Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Easy Misses (27/30)

down the gravelway
the bus passes two seconds too early
and late for a meetup in Fremont (phinney, really,
I always make that distinction now) before
a show that starts late, thankfully
but the meet and greet is canceled
and that's the most important part.

this is all just throughout the course of the day.
there are also the submission deadlines, respond-to-dates,
job-postings, flirtation windows, the time
when you linger just longer over a friendly goodbye.

sometimes, you hit. sometimes, I just make the last
train. but the arbitrarity of it all makes it feel
like throwing darts, blindfolded, at a spinning target.
the detonators next to the bullseye. don't miss.

Monday, 25 April 2011

The Hard Life of the Calloused Fingers

the seventies-style lampshade, dented in three
ascending spots is the thin shield between his life
as a teacher and life as a writer. starting a poem he
swivels to the deepest dent, almost, almost a rip
and takes a swig from the engraved flask he received
post-graduating, a ritual more than anything, this
is the same rum from two weeks ago. but he considers
"poets are thirsty creatures" for the next title
of a book, essay, something. trolls the new medias
for new medium, reads a story about depreciating
values of degrees and vice versa.

circle-paces his porch, perking ears for neighborhood gunshots.
haven't been in years. one of students asked him
what life was like in the olden days, squeezing childish
truth-telling into teenage dickishness, but professionalism
forbids one from getting feelings hurt.

back inside. the rum remains stubbornly in the flask,
he doesn't reach for it. tosses a stress ball
at the ceiling; it only ever when things are breaking,
what happened to the last lamp, but he saved the shade.
forty minutes later, a finished product on his screen,
exhausted but not sleepy, sober but fuzzy-visioned,
the slow trot of some forgotten reference winces
through his backbrain--

as long as standards keep dropping. . .it says,
but doesn't finish the sentence.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

3 Stabs at Something Devotional

3 Stabs at Something Devotional

Easter best, spilling out of aisles into standing room,
arm-raising room, huge hugs and decorative hats.

The pastor looks extra sharp. The choir has extra soul.
The sun affirms our open curtains, congregation swelling

in warmth, enthusiasm, ties. All the common distractions remain,
when special music performs an original song in starched

whites, the repetitive end-rhymes with "Jesus"
get really silly really quickly, at least in my head.

Clouds break over Camano, Eagles wingspanning
through inspirational-poster sunscapes. If you could see these
trees, these-- the evergreens' warm stoicism, the cliffsedge chapel,
the quiet, the quiet
the quiet.

It takes so long to get to work.
Between the morning's panic,
arrival's realization that all attempts
at buttoned proffessionalism
are futile,

is the cold trot up to the corner
breathing in my street, scuffing
gravel, taking my place to wait

between book-clutching kids
off to school and old men in
red-trimmed fedoras, tsking at their
watches but relaxed;

it'll come.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Our Favorite Radio Station (22/30)

By bits and pieces the bendy bus chunked and disintegrated down
into a small, two-door enter-and-exit bus, the whole back
passengership darting backwards down the highway, like cereal falling
back into the box, but we kept driving. The winds tore the roof off
the bus and the doors, too, so we turned up the radio so we could
hear the song. It was a favorite. I was driving and prefer music
to conversation with most humans and now we were in a mini van;
probably some schrapnel that stuck, and all the seats with
the last of the passengers had bounced down the road
like soccer balls down a hill and the sound was loud and bright
but the song wasn't quite as good.

"I can't believe what--"

"Man. That wasn't a party, that was a--"

"Lets stop for a milkshake. The whole thing has made me hungry for rasberry."

We rolled, bits of wet slapping our faces through the windshield-craters and I have to keep shaking bits of what seems like milk? cream? cottage cheese? out of my eyes, steady the wheel with both hands so the wind doesn't take us and we pass it, overturned Dairigold truck spewing it's wares like pressurized gas.

"It's disturbing how quick that's coming out."

We roll over a deer and with two quick jolts we're in a station wagon. We've passed through two bale-wire strip mall towns and now the clouds are purple. The mini-van, the bus and the party? was it? seem so far back. The radio screes like rubbing styrofoam and soon fuzzes out.

"This far north, our favorite station is no longer an option."

"This far north, most things are no longer options."

Thursday, 21 April 2011

A Passionate Tome of Perpetually Increasing Relevance

or Arguably the Third Best Thing is Sunday Dresses

In the end, it doesn't really matter what Earl Sweatshirt is doing.
What matters is the idea of Earl Sweatshirt, and that he's done something so
awesome, so subversive, that at sixteen he is a martyr for a cause, like
the West Memphis Three-in-one, a derangedly real manifestation of outsider art, that
he is someone to "Free." This is kind of a healthy rallying point, I suppose,
that get-free urge, no matter, almost whom (give us barabbas!) you're opting to free;
most other high volume chants start with "fuck" or "destroy" or at least "give us". .
see above.
but probably what matters (whether or not Young Master Sweatshirt will ever
find justice) is that, in some small way, there is an Earl Sweatshirt inside all of us,
a young, smart, idiot being lectured at a youth camp in Samoa about why making
hit singles about raping people or eating their sandwiches or whatever
isn't cool.
In this sort of climate, calling you baby, a term I've always thought was sorta creepy
or at least weird, seems not so bad. Almost Heroic, even. There is a baby inside
everyone, not in a cannibal way, but in the way that potentially, we are all someone's
baby, or could be, if we could only lose weight or get muscles or knew how
to dance dances from tropical climate. It is this thought that makes
this other thought-- that when he returns Sweatshirt will be born-again and they'll change
their name to God Future (skaleluia!)like so many of us, but
ultimately (baby)
there is a war going on, which is like saying that there is a sky above
and a ground below in terms of novelty but why not be reminded
and baby, I guess what I'm really trying to say
is that the best thing about mainstream church culture
is the food, obviously
but the second best thing
clearly are the puns.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Just More Victims of Seattle's Crisi-Proportion Budget Shortfall

the roadside raccoon is starting to stink.
the sidewalk grass unmowed on
this southend arterial, at first
passersby nodded or shook their
heads or took pictures of the
perfectly preserved, taxidermy-ready
fur, just half a block from the corner store
and you don't see that everyday.

now the bits of bone, orange
and black and flies and oh, geez
has something been eating it?

a block and a half down the new
bus stop with clean seats and
black and white photography
is dented and mangled and
shattered by a a swerving
night truck that also took
out most of the fence by the
mexican food store.

a quick repair or replacement
seems unlikely.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Lynnwood Transit Center (17/30)

here, under the shelter, as dusk takes the evergreen tops
framing the confrence center and the edge of a strip mall
serving to define this sprawltown, incorporated 50 years ago,
borders, naming, everything arbitrary, necessitating later
incorporations of further sprawl, farther out, but this is
Snohomish County's first great thumbprint.

Why this sunset, post-hail, post-blood-draw, post-job-interview,
dropping down over moist pavement, seems to drag me with it,
I'm not sure. They happen all the time, sunsets, but the uninvited
six years old, losing my family in the alderwood mall,
making the journey from Sears to JC Penny near-tears
and the salesgirl giving me a Snickers while i waited
for my dad to trek the distance of the mall--
make for cold company at a transit center in the town my best friend and I,
fifteen years ago searched for case-split abandoned Megadeth CDs on racks
between fishing rods and belt sanders. The town keeps growing, but
never gets any bigger. A man with an excellent mustache whistles,
seemingly knowing something I don't. Another Community Transit
passes, third in a row marked Out of Service.

Such Sweet Company (16/30)

In the company of angry poets
In the company of those who repeatedly forget
your name
your name in
the company of noise musicians
the company of ferret breeders
the company of horse race predictors

predicting bad
predicting bad losses
predicting win big
predicting win big forever
predicting the company
of knuckle-rappers
of doom-sign holders
of bad bad actors
predicting the company will take its labor elsewhere

elsewhere standards are flexible
elsewhere anyone can toss the die
elsewhere, your name gets laminations

your name
your name
your name.


Thursday, 14 April 2011

Let's Get Out of Here, Scooby (14/30)

"shine your lonely light on me/I'll be there to hold the mirror" --m. lanegan

huge bone trees, bits of meat still clinging,
hang over a swamp, like the one Taran wandered through
on his way to the Cauldron, witches waiting,
companion's harpstrings breaking at every
confession of courage.

this isn't news or anything worth reporting,
the ghosts that run this place have been building
creepier versions of nature for the last fifty years
as thick black smoke turns to thin grey smoke
turns to tar in the water.

there are talks of turning the whole marsh into
blood, and giving the herons and various snakes
terrifying yellow eyes and huge boney fangs,
but the ghost union is still in negotiations ever
since the brood of Warlocks moved their meetings

to a new location, decrying Ghost of Missing Child Swamp
as "just way too obvious, I mean, we aren't LARPers."
The rats, huge NIMH-descendent monsters from
Norway scurry to and rom the neibhboring village
which carries on, oblivious or ambivalent, Wal-Mart protests, drag strip races,
kids gone missing, children's story time at the library.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Just in Cases (12/30)

the early birds
have hit it hard
at what-the-fuck AM,
internal clocks alarming
all over my already-barely sleep.

the last cold snap hit me
in a thin coat
with finger-sized hail
as I walked a ridge
half-mile away from
shelter, my only thought
was "OF COURSE."

the first bright stretch
of more than a day
had me on one of a series
of criminally underutilized porches
in my life, making and unmaking
decisions, making plans but
signing no contracts,
a thick coat in my backpack.

Monday, 11 April 2011

A Poem For, But Not About, Breakfast (11/30)

The egg carton is down to three already; the slow pillage has begun.

Ten minutes in any direction from a reliable source of protein,
his car breaks down. A thread from the uphostered ceiling
detatches, grazes his nose. His face salts up the steering wheel while his
stomach pulls uppercuts and starts mocking.

why are you hitting yourself? why are you hitting yourself?

The juice is tasting vinegary, but we are not sure; that may
just be because it is organic.

His phone crunches and buzzes out beneath his boot. Instantly
indistinguishable from the surrounding pebbles and weeds. He
does not regret this destruction of a false hope; relatives did not answer,
the local parish was pre-recorded and AAA is a cruel myth told to children.

They wander around, opening cupboards and closing them
and opening them again just in case. One person takes a dirty spoon
off the counter and thrusts it into an open jar of peanut butter, scraping, digging.

By this time, he thinks, he could have just walked to a store,
but how would he heft the bags, squishing shifting with irritating
plastic sounds, all the way back to the house, what is ten minute drive
in walking time? It is too late now, staring at the ground, driver's side open,
a lone truck passes but does not stop, a lovers-bearing convertible
does the same. Everything he thought he knew about human kindness . . .

Where is he? One of them asks, taking off their shoe? He was supposed
to be back by now. This is not enough eggs. The other smears bacon grease
all up and down the last piece of bread and divides it amongst
us like a miracle. We are far past breakfast time now.

The cars on the highway pass more frequent now, one even stops
but he waves them on. It is too late. His car will rust right there on the
yellow line. He holds his face, even when the state-mandated towers
latch their hooks to the bumper; reckless endangerment and a guilty plea sounding like:

all I wanted
were some real hand-smoked links.
breakfast is the most important meal of the day, you know.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

ginsbergia (9/30)

Last night, after a day of weariness and ping-pongy feelings (some other time, k?) I stopped in around midnight at SPLAB's Allen Ginsberg Poetry Marathon. It is a yearly thing they do, seeing how long they can keep people doing Ginsbergy stuff (reading responses, reading his work, watching films related to the beats movement, etc.) I guess this year they broke the record with something like 11 hours straight. I was only there for about an hour and a half of it and I started falling asleep (check the sweet picture of me looking half-dead) but it was a great time while I was awake and the new SPLAB (Spoken Word Lab) room in Columbia City is really warm and home-y feeling. For as much as I liked the Columbia City Cinema, this new room is way inviting. I started this piece there and have finished it just now. The last couple days I have been writing, but more of a journal-ish feel about the last couple of weeks' ups and downs (again, some other time) but this one is an actual poem, at least.


the corpses go by so fast,
all exquisite, just in time
to start the film about poems
and men who write them
and women who love them
and also write, with splayed-fingered
gestures into microphones.
the room around us, draped
in a history of education and
host to ghost mice, amputee moths
and cold pizza, admiration,
adoration skate the hand-rail border
of literal, spiritual worship,
if it were possible to worship
half-sprawled off a couch.
the men with the poems
and the women with the poems
and the men with the women
with the men with the poems
and the lateness of the night
and brown warmth of the
room helped our own words,
scattered and mashed in a blind flail,
resonate as some sort of knotted rope
tossed from past traditions
into the near future
lined, wrinkled, blessed with ink.

I like Ginsberg, but don't hold him (or the beats in general) in the same regard as many people do. I wanted that to communicate without it seeming like I was making fun of anyone. Probably a blog/essay about the Weight of the Beats has already been written, but I've got enough thoughts about it I may toss that up here sometime.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

acrobatics/advice (7/30)


before writing, she says, you should do some jumping jacks.
maybe a somersalt or two. it's what she tells anyone, writer or not,
when they're in a bind. it works best for joint problems, or occasional
sex advice, hit or miss when dealing with depression and has
never once efffectively taught someone to parallell park.

but the advice holds true, and if you know where to find her,
she'll find a way to apply stretches and jogging to
tax problems. some people swear by it, tie their laptops
to their thighs, do rounds of twenty and check for lost data.

there's worse advice, I suppose, but in the library where I work,
as in most libraries, physical activities are discouraged. even
the knuckle crack at this, the moment the piece becomes self-aware,
will have to suffice, and the inherent issues in jumping jacks, flexibility
or the efficacy of consistent advice will have to go un-addressed,

i just know that so many times the punches landed verbally hit harder
but the miles run mentally don't add up to much. maybe this is the secret;
knowing when to take the best of it and just apply it all the time. still,
even if I could somersalt down the street, jumping jack my way to publication
or stretch my left leg behind my head
I probably wouldn't.

prompt from catherine mitchell.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Snacktime for Jimmy (5/30)

This started as a piece about a panhandling alien and his carnivorous pet. Then it got strange.

It should be noted, that there on the corner, with the sign and the bell and the large, pungeant creature (probably a dog) when he refers to the "motherfuckers" he's using figurative language and the application thereof is fluid and open to interpretation (like entertainment expenses on a five star business trip, like kink-levels in mid-20s, like one's "contribution" to community living)

but that does not mean, when he stomps and rings and shouts impolite things, that he is insincere. Make no mistake, he did not blaze down from whatever broken-off asteroid-- he has corrected passerbys that there's no such thing as "planets" where he comes from-- that he did not blaze from space with any intentions of a soft-sell.

There are things-- ring ring-- that the motherfuckers don't want you to know! Don't want you to do! Where I come from you don't just walk by someone with outstretched tenacles and his giant shag beast! Motherfuckers! Because on the hurtling space rock I escaped with my life, that is rude!

He was not formally trained in the ways of sales, despite his choice of colognes.

It's been debated by those he'd have choice names for what to do. He demands nothing but attention, still, his creature (affectionately referred to by out of town soccer teams as "jimmy") eats smaller pets. That's the danger of our all-pets no-babies zoning ordinance. The city council watches secret footage of him, with the sign and the bell and the proclamations and collectively scratch their chins. Oh, for want of a beard. He's been good for tourism.

I've been thinking of getting an eighth cat.

Do you suppose actual motherfuckers are getting offended? He's awfully vague.

In the cold dark of the 15 month rainy season, make no mistake. Jimmy is hungry. Passersby often confuse pet and master, as disembodied legs and asses walk cats around the block and shoulderblades biceps ride their great danes into battle. All are terrified of Jimmy, but mating rituals forbid such admittances.

The Duck no longer passes that corner.

Sometimes, the city council stares wistfully out the window and thinks of simpler times, sitting on fire escapes, torturing last gasps out of innocent vegetation, practicing chest bumps, drinking simpler times. The city council then sighs and goes to put on a nostalgic ballad, which is where it falls apart; they can never agree on the song.

Ultimately, it becomes a problem of zoning. Make no mistakes; the motherfuckers know the difference between being called upon, invoked and called out and they will abide no such disrespect. They've dealt with this sort of thing before, but usually in forests or mountaintops or cornfields or the set of Community but rarely on corners beneath malls and huge stacks of hollowed out legos and large pictures of handsome strangers without shirts on-- why are there no shirts on? why?

If they decide on tourism, there will be glass cages and informational kiosks and Societies For the Preservation Of___If they decide on Business, the corner will, though permanently stained, will be the Former Site Of____ and there will be a plaque and maybe a photo opportunity, but by and large, handsome shirtless strangers will rule the day from on high.

If they decide on revenge, they may get more than they bargained for.

In a basement a few degrees north, terrified pet-owners give eachother deep-tissue massages and weep openly about what's happened. They do not have a name-- the group, the pets, the owners-- they merely remember the day they passed the corner and all the-- oh. they don't want to talk about it.

The only thing taken from these meetings, the only recorded piece of advice is a man playing ragtime on a toy piano, but slowed to such a degree that one could shout MOTHERFUCKER! between each note. Which, make no mistake, is how things like this always go.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Last of the Coffee/Bad Place to Live on a Roof (4/30)

Not sold on either of these, but it's what I got for today.

Last of the Year Old Coffee Beans

All the tea is flower-flavored
a few stray beans claim the counter
but the bag is empty.

Without it, there is no where for the contemplative to go.
Watching the flat-roofs of the complex downhill
swamp up with your town's famous drizzle
becomes a day's worth.

Morning and afternoon are the same angry,
sunday-funnies nag, rolling pin in hand,
arms crossed.

The trip to the corner store for refills
is, in and of itself, a triumph.
Seattle is a Bad Place to Live on a Roof

But the gardens are so green,
and the fruits so rich and lush
and the misty skies made for contemplation.

Harold doesn't need a watering can.
His favorite R.E.M. album is Life's Rich Pageant.
He lives in a house made entirely of glass
and wood and occasional steel, for effect,
raised and situated between other houses,
stacked upon eachother and shrank and
given new names.
There must be some sort of way
to solve the world's problems
while keeping the soundtrack tasteful
and hands clean.

It is a beautiful thing, to stare into the sky, eyes open
with each individual drop careening toward you,
the lone april robin on the wire, shifting it's view
towards all the rain and puddles and you,
lying their on your rooftop home
you got for such a good deal.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

April is National Poetry Month. (2/30)

a lot of people will be writing a poem a day. I probably won't. But I'll write more, post some of the good ones.


waiting for a letter
early spring, when sludge turns to mud
beneath big-wheelers in the driveway
and kids set off fireworks because they can,
then run behind the pickups
when cars from the arterial left-turn up
our street

is the strangest thing.
the brevity of excitement
at the sound of every engine, thought
that sunshine should somehow
make it quicker,

this information,
coming at what seems
a crawl, it is the strangest thing
that people still get their news
this way, by foot, by hand, by wheel.

waiting for the response
in early spring, as the bugs get active on the skin
and you're ready to move forward
but distract yourself with clicks and whistles
glancing out the window
at the street
and the kids swarming
the ice cream truck.