Thursday, December 31, 2015

burnt turf

record is mint
it’s yours, somebody
in nebraska loves you
“the flower’s always
in the almond”, evaporates
steamboat willie on my street
w/ xylophone teeth
there’s infinite parking
put eyelashes on your car
and spit
i like that
ungentrified wink
unknotting my back
like an old lover
in that faded way
it’s contagious, the echo
of shadow coming off you
in sheets, hips pulled against
me in waves of houses
lie down w/ the ghost
wake up w/ the ghost
i was dead for a long time
but look, sunday, my clothes
on the radiator are dry
and my heart is public, ripe
for the cellar that goes on
and on so we can keep chasing
ourselves into the ground
in all directions twentieth
centuries, how these rotting
bridges can hold up train after
train of coal and death, steel
veins rusting out of concrete
each train a need to keep
pushing outward
you hear it at night
in the wind
three whistles
basic desire
the bouncing ball
keeping time
you can squeeze the benjamin franklin
house between two parking meters
and feed the art world for two seconds
and pretend the end of history
falling asleep convinced
that love is whatever can speak
for the emptiness and scribble it
down for permanence
and fall asleep again, trains for
some, cars for others
general motors for all
our grinding teeth and
walmart in the back
in the morning
no strike but a loose
dream of a circulation
that equals solidarity
instead of neighborhoods bumbling
w/ little yuppie kids
in halloween costumes
they are balloons
we must pop
open your books, children, to chapter
1: letting go of status
a motorcycle farts off the car alarms
and laughter becomes us, the street, vein of
endless transfer we celebrate
no state but the seed within
chapter 2: sell the moon for a seven-minute
cartoon called “fuck the boss”
which will grow roots that tunnel out
an extensive subway system
so people can get to pleasure
on time in every part
of town—this is my plan for the city
it already happened
it’s called “burnt turf”
record is mint
the cars pulled us all apart finally
we stopped stumbling out of work
and built new bridges from the corpses
of meter maids
i mean millionaires
and walked them
and walked them again
a million here, a million there
burnt turf
record is mint
i woke up in the back seat
of a car being driven across
grays ferry
by my dead grandmother
don’t worry, she said
tossed her cigarette out the window
it’s the future, she said, broke means
together now
and drove on in silence
for a long time
i stared out the window
we were there
and love ceased to be an escape

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Friday, October 9, 2015

secret service

you’re telling me dolphins
aren’t building cities
and killing everything
because they don’t have hands
the pope is in a jeep
w/ fins
waving to the dolphins
what’s amore?
says a dolphin in a pope
smoking in the sea
i got this at a thrift store
in kentucky
on a road trip
it was raining
do you like it
do you like me
do you wanna strangle the sea
w/ these fins and rain and t-shirt
and everyone you’ve ever loved
and look
no hands
no hands

Friday, September 25, 2015

Sunday, September 20, 2015

chase scene

we’re up 18-0, too bad it doesn’t count. i’m there in spirit,
someone says, clinging to his little piece of nothing. muted field
mown brown to the dead who swim underground. every passing
stranger hooks to every passing stranger—anger, the sea. history
of some “pure present” we can wave to in the window. both arms
are acceptable. the history of how to swim begins with drowning.
our mannequin comes up for breath, it's monday. we chase
fragments. we will never kill all of these fascists. we are a
they, looted, so go ahead and cheers with your water. that’s
the heart holding out. that’s some pete rosey shit, you say.
you whisper, without a contract, "i have no bosses in this room."
the room is hunger. we swallow.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

bad form

99.9 percent of people eat their own god
but there’s no word for it
because you keep checking your phone
how long have you worked
in this blue
who makes the decisions
in your blue
how much does the blue pay
why does your coke taste like
what disrupts the illusion
if not the word “illusion”
which lulls us to sleep
it’s all a bag of flowers
i grab a flower and brush the present
off my teeth
hillary clinton wants to be president
what are you going to do
you can’t recall a knockoff
it’s just a knockoff
in the united states of knockoff
you lost me at “i was born in . . .”
the block was blocked off
the cop said “i knew your dad back when”
and quoted us most of the collected everyone
“slavery is necessary,” he said, “that’s why
i’m voting for hillary”
then wiped his ass w/ a cat
and threw it at us
that’s the god of life
just like you
on may day working
for the national poem
called “isolated consciousness looks at a tree”
at 6pm i went to lucky 13
drank nine blue coats
put a five on the bar
and walked out
bad form
bad form
gina had my back
paid the tab
said read “a broken world”
by joseph lease
an elegy for a friend
the opposite of a scab
in trust of death
a blackout is a small strike
don’t make me make
don’t make me walk out
the blue
of all time
after eating love
i will eat love again
my skin will be water
as yours
faith in rain
as rain and rain
as more than
don’t make me
make words
for a solidarity
that works
so we all show up
as the tree yawning
down the isolated consciousness
of ernest hemingway
his knockoff armies
who will fight
for the wounded hero
in a pool of everyone else’s blood
waving a flag of dicks
until the box office explodes
and all is profile pic
“what’s on your mind?”
not you
and not you
and not you
and nothing
a bag of flowers
a block of us
talking to a hole
in the sky
the sky is scratched
nothing’s crossed out
the cd plays
disparate youth
it skips
it’s still good w/ the skips

Thursday, July 9, 2015

chase scene

we’re driving down washington ave, listening to “wonderful tonight.”
do i feel all right? i feel the dumpy heat, red light every fifty feet.
sad horns from the corners dismember the clapton, cluck-u-chicken.
cluck-u-seven eleven. cluck-u-a-plus mini mart. i remember, right
around here, losing my breath once from heartbreak, out of nowhere
just walking along here, at night. frozen music. architecture is frozen
music. people were drinking in the scoreboard, which is closed. we
closed it, remember, to drink inside and watch people kiss and turn
off the lights and be washington ave.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015



Monday, June 29, 2015

chase scene

we’re doing unpaid work in the courtroom while temple university’s
lawyer attacks us for being poor. his tongue is a wet dollar. you
have no power, he says, it says so right here in this poem you
didn’t write. therefore, you should have no power—you can just
home. but we just sit there and we can’t be fired for just
sitting there, for being a poet, for being a union. which is an army
of lovers. the lawyer’s tongue is then a wet piece of toilet paper.
part of it tears off and falls to the floor. pick it up, the judge
says. the lawyer picks up his tongue and hands it to the provost,
who puts it in his own mouth and begins to chew. wet shit runs
down his chin, dribbles onto his tie. the judge orders a five-minute
break. outside the provost tries to shake my hand, so i hand him a
fish, which he begins smacking on the pavement, smacking the fish
on the pavement over and over and he begins to choke, choking on
the poem we didn’t write. and we stand there and watch the provost
choke and choke and then, finally, die. then, on his forehead, we
write a big fucking F.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

chase scene

we’re playing chess on the unfinished concourse to nowhere. you
take off your gas mask and look at me. a train slides under us,
the heart flutters, the homeless who sleep in waves around us.
are we homeless, you say, the city unridden in your face, the
lines unbuilt. you want to organize the ocean. unwrap the fish,
i say. you unwrap the fish, and the fish squints. we begin where
we are. the king is dead, and the queen is dead, and the night
is fat with pawns.

Monday, June 15, 2015

chase scene

we’re in old city unsnapping the horses’ shitbags. freedom is free,
the street buckles like empties. the tourists, white, turn red as gum—
it behooves them. corona pony for you, corona pony for me—cheers
to brick wall, full dues paid against which i smash myself into our
empties—openness, then, salt on the lips. whims of higher ups just
pissed into cups, beer pong for the board of trustees who buck
like starved cunts in a jar of nothing. in a jar of fake history. it
rolls down the street, halts at a fence of paul revere droppings.
shhh, shhh! let the sewer speak.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

tempus fuckit

i hate the word “vision”
as meaning anything
but eyesight
somebody w/ money
will build something
stupid here
and that’s that
the pilot hid his depression
locked out the captain
and flew 200 people
into a mountain
we’ve got tv and internet
chicken salmon steak
crime and punishment
we never finished it
my life was spared
at moment of execution
when two men w/ bats
emerged from sunoco
to chase them off
the news will die later
it’s april again
acme bags bloom
in the dead trees
like prayers
i write three poems
at once
to hedge my bets
outside of sex
i have never lived
“in the moment”
what is “the moment”
another name for
a propulsive need to
be turned inside
i sit still in my car
the only
thing is a trash
truck we’re stuck
behind on 9th street
one way
all the way
all is lost
but the radio
which is blind
i look down at my phone
retweet the common squirrel
scratch scratch scratch
run run run

the eighties are oldies now
i’ll stop the world
and melt with you
you’ve seen the difference
and it’s getting better
all the time

Sunday, May 3, 2015


photo by Pattie McCarthy

Saturday, April 4, 2015


i feel like i’ve died
feel like i’ve died
& gone to regular life
ray sings
on the tape deck
of aida’s car
which is my car
aida was my grandmother
the tape plays over & over
it’s a 97 toyota camry
aida bought for driving
to acme & dollar tree
once a week to use coupons
she clipped from the papers
watching tv w/ her cat
squirrels at her window
looking in
the reader wanting more
but finished crosswords
cigarettes, tissues & phlegm
acme & dollar tree
ray sings in aida’s car
it’s still aida’s car
she was hard to get close to
the faint trace of her smoke
is now ray’s sober voice
it warms me up
the tape is called guts
the band is called window kits
the song is called “whut yrmadeof”
ray isn’t sure
he wonders aloud
he sings these days i don’t just let
any old wind blow in
goddamn it, edie, i sing
in philip’s voice
to ray’s music
philip was my grandfather
he called his wife edie
the tape plays over & over
i drive thru new jersey
on house visits
i get one adjunct to sign
an authorization card
we want better pay
we want healthcare
we want a voice
in regular life
hey, how are you
it’s regular life
good pay, job security
& healthcare
no reason to move
ever again
i will live in this house
for 60 years
& clip coupons
for my cat
it’s a 97 toyota camry
beige or something
faint trace of window kits
thru new jersey
my guardian angel
in the ashtray
cigarette burns
on the door
heaven is a place
where nothing ever happens
imagine if we threw out
the scumbags who run
our schools
imagine if WE ran the schools
what then
sounds good
power in numbers
see you later
and i’m still writing songs about ghosts
ray sings
ray’s still sad
i give a eulogy for aida again
because no one else will
they’re too afraid
their histories too fraught
too painful for everyone
but to me she was distant
enough i can make everyone
happy w/ a mild honesty
about her 97 years
of life
so listen
she helped me one time
w/ a paper on the great
depression in middle school
there was a detail
about rumble-seating
on broad street
a detail she repeated over & over
so let’s crystallize the image
aida laughing down broad street
thru hard times
that’s who she was, people
this fierce wild-at-heart woman
who loved to travel & explore
& play by her own rules
tough as anything
tied in a bow
that’s right
no words on the way
she treated her children
nothing about why they can’t
speak at her funeral
in regular life
goddamn it, edie
stop telling us how to live
the war is over
you won
the poem is in my back
like a knot
the pain is returning
as a ripple
the job’s no longer fulfilling
what is regular life
why do you believe in it
another week
a slab of meat
slapped on top
some cheese
sixty hours of regular life
that’s a freedom sandwich
a sandwich for freedom
imagine the pleasure of biting
into permanent holiday
which is why i’ve worked so
& my father
& my grandfather
& my mother
& my grandmother
& everyone’s grandmother
saving up what they can
for the boxes
they’ll never own
which hide the ripples
one life to another
a union
a sea
a city
of body as ripple
in another
& of another
& no eulogy
no coupon
for your grave
but the whole story as city openly
made together
over & over
i think of anna
how are you
right now
other side of the river
doing the same thing
cars pass
people don’t answer
i pretend you’re next to me
we talk about ripples
all kinds
we theorize it
til you laugh & say no
w/ your lips
which i trace w/ my finger
for weeks
it’s my dream
it’s watery
i stare at the ocean
on my wall
it’s night
& seagulls squawk by
in the sky outside
for what
just passing thru
it’s winter
a line of glue
streak of sense
spine in dream
on my way
to this job of loving
outside a box
i wanna say something
like we’ve been cultured out of the primordial
now sign this card, okay
but that won’t work
ask saul alinksy
ask anybody
this union
what is it
what is it
it’s desire
what i want
from you
is what i want
for you
my heart
which is nothing
but all my
for all that radiates
care &
pleasure &
hunger for knowing unfolding &
pulsing &
in spite of the shoulder-
stooping fear that radiates
from shards of dead intimacy
& violence along my spine
the dotted lines of the road
no after no after no
echo from those dim hallways
of those dull buildings
we spent all those years in
trying to speak
all the muted tv’s
of the world
anything can happen, you said
in the bar
in the glow
to my face
no one’s going anywhere
it’s true
even parallel parking can
be the sexiest
push your ass
against the bumper
hop the curb
grab my head
cut the wheel
say what you want
down my tight
straddled & pulsing
i just slide right in
so serious, you say,
so serious
as regular life begins
to disappear
we wake up
our union keeps
harder & harder
we joke
it’s the slogan
we like it
we want it
on a t-shirt
we want it
turned inside-out
tossed to the floor
over & over
a ball rolls
down the street
so kick it
to be alive
in other ways
how my body
for what we can’t yet be
how your name
when i see it
how your smell
how your ache
how your lips
how your hurt
when you hurt
        is mine
how your hurt
when i hurt
        is this
how the hurt
when it hurts
        is ours

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Tripwire reading

TRIPWIRE, a journal of poetics, is back with new issues, thanks to David Buuck, who organized a re-launch reading on Feb 18 at the Poetry Project in NYC, where I had the pleasure of reading with Tonya Foster, Connie Scozzaro, Marie Buck, Rodrigo Toscano and Buuck.

The poet Don Yorty was there, filming the reading, and on his blog he wrote this generous commentary of the work I read that night. Thanks, Don.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

the times

photo by Ian Davisson

Sunday, February 8, 2015


People hunger for drama and adventure, for a breath of life in a dreary, drab existence. One of a number of cartoons in my office shows two gum-chewing stenographers who have just left the movies. One is talking to the other, and says, “You know, Sadie. You know what the trouble with life is? There just ain’t any background music.”

-- Saul Alinsky