Thursday, April 9, 2009

Han Shan Is Sleeping

The man sleeping on the bus stop bench is the poet Han Shan. He is dressed as a modern
bum. Layers of shirts, tattered sweatpants. His worn out, busted shoes, neatly side by side
underneath the bench. The last five mornings I've passed him as he slept. Today, I stopped and
watched him.

No one that passes us realizes that it's him. If they could only see him, they would. Right
now, he doesn't care that he's Han Shan. He is too busy searching of the pure kingdom. I know he
has found it because he is the epitome of stillness. He has transcended the body and left it to lie
on the bus stop bench like one would a parked car.

Keeamouku Street is virtually empty at dawn. The sky is a blend of purples and oranges.
The condo towers and office buildings are lit up but without the bustle of life they seem cold,
lonely. A short, pudgy man with a vente Starbucks cup in his left hand and his cell phone in his
right passes within inches of the sleeping Han Shan. His voice is loud, disturbing the morning.
Grates the nerves like an ambulance with sirens wailing. He has no respect for 5:47 am. His
sentences are punctuated with short laughs, exaggerated dagger like exclamation points. Han
Shan's balled hands, that had been resting motionless upon his chest for the last twenty-two
minutes, twitch then relax. They are small gnarled knots like the above ground roots of ancient

Han Shan begins to stir. His left eye twitches 1, 2, 3. Spirit has returned to the body. He
senses that outside of himself, the sky has become gently illuminated, suns splendor impending
and can't be stopped. More bodies pass him. North to South. South to North.

Han Shan wiggles his toes. His white socks are surprisingly clean. I fear his eyes opening.
I don't want him to see me standing two feet from him, leaning up against a sign that indicates a
bus will stop here. But no buses will stop here for at least another hour. Han Shan will know I
was watching him. Studying him in this vulnerable reincarnation. If he catches me here, we will
both feel awkward and lonely. Before either wise eye opens, I walk off, west to east.

romance in the 939

blue-gray smoke from the cigarette you've lit snakes up the legs and around the waist of the lonesome nude that is entertaining the masked bandits. the nights here are an exchange of cash, and religious fervor. you're convinced the short one in blue heels wants to tear you apart. but she's someone's sister and daughter and you remember that you've been mistaken before. the voices in your head tell you that you must leave before the soul comes undone, your nerves become dust. so it's a pair of fives for the girl who plays by the rules but breaks your heart.

black and white . . . gangster film

what once sounded like an opera of prophecy,
is now the drivel of the past.

redemption is what's left when the interrogation has gone wrong,
and the mind has evicted everything but the nightmares.

even amongst his own, he is lost ,
watching imagined fires raging on the horizon,

thinking about Christ in the temple,
a fury of youth and righteousness not sparing the rod.

prayer is his conversation
even though the words stick in his throat,

because now there is light
where no sun shone before.

salvation, which felt so out of reach
comes with two silver dollars over his eyes.

Seduction, Obsession

She strolled the night, calling you Pablo, her love illuminating the moon. She's forever remembered in black and white. Fallen and forgotten. B-movie queen.

Oh Pablo, can you recall, the way she spread open your groin, your ribs, searching for your heart.

This is why I defy you Pablo! To this day I will not open your books!

It was I who loved and suffered. It was I who touched her. But with you, she performed literary necrophilia. Your tear-stained fading picture warming from her eyes-gaze love.

This is why Pablo I turn eye from your sun, moon, and fleshy woman fruit.

(published in 2005 in American Dissident)

Taurus In the Arena

Your blue-eyes surprise keeps me dreaming. The battered self, waits for the hallucination.

Too high to notice the iron fists, the ants carrying piecemeal
the smoke and ash that trail my fingers, as baby blue hangs silently like a sinner. In each bed you find a void beside,
as the words hang like thick summer air. The bodies you've declared are constant and forever, like the smiles you see on Van Gogh's crows. The gray day shadows embrace these ghosts
Mercy reveals its afflicted face. My words, now, must compete with your bare-breasted presence, as the sun warms your skin
that has escaped the protection of my blanket.

(published in 2006 by Black Book Press

Televised Revelation

Multitudes survive on brittle independence. Scars accumulate. The king of this paradise, is the darkness that shifts the landscapes. Mountains of fire. Presence of grief. His majesty devours pastures, drinks seas, pissing stagnation for others to drink. Given the world, but it isn't enough. Plagues, holocausts, darkness at noon . The wrath is not his but ours. Games are played with inexhaustible fears. Churches entice humanity to worship. Their own reflection becomes God. Faith, comfort through the unknown. Down from the dawn they come. Guitars with precise skeletal fingered players serenading the crimson eyed horses, of the ten thousand riders that follow. Together they lay waste to the garden of light. (published in 2006 in Nohmad's Ch0ir)


Enter smooth. Phantom. Sweet jazz in skull . Foot taps beat.Time to burn. Supernatural fire. Wait for no one. Stop for nothing. Immortality on the line.

(published in 1998 in Galleria)

Long Sensation Delivered

The wombs of my eyes menstruate the salt of the years. The room unties from ear to ear. The wake of sailing arrows is made up of Easter time colors.I've saved all the keys,wrote melancholy anthems for each. In the room is a dying man dethroned by a burning candle. Blinded by the triumphant return of the birds of spring. Space and time are illiterate. Remembering the conversations I had as a child, with a coffin built for a young boy. Realizing I could fit in that box but couldn't figure out how the soul escapes.

Time rocks back around again . The long corridor of night is nowhere to be seen. I walk through morning cities, afternoon pubs, assassins and American oracles on my mind. A stiletto blonde cuts through the wind-whipped melting room. Dying man with multiple million cataracts says she's got an empire in her eyes. I sneer at the conspiracy of her presence. Made more to miss the lamb's benevolence.

(published in 2006 in Poet's Art)

Idler's Dream

Indian's shot down the stars under which the eunuchs used to dance. Silver moon over dark water, reminds me of nights spent with you in empty asylums, waiting for ghosts of you attic children to appear.

In my mind , fingers tracing, cheek , jaw line,lips, throat.
Feel the rising thump of your heart as the French girl with full moon eyes, holds your attention, bringing peace to your live-wired mind.

Conjuring ghosts with dust for mouths, feeding their lips wine. Waiting for the sun to set in our hands. Waiting to come down.

(published in 2006 in Poet's Art)

Endless Wilderness

From the rain and cocaine misery, I find myself five cards short. Some son of a bitch had my salvation back pocketed. Revenge comes in a million bad dreams and folded fake Lincoln.

Sleep walking through mirrors. Symbols reveal the past receding and rising. The truth lies at a perimeter, unreachable. And I find you wrapped in a blanket by the stairs. Rendered emotionally formless. There's no reason to leave here because the wind still makes promises. Time's next revolution brings with it rain. Destiny, is sunflower romances in rose gardens. I whisper a woman's name into my pillow, awake illuminated, because fortune's foretold hand, writes phrases upon my bedroom wall.
Outside my window, the streets have been shimmering for days.
Fingertips run along an old wound from a bull's horn or cupid's arrow. I swim in thunder and the smoke of burning coals, longing for your miracles. The languid eroticism of nights in your bed. Madness of the moon driving me on.

(published in 2007 in Freefall)

bound by the weight of all

Lost hours of walls and faces. A sleeping prostitute clutches a rabbit's foot. I am broke, red eyed, vile and depraved.

Street. Spider cracks in sidewalks. The last car on the train passes, magnifying my solitude. Five times again to fall and rise. Sins cast into a sacred rebel river.

Dreaming of Mae West with Parisian night eyes. Together she and I lie, in a bed made of sphinx's riddles and eternal kisses. Beyond the window, the street abyss, that I must return back to.

published in Northern Stars.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Greatest of Liars

Travis was the greatest of liars and a genius. A grease monkey, thief. Stoned, drunk, two
pack a day habit. He knew where the limit was and after flirting with it, getting burned, he would
always be on the move, angry at his misfortune, like a child who curses the tree he's just fallen
out of.

He'd bought a junked 1971 Chevy Camaro and turned it into a super mutant drag machine
that could cause hell to rise up in its wake. Late one hot summer night Travis and his friend
Doug took it to an abandoned strip of pavement out by the airport for a test run. What happened
after that is up for debate. When Travis showed up at a party later, he seemed to have a
different version of the story for everyone. “The whole car was engulfed in flames, I thought I
was in hell or something. I think an angel saved me.” He told me.

Travis' concepts of heaven and hell were an amalgamation of images and ideas he
collected from years of listening to metal, reading Dante's Inferno, and Hollywood. As much as I
disagreed with his romantic, Old Testament style vision, I was impressed by the poetic genius of

The story Travis had told me was total bullshit. I knew it then because his eyebrows were
still intact. Twenty hours after the party I was at the hospital talking to Doug. He and I were two
of eleven people waiting for some news about Travis' condition.

“So which version did he tell you?” Doug asked me.
“The one where he's surrounded by hell fire and one of his angels comes down and saves
“I haven't heard that one yet.”
“It's good. . . So what really happened?”
“He drove it up and down the street a few times, then took off at full speed, really opened
it up. The engine seized and there was a hell of a lotta smoke. He must've been stoned or
something, 'cause he jumped out of the car and started flipping the fuck out.”

We laughed. Stared down at the floor, then at the faces of the others. Time moving slow.
“Can you believe this shit?” asked Doug.
“What? This?” I responded.
“I figured at some point we might all be at the hospital waiting to find out if he would
live or die. C'mon he was a crazy guy. Pretty whacked out. But this too fucked up.”
“I don't know . . . Somehow it seems fitting.”
“How so?” Doug asked.
“Travis walking down the street, minding his own business then suddenly being struck by
lightening. I don't know . . . it . . . it's just . . . as crazy as he was, somehow it's not surprising.
“I guess that's true. But lightening? What are the odds?"

As we huddled together in the waiting room for the second hour of our vigil, I thought
about Travis' explanation of the afterlife. “Everyone goes to hell. You go, you do a penance to
cleanse your soul, and then you're sent to heaven.”
“Sounds like prison.” I said to him.
“Everything is.” Travis responded solemnly.

Somewhere near the fourth hour of waiting, the doctors came out and told his family that
he had passed. They'd done everything they could. For some the tears came immediately, others
looked relieved, they had begun grieving hours ago.I thought to myself, I hope God has a sense of humor.

Singular Thoughts

“Don't be surprised if your life comes to a bad ending,” his father told him. “There's no
escaping it. Look at your grandfather and me. Your great grandfather didn't have it any better. It's just the way it goes. We're all losers.”

He's in a West Texas motel, sitting in a chair beside the window, staring out through the
blinds. It's high noon, the sun is white hot. The pavement sparkles like the sea. There aren't any
cars in the parking lot. Luther drove away in theirs and he isn't coming back. Across the road, a
half mile out, are two large hills covered in wild grass. On the other side, at the foot of the hills,
is a ravine that is the local dump. He knows this because this isn't his first time in this town. He
dated a woman from here. Her name was Judy, she used to wait tables at a diner down the road
from the motel.

He pulls his fingers out from between the blinds and lets them snap closed. He looks over
at the snub nosed .38 Luther left on the table. He studies the cylinder, thinks about the four
rounds left in it.

Every time he thinks about running, he reaches down and rubs the stump that he has left
for a leg. He lost it just outside of this very town. He and Judy were driving back to her place
after seeing a movie and were hit head on by a driver who'd fallen asleep at the wheel. Judy was
killed instantly. He'd been in a coma for a week, woke up to find his leg gone and his girl dead.
The other driver had also been killed. That was five years ago.

He ran into Luther in a bar two towns from here. They hadn't seen each other in 9 years.
Luther looked like he'd been up for days. He was in need of cash and asked for a loan. He gave
Luther $300. He would have given him more but the rest had gone to paying for a top of the line
prosthetic he'd been saving up for. They were supposed to be going out for breakfast after
drinking the night away. Luther stopped at a 7-11 for cigarettes and decided to rob the place.
Five robberies later, Luther was gone with the car, the cash, and the crutches, which had been in
the back of the car.

He knew the cops were on their way. There had been plenty of witnesses and the desk
clerk hadn't left the back office since they'd checked in. With four bullets and no bravery, a shoot
out with the cops was out of the question. He could shoot himself but that also required bravery.
Because in his mind he was guilty, it never occurred to him to try and explain the situation. What
he needed now was a plan or a miracle.

Just as two Sheriff's department cars pulled up to the office he reacted. First he slammed
his face into the table a few times, then punched himself in the nose. Dazed, he flung himself
onto the bed pulled off the comforter and top sheet. Quickly, he tied himself to the headboard
with the top sheet and waited.

There was a pounding on the door. “Help!” He shouted. A couple of kicks, the door flung
open. The cops rushed in with guns drawn. “Thank God you're here!”

free for the taking

i climb out of what was once a window, but is now the crown,
of someone that was lost, before they could be found.

on the other side, the voice of authority is a sob and a cry.
the weary have been called for 'cause they live without choice,
yet are the first to die.

three words have been spoken and now there's no mistaken,
that those years have been misinterpreted, forsaken.
so come down and see the broken doll.
when you pick him up, you drag him down
but he only complains when you're deaf to the sound

Why I Haven't Posted Anything in Awhile . . .

Besides working a mixed bag of shifts that has made it impossible to keep any kind of writing schedule and my current obsession with HBO's The Wire, I just finished season 4, I'm at work on a pair of novels. Yes, I'm writing two at the same time. Why? I never really intended to, I'm just having an incredibly difficult time focusing on any one project right now. I'm going to be posting some new work in the next few days. Mostly poetry and fiction with the occasional ramblings about baseball thrown in. Here is a poem to start off.


hunger bows the head to be forgiven
but is crticized for being unconvincing

"we need more suffering. something beside your trembling lips, sunken malnourished eyes. could you hide your distended stomach? it's unsightly, a bit too realistic."

piercing truth
over and over again
until you get it right
piercing truth
until all contradictions living inside of you die