Friday, December 9, 2011

business reply mail

my own skin til the nietzche
wears off      breakfast alone
                   reflected in bottle
of bordeaux snagged a night
before undrunk out of a reading
w/ friends           in background
a worry of rowhomes the body
aches out of        paean to place
lives in the mouth           gets me
out of the house             today’s pages
are milk        over coffee    down
the street      october        the wind
makes me weak     i blow away
                            like a leaf
suicidal thing to say always
it’ll be like this          the money
to make it so            squatting
all around me—         am i tired
of carrying out a prescribed social
function               for a world i don’t
believe in              is it time to bull
doze a tent           i mean what all
are you if more than mind and taxes
a state like texas                 a little
united states w/ a chimney, general
assembly, general assembly—
it’s hard to make a bedroom too
empty              yet hard to fill
oneself w/ the absence of a public
while one is that absence
a number          the other day
in a notebook: easy to love all
the whackjobs from a distance
       your mother
       your father
       your brother
       your body
                       more foreign than
i think       & outta sorts push
the thought     a whole feeling
of what threads      form a bus
thru a life                 bus that hangs
from the noisy people i march
with     a thread coming home
to a holler not pissed on      a bus
the thing         inside         out there
no pit bull, for example, hung
dead on the door to the moneyed
white bar squatting
in a poor black pocket
of the city itself

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

GlitterPony #13

Three poems--the first from Valu-Plus, the other two from Common Sense--are in issue #13 of GlitterPony Magazine, which includes work by Sampson Starkweather, Cynthia Arrieu-King, Travis Macdonald and other good writers. Thanks to Natalie Lyalin & Jon Link, the editors.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


a popgun’s a popgun
little mussolini landlord
on his cell phone
for his yuppies puppied
up on the deck built
just for the rising
rent some mexicans
put windows into
from the scaffolds
you wanna be better
than the years winding
round a clock & dropping
off the wall as bottle
caps into a trash can
of a white kid who
says why drink & drive
when you can smoke
& fly

from his bike
now there’s a poem
it’s been all day
this thought of finally
throwing eggs at the rise
& fall of the dull
talk of watered plants
& puppies of those
across the street you’ll
never know & now
don’t have to
in the shot breeze
you might live for
round a clock & dropping
just for the rising
of a white kid who says
a popgun’s a popgun
that’s from emerson
when you can smoke & fly
from the scaffolds
you’ll never know
a poem finally
of the dull talk
of watered years
winding up the thought
of throwing plants & puppies
from the scaffolds

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

primitive information

David Hadbawnik just interviewed me about Old News. You can read the interview here.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Nov 4th: Reading in Brooklyn

Looking forward to reading w/ Anne Boyer and David Blair
at Pete's Candy Store, 709 Lorimer St, Brooklyn, NY
Friday, 11/4 at 7pm - as part of the Multifarious Array

Thursday, September 22, 2011

the book

My book Old News has been published by Furniture Press. You can get it here--not for free, but for cheaper than the internet. It'll be available soon from SPD, too, and a few independent bookstores in Philly and elsewhere.

Book party is October 5th, 8pm at L'Etage (6th & Bainbridge) w/ music by Site Recites.

Thank you to Christophe Casamassima, the editor.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fact-Simile - Autumn 2011

The new issue of Fact-Simile, an excellent magazine now published out of Philly, is available--online and in print, for free. In it you'll find about 20 poems, including one I wrote last year, and an interview with Fran Herndon. Thanks to JenMarie Davis and Travis Macdonald, the editors.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Erasing 9/11

(a play on a poem by Edson)

     A father with a huge eraser erases his 9/11. When he finishes there's only a red smudge on the wall.
     His wife says, where is 9/11?
     She's a mistake, I erased her.
     What about all her lovely things? asks his wife.
     I'll erase them too.
     All her pretty clothes? . . .
     I'll erase her closet, her dresser--shut up about 9/11! Bring your head over here and I'll erase 9/11 out of it.
     The husband rubs his eraser on his wife's forehead, and as she begins to forget she says, hummm, I wonder whatever happened to 9/11 . . .
     Never heard of her, says her husband.
     And you, she says, who are you? You're not 9/11, are you? I don't remember your being 9/11. Are you my 9/11, whom I don't remember anymore? . . .
     Of course not, 9/11 was a girl. Do I look like a girl?
      . . . I don't know, I don't know what anything looks
like anymore. . .

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


one approach was the christ
route like a clothespin you
squeezed the legs to split
the head into wings—the oldies
wore thorns to keep the birds
off and that’s why they’ll never
leave the juke box for cleaner
bars—will i ever fall in love
w/ a poor girl? a paper snow
flake off the smokeeter with
a sticker—ignorance is censor
—hangs like an eye that
won’t see a future stripped
to dusk and tapped, a stick
figure dancing away like a
spider w/ its keys as thought—
wknd shifts a must, beer
knwldge a plus. that’s me
getting away. i’m all right at
letting myself be used. you?
i get it from the statue we’re
meant to be when we grow
NOT RETURN from the war
to hang your coat on, for
example. halfthoughts make
bank on the doubletake
but i’m in it for meaning, so
no, i can’t love everyone.
it’s 3:15 east
            a train
            a you
takes the river’s pulse back
to city hall, takes its dog on
to a self, to think of dad sick
and get sad imagining talking
to h about it who i can’t spell
out, even here each step a letter
from the hush hush of the hole
the dog sees out of, a window
in a face flown up like a kite
from the throat, inarticulate,
mine maybe and the many
reasons i’m not a cop, not a
body stiffening into red rope
no clock red rope no clock forty-
one to forty-five and the rich
laughing at all the fire, all the
playgrounds to name after

Friday, August 5, 2011


Debrah Morkun interviewed me recently for her new project called Starlight, Philadelphia, which focuses on the practices and poetics of Philadelphia poets. We talked about entropy, having the last word, and repeating yourself, among other things.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


sunday again but
the dog counts
i’m no statue
i have to lick up
its yaps, be pulled the
parkway thru city
hall like a kite
to the delaware
for a girl. sewers
gape at all crapjoints
franklin, yaps slashed
thru for water and
air—a bag lady into
a recorder: blue jays
against the rook, tying
knots. i choke up,
nothing american,
something older—
just make contact
keep your eye on
the dog, it isn’t yours
and what is? i muster
south, and passyunk’s
our little parkway,
a diagonal lined
w/ plates of an indian
face every few steps
the kids are getting
tattooed on them.
to be worn and walked
on, native as a board
in a window. to lower
your voice so as
not to come off
as a show off, be
the father father.
here’s what i’ve learned
so far: crossed out,
you cut thru, find
a note in the mail
slot: dear ryan
i have a norman
rockwell painting
you may have it
if you want—it is the one
of the doctor listening
to the heart beat
of a little doll. love,
we shall outlive
our minds. love,
the sand in your
heart—the heart’s
a metaphor, remember,
i said to my students
whose lost eyes i fall
thru to apology. love,
the sand in our hands.
i’m sorry little kid
on susquehanna
who taught me to play
chess—i forget your
name and the game
remains to me a SEPTA
that never was, small
dabs of train run thru
us as we stare at one
another, mothers
we’ll need to be
to ourselves.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


i don’t know what
i’m gonna do
when the oil runs
make room
save up
joke about
the place
like a stick
about academic
learn to hum
and brandish
hammer the metal
         back on
to my grandfather
who’s dead
             that wall over
brandish the creaks
in memory
of the floor
of that old
house under
hiss my last
name in the dark
                 the word “glass”
                 turned over
like a stone flat
            at a box
on the wall
in red
for stickball—that one game
at all
i played
for real
in my life
til i was good
                and envied
by other kids
their sticks
           ways to lose
           boo santa claus
           throw batteries
at the loud mouth
             prima donna
who played for the
             day’s weather
and the pretty flag
their grandfathers
all saluted too
where do you come from
where do you come from
who do you think you are
             booing me

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

no more mister softee

you are a donkey, mister softee
you are all lyrics     forming worms
that never end        mister donkey

you are the creamiest, dreamiest
ding-a-ling down the street
you are a softee, mister ding-a-ling

down the street        say it in spanish
first            rico sauve, señor asshole
do you wanna start a band?

it’s the song of summer, mister soft-serve
picture the amazingness of my
concession        i am a milkshake, mister

sundae            listen for my store
on wheels        my worms of exception
i’m like       it’s better than yours

you are a highlight, mister dee-light
but i am the method man
of the creamiest ding-a-ling down

the street       come on, mister softee
come on

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

after frank furness

plain brick comes off honest
frank furness holding on
to his medal of honor
and asking for another
from a nonexistent
country while trussing
his turrets together and
offering them to us—here, flowers
from the machine
that raised us—trust
them, the civil war
        his underbite
and then he just saunters
out the old post
office i stand in
for god knows how long
with my letter
        this geezer
in front of me:
        they should privatize it!
        they should privatize it!
his little public
        of day
the crying
up front
        the constant
        customer we tickle
        our nickels for



                        crickets cricket.

                        the president smiles out of the wall.

                        we’re getting there.


on al-jazeera cornel west imagines martin luther king
would say to barack obama:

                get out of that golden cage

tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet

        a bunch of angry people just roared out of mcdonald’s again.

tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet

        when my wife started calling the house “my baby” that’s when i knew i had to get out.

tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet

        here’s my dream:

        some dudes chase me around town trying to stab me, and they finally do.
        a hot dog at mcglinchey’s remains 75 cents. i wake up and write a letter:

                to my bitches:

                in the united states “cooperative” means “obedient.”
                for an american, that’s a bitch, if an american is nobody’s
                bitch. america is everybody’s bitch—which makes us
                all what? what should we call ourselves?

                        the first nobody


i stand in line for a stamp
and frank furness
builds a building
w/ wind and flowers:

it’s philadelphia, and we try to demolish it.

the quaker rowhome of all-
indians-no-chiefs makes a lie
inside my chest, a convulsion, a debt
to abolish thru convulsion after convulsion after convulsion

        rains it pours
        the people off
        your brows arched
        raised and razed
        by taste (so called)
        the deep
        entrance to your
        city, mind we walked
        thru w/out much
        of a bother

all the organs of your body
are sound, said the doctors,
self-control alone is lacking.

reading the introduction of furness’ biography i get bit by a spider, twice, and within two days i’m limping, venom spreading down my leg, purple, pink and painful. pain in the ass.

tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet

tired of waiting
i walk and walk
and run into debrah—happy
national train
, she says
and we talk time
off, and it starts
to rain, and i go
to a party

it’s the kentucky derby, too, and i bet, as always, on the fifty-to-one horse:

                watch me go, it’s called this year

tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet tweet

outside last drop in
the drizzle moms
grope for their minivans
and get wet anyway—
rains it pours
the main line dribbles
down the dog’s leg—
        we’re all gentlemen.

who flipped your car
and set it on fire?

frank furness of
churches, banks
and stations, one
once on the schuylkill
described as an insane
short story of a castle

        demolition built
        to last out
        of our lungs was
        the genius

a hundred years after his death
i’m a breath of what, falling out
of fashion w/ septa tokens dropping
thru holes in my pockets. i grasp
for some religion, any obsession
to make my soul into a house. how
ugly, this aborted subway system.

        dear emerson, i’m stuck
        in the seasonal aisle
        of cvs and the poets
        are calling each other
        brave—what should i do?

        hold no fact sacred?

        unsettle all things?

furness once said to his protégé, louis sullivan,
that “his great ambition in life was to get his
clients into the academy of music so that he
could come out on stage and tell them all
to go to hell.”

for furness, the inferno made the difference.

that some pretend there’s no such thing, no civil war,
that their plain brick pretension lines the city, owing
the world how it is.

that some wait on snyder ave for the sugar express and say hey, it’s a free ride.



                 crickets cricket.

                 the mayor smiles out of the wall

and so do i, betting on
his self-destruction as
i bet on the letter
i'll score into the days
i lay waste to—stones
                           history, which outgrows

our cheapness.

i drop out
        of it
looking like septa
for the laughs
i drop by
to see how you’re doin
for the laughs
that echo up 22nd
as breezes rock
the feathers
back to earth
i drop in
a cloud aches
a prayer by
paid off nobodies
like septa
who walk the ghost
town up and down
how many dead loves
how many times
manly in brittleness
and broken want
anyone might say
to you: i want to
hold your face
and cry into it
until i disappear
like you did

Sunday, April 17, 2011

the bottle

I’m in the middle of Super Mario Brothers and she wants me to make a bottle? I’m not makin a bottle. I’m like, it’s not my kid! Money’s my mommy, too, right, so don’t talk to me. I’m not SEPTA. Do I look like SEPTA?

the scrubbing

Dear RYAN,

Don't think about it. Don't even let it cross your mind. The horror stories of germ infestation and the rampant spread of bacteria and viruses can make anyone queasy.

So instead of thinking about it, just take a simple action: Wash your hands.

It's that simple. Washing your hands frequently is one of the best ways to have it all. Here, let’s have it all: try one of my tacos. Yeah, with the sauce. Mmmmm. Good, isn’t it? The pork’s so good here. Pork’s so good because pigs don’t sweat, you know. So says the sweaty nose. So says your soapy sniffles. You want a piece of my sniffles? Yeah, have a sniff sniff. Mmmmm, yeah. How’s your hot sweaty? Yeah? How’s your little scrubbing? Mmmmm. You wanna learn more about my little scrubbing?

Mmmm just log onto and mmmmm just click on the mmmmmm yeah Cold and Flu Assessment to find out if you have something.

Doesn’t that sound good? It's nice when life is simple. It’s nice when life is easy.

Your partner in health,
Independence Blue Cross

Sunday, March 27, 2011

the bhagavad-cvs

chris, to protect men of virtue and destroy men who do evil,
to set the standard of sacred duty,

crush boxes in back room.
this is the ancient discipline i have taught you today.

bring down more bounty and stack in aisle 15.
you are my devotee and my friend, and this is the deepest mystery.

take down risers and posts in aisle 16.
your birth followed the birth of the sun.

move all extra care price cut signs to front half of store.
many forms of sacrifice expand toward the infinite spirit.

chris, let me know if you can come in sunday.
actions do not bind a man in possession of himself.

Monday, March 21, 2011


If anything of moment results--so much the better. And so much the more likely will it be that no one will want to see it . . . . WCW

Sunday, March 6, 2011

new news

Old News, the book, will be published later this year by Furniture Press. Big thanks to the editors.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

that torn sound: some poetics

I made a braid of quotation from Cecilia Vicuña, Nate Mackey, and Lewis Warsh--three people whose poetry keeps moving through me--and posted it on PhillySound, February 19th, along with a few notes about Vicuña and her beautiful film Kon Kon.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


past a point, all the old radio jingles. everybody who knows / goes /
to melrose. elbows, everything’s a rebound, reaching over her to
smack the SNOOZE. i mean all of you, as i lean on the counter, walk
down the street, and do dishes. i mean on the counter, mean down
the street, and mean dishes. mashed potatoes. all the movements
of my body, another sip of coffee, and you all in that. my lips closed
plans in the snow, fell from a tree. i let the place be the place, keep
being the thing. this can’t have been the place, my skin tells against
the trill cry of a kid that circles my walk, cinching the houses, hoodies
on the corner. the corner’s had enough, mind split as light by window
pane in opposite directions—retreat and research. in the pane, long
nightmare of self. i am too. i am not enough. and in passing, my own
mother, would you look at that, who i’ve run from all this time, as
prescribed, and the splintered minutes of presence the skin recalls
and means. i let my kid sip beer out of the caps, too, and flick them
across the kitchen, which i will paint blue with him.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

what are you swinging at

on my way to fergie’s i actually pass
fergie, the owner, tying a balloon to
a lamppost on 10th street: it’s a boy
it says, bobbing in the wind and then
oh shit—a student—brian, i think—
hey mister x, he says and i wave and
think good kid like i’m old and can
say, and the walk goes on as weeds
in the fall it is, cracks caught in a
mirror’s parked car, illegally it feels.
it all goes, it all goes. i know no one
who works for the parking authority
and that makes me less of a person
which is fine—i appear closer than i
actually am and wake up the yellow
in a bookstore only two-fifty
for a friend to be named, a no-hitter
off dolph’s kitchen radio still wringing
thru me. a text from dan: wiffleball?
the weather’s dumpstered a curve in
the dirt, meaning my mind’s gone
behind acme, aims for the police station, where
we’d play. what if we grew up in a state
of walls which were all the streets of
this city, mapped in our brains, and
now we know how to get anywhere
there’s to go, so we get bored, bored,
bored, sad, sad, sad and write down
something like grid like a crib to contain
the unpredictable
and watch the back
of a trash truck eat two big sofas. one
solid meal after another is how we
live this country, we being whatever
it is. i order a burger at fergie’s and
there’s fergie—the man is everywhere
and hoa nguyen’s at the microphone
telling us about chinaberry trees in
austin texas, how they grew on her.
she grows on us. poetry on poets,
drinking this drink. then some of us
fight about how to live in a fucked
world and i lean back against the wall—
i don’t know how to live, i whisper
to hoa who laughs in half the question
and i’m here for a minute.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

ice cream by jim jarmusch

Look at what a poem this scene from Down by Law is--as a work of fiction but also as a kind of event that happens in real life among real people. A half-hearted tinkering--the card game, Waits' and Lurie's taunts and Benigni's persistent attempts to communicate--this tinkering against hopelessness and misunderstanding erupts, improbably, into song, which is momentary understanding and freedom. The song spreads, a ripple effect through the prison. A mini-riot. You know it's a good poem if some guard tells you to quiet down, even if the guard is just a voice in your head.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


in passing, passyunk, once a footpath, coughs a card: brick of
squabs. soul that squabbles, flaps, flop. the run-over pigeons
make me the streets. i live it the fuck up. tuesday: who it is,
from birth, ignitions. coffee, coffee, christ, the future—women
and their worry, and my worry. in what town does what is
got a shot against should? i wanna go there—baby take me
please. if bliss, then bills—turn the faucet either way nickels
for everybody, though any love’s a skiff in her loss i latched
onto, long ago. i make myself useful, not because i like to.
i like to fuck until total exhaustion. til eyes've left. owls of
dirt, the stared at dusk. an opening for breakfast: a you, a
wind, a waiting to blow those robins out of the tree.