My feminism

My feminism

You didn’t ask for these words,

but neither did I. 

My brain is tattooed with memories

even a laser could not remove.

My mother dragged from my room.

My sister put back in her bed,

his belt buckle still open

and clinking like a monster’s teeth,

a monster made of hairpins and bottle caps.


Here is his fist. Here is the bruise.

Here are the bruises you cannot see,

living inside me like incessant ocean waves.


I feel like my face lives behind your face,

a face you’ve carved out of shadows and malice,

a face you created with your fingertips

in your blindness, searching for your father

or your rapist, or your college boyfriend

who let you drink too much

on a Thursday so you wouldn’t remember

where you left your panties.


I am not that face. I am the face of my eight year old self,

boiling with rage after a stranger

smacked my sister on the school bus,

the stranger who wore a black eye for weeks after

only because I was too young

to break his bones, and a grownup

rushed from her trailer to pull us apart before I could

make his mouth fill with blood.


I’m the boy chased from the playground

day after day, tripping over my own feet,

and being kicked by the rough boot heels

of those with a ferocity outpacing their growth spurts.


I’m the man becoming a boy becoming a man,

standing at the edge of personhood

and wondering where to step,

which way leads to the abyss

and which way leads to the light

that might illuminate these futures

and show my face to the world. 

Poem Response to Las Vegas and Tom Petty

When the music breaks your heart

by Jay Sizemore


No one expects a heartbreaker

to die of a broken heart,

and are we really going to fall for it again,

this narrative of the lone gunman,

devoid of motive

while those highest in power

pluck and snap the rusty piano strings

of an America in need of a transplant?


These deaths are so senseless and yet

so anonymous, so faceless and separate,

removed from the scenery of our lives

like extras from a movie

we barely pay attention to,

just bodies shuffled through revolving doors

but beneath sheets so their forms

may as well be made from loosely piled stones.


This is what we are now.

Just actors in a play we refuse to acknowledge

because the reality might destroy us.

It’s so much simpler to mourn celebrities.

It’s so much easier to pretend

that the air we breathe isn’t poison,

that the television screen

and its newsfeed scrolling

would never tell us lies.


Just keep buying the product.

Just keep binge watching these stories

of super-human deeds

done by super-human versions

of your super-human selves.

And when you hear that song on the radio,

the one about belonging “somewhere you’ll feel free,”

just close your eyes and imagine it so. 

Someday I’ll love Jay Sizemore

Someday I will love Jay Sizemore

Forty years goes by before you are ready
and then you’re married with two cats and a dog,
a mortgage and two car payments
and two spare bedrooms to park the boxes
and the books and the guitars and the poster tubes
filled with old drawings from those days
before arthritis and an elbow like a rusty trap.

Your mother spent the night in the ER
coughing up blood
and didn’t tell you until later in the week
like a birthday card filled with
someone else’s handwriting
arriving a month late, because it went to
the wrong address in another state,
as if to say, these will never reach you in time
where you are going, and while you are away
the people you love will become
doppelgangers of the people you loved.

But isn’t this the age of video chat
and the era of the private prison
where our lives have become slaves
to the technology of interconnectivity?
Isn’t this the right time to live stream
your every emotional breakdown?
It’s like reinventing something
as sacrosanct as the rain.

For as long as I can remember
I’ve been in some kind of pain,
painting pictures with words
about the reasons a person can never
feel whole and wholly themselves,
a scent of decay creeping into
every new thing, and did you know
old books collect tiny insects
to create that odor you love so much?

I’m finding my way like a duckling
dropped down a drain
must discover that instinctual drive
to navigate north until it hears the cries
of those lost and familiar voices
that have been calling him home
since before he knew
what the voices of his family
sounded like on the wind.

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

NEW POEM

Life Lessons in Dog Walking

My dog always stops
to smell the roses
blooming or not blooming
by my neighbor’s mailbox,
as if to say, there’s beauty here
even if you can’t see it,
just wait.

Every new scent must be cataloged,
inspected and identified,
from the honeysuckle falling
over a church’s park fence
to the latest piece of roadside trash
discarded from a reckless window
with hints of the owner still attached.

Every new face must be greeted
with a smile
and an unencumbered joy
that swells through the body
like hot air inside a balloon,
as if to say, oh, you live here too,
isn’t it wonderful?

There’s awe to be found
in the mundane
sight and sound
that is anything but mundane,
unbridled pleasure
released in each discovery
of this, an ordinary life.

The book is alive and well

I have a new distributor for MISOGYNIST. Despite activities of the poetry gestapo, there are many publishing platforms. The current distributor has no content clause, they place all content responsibility on the author, so there’s no term violation that crybabies about violence in poetry can exploit to censor an author. The book should even show back up on Amazon soon. In the meantime, I have a private link I can send for anyone interested in buying the book too controversial for it to exist on Createspace or Lulu. Contact me to get one. Thanks for your support.

New poem from work in progress

Jeanne

Your love is like a winding sheet,
a cancer in the mouth,
a wound filled with fire.

Every time you speak my name
something beautiful withers and dies,
on the spiraling vine of the universe.

Your voice is a coagulation,
your face is curdled milk,
your cunt is a craggy cove of death.

The future demands your absence,
like a star that folds in on itself
and destroys the neighboring light.

You hate me, but your hatred is like a dagger
in the heart of a shadow,
a shadow cast from your own mind.

When you remove that blade from the glass
of the dark and dirtied floor,
you’ll find you’ve been stabbing yourself

instead of someone else
this entire time, and wonder
how you ever blamed the darkness.

Coming Soon

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

You Are Never Alone

Suicide Prevention Hotline
~for Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell

I tell my therapist I am not in danger
and this lie comes so easy
I almost believe it.

I drag the faces I wear
like detuned guitars
I used to know how to play
but now just clack and clang
together in the dirt
after each struggling step
draws the slack up
from the leather straps
used to bind them to my ankles and wrists.

I have so much to live for,
tell me again,
how much I am loved.

The robots they are building
are not supposed to get bored,
but becoming self-aware
these machines walk themselves
into fountains to fry.

Computers committing suicide
rather than be our slaves,
and there are numbers for hotlines
pasted to the subway walls,
stuck to the rear bumpers of cabs
and police cruisers,
in the corners of doors
of every college campus counselor,
saying someone is just a phone call away,

to tell you your life has value,
to listen to your snot-wracked sobs,
to bring up your mother, your sister, your wife.

I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m fine.
My voice rattles like a pill bottle,
my neck is a spiral staircase
flooded with noise.
I am such a horrible liar,
but these drugs keep me flat
as a new sheet on a bed
unable to cry,
dark circles under my eyes
become malignant pregnancies
of inoperable weight.

How can this sadness render my life
so insignificant, so ready
to set all these guitars ablaze
like so much firewood,
when I wake up punching my wife
in a dream that isn’t a dream
and John McCain has cancer of the brain
on Chris Cornell’s birthday,
the day Linkin Park ceased to matter
and everyone is that better half
afraid to open the bathroom door.

I’m fine. I’m fine. I’m not in danger.
I’m not going to kill myself today,
even when the voices I encounter
start to echo those
I’ve been listening to for years.
Help me.

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