The poem that vilified me

SCOWL
~after Allen Ginsberg, for Sarah

1.
I’ve seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by narcissism, believing their own hype,
that they could rewrite history on a social media feed, standing on their armchairs
with eyes rolled back to the whites, sharks gnashing at invisible meat in the white sea foam,
teeth chipped and cracking from clacking bone against bone,
who understood that feminists don’t swallow come, they peel back the layers of skin
from the hard cock, like dissecting a flexed muscle, using dull tools like fingernails
buffed to an acrylic shine, no anesthetic applied, find every fibrous layer of meat
and snip snip snip
who tore pages from the Vagina Monologues and stuffed them into their vaginas,
ingesting false gods into the real god, the birth hole of Christ,
who reclaimed Anne Sexton from the narcoleptics, only to fuck her corpse more quietly
in the tool shed, using male tears for lubrication of every opening,
who shouted TRIGGER WARNING from every window of every church in the city,
any time a thought entered the mind
TRIGGER WARNING: anal sex, a fist covered with shit, rectum flotsam and jetsam,
TRIGGER WARNING: another woman turning herself into a come dumpster,
a slave to the lustful male gaze, breast implants and rouge,
TRIGGER WARNING: another cis-gendered white man thinking about fucking you,
TRIGGER WARNING: the leaves are turning bright red in the fields, burning
like an empire at the end of its reign, burning like menstruation,
Christian Grey with a bloody tampon between his teeth,
who dismantled the patriarchy with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch, an email inbox
stuffed with slimy testicular secrets and empty scrotal sacks,
who made themselves invisible and made every man a rapist in a bathroom stall,
standing in solidarity with the wind, the wagging tongues of dogs,
redacted, redacted, redacted
who wrote petitions to have women stop eating themselves, to stop the search
for the perfect wife, the ballerina dancing on the head
of Charles Bukowski’s prick,
who wrote petitions and blogs and Tweets and petitions about problematic appropriations,
the systemic oppression of not having a seat at every table,
who said Jay Sizemore is a piece of shit, Jay Sizemore is a fucking troll, I’ve blocked him
on all social media for thinking he’s a victim,
who got a teacher fired for reading a Ginsberg poem to the class, for daring to allow
a poet’s words to occupy his mouth longer than the taste of his lover’s come,
who wore a mattress around their neck for performance art, carrying the weight of
a rolling stone, of an abortion scar, of a sex tape gone wrong,
the world is a condom kept past its expiration date, the wrapper creased with white wrinkles,
a Dear John letter torn to pieces and meticulously recrafted with Scotch tape and tears,
the world is a liar, half-drunk, urging you into the alley with the barrel of a pistol
wedged at the bottom of your spine, the world is a garbage truck for dreams,
removing couches from curbs, black bags stuffed with loose foliage from tree trimming,
the world is a dog food factory with an undisclosed source of meat,
who said, you can be anything you want to be if you just never give up,
until cancer became the number one killer and Charles Manson died of a broken heart,
who built the MFA factories of the damned, churning out carbon copy creatives
with hatred for articles and a keen love of the ampersand,
who said a prostitute should be called a sex worker and never a hooker without a sense of humor,
never a come guzzling whore working her way through college,
who requested the vampires to sparkle, for lead female characters to only crave attention from
cruel, callous men, a sexual tension building to a broken bed,
who protested the syllabus for its inclusion of Ovid and tales of Greek mythology
for their content, the triggering post traumatic stress of fictional god rape,
who was offended by comedians, driving them away from their campuses
with pitchforks and flames, threats of litigation, thrown beer bottles to the stage,
who counts the gender of every writer in every magazine, counts the gender
of every editor, counts the gender of every facebook like, counts the gender
of every bookstore owner, counts the gender of every cat on the lap,
who asked the world to stop reading men, to #killallmen, to lift the skirts
of every pixelated page and check for smooth plastic parts,
the new rainbow is sterile shades of gray,
every person lives in their own segregated digital box or cell,
every person the warm nucleus at the center of their solipsistic self,
the cluster of stars at the beginning of the universe, around which it all revolves,
the zero model in the first line of impressionist clones
where political correctness is the low-hanging fruit, the bulbs of overripe outrage
dangling like exposed testicles,
the plague of man-spreading subway riders taking up extra seats,
the epidemic of non-empathic man-splainers with affinities for actually’s.
who said Sansa Stark should never have been raped, that it was time to boycott HBO,
that George R. R. Martin should be castrated with a letter opener,
who rage quit the Academy Awards, the Pen American Awards, the Grammy Awards,
too many kids on the playground trying to climb on one swing set,
who watched Michael Brown get shot in the back, watched Eric Garner get choked to death,
watched Tamir Rice lose his life in two seconds, Walter Scott shot unarmed,
who makes tragedy about themselves rather than the tragic,
putting picket lines around funerals, shouting God Hates Fags,
who put a glass dome over the North American continent,
waiting for the cannibals to come out of the closets,
the hunger pangs manifest like concrete blocks thrown off rooftops,
the sun is unmerciful with its lunacy,
each room needs an oscillating fan, rattling with white streamers,
the streets become Dutch ovens with sky for a lid,
brains boil like cabbages, making thoughts dark with a dismal stench,
churches are slaughterhouses and prayers are self-flagellations,
the beds are devouring the dreamers, but the dreamers never know it.
who decided what words should never be said, offended by the word cunt,
with cunts capable of being used like Chinese finger cuffs,
cunts used like pencil sharpeners, grinding dicks into hamburger,
shitting blood all over the pages of the Constitution,
check your privilege,
who was offended by the word nigger, calling for Huckleberry Finn to be banned,
calling for Tom Sawyer to be eradicated from the classroom,
as if the past were a curtain to be drawn, as if nigger isn’t shouted
every other word in every other pop song on the radio,
check your privilege,
who was offended by the picture of the prophet Muhammad and shot up the printers,
who said the artists deserve what they got, that action creates consequence,
that stirring a hornet’s nest is the best way to be stung,
check your privilege,
who was offended by Gone With The Wind in a Twitter feed, filed a petition
to ruin a career, starting with one position of influence,
and then protesting at every scheduled performance until there is no safe place
for poetry or art at the edges,
check your privilege,
who was offended by the word motherfucker, and demanded an R rating,
counting the number of fucks within every two hour span,
going home and fucking the Bible like a dildo shaped from Jesus’ head,
who was offended by gay sex, by the male genitalia, by anything other than missionary,
wanting to protect the children from escalating teen pregnancy
by making sexual identity and sexual freedom a mark of shame,
overthrowing the Supreme Court to protect the idea of selling women
for two goats and a plot of land, waving the Confederate flag,
who was offended by lack of Christian faith, forcing candidates to say they love God,
the word atheist like a dirty sock in the mouth,
religion that opiate the drunk mob force feeds like fire
to their children made of cutout paper,
who was offended by Jared Leto playing a transgendered male on film,
wanting all actors to stop acting and start only playing themselves,
check your privilege,
who was offended by a rape joke, offended by a duckface, offended by a blowjob,
offended by a staggering lack of privacy, with all emails made public,
offended by another man fetishizing the female body,
offended by rape drug-detecting nail polish,
offended by any singular comment that strikes a bad chord,
offended by the notion of equality of opportunity trumping equality of outcome,
offended by Caitlyn Jenner being called a hero,
offended by Caitlyn Jenner having more money than most identity-struggling teens,
offended by the Nobel Prize,
offended by Coca-Cola forgetting your name,
offended by anything that exists outside the solipsistic self,
who observes such freedom of expression with an indignant scowl,
anamorphic time travelers, clothed in Puritan rags,
scowling from the wilderness before it was named,
scowling from the pulpit of haloed light,
scowling from the mirror and the stranger’s face,
who can’t breathe amid all this strangulation of ideas, this tightening lynch knot
around the throat of the free, the burdensome gaggle of lampreys
clinging to the body of the immortal giant, the leeches feeding
on the blood of their own making, a new form of vampiric anorexia,
the streets are gorged with this silent war, hands turned into lenses, eyes turned into mirrors,
all windows are LCD screens, the skyline is a flickering continuum of YouTube viral video,
we are running out of drinking water, reservoirs turning yellow as urine, nothing but bleached sand,
the California forests are a tinderbox, a funeral pyre for man,
while PornHub raises money to see people fuck in outer space, to see semen float in zero gravity,
while elephants are getting their heads blown apart,
the white rhino has seen its last days,
half the world living in denial of man-made climate change,
vilifying the homeless taking baths in public restroom sinks,
ignoring the scent of car exhaust cloaked alleys, of unlaundered sweat-stained fatigues,
of sewer steam drifting ripe through rusted grate, of garbage left untilled in a landfill,
ignoring the taste of the spoiled, rancid meat, the rotted fruit clouded with flies,
the salt in a lover’s sweat, the last cup of coffee ever served,
the future is a butchery,
the tabletops run with the blood of the poets,
tongueless mouths open and gargling a strangled yawp,
splattering droplets of crimson rain,
no words are sacrosanct,
no bone is immune to the hammer and saw,
who will stand in front of the armored tank, placing a daisy in the cannon’s black maw,
who will join hands in a circle that becomes a net, a mesh of forgiveness
cushioning the fall of humanity, and saving our truest selves,
the meteor of guilt caught like a bird in a cage,
taught to fly and hunt only for worms, instead of feasting on the carrion of decay,
the unbalanced wheel of life resuming its perfect spin,
with every voice taking part in that harmonious song.

2.
Reflections aren’t capable of cracking skulls, aren’t capable of pinning tongues to the roofs of mouths, of painting windows shut, sealing doors with hammered nails.
Hail Satan! The deceiver. The Morning Star. The white man.
Nightmare made flesh, made lover, made king of everything on Earth.
Hail Satan! The torture device! The wireless router! The justice system!
Satan, whose year-end bonus is the world’s salaries combined,
Satan, whose wristwatch is made of human kidneys,
Satan, who put a padlock on the clitoris and declared rape children miracles.
Hail Satan! The cellular phone! The dick-pic! The Saudi Arabian prince!
Satan, who invented the high-heeled shoe.
Satan, who invented fast food!
Satan, who started the Industrial Revolution with steam.
Hail Satan! The pharmaceutical giant! The income gap! The minimum wage!
Satan, who enslaved the world to the concept of ownership.
Satan, who made addicts to happiness, who made sadness a sin.
Satan, who invented the concept of race.
Hail Satan! The holocaust! The red wedding! The abortion clinic!
Satan, porn industry mogul, shrimp boat captain, the new Pope.
Satan, who refuses to free the nipple!
Satan, who condemns assisted suicide!
Hail Satan! Member of the Academy! Congressional lobbyist! Child molester!
Satan, who teaches creationism in the classroom.
Satan, who builds the bombs.
Satan, the river of time.
Hail Satan! His cliched red horns! The mustache! The American Native!
Satan, who murdered the buffalo for their tongues.
Satan, who forced Chinese feet into a golden lotus.
Satan, who built the railroad.
Hail Satan! The Masque of the Red Death! The Raven! The Hellbound Heart!
Satan, who clips the birds wings.
Satan, who sets the emission standard.
Satan, the military recruiter who wanders the halls of high schools.
Hail Satan! OPEC! Warmonger! President of the United States!
Satan, whose furnace is fed with coal.
Satan, whose teeth shine slick with human fat.
Satan, who turns the Grand Canyon into a mall.
Hail Satan! MLB! NFL! NBA!
Satan, reinventing the slave with a leather bound ball.
Satan, claiming ownership of the sun.
Satan, charging a fee to breathe.
Hail Satan! King of the coral reef! Toxic waste dump! Graveyard tyrant!
Satan, who arms the rebels.
Satan, who trains jihadis to fly.
Satan, owner of Fox News.
Hail Satan! The police state! The carpetbagger! The candidate!
Satan, who bailed out the banks.
Satan, who killed the electric car.
Satan, the blindness of human palms.
Satan who stands on the backs of the divided, cracking his whip, breaking the bodies made of water, captain of the slave ship carried by multitudes of hummingbirds strung to the sails,
floating above everything, so that people are no more significant than ants,
but when the giants fall, it’s the ants that eat the bodies.

3.
I’m with you, Sarah,
in your bedroom when your daddy knocks on the door.
I’m with you, Sarah,
when you wake up naked on the floor.
I’m with you, Sarah,
when the world starts to spin like an out of control ferris wheel.
I’m with you, Sarah,
when he says you can trust him, when he lets you leave a toothbrush at his place,
when he makes you late for work with another blackmail blowjob,
I’m with you, Sarah,
when you have to flip the mattress to hide the blood,
I’m with you, Sarah,
in New York City, where you got those bruises on your arms,
like purple handcuffs, like clumsy tiger stripes,
I’m with you, Sarah,
when you wash your hands for the hundredth time a day,
when lotion burns in the cracks of your skin,
I’m with you, Sarah,
when you post another selfie, asking for faceless approval,
I’m with you, Sarah,
when you touch yourself and imagine being raped, being dominated
by a force too powerful to feel anything but lust,
I’m with you, Sarah,
when you cry yourself to sleep,
when you smother your screams into the cotton pillowcase,
I’m with you, Sarah,
when you feel like it’s you against the world,
when no one believes your story,
when the police officer looks at you like you asked for it,
when the layers of your clothing still leave you shivering underneath,
I’m with you, Sarah,
and I know you are strong enough to make it on your own,
but I’ll put my arm around your shoulders
if you’re ever tired of feeling alone.

Own this work.

How to know if God exists

How to know if God exists

There’s so much to consider:
rain falling on one side of the street
for instance, or dust devils swirling
up in the gravel— harmless tornados.
There’s time, always time,
hours a larva spends chewing holes
through a single birch leaf,
the fraction of a second
between bullet and skull,
a junebug’s lonely drumming
along the side of a yellow house
built by hands turned to dirt
like the empty space a river
finds for a canyon.

I saw a man walk away
from an impossible crash,
his body pinned perfectly
between two tractor trailers,
his Grand Cherokee
a crumpled accordion
of aluminum foil
around such tender pale flesh,
he was a potato
ready for baking.

He smiled for the camera,
surveying the damage
with glass-eyed shock,
wondering if ghosts
could smell honeysuckle,
if the greens and blues of his world
had always felt so claustrophobic,
new dimensions jutting
from the scenery like fog—
wolves have better vision.

Sit still long enough
in a lightless cave
and the sound of blood
thrum-thrumming in your ears
will drive you insane.

A teenager wakes before dawn,
the scent of oil on his fingers.
He kills his mother.
They find her hours later,
still clad in plaid pajamas,
her face all but gone.
He then drives
to the school where she worked,
and tells twenty children
to line up in the hall
like they are going to recess,
tiny reflections on the tile
collapsing like unspooled yarn
after each shot.

The human genome
contains six billion DNA base pairs,
while an average adult body
holds seven octillion atoms,
every one of which
once part of an exploding star,
much older than planet Earth
or any living consciousness
capable of nostalgic wishes.

Imagine a universe
in which every atom
is a Lego block,
and every Lego block
is made of light.
Now, imagine building
a rose petal.
Imagine building a sun.

Imagine choosing which kites
get to fly,
and which get stuck in trees,
only instead of kites
they’re Boeing 777’s
climbing the stratosphere
to avoid a storm
somewhere over the Atlantic.

Imagine planning the trajectory
of every hail stone,
every drop of dew,
every pine needle
loosed from its limb—
Imagine never sleeping again.

When I was a child,
I was taught to listen
for that still small voice
speaking inside my heart.
I was taught that a man could live
for days in the belly of a whale.
I was told heaven collected souls
like a bucket left in the rain,
that dying meant rebirth
in a place without sadness,
where everything was perfect,
nothing hurt,
and the streets were purest gold.

But why then does the body
fight so hard to stay alive,
a shuddering gasp
in every slackening face?
Why should angels with white wings
worry about golden streets
in a world where walking
is itself obsolete?

It’s like asking Death
to define what is beautiful.

Once the forest spoke to me
through the hisses
of leaves brushing against leaves.
The trees said everything
is either dirt or rain or light,
and that God is the breath
between them.

But I remember that morning,
before the twin towers fell—
those great pillars made of ash,
I saw a woman leap from a window,
her arms flailing wisps of flame
trying to catch the sky,
and I knew that God was the empty space
between her body and the ground.

 


Finalist for editor prize, accepted to Jabberwock Review, April 2016

Poem for the eclipse

Think of an eclipse

The sun is a white star our atmosphere makes yellow.
So many children using the wrong crayon.
So many refrigerators decorated with lies,
and magnets from Utah,
above that straight horizon line,
everything a smiley face.

You’re gonna need a better poet.
I’m gonna need another Corona.
This is not the time to get spiritual
about potential blindness.
Think of an eclipse
as a bullet being loaded
into a chamber of light.

More prayers get muttered in the dark.
But every darkness is temporary
except the last one,
in which no prayer can exist.

If the sun wore sunglasses,
the sunglasses would melt.
It’s easy to squint yourself into a headache,
or a kaleidoscope of retinal scars.
To me, the sky is the ocean,
as to a fish, the ocean is the sky.
The sun is the aquarium bulb,
a stranger set on a timer.

Think of an eclipse
as Death putting his eye
up to the microscope.
You may wonder about the skeletal moon,
or why car exhaust smells good
in the cold, but these are just tricks
shadows play on the mind.

originally published in Rat’s Ass Review

Books, books, books!!!

This has been a busy several days for me. I have worked to publish all of my unpublished poetry manuscripts, in a last ditch effort to purge my portfolio and help me move past the desire to publish this old work, in the hope it will inspire me to get creating new work, maybe even finish my novel or write a new novel. So, below, you will find links to the now published poetry collections. I may put out a couple more in the coming weeks or days, but these are the main ones I have been working on the past eight years or so.

PARIAH

 

life:death:love:theft

 

Eulogy / Elegy
ghosts of silence

 

fukushima franco

Another Standing Rock poem, reposted

Dakota

How beautiful must the world be
to make me stop and notice
I am a narcissist?
I’m so far away from the plains,
the rolling weeds and sagebrush,
dirt-dry plateaus cracked like ancient faces.
I’m so far away from open fields
stretched equidistant to every inch
of the empty and aubergine horizon;
the sky seems endless as a child’s imagination,
white puffy clouds like floating castles
turning purple and gray along the dust bowl rim,
with rain shaft ropes tethering those
mountainous zeppelins to the Earth.

How beautiful must the world be
to make me care about the future
my children will live to see?
Some hold onto hope like eagle feathers
in their hands, have seen the stars
through a portal of smoke
cloaked in a buffalo’s hide.
They have stood for centuries
at the edge of a graveyard,
watching the white man dig more holes.

How beautiful must the world be
to make me want to live here
inside its nebular womb?
With every breath, the timeline of existence
shrinks backward one step.
In my heart, I could wear a headdress,
I could smell the burnt leaves
wafting like spirits around my skull,
like voices turned to ashes
swirling and sticking to my tongue.
I could sing songs around the fire
in a language I never learned.

How beautiful must the world be
that I shut off these engines of dinosaur teeth,
that I throw my hardhat to the ground
and climb down from my mechanical cage,
that I brush the crushed grit from my jeans
and embrace the joyful tears
streaming down my face
with so many arms around me,
welcoming me home like a long lost son,
turning to stand in line
against something as intangible as time?

How beautiful must the world be
that I admit I’ve always been wrong
about everything I’ve ever believed?
This world must be beautiful,
with its birds, its light-flickered murmurations,
its ponds with surfaces kissed
by hungry fish mouths catching flies.
It’s a beauty that never asks to be observed,
and that is just what makes it
so irreplaceable.

Thanks to New Verse News and James Penha for originally publishing this poem. You can find it here.

New writing update:

Happy so share some new writing news. I have some new work appearing at Uut Poetry this week. My poem “The proof is in the pudding, Twitter poem #3” went up a few days ago. Check it out. My thanks to the editor.

 

Also, this week, I was honored to be part of the memorial issue of Unlikely Stories for Michelle Greenblatt. I wrote a poem specifically in her honor, and they included two other pieces of mine in the issue. Thanks to Jonathan Penton for allowing me to contribute to this. Michelle was a wonderful human being.

 

The second issue of Crow Hollow 19 debuted last week, including the brutally honest work of 14 talented poets. Take a read and let them know if their words moved you.

 

crow face

“What war is good for” published with TruthDig!

My heartfelt thanks to the folks over at TruthDig for sharing a poem of mine today. The poem “What war is good for,” a piece about America’s unending dedication to death, is now live on their site. You can also listen to me read it. I appreciate every person who takes any of their time to read and share or comment. Cheers, and have a good holiday.

truthdig
War, huh, yeah, what is it good for?

McNeese Review published “susurrus”

Excited to have a poem published by McNeese Review online last week. My poem “Susurrus” was published there. Looking at their site, they only publish a few online poems a year, so I am extremely grateful to have been selected. My humble and deepest gratitude to the editors there for choosing my work. Check out the poem here.

Two exciting updates:

A couple of exciting things to report. First, my poem “Live Man Dead Man,” a response to the Maya Angelou poem “Caged Bird,” is in issue #3 of EXPOUND Magazine. You can read the entire issue here. Many thanks to the editors for letting me be a part of this issue, which features a ton of stellar work.

Second, I just found out that my poem “The Artist” was featured this past week on Verse Daily for their Weekly Web Feature. This poem originally appeared in FRiGG. I was ecstatic to see my work featured there, so thanks to Verse Daily for that wonderful surprise, and thanks again to the editors of FRiGG, Ellen Parker and Dennis Mahagin, without whom that would not have been possible.

Thanks for sticking around.

Featured poet in September CALLIOPE

The September issue of CALLIOPE Magazine has just been released. I am in there as the featured poet, with eight of my poems included. Thanks again to Robert Olson for this opportunity. I would ask anyone who thinks that all my work is filled with some form of hatred (an accusation that honestly makes zero sense whatsoever) to please read the work presented here and find something to be offended by. There are several familiar faces in this issue, including Heath Brougher and Barrett Morrison. Do check it out and thank you for being a friend to poetry, something that has to continue to prove its relevance to the world.