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 I have worked to publish all of my unpublished poetry manuscripts, in a last ditch effort to purge my portfolio and help me move past the desire to publish this old work, in the hope it will inspire me to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

Poem about my week in Ireland

My Irish vacation

1.
In the Brazen Head Pub, founded 1159,
we watched two men argue about God
and homosexuality, their pint glasses
holding rings of dried beer foam
marking their awkward pauses in debate.

It ended with one man quoting scripture
and the other abruptly standing from the table
with a clatter of rattling glass and wood,
a gruff cordiality tested by the other’s shouts of,
“You’re either a prince or a pauper,
and you, sir, are no pauper!”

The streets of Dublin were uneven and grim
in their well-worn allure,
walkways of time-skewed cobblestones
playing roulette with the ankle joints
of distracted tourists searching for St. James Gate.

A pint of Guinness spins its brown and black magic
like a galaxy’s stardust rim,
gradually revealed over the city each night
and carried until sunrise in the eyes of the drunks.

2.
I dozed, listlessly leaned against the window of a train
as we clickety-clacked on quiet rails
from Dublin to Galway, and then from Galway to Gort,
rain water stippling the glass and sliding sideways
against the green-hilled backdrop.

We followed the footsteps of Yeats’ ghost
to a meditation garden,
sat on the stone benches and wondered
who had been here before,
what prayers had been gifted to the silence,
to the ancient stone steeples,
their Celtic crosses peering like peeping Tom’s
over the tops of leafy trees.

Later, we stood in the confines of a castle
older than the first thoughts
of a United States of America.
I climbed the spiral stairs of polished stone
and wished for more simplicity.

Then, the Cliffs of Moher
made me feel small in their timeless erosion,
their shores of slick, black stones,
their fields of yellow and purple flowers,
the wind spraying sea foam against those sheer faces
and rifling my hair like an absent father
while the gulls circled and cried
about their lives of meaningless beauty.

3.
Skellig Michael juts from the sea like two broken teeth
shrouded in white-gray mist and the irregular shadows
of broken fault lines drawing maps to stars
in other unseen dimensions.

Here, monks carved their stairways
from the limestone of the hillside
into a winding labyrinth of persistence,
to a summit shortening the distance
between their prayers and the ears
those prayers were exalted toward.

Hordes of gulls and puffins paint these
jagged crags into abstract masterpieces
of white guano and stray loose feathers
against deep grays and blacks
of barren landscape
interrupted only with occasional outgrowths
of lush green moss, proof of life’s
unwillingness to admit defeat
even in these places
the gods have gone to hide.

4.
Flat slate slabs stacked into walls
along every road,
between every plot of pasture land,
segregating the hills and valleys
into haphazard squares,
these walls revealing their age
in their differing levels of foliage and mosses
grown through the mortar lines
and covering their surfaces
in full-bodied botanical burgeonings.

This land makes me time traveler,
wandering in somnambulant wonder
through fields largely untouched
by human indifference.

How could I think of killing myself here?
Standing at the precipice of nothing
between myself and a horizon
of blue sky
mottled only by the specks of birds?
The luscious greenery of rolling knolls
populated with sparse smatterings
of brown and black cattle
and the meandering shadows
of cumulus clouds,
clouds stacked so high they lumber
between the Earth and the sun
like giant ephemeral mammoths.

And yet, depression threatens
to turn my head into a bowling ball.
Even as I stand in line
to kiss the Blarney Stone,
climbing a path slicked by countless soles
that have come before me,
all desiring to hang backward over a ledge
and press their moistened lips
to a piece of rock
smooth as a river of wishes.

Suicidal thoughts in these, my happiest of days,
remind me that I am unwell,
that even Chris Cornell couldn’t live
with the adoration of strangers.

Why should I struggle against
this same universe?
A universe that on the same day
casts a ray of vibrant light
onto the senseless darkness
of the Black Valley,
and then kills twenty-two people
for daring to love music.
This world doesn’t deserve to end me.

5.
Anywhere you go, the oldest buildings
will be cathedrals and churches.
Sanctuaries built like fortresses
to keep out the rest of the cosmos.

I watch pigeons fight over bread crumbs
at the train station. One of them is missing a leg.
It hobbles onward, feeding off the refuse
dropping from strangers’ mouths and hands.
To these pigeons, our existence is irrelevant
except to provide temporary respite from hunger.

So much of life is inconsequential,
a repetition of mundane decisions
and actions attached to bodily function:

where to eat, what to eat,
shitting, pissing, sleeping,
repeat…

all this for a substantial percentage
of the limited hours we call our lives,
it begins to seem pointless,
so monotonous, so monochromatic,
a chain reaction of purposelessness
that puts religion in a realm of necessity
for minds incapable of acknowledging
this is reality,
the universe is indifferent,
there are fractions of seconds separating
asteroidal trajectories from collision
and panoramic photo opportunity.

6.
Past the mountains of the Burren,
we found a Holy Well,
a well blessed once a year
for centuries and said to cure sadness,
but the water was unfit to drink,
rank with stagnant stink
among slimy stones rife with dancing bugs.

Someone left a single white Lego block
inside the shrine,
another a twisted green bottle cap,
and a few coins, rusted with ordinary chemistry.

This was only a short distance
from a magnificent cove
where waves had carved the slate
into fractured, asymmetrical rows,
making the beach into a mouth,
the ocean becoming its frothy tongue,
an insane blue tide of violent kisses
beckoning all manner of lovers

like the woman we watched undress
and walk into the water,
fearless and free,
despite the posted signs warning
of strong currents
declaring swimming an illegal activity.

How could I not fall in love?

With these miles and miles
of lightless preservation,
homes only to sheep and goats,
their coats painted either blue or red
to mark their sex,
where fog rolls in from the coast
to wreath the mountains
like a shawl for the shoulders
of craggy warlords
made from the coattails of ghosts
and countless saints now shackled to the moon,
doomed to wander the outskirts of this island
like wayward protectors
just waiting to be forgotten.

Donald Trump’s Severed Head Held High

To assassinate the president

place a mirror at the bottom
of his hot tub or
the bottom of the Dead Sea.
Dip his phone
into a petri dish
cultured with necrotizing faciitus,
watch his face get eaten off
by invisible briars
after another slobbery kiss.

These days there are no theaters
where a President might
open their skull
like a lily to the bullet of a bee,
so you must be cunning,
a drug smuggler
in an airport full of bloodhounds,
hide like a mole with a pistol
in the cave
of his daughter’s vagina
and wait for the next
inappropriate hug.

Tell him sulfuric acid is the best cologne,
worn by all the smartest men
who wish to smell like newly minted bills
rolled into straws
by the thin, nimble hands
of the sexiest super models.

Remove all warning labels
and watch him mistake bleach for champagne.
Only the best champagne
burns the nostrils, he might say.

Become a comedian with a switchblade.
Become a journalist with a Twitter account
and a sharp tongue for truth.
Become a desert sands enema
delivered by Shop-Vac
powered by solar panels
at the center of another
World Climate Conference,
administered by a gaggle
of angry scientists
flapping their lab coats like swan wings.

The dagger must have a razor’s edge.
Only the best knife will do.
There will be gristle, bone, tough tissue
tearing and spouting blood
like black cherry Kool-aid.
Sever the jugular.
Sever the cartilage and fibrous piping
of the trachea gasping in mid-scream.
Twist.
Twist.
Twist.
Raise the head of the devil,
and toss it to the writhing mob.
Who is laughing now?
Who controls the future?

~dedicated to Kathy Griffin

Eliot tribute poem that no one will publish

Love song of myself

I.
~Do I dare to eat a peach?
… Do I dare disturb the universe? — T.S. Eliot

When the evening spreads its legs
like a glitter-skinned nymphomaniac,
let’s just admit our carnal desires
about impermanence, let’s fuck fire,
let’s drink to the death of dreams
to impossible futures
we’ll never live to see,
let’s admit that we too shall die
before winged ghosts descend the sky.

In the hospital they come and go,
discussing their options for chemo.

Tempus fugit, tempus fugit,
even clockmakers become obsolete.
Time hums like a warm circuit
in the guts of my memory.
These drinks on ice help me forget
the robotic nature of progress,
how factories of smoke and frowns
replace hearts in human chests.

Time hums like a drill on a tooth,
like a tire on the edge of the road,
obsolete gears still turn unseen
as time hums its mathematical proof,
theorists take turns cracking the code
between colors gold and green
time hums, a perpetual machine,
a rose that grows that’s never preened,
a spiral unending that never began,
yet we obsess about the unknown end
what it means to be a leaf on the wind,
to watch rain water pool in my hand.

In the hospital they come and go,
discussing their options for chemo.

Tempus fugit, tempus fugit,
time makes my heart a whirlygig,
a universe expanding until too big
to fit in this body, a snapping twig.
I’m dying, with every breath.
I’ve become best friends with Death,
a skeleton, the picture of health.
Is time flying?
Or do I fear my dying?
If I said I’d rather be dead
no matter the chatter of my psychotic laughter
you should know, in my heart I’d be lying.

For all my days, I’ve known nothing of love,
though I’ve burned with passion’s burden,
its transient taste like a shot of bourbon,
scratches the skin and leaves it raw,
until a scab forms, darkens and hardens,
so, how do I measure the truth?

For all my days, I’ve known no happiness,
except in youth when so naive
I thought the secret up my sleeve,
that lemons made lemonade,
flowers come from clouds and rain,
but time reveals all emptiness,
until we measure truth in dust.

I’ve seen the night turn lustful in the barlight,
the way time works like two stones rubbed smooth,
how forgetfulness becomes a benefit at the end.

I should have been a blacksmith’s hammer,
used to fold and bend the steaming steel of the gears.

II.

The evening basks in the afterglow
of a lifetime’s cigarette ends,
the flared embers of inhalation blends
into a sunset horizon, a blood-red horror show.
Should I visit my grandfather,
should I inject my veins with ice water?
It’s been ten centuries since I prayed,
since my childhood was a path to Hell
a purple popsicle stick dropped down a well,
dark water rippling and reflecting light
like calmness emanates from stormy night,
a whisper that says, Don’t be afraid.

Would time prove itself an arcane nothing,
an illusion like sight, to fret and to fight for?
An ocean swelling, swallowing the shore?
Is time truly so arcane,
to render all minds devoid of their names?
Such loneliness hides in the offing,
just beyond the grasp of our fumbling fingers.
The sinner said, “I was blind, but now I see,
how the candle’s flame signifies nothing.”
Jesus said, “Follow me, across the sea,
your fear is nothing,
as you are nothing.”

Would time prove itself an arcane nothing,
a soundless tide, devoid of names,
flotsam and jetsam stars in a ceaseless wake
of lifetimes’ reflections, hospitals and churches,
crosses turned to raven perches,
houses made with popsicle sticks
torn asunder by hurricane fists.
Is time truly so arcane,
it makes all things exactly the same,
if only the mirror revealed this phrase:
Your fear is nothing,
as you are nothing.

Rust reduces us to spoonfuls of dust,
while we flick our cigarette ash,
and sip our bourbon from the flask.
I am as you are and we are vanishing fast,
though these years drip like honey
down the throat of a bear
the bear stays hungry,
devouring all prayer,
a beast oblivious to questions asked.

No one can tell your dust from mine,
scattered and blown between the pines.

Should I put a gun in my mouth?
Should I sell everything in my house?
The sweetest wind blows across the South.

No one hears the words in the susurrus.

The voices carried from the past,
rustling between the wind and the leaves
a prophecy hidden up the sleeves of the trees,
the voices of ghost poets sent to guide us,
away from the shadows of ourselves,
our bodies nothing but soundless shells.

The day the poetry died

Ask the fire

The day Don Rickles died we went to war.
A dark sky streaked with red smoke
like bloody tears leaking sideways from stars,
signal flares just messages in broken bottles
dropped out the portholes of sinking ships.
No one was laughing.

Where was Kendall Jenner?
Not placing a Pepsi in the limp hand
of every dead parent of every dead child.
Not turning her cunt into a refuge
for orphans or smearing her lipstick
on the phallic ends of Tomahawks
meant to distract the world from treason.

Kendall Jenner was irrelevant again,
in less than a day of Twitter shame,
a soft drink could be a soft drink again,
and an erection could be an erection.
This is why April is the cruelest.

There’s a black hole beneath every bullet-
proof vest. And no one changed their profile pic
to the Syrian flag, except the poet
everyone had already decided to ignore.

60 is an even number, suggesting
a fair and balanced approach to death.
Just ask the fire.
It burns in the windows of churches
and terrorist cells the same,
a hell we keep choosing to make
instead of offering to take shelter
inside a glass of water.

For Okla Elliott

Elegy for the poems lost
~for Okla Elliott

I did not know you and I never will.
Why must breath whittle itself
from the bark of broken dreams
into a quiet fist, holding nothing?

Is this what it means to be tiny,
temporary as a ribbon of light
fluttering across the water?
In the fiber optic ether, they whisper

untruths and vindications,
a eulogy for unfinished works
and the cruel, callous benevolence
of a universe robbing the night,

silencing heartbeats, silencing songs,
drumbeats, the metrical enunciations
of tongues flicking against teeth,
a guitar pick placed perfectly

through three stings in the neck
of a guitar never to be played again,
its cherry-scented case unlatched
at auction, and then museum,

beneath glass and filtered light,
they’ll come from miles
to wonder at the source of magic
and words like timpani behind their eyes,

it’s the common music of lustful love,
threaded and stitched
through every palm, every throat
crying to be heard and held,

held until morning
removes all misconception
about permanence of the dark,
something the insomniacs will never learn.

Inaugural poem for Donald J. Trump

For the America that could have been
~inaugural poem for Donald J. Trump

When I piss in the shower,
I piss for America,
for a world without water
and a body nearly too tired to stand.

Somewhere an entire city boils,
spooning their showers
from a hissing toilet tank.

When I jerk off at work,
I jerk off for America,
watching my semen like hot snot
slide its way into the mouth
of a white porcelain sink.

This is true happiness,
job security like a throbbing hard-on
begging to be stroked
while the homeless shoplift
bottles of mouthwash
to chug themselves into the hospital.

I order my cheeseburger medium well.
I order my cheeseburger for America,
an America of FDA-approved cancer,
and reality TV politicians,
movie star presidents,
where you can add “gate” to the end of anything.

I welcome my labored breath,
the coming numbness
of hemispherical lightning,
being fed through a tube.

I welcome the odor of the hoarders
and their living room of pungent chaotic comforts
that will become my life of isolationism
and hermit crab-like skittishness.

I will become a nicotine patch.
I will become my favorite NFL logo.
I will become the half-eaten doughnut
left in the box at the AA meeting.
I will become the opposite of content,
wrapped in a trauma blanket,
rustling like a pile of leaves
with something hidden underneath.

America, when I shriek, I shriek for thee.

Poem written on Christmas Eve

Hope is a bird reborn
~for Maggie Smith

Fitting that the sky stays muted today
that shade of tombstone gray
where the light seems to strike and die
like a bird against the glass
of a window it thought was just more sky

I’m at that window
searching the scenery for clues
that the world isn’t ending
I’m at that window
wishing I was anything else
maybe the squirrel hunched on my deck railing
scratching a frantic itch
in its ribs
like that is all that matters
and if I opened the door
and shouted “we are all going to die!”
it would just bolt through the crisp leaves
and find another place
to scratch its itch in peace

Somehow things continue
outside the realm of Twitter
and FBI conspiracies
reciting the word “emails”
ad infinitum

Somehow the small magics
of flight and song and solstice
continue to work their physics
oblivious to protests
and the promise
of a new nuclear arms race

Somehow people are still sharing
Maggie Smith’s “Good Bones”
like passing a heart
grown in a petri dish
from hand to trembling hand
and remembering
the ones that beat inside them

I stumbled across her other-worldly eyes today
and drew a sharp breath
that such a shade of blue
could still blaze a path
out of the hopeless ether of winter
and find me
stop me in my tracks
make me believe in poetry again
and its prophets
put here like fire
to warm our hands by
on the coldest days
of seasonal affective disorders
and losing democracy
like a bird of broken bones
twitching in the brittle grass

Do you remember what it felt like
the first time you buried something
the way the light seemed to illuminate
all the wrong things
and odors were all mismatched

a coat smelled like a fireplace
a book held notes of copper and wet dog
your hands were reminders of rock and dry dirt
the powder of gravel rising up like steam
from a passing car
carried the scent of a lake turning
a cricket kept and crushed in the palm
a jar opened to expose
the dried husks of once vibrant beauties

Everything is wrong
except the notion
of reincarnation
in the phases of the moon
that even as men with flat-black stares
line up groups of people before their barrels
where the earth breaks away
like a mouth ready to swallow
there remains something unending
and unknowable
beyond our eyelids
every time they close
and right now a bird’s beak
is just cracking its way
free of its speckled shell

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.

Joe Biden Memes as a Poem

Joe Biden, My Hero

I wish Joe Biden would kick Donald Trump’s ass.
You know he wants to.
One haymaker to the jaw and the Ole Orange Fraud
would fold himself like a slinky
made of elbows and knees and fish guts.

Violence isn’t the answer? No!
It’s a crowded stadium rising to its feet
as the referee counts to ten,
each finger a bell going off in your heart,
some primal release, catcalling
to the echoes of thumping bass strings
you once called arteries and veins.

Go ahead and replace “In God We Trust”
with “Joe is the Man” on our currency.
Knock Mt. Rushmore down
and build a castle from the rubble
to house his sacred remains,
the Joesoleum we’ll call it.
America needs a pyramid!

Here he comes, with his aviators on,
Trans-Am engine squealing
like a god of thunder
barely contained
under a waxed black hood,
spewing dust clouds a mile wide
into the sky to signal his arrival
at Standing Rock, where he asks the police
to pull his finger
and then gives them the bird
while screaming
“Happy Thanksgiving, Motherfuckers!”

Smiling like a lunatic,
he hands out bowls of Rocky Road
to the Natives and says,
“Let us eat ice cream and forgive our enemies.”

Joe Biden could do this.
He could tie eagles to his shoes
and fly overseas
to Aleppo, rebuild the city
with nothing but sweat and bare-knuckled braun,
he could talk the warheads into changing
their life’s work,
ask the machine gun to become a seed spreader
and the jihadi to accept peace
over a poker game.
He’d have the Middle East baking each other pies
in less than a week,
come back with a box of expensive cigars.

The homeless crisis? Solved.
He would simply let them live in his garage.
Global Warming? Not a problem.
Joe would lend the sun his shades,
cross his arms,
and wait for Barack
to pat him on the back.

 

 

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