Monday, November 14, 2016

A DREAM OF A MOMENT


beauty, if it exists,
is young, still, an image

locked in time, captured
at rest, exposed to con-

quest, protected behind
glass, a dream of a moment

that sings, "this cannot
last." beauty if it exists

is born in the unconscious
present, yes, but lives purely

in the sentimental
past.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

WITHIN


would that i could remain
among the clouds, sane just
a few moments more

but the air is cold and thin
and I am only up here visiting.
the earth far below is my home

full of warm air and family,
varied rancor and calamity and
so i descend sneaking a piece

of the vast indifferent sky
hidden safely within me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

BEST BURDEN




fatherhood is the best
burden i have

shouldered; we say
we raise children

but truth is we
carry them always

our hearts nearly bursting
from the strain, and just

when we set them down
they need back up again.

old people have been known
to shrink under the weight of this

glorious
unrelenting
perfect
pain.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

WHOLE




the shorts were shorter then

and my chicken legs



stuck to the bus seats,

flesh spreading out



like shiny cutlets ready

to be dragged through flour.



“i’m fat,” I thought.

“you’re not,” mom said.



i started to banging my head

against the bus windows



on the ride home, wanting pain
to prove i could take it. 



older now i no longer seek

to suffer and when i break



i know enough about looking

whole to fake it.


Friday, October 7, 2016

TIME



when we talk about loss
we invent things that were

once here, thought to be
possessed, yet now

somehow
gone, left.
fortunes.
spouses.
hope.
innocence.

behind every great loss
is an illusion of time

that never erodes,
always arrives.

nothing can be
owned, least of all

time.




Monday, October 3, 2016

ESCAPING




more and more my core i tries
to find someplace to hide as the body

survives a noisy bazaar of pains
and mismatched parts, this shoulder

firing false alarms down that arm,
this old spine no longer aligned,

and degradation arises as cottony
constellations of suffering, emulsified

silver that whispers of my dark slide,
breath escaping from the inside.



Tuesday, September 27, 2016

DIFFERENT STROKES (1980)



my body went electric on me
in 1980 -- all that basement party
french-kissing and adam ant's

ambiguous dressing made my face
break out; i found the logistics
of making out distressing, soft

flesh pressing hard against my
shy insistent parts, the pounding
of our craven hearts, craving more,

surrounded by low art and high
hopes, the groping pleasures of
dark places i'd never felt before.

Monday, September 26, 2016

DAMN




"nothing you write before
40 is worth a damn."

10 yrs past yr damn dead-
line, get a load of me now

still writing, still
don't know how.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

1980



who expected j.l. and j.r. 
to disappear, shot down dead 

in an uneasy year? a cliffhanger 
and a bed-bound bohemian

brought together by bullets, 
fictional and delusional as pac-man

and post-it notes began to stick, 
predicting pokemon go and facebook: 

YES! we believed in a winter miracle
although NO, we would not go to moscow, 

and so we iced summer dreams 
of soviet gold while deciding reagan 

was not too old; we sentenced a killer clown 
to death and suffered saint helen’s
 
fiery breath. as macaulay culkin was birthed
in manhattan, stuart goddard was reborn as adam.

Monday, August 15, 2016

FEVER DREAMS



fever dreams of bees and teeth
scattered across the bedspread

fading light and ragged breaths
rising from the deathbed

airtight calls and all-in hugs
climbing stairs and waiting chairs

pulling close and fading fast
nowhere left, cannot last

gathered love
rise above

never gone not
coming back.







Tuesday, July 26, 2016

AFLOAT



you are an oil slick
tucked in the corner
of a perfect pool dug in-

to the hillside of a Costa
Rican mansion. the noise
of construction rises from below

your vacation, as your mother looks down
from the balcony, counting your beers with love
and a swirl of toucans, buzzards, and monkeys above

disrupts the monstrously blue sky.
triumph and loss commingle
and the ineffable imperfection of life

lands from on high
and keeps you

down no matter how
you try to fight, rise, deny.

Monday, June 27, 2016

HEFT



our hearts beat most meaning-
fully but a few times --
born, in love, fluttering just before

death, sustained by the unseen
humility of breath, weighed down
always by mortality's obscene heft.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

DIEHARD




i’m ashamed
how attached
i am to my image –

how slowly i pass 
by windows and mirrors,
post all those posed moments 
online, engage in constant self-
evaluation: how’s the jawline?

i can see stark focus is no longer
my ally. i’ve become better off
touched up like an aging celebrity:

and let's face it,
my only diehard fan is me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

WHEN YOU FINALLY COME OUT



as a poet you may lose friends
not to mention the respect
and trust of other men. oh,
fear of verse is real, poem-a-phobia
so palpable you might feel
like an electric eel: the mass of
men flee from sentiment and
seek spaces less public
to drown their gloom.

THE APOLOGY



sunrise is
the apology
the earth makes
for sleepless nights,
the return of grace
to a world endlessly
turning away
from itself, hiding
from the truth.

Monday, April 18, 2016

THAT'S FLYING



mid-flight in your fever
dream you decide to pop
up and say hello to the chap
smirking in the cockpit

wearing pilot's clothing.
lurking there your fear arises
as you surmise he has no flight plan nor
more than a cursory knowledge

of aerodynamics. granted, he has some
great stories, and he's nice enough
to pin plastic wings through your shirt,
breaking the skin. bleeding

you plead with him to land.
"it's plain to see we are nearly
out of gas. "the stewardess
has free beer," he replies.

"go back to your seat,
the movie is about to begin.
and when it's over someone will be by
to tuck you in."

"we're dying," you say.
"that's flying," says he.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I'M FINE



as a kid when it comes
to risk you require
a safety net, soft
limits on damages,
nobody needs to die
just yet. you get

older, hit the hard high
ground of mortality: nobody
lives through this. give me
the car keys, i haven't had enough
to drink, we are all going to
die anyway. hope-
fully not today.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

FRANTICALLY (for Nick Zeckets)



younger, i was a fort-
builder, hunkered down
in doddering bunkers
made out of blankets and old

boxes; constructing solitude within
which i could imagine myself
the lord of something far
larger, a new world order
 
absent bed times or neighbor-
hood borders. now i find myself
a desk-dweller, a free-time hoarder,
stuffing novels inside notebooks

frantically
growing older.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

SLACKER


are we to apply ourselves
with laser focus
or drift though life
lacking aim and purpose?

i'm not sure it matters.
i choose the latter.

Monday, February 8, 2016

ILLEGIBLE



my sons rise Monday
mornings creaky with complaints --
school's cold comfort
registering with the chill
of illegible potential.

(photo by Gemini)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

DUMB WAITERS




loss and more loss,
the matter of everyone
who mattered
rejoining the ethers, the rest
of us dumb waiters
conveying empty
thoughts and prayers.

Monday, January 25, 2016

WHAT IT FEELS LIKE



these days the suffering surrounds us
like a biker gang, cloudy thoughts
hanging like exhaust over the roar
of our pain. punches rain down

from toothless fools, fueled
by our actual sins, yet caught up in the false
violence that arises from the fear
of loss, an accumulation of tragedy

and the mounting burdens
of old age and empathy.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

LESS


 
don’t apologize
for silence, that blank non-
space where the brain takes
a break to circumnavigate
the detritus of so much
stimulus. and don't say sorry
for being alone sometimes.

we go away to get 
sane again. solitude and silence
save us, the absence of pain
in the form of people and ideas,
a place full of less
where we can really listen
to all of the nothingness.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

AROUND AGAIN



most of those vain
vagabond bombshells i chased in

youth wanted nothing to do
with my abstruse poetry,

its pimpled pain. now older,
shelled by the abuse

of less sensitive men, here 
they come around again.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

ANIMAL NATURE



the first people you made out with
were defined almost wholly
by willingness – their hungry mouths and yours,
blessed, holy “whores” who pulled your
sexuality loose from its moorings, attacked

the mysteries of the body
and the boredom of religion.
you feared them then, for sure,
until years later you thanked God
they accosted you first, helped you over-

come your worst fears
and regain your lost,
innocent animal
nature.

(image courtesy of Ryan McGuire)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

COLLEGE





i had no use
for knowledge.

i ran wild then curled into
the protective ball of the gifted child.

i preferred to under-
play my true potential,

rather than prove it
was illusion. hiding, everything

seemed so binary.
everything. i craved

grayness. i confess
i wanted to stay

in between

kid and adult,
dabbler and professional.

i wasn't ready to practice
a vocation. i was so young.

it was
awful.

it was
wonderful.

it was
college.


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

BORN (for Stuart Paul)




you wake up in a soapbox
derby car released
on life’s steep slope,
picking up speed
hurtling downhill,
no steering wheel,
for god’s sake
keep your head down
and be very still.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

VACATION




what passes for work these days has us
up in the air too often, getting high
enough to hurry better, wi-fi minds
keeping us tethered to whatever
priorities can be pursued most
profitably. wanna get away?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

EXPOSED




we call it business because
it really is just an abun-
dance of busy. keep moving, you,
musing isn't performance,
we do do-ing here, not
intellectual indulgence!

how badly all of us wish
we could drop the whole charade,
this seemingly real hand-
wringing parade past meaning-
less numbers and goals.

nobody needs any
more of those. tell you what,
only on this sale, we'll throw
in a brand new
garden hose. how naked
must ambition become
before it gets exposed?




Tuesday, August 11, 2015

START RUNNING AWAY



for years i was a squirrel
whose nut was engagement;
i would send your mixtape back
with track-by-track reactions. not that

you asked. i would dedicate this poem to you
to force you to read it. i would not give up
until you did, and then i would

blame you for your will-
ful refusal to parry.

i was a content
machine always chasing
the world, begging it
to marry me while burying it

beneath my neediness. mean-
while, over time, i unearthed
a better way: if you want someone
to run to you, better to
start running away.

Monday, August 10, 2015

LASSITUDE



i hate spoken word
poetry -- i prefer you

crack these puzzles,
sculptures standing in

for meaning. make your own
head music through your eyes.

i'd rather leave your ears
alone for now.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

REMAINS




i have awaited my un-
expected death since the first
night i woke up to it.

i found myself giving up god
like a loose band-aid, stuck
in vain over a blister of doubt.

i chose pain over impossible
stories, inherited a prayer-
ful longing, and now

i cling to the kingdom
of worry that remains.

Monday, July 20, 2015

DOWN THERE



let go your dead-
lines, your expectations
and good intentions. be
as bad as happenstance
and wayward plans can
make you. and lo,

so shall you grow, your head
straining upwards toward pure
air, the better to escape
all the accidental manure
that always seems to accumulate
down there.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

KITE




i am growing fear-
less as i get older.

all that i consume
eats away at me:

music, drink, the fucked-
up friction of attraction, chasing

satisfaction, everything becoming
fertilizer for the next

generation, sucked in
by mortality's churning,

relentless anonymizer.
try this: let go

your memories, your babies,
your wives and your wise ideas, go

fly a kite while there's still time
and wind and trivial string

to hold us aloft, tethered
to life, dragged up by love.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

THE PAIN OF PARENTING



the pain of parenting isn't so much
personal, physical suffering. it's more
referred ache -- a blurry, persistent
stress that puts us on
sea-legs, makes us feel

like we awoke on deck
in a nightmare, a drunken ship-
wreck imminent, a portent of falling
that never comes true. our children
don't really grow up. they move in
and out of clarity, of being
able to answer what exactly

is wrong with you? with me?
and so finally together we
reconcile ourselves with this sad
fact: quite often it hurts
simply to be. life itself is
a queasy shared malady.




Friday, February 27, 2015

GROUND STOP




running through life and airports
we dream of nothing
more than a moment
to pause, an instant

to reflect on every other  
harried happenstance
that has left us
bereft of perspective, cut off

from our souls; we are like
tops staggering as we near
the end of all this
spinning, still straining to go

round, willing these final
revolutions before everything
stops and we go
to the ground.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

OH YOUTH



oh youth, you ill-fitting
clothing, so quick to go
out of style. would I could
return to you to linger
an uncomfortable while.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

OTHER DAYS (for Dave Wilber)





some days i happily put on
the sad sweater, play old
songs that have me  
staring out the window like a dog 

longing to be owned. other days
i feel the itch of despair

around my neck like a funeral procession, a receiving line of fleas
 
parading past the deceased and nothing,
not even music, eases the grip

of this melancholy; all sounds
become dull tones of surrender,

like the baying of a dreaming stray who's
had enough of waking up alone

legs flailing vainly to find whoever
and wherever once was home.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

WIDE OPEN



that five pounds, your
leaky tires, the drinking, more
fiber. why bother? everything

is breaking now,
breaking down. you
get older, faster, see things
clearly; all that you love and have

loved dearly is receding,
your friends are gone, some dead,
others dying soon, and you finally
accept you are breaking, too.

you make big plans
through funeral tears, promise
to make amends, run errands,
fix years of neglect, to write
the end of that manuscript you've kept

in some drawer somewhere; life feels more
dire, bereft, and unspoken, and all
you want is to half-live like this

forever, torn,
imperfect and broken.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

STILL ILL



the bled-out wine bottles and the stained
glasses stand like witnesses
to the accident that happened hours
before, stuck to the scene

as they wait to tell their tired stories
again. you don't mind, and
in time you'll learn pain
happens to all good men.

and the stereo reminds you
of what's true in the end:

"i'll probably
never see
you again."

AGAIN



we are dying,
friends, running
up the down
escalator, exercise
on top of exercise,
and for what? hands

never fully grasping
each other, railings
of incomprehension, "why

are we here,
why are we,
why?"; craving

the dull happy ache
of affection, slowing down,
suspending satisfaction until
we are standing before
our downfall. this ride is all,
and these lives lead directly
to temptation, and deliver us
to evil. amen. and can we
do it again?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

BUT DON'T GIVE YOURSELF AWAY




today is the day
i give up. i don't
expect to be
fully happy
ever again. a year ago

i would have stuck
my arm in the sideways blink
of the elevator doors expecting
some form of human
or mechanical pity.

today is the day i started to think
those doors are probably gonna close 
on me.

Monday, February 3, 2014

R.I.P. P.S.H.



the way you wore your kind face
makes this more painful for the rest
of us, all broken souls alike, all

wanting to find nothing
more than feeling whole. your play
-acting was more real than most

people's living. in every role your humanity
stole the scene, and you left us
admiring everyone you have ever been.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

PLAINTIVE


tell me what is
smaller or more

worthy of pity
than my own

tiny rhymed religion,
this plaintive poetry

that pacifies me
and makes life

feel a touch
less random.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

OUTSIDE THE BAR














that moment when the old
drunk guy talking to himself

outside the bar is
barely older and drunker

and he's talking to you

begs so many questions:
what is life about,

and what exactly do you love,
and why, and whom?