but I will first
eradicate, even that
foolish desire.

I will run through the library
with the scissor of open books,
I will emulate no other poets.

I am here now.

The Nothing and My Statue

I want to tell you
about the nothing
and how it was on my back
from late 90s to just now.

My first time was
just a six pack
of coca cola I was
12 maybe 13,

and I was up all night
with the caffeine propping up
my stinging eyes like,
twitchy invisible insect germs,
holding up heavy red curtains.

I used it to get more comic books read.
It gave me the strength to watch
entire nights of reruns.

I moved onto vodka pretty
much the next summer.
Because it made me think I was
an extrovert and a revolutionary,
and because Val Kilmer drank
as Jim Morrison and I wanted to
be a rebel like him.

I always sounded more like
the Lizard King after some drinks.
It was like the liquid gave me skill.

First pack of smokes found
in The Beer Store parking lot on
Chopin Street in Preston.
They bought me the prison yard acceptance
of first year high school.

I smoked more green any man ever seen,
we had something called wheelchair pot and
I laughed at the sky.

Our crew donned Value Village polyester and
tie dyes from local hemp shops.
We slunk through corn field grids
like eager pony tailed lab rats,
hunting down the cheese of
some wheat kings secret plants.
Dried them out in our parents rafters,
sold the shit for better stuff.

Drank a bottle of Robitussin
because some raver chick in
funfer pink told me it was like Acid,
which was hard to come by and
always made me feel like Neo,
even before The Matrix came out.

My first line was the last thing I
ever put on my back,
through my nose.

I say first because it’s all
the same line,
one massive one that stretches from
a cramped apartment on St. Andrew’s hill,
winds through the jungle of a hundred
dirty stalls, stripper’s breasts, mirror and
chipped dinner plates.

I earned a twitch in the final years,
when I would go for days at a time,
I can’t quite tell you
for too long about it
without risking the
abyss taking me back
you have to take my word
you have nothing
to lose by gaining better ground
in this war,
you lose only your mind when you
play the game with the Nothing,
the nothing,
the not-knot but
not-rope
that you see hanging
from your neck on trees
the next morning,
you’ll have to take my warning
as it is.

I’m just not far away from the fire yet
to turn back and laugh
without risking a salty
statuette of my good intent.

I’ve earned that much.

And how.

I sip coffee in the morning now
with all the music that
was always there to
bring me into sleep,
it is the drug I will always
lean hardest on.

Note of Hunger

[In The Footnotes]

There was a rat
in the heart
of Dickens that
ate away at him.

You can find everything
in the footnotes.

You can spend hours
in their margins.

You can arm yourself.
You are Spy vs Spy.
You can give
everything in the text

a shot of adrenaline,
a battery charge.

A rude wake.
A muffled tear.

The smell of the workhouses
comes up through the floor.

The sounds of
the children
as their bones
become brittle
in hard beds.

The claustrophobia
of the chimney sweep
is given legal parameters.

A rat makes its way across the
secret history of
snuff and Mudfog
to snack on the
salivating eye of a student.

I roll up my sleeves.
Not to get to work.
But because it’s warm
in the workhouse.

My eyes aren’t dry they
stayed up with the orphans
long enough to hear their
stomachs churn in on themselves,
nibbling at the lining.

The riots are breaking out,
the poor are organized
with fire and fury and
the full stomach of the court
is foul, is fallen into full view.

You can smell it on their breath.
Something is rotten.
Something is happening,

in the footnotes,
you can hear the heart
of the orphan
beating to Beethoven’s 6th.

Smashing with a frail fist,
the locks on the food cupboard.

PR men don’t exist yet,
they’re still wet dreams in
Hitler’s unborn henchmen,
but propaganda is as old
as Constantine.

All the King’s men
can’t hide the
footnote.

The one that breaks the truth up
passes it around in
edible, ingestible morsels.

The collection plate is full.
The cup runs right, right over.

Everyone asks for more truth.
Everyone dreams of escape.

Nobody gets out of it without answering.
The clergy are not even safe.

Footnotes for all of them.

Let them have knotty
endnotes, if not.

Your Story

I met you on Route 18.
It was the ugly morning
two after my Mick’s ashes
were put besides his father
and his son’s bodies.

You could see that
I was willing to listen to just about anything
that was not my vacant body
colliding with each bump
in the road and swerve of the transit.

This is the route to his house.
The one I took every weekend I could get off
from the butcher shop in the grocery store in town.
This is the last time I am ever taking this bus.
You see that I am clutching an acoustic
in a flailing black coffin.
Like it is all I ever had.

You start telling me about your quest.
To bring Home Hardware to its knees.
They stole your idea,
your patent pending,
for an apparatus that is both
tape measure and magnifying glass and level.

They stole it right from under you,
and you didn’t care what stood in your way,
you were getting it back.

I thought about the windshield wiper guy,
and that movie that I think only robots
don’t tear up watching,
especially when you told me

how your wife left
and your kids were all grown up
and nobody was on your side
but you were gonna spend your days
making that corporation pay.

It wasn’t the money, either.
It was the truth.
You wanted the world to know
so you had the paper
write an article and you made copies of it.

You let me tell you about the guitar,
and how it was a piece of crap,
truly beyond repair, no strings, warped.
Mick had told me to take it one day last spring,
and it was that ugly day,
when his remaining children,
puffed chests and dry eyes,
had left the wake to go hear the will called out.

When I was told I was not to be their
upon their return, I left.
I left the crowd who
didn’t know my grandfather,
not the way I did.
Not as friend.

I walked past his house.
I finished my 6th beer.
I opened his pickup because
he never locked it.
And I turned it on and
put in the Johnny Cash cd
I had burned for him
a few years back,
when anything that impressed him
I did with a son’s joy.

I wept a little. I cried some more.
I got out with a mission.
I would go into his house
that was never locked, one more time
and I would take my guitar.
My useless, weak instrument.

And I would learn to play
Silver Haired Daddy on it.
It was a song he had cried to many nights
when telling me his own father’s story.

You, Windshield Wiper Man,
you had to ask then, why was I returning
the guitar in its tattered vessel now?
And so I told it true.

His children had called the police.
They had told them I had broken in,
like some criminal, and stolen the only thing
I had left with.

Something he had given me.

So the officer had forced me
to either return it,
or face charges.
It was only right.

Then, you looked at me,
and we shared that moment,
that realization we had both
been put on quests that were
about more than money.
More than family.

Truth.

I told it all then.
How his children had become suspicious when
I started spending time with Mick.

How they had flown in from the West Coast
most having avoided any contact with him,
unless he was buying them condos.

They had learned to roll
their eyes in every language
when he got a few drinks in
and started to tell a familiar story.

And I was suspect.
Because I was interested
in every one of them.

That was when you looked at me,
strange man on a strange quest,
and you said that
no matter what they did
they knew they would never get his
love or respect
not like I had,
and that was all they could do,
was try to take everything else,
even a broken guitar.

You told me
“your story is his story”
and nobody will take that away.
Nobody can.

Then you got off at your stop,
heading toward that massive
Home Hardware.
They were gonna hear from you.
Until you ran out of time.

One Size

I can’t stand shopping.
I used to love being a kid in the cart and
grabbing stuff from one aisle when nobody looked
and then dropping it somewhere else:

maybe I was a child anarchist,
maybe I was a shit,
maybe I was a fucking artist,
without proper tools or inspiration.
so I took to the shelves and remade them
in my own twisted version of store planning,
in my own storm of shop dropping,
two decades too early,
two little fistfuls of products, poised
to my own devious ends.

Years later when I worked in a grocery store
all that karma was reduced to a single bill
I owed what I owed and at the end of the night
I had to fulfill the duty of looking for products
that been left in the wrong spot
the entire fucking store, shelf by aisle by freezer by display
for lost items, that they called “orphans” in case the
average minimum wage employee needed reminders that this
was a dire and crucial element to the job.

I think about the orphans when i shop now
and still once in awhile create a little chaos
for the next kid whose just trying to finish their shift
and get to some party where they can talk about how
it makes no sense to call them orphans since
they have never really left the florescent home
and they would by this logic call shoplifters kidnappers.

I have to shop sometimes though.
It is water boarding for my soul.
I loathe every salesperson not because
they invite it but because I just detest everything about the phony process.
I even start to sound like Holden Caulfield.

I needed boots though.
It could not be helped.
The previous week I had done a rush job of foot wear.
I had bought a pair, believe it or not, an entire size larger than mine.
This is how much I hate shopping.

They were like clown shoes after a few hours.
So I wore two socks.
but then my feet got all sweaty
and I’m pretty sure some sort of
athletes foot started to flare as a result.
They were on sale too. So no returns.
Now i had to return to the scene of the hell-crime.
I had to do twice what I reluctantly do once a year or more.

So I tried on 18 pair.
No luck.
everything felt like it was hard and designed for robotic footed beings.
everything felt like a twisted Cronenberg three hour retelling of Goldilocks,
with redheaded temper replacing blonde earnestness. Every sales clerk was
more and more a grizzly.

I gave up on Pay-Less.
It should have never crossed my mind to enter since
it looks about the quality of Al Bundy’s shoe shop,
and that can never be good.

I ended up back at the place I started.
Endless bus rides, hours of muzak and increasing
sense of panic driving into my body,
back to the fucking shire I went, seeking the impossible.

I saw them out of the corner of my twitching eye.
They gleamed like fucking Excalibur.
but then they walked like geisha clogs.
5 more pair.
5 more runway walks.
you always fucking wish the salesperson
would just fuck off
and not watch you do your test walk
like what am I going to do?
run out of the store in tight boots?
has this happened?
is it an epidemic?
i start to think about how this must be the shittiest job in the world
watching for potential kidnappers
putting boxes of orphans on shelves like a
detective at the end of some show
and finally
a pair of Timberland’s spoke
my fucking language
and I almost threw the size 13’s from hell
back at the sales clerk and
decided against it
I almost put them on the shelf
but didn’t
I just walked home
proud for having avoided a total rage out
and put the 13’s in the box the Timberland’s
my sacred number 12’s
had come in, and I put the box in the back of my closet
next to the other things
I like to pull out of retirement
for a laugh
now and again you need
to laugh at your own foolish abandon
of logic
of reason of
all fucking hope

because boots are made for walking…
and orphans are made to be re-shelved,
and shopping is for masochists,
see you again next year.

Seeing Permanent Red

They say us red heads have
tempers like East Coast weather
unpredictable and vicious.

I would argue this point but
it would only send me into
another full blown raging whirl wind.

I turn into a Snickers-less Joe Pesci.
I become Oppenheimer.

Without a moment’s notice.
Even my Jekyll is more like
most people’s Hyde.

Today when I could not find my hat
I felt like I needed it
like some average Junky,
then the more I couldn’t find it,
the more I became Herbert Hunke.

Suddenly I was a barrel short
of 12 angry monkey’s.

I miss a bus and start mumbling
to my room:

“How in the history
of all the holiest fucks
of fucking fuckers
have I lost this goddamn hat
when I have yet to leave the
house today?”

The theories get elaborate, fast.
Some kind of starving, stray
micro-goat-like creature
which normally subsists off odd socks
has not found one lately and has
decided to get brazen.

I must still be wearing it I say,
and pat my red, slowly
sweat-gathering
heavy hair.
Nope.

I check the legs of jeans
startling my bed’s frame
like crusty farmer clothes on
rickety, birch fences.

My inner Shining
declares that
Genes got me here
to begin with.

I go to punch air
and I hit the corner of my door
gashing open my hand,
now I’m bleeding and
cursing and mumbling and
tossing clothes around
like a baglady at the last
Sally Ann sale of the Earth
positive that any second I will
start to shit out everything
I have ever lost
and that’s a lot, a lot, a lot of shit.

By the time I give up and
put my hoody on
I’ve missed another bus
I’ve screamed in italic’s of cuss
I’ve prayed like a desperate Catholic
to a Mexican pick up truck’s Jesus-rust.

Curse this temper of mine.
All it was ever good for
were broken Super Nintendo controllers
dry wall craters covered in NIN posters
and a good post-meltdown chuckle
like the one just now,
while writing this poem.

Maybe that’s enough.

Leaving Lost Angels

I am emptying at your move
I have no choice but love
I no longer fold my hands for anything
but rest
I have earned
every scar
and all I know of capes
could be squeezed,
uncomfortably into
a dire, match-book mattress,
I only give up when
it protects you.
Tonight I push the bill
off the bar and no longer
snort my way back to sick,
warm, real abandon.
I don’t live in the name of
Rimbaud, Kerouac or Morrison,
this little thing is mine,
and only mine.
The easiest part was killing it
in my head .
Otherwise,
the hardest part is being
aware you are MISSING
irreplaceable days,
and in finding your earnest hope,
for a chance
to live out
what many might call
average lives,
you get to partake of
each individual
dynastic star from
the purview of
cell, stone, and bars.

Thirty-Three

Thirty-Three

He got up early,
it was his birthday,
so he wanted an hour to write.
He could no longer rely
on bottles and rolled goods,
so he thought

“I can have whatever else I want”
and all that meant was an hour.

All week there had been enough to do
and all weekend would continue.

He had started to replace all the music
on his player with old stuff he
had not listened to in a long time.
Even Green Day “Dookie” &
Weezer’s Blue Album.

It reminded him of the time before
the drink and the blaze,
when comic books like
“The Savage Dragon” or
“The Maxx” were his best friends,
when he had a copy of “Creepshow” in
graphic novel format,
and just like the kid in the paratext story,
he cursed anyone that got in-between.

After that he had gotten into “The Hobbit”,
and R.L. Stine, until finally,
in grade 5, he met his first fave writer.

(The same year he fainted
during a video the Roman Catholics showed them
of a baby being born, despite his love of horror movies,
and the sight of nothing else had
ever made him so queasy as all that blood,
from some random Catholic woman who
presumably had offered up her home video birth
to frighten the shot out of the kids
at St. Peter’s Elementary.)

That year he stayed up all night with Cujo
and knew he wanted to write like the King.

He was happy again now,
the way he was back then.

It was going to be
one fuck of a year.

You can trace the magic
in every day
track it bloodhound down,
like streets without names,
pics without frames
players without games.

Or you can get hung up on
what you don’t get to do.

He looked at his watch,
and saw he still had 45 minutes.

He looked at his son’s photo,
the bright of his eyes,
and he thought of how amazing it was
that the kid loved Green Day and
was devouring King now also,
and how,
in no short time,
he too would be 33.

And for the first time since he dried out,
it was more than enough
to keep going.