Particularly, this:

When The Bough Breaks

September 6, 2010

Tired beyond counting
Throat wracked with sores and
choked with phlegm
I’m looking out East
from the edge of America
and I still can’t lose this
restless beat
my heart has made
still can’t lose the feel of
last night’s heartburn
still can’t shake the feeling
that we are not men
and our time and the
time of others who support
and inherit ours is wasted
and the wealth of millions
stretched from here to San
Jose, where I may never go,
is wasted
and the salt that dries the air
and cuts the stones apart
and quenches the fires
and keeps the town alive
is the most effective player
I can see.

The wind that rustles these woods
carries my thoughts elsewhere.
I cannot remain or focus here
in my present state:
the mental tempest of post-breakfast coffee.
But I am calm, I am at peace.
Time to let the storm out of her cage of cloud and sea,
to let her rise and find the peak stride of her wail,
as her voice breaks upon the land.

She will first be heard in the sandal-ed bungalows
of San Juan, over the clink of glass
and quash the stench of Citronella
with the pungence of her sea-stink.
Next she will make the run-up to her legal berth,
the land she is owed to.
A fateful jet of Azatlan spares
the black waters of the Gulf,
out of mercy or boredom or nothing.
My voice gathers speed persistently
like a jogger’s legs gaining comfort
with motion and impact.

At the end of dusk she sees it.
A blistering target in the darkness,
all gaudy trees and stucco,
outfits screaming louder than my voice
beg for destruction at her hands:
She drools over this prey,
and as the wind begins to whip tree-perched geckos
into the concrete pools on South Beach—
naked, trembling, jets grounded—
it appears the neon nightmare is over,
and the sugar-free wetlands to the north
will awake to comb their hair in primal quiet.
But, seconds from landfall,
she pulls back in abject revulsion
and rolls out into the Atlantic to brood and
pick off hunting-ships as she wonders why.
My voice roves towards Titanic and Bismarck’s Lusitania,
stealing stories from the dark waters as she goes.
She hears of Blackbeard and his face of candles,
the hubris of Jim and James,
of the Ver E. Best taken
by that damned hill
and that odd idiot from Maine—
she falls desperately into hate.
If she tacks hard, she can make it to Norfolk
by next dawn and take the treasured Outer Banks
with her southern spiral arm.
And here she comes,
thumping along like a floor drum.
Keep moving. Go for speed.
Raise the wind-speed and blast through Richmond,
sweep the tail across Atlanta and don’t stop
until you hit the Ohio border,
where the bolt-work is more selective
and requires precision.
Leave absolutely everyone alive and homeless.

She reaches the banks.
No beach house she touches survives.
Even the homes she grazes
panic and flood their basements,
destroying priceless relics of a bygone era they never belonged to,
like a dough-boy soiling his uniform.
But as she prepares to march blue flame
across the flattened South,
my voice hears the call of a fantastic white flute,
the tremble of a broken drum.
She shifts north with the rising tide,
booming across shocked bays and flooded canals.
This is the black heart of the matter.
Deep up the river into the continent,
where the ivory lies
piled into obelisks and great mounds of bone.
There are too many banks.
Too many wild evasions of course.
The port is too well-placed,
it forces her to think too much.
Thoughts of other voices,
of fields and rivers where a wind may flow easily
through the unscathed brush and flirt with peace.
And when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall.
She turns back— yet again confused
—to gain strength.

Right now she is milling around
the waters off northern Maine,
dunking otters and twiddling
with her favored osprey.
Get up off the mat, you little punk.
She contemplates circling down
past Rio de Janeiro,
keeping warm,
almost to the edge of Ghana,
then whipping back, south of the Jet Stream,
to slam full bore through the Black Gulf —
because why let guilt be a factor at this stage?
Pick up as much oil as you can and
coat their braying throats with it—
right up the Mississippi, losing steam,
clouds tearing off at the shoulders
as she destroys herself with the land,
muscle up as far as St. Louis,
swan-dive into the Great Lakes
for one last burst of low pressure and
stab the Mayor of Chicago in the heart
with a bolt of lightning and her final breath.
No, she thinks. Too personal.
Too many would feel excluded. And what of the West?

She begins idling down the coast,
officially pissed,
picking up water into mean-looking
gray-green clouds that just hang low and menace the beaches.
Occasionally she stirs up a waterspout
or snaps lightning at a passing ship,
but only to keep low, and black.
Low, and black.

Amble through the Boston piers.
Fuck with the traffic on 93
as the rubber-neckers gawk
at huge, towering evil blackness
that does nothing but drift past and ignore them.
Creep through the naval bases and party boats.
Cancel plans.
Death march into the crotch at Long Island.
Ignore everything. Put your head down and appear to sulk,
plant one foot at Wall Street and the other on Mermaid Avenue,
open your many scabbed mouths with a clap of energy.
Feel out for the bricks, the rust, the dirty gum,
the boredom, the angst, the irrepressible dissatisfaction,
become a mute wrath
Reach out for the dry earth, the hot skin and dying gardens,
dying for you,
open up and rain, rain, rain, and just… stay.
Flood everything old
Drown it all and start again
Never lose your strength, just let it out
and when the bough finally breaks
fall apart, find a northbound train,
get a meal at the meeting of the rivers
and hop the next barge west,
packing nothing.

In The Attic At Dawn

August 27, 2010

This is where we live:
Rubbing exposed gaunt ribs on the floor
giving ourselves to cigarettes and drink
watching the tide roll away from us.

There is evil in the world and we can feel it,
I think, as I flick away a spider and
seethe in my worsted wool.
But what I know of evil is mostly
itchy wool and spiders.
And what I’ve seen of evil is mostly
negligence and weak stomachs.
Spinalectomies. Unbalanced idiots
in need of a mother or a father
or a shower, not a babysitter.

Elsewhere there are flames, death,
the dusty dead. Here there are
unlit candles, repressed memories,
boxes of nothing that nobody wants–
but whose loss rips holes in
young mouths.

And what a bare floor we are on.
So many lines, cracks and boards,
aging scuffed wood.
All this disappears in my thought
and rearranges in my hope.
Such functional garbage, such
virile decay.
It creaks and moans at my thought,
it fidgets and whispers in my hope.

What beautiful sounds!
Gasoline explodes. Ridges
in a rubber tube stick
to the ridges in the road
and the night purrs with slick confusion
and the morning gasps its first breath.

And nothing works and we are treated
to such beautiful sounds.
The city awakes as I end my day.
What a lullaby! The wheeze of old activity
returning to its grooves, like rain
in dry river-beds. Such cozy beds.
They rumble and shake the foundations
but fit like tongues and never seem to age or change.
How long has it been since I have heard these groans,
these shrill rhythmic cries at the dying of night?

Each day begins with a funeral–
a wake, really.
A celebration of our lost life
and the dispersal of what’s left:
our waste that is us. Our husks.
The body-shell returning whence it came.
Who would trade this for silence, for crickets?
I wallow in it like a dumb pig this morning.

And quite suddenly sleep comes on
like an unheeded chaperone.
But I want to stay, my child mumbles.
I can make it, she offers,
voice falling.
I have found a battle in this.
It is personal and exists in so few places
that few can find it to win.
But we fight,
more from confusion than valor.
What’s next, the battle hymn.
What now, the march.
Yes but no, the waltz.
And ah, but ah, yes–
sleep has found me.


August 26, 2010

I dreamed I saw my
brother talking to himself
I dreamed I saw Chicago
from a twisting bridge above the sea
I dreamed your amber purple badlands
and a dusty gravel lot
filled with semi-trucks
circled like wagons against a wall of fire
too close to the mountains of up-kicked dust–
were the last things I saw
before I just gave up.

I dreamed of a buck-toothed minstrel
who controlled the world’s machines
I dreamed I saw the congressman spike his own Ovaltine
and the drummer boy science-ing his keys
and the loud man standing next to me
on Elmwood where the second rounds are free
but you pay for things with hope and dignity
and I saw you there, too,
yelling at me for rhyming words.

Please buy this light of mine
and wear it all the time
and share it with your generations
so that I might meet them
Please take these flowers I stole
and pin them to your clothes
and share them with brave people
I’ll never see
‘Cause in the end this job is
all about me

I dreamed of proud men on aging bikes
who became something else as they rode
I dreamed of shepherd-warriors
defined by what they stole
I dreamed dark impressions
made by bluish glares and yells
I dreamed efficiency was called
the straightest path to hell
I dreamed a lot
that will never come to pass
I slept a lot
and I forgot
to say many things I meant

The Golden Good

August 22, 2010

13 August 2010
Exit 40-ish, NYS Thruway, east-bound.

I fucking love McDonald’s.
I love how there are 65
people that I can see
milling around the counter,
knocking into each other
they’re so full of nothing
to do, and it still takes
the cashier two minutes to
say, “Can I help you?” because
she, like I, is so rapt or
bored with this awesome spectacle
of wasted life and time.

I love how my two
cheeseburgers and small fries
take 30 seconds to come up,
because another thing I
love about Mcdonald’s is
how uniform the burgers
and fries are. My meal
tastes exactly the way it
did when I ate it
while waiting for a haircut
in the Latham Circle Mall,
200 miles away,
over five years ago.

I love how the food here
reminds me of times in
my life that were (by the
debatable logic of memory)
better than my life is
now. I love how happy
the meal is. I love how
sad I will be in a half
hour. I love how I’m
not even done with my
second cheeseburger and I
already have heartburn.

I love the way the
fries make the car
smell, and that in two
days when I go back
into the car to grab
something, it will still
smell that way, and I’ll
go, “Oh yeah…”

I love how the fries
taste like everything. The fries
taste like the fries. The
fries taste like the straw
wrappers. The fries taste like
the plastic tables in the
sit-down corral. They taste
like the inside of my
mouth did before I even
ordered. They taste like I
imagine the middle finger of
the teenage cashier girl does.
They taste like McDonald’s
and everything in it, even me.

I love how inappropriately air-
conditioned it is in McDonald’s.
Like how the temperature hovers
around 40 degrees at the
doorway, then slides up to
an almost unnecessarily comfortable
70 at the counter, and then
back down to a bone-chilling
square of floor space that
invariably appears as the only
reasonable place to stand and
wait for a burger.

I love how little everyone cares. I love how little
eye contact everyone makes. I
love how frustrated I never
am in McDonald’s. I love
that McDonald’s is so
nakedly temporary. I love that
they don’t apologize for it.
It’s as though they are
challenging the bourgeoisie
snobs who hate McDonald’s
with their conscious
knowledge that McDonald’s is
not an institution designed
to remain and/or grow with
the community, and that in
five years or five days if
the numbers don’t work–
or even if they do but there
are too many bitchy post-adolescent
shift managers making
demands about benefits–
corporate will call the
motor pool, they’ll back a
semi up to the loading
doors, grab the fryers, mail
the checks and GHOST.
When you think of McDonald’s,
think of Ladybird Obama in
an argument with a well-dressed
lawyer who never responds
except to remind her
that she is going to die.

Or don’t. No, think of
the burgers. (I told you:
45 minutes later and I’m an
unfocused pile of miserable.)
Think of the fries.
Think of the naps you’ll
take afterwards.
Think of the farmers you
aren’t supporting. Think of
the toys. Think of how difficult
it is to reconcile the food with
any other experience you are
capable of having. Think of
the future. Think of the
parents and kids and the kids
with kids that are
supported and represented by
McDonald’s. Think of the buns.
Think of the ball pit. Think
of the marketing genius,
the successful organism,
the feast. Think of the ease.
Think of the simplicity.
Think of the memories,
the golden good.