Wednesday, July 11, 2007

ex- highway beautification technician

i used to work for the city
i gave them half my life
patrolling the highway in an
off-white van
watching the road for the
kicking legs and flopping torsos of
paralyzed deer

when i found one i’d
park on the shoulder and
kneel beside it
i’d talk softly and
put my hand over its frantic heart
the manual says that a
deer with a severed spinal chord
can’t feel pain
but there’s something in those eyes
something that’s hard to watch
i’d put the barrel of my service pistol
on the temple just behind one of those
terrible eyes
then i’d close my own and

i heard that on deathrow
there’s this thing called double jeopardy
if they execute an inmate and
somehow he survives
then he’s free to go

there’s no double jeopardy for halfdead deer

the city fired me
years back
for not meeting my quotas
but i still wake up some nights
to the bark of gunfire

now i work for the grocery store
putting egg cartons in paper bags
i smile at customers
like my boss tells me
but when they try to smile back they
never look me in the face

everyone says there’s something funny about my eyes

Fake Beard

America, the most loaded word in the history of pornography, assembly lines, and the repeating rifle. Welcome to the terrordome, a hyper-politicized, polarized, desensitized warzone. To the victor goes the talk show spots. The defeated commit the most abhorred sin: irrelevance. The Hitlers of history have infamy, the rockstars have celebrity, but the losers rot in the waiting room of most fatal mediocrity.

Their tombs are defiled by bulldozers in accordance with Eminent Domain. Their bodies are Fedexed via overnight mail to the doorsteps of their posterity. In the place of the graveyards, the Powers That Be will construct a theme park, featuring the giant robotic talking head of George Washington (Peace Be Unto Him). The investors will hire the best programmers money can buy from Korea so we can all hear the popular presidential catch phrases in Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Spanish, and Modern English.

The people of America will line up for the grand opening six months in advance. They’ll stand there, bored, hungry, and soiling themselves. Occasionally, someone will be knifed for their spot and everyone will just pretend to not notice. Parents will gladly hand over their only child’s college fund in order to have their palms read by a minimum wage slave dressed in a polyester Abraham Lincoln costume, complete with fake beard and deep-seated depression.

…and at all of the clearly marked exits, a pimpled and handicapped adolescent will hand out complementary condoms, razor blades, and a fat stack of coupons.


the business week is an ingenious invention
it must rank up there with free samples
and the fly on pants
it’s so brilliant and ballsy
i bet the guy who eureka’d it into existence was
fired immediately and issued a gag order within the hour

ideas like that are bad for business
you know

there must be an einstein quote that would
sum that up
something about
great minds &
adversity &
either him or ben franklin
they have a regular monopoly on aphorism

the only reason the unemployed are even aware
of the transition
from one week to the next is that
the sunday comics are in color

i was looking through the wanted section
one day
i’m sure of that much
the sun was out
i think it was morning but
there is a slim chance that it was actually
evening irregardless
i was looking through the wanted section and

there was my meal ticket
dead center of page B8
in times new roman

wanted: Taxidermist

My metronome is broken

i've had it for years.
i probably should have
used it more than i did.

i wonder how many times it
has made that noise
halfway between
a beep
a click.

at least.

i tried putting in
new batteries but it
still won't work.

there are probably many
profound ways
to end a poem about
a broken metronome;

something about
hearts or

i don't know.

it just started
back up.

it must be in denial

slow hand

imagine a room
walls filled with tv monitors
picture these monitors
show only the slow hand of a swollen brain
(from some 18 different angles in some 18 shades of grey)
shang-hai’d into a think tank
the index picks at the thumb nail
like snapping
only the ape digit is hooked
instead of hitchhiking

the cameras roll incessantly
spewing intangible chemical vapors
the film spills into small infinitude of square brown boxes
like cells in a honeycomb
they are meticulously groomed by unmanicured antennae
terraforming a warehouse into a monolithic cathedral
a monument to protocol

the focus groups preach a rigid dogma of
a. catalogue
b. evaluate
c. cache or d. dispose
[the burnpits resemble stripmines flooded with kerosene-soaked charcoal
ghostly campfires dot the primordial landscape]
the index has scraped a smooth rut into the thumb nail
the company analysts have determined that the ‘rut’
(technically, a ‘rift’ because the gradient tapers laterally)
deepens by three-eights of a centimeter every fiscal year
after a short eternity, a pyrrhic verdict was reached
by double blind tests spanning every significant* demographic
it was gravely established that
a watched lightbulb never quite burns out
it just smolders, patiently waiting to be left alone

(*the term ‘significant’ denotes demographics that contribute at least 3.125% of gross profits, not a value judgment on the constituents of said demographic’s hypothetical worth or unworth)


i’ve been riding the coattails since ‘55
an aging crusty rasped
so i seen more than a hundred Vanishings

me and the other virgins sat in awe
around the trash blaze
watching them talk

once the usher gave me the wrong ticket
a greasy girl with dreadlocks began
i was up front rubbing elbows with
wrinkly women in fur coats and their nervous husbands
the slickhaired kid next to me got picked
i leaned in close my chin practically up on the stage and

her voice dropped to a whisper
i Heard

the old one barked

she paused
i couldn’t make out all of it but
it sounded something like…

we all mouthed the words to ourselves like
they were a magic spell
that’s what they were supposed to be anyway
right before they go in the box He
cups their ear and moves his lips and sorta grins
then he taps the door twice with his wand and
they’re gone
and it isn’t just some trick
they’re not under the floorboards
they’re not behind a mirror
they’re just

the old one nodded grimly
this punk i knew got picked
he continued
a real gutter kid
it took him ten years but
he got picked
you shouda seen his face when he
it flashed across him
like lightning dancing on a tin roof

she added wistfully

i gulped a few times and
managed to stammer
where do
where do you think they go

they shared a knowing look
he nodded to her
she opened her mouth
carefully and said
we think
we think they go to


Directions to Nowhere (fast):

1. forget how to tell time
2. paint with thick brushes, you’ll cover the canvas faster
3. remind yourself that poems are just the warning label at the bottom of the bottle
4. buy stock in bullets
5. stay up late, insomniacs make the best art
6. talk slowly but forcibly at strangers, lest they try to pretend you’re crazy
7. keep running
8. if attacked by vultures, pretend to be alive
9. sell your lightbulbs, money burns brighter


Antone leaped from bed and gave a reverse striptease,
Dropped loose change in a jar and kept the receipt.
Underdressed in plainclothes, he slid through the streets
Like an otter coated in crude oil.

The wise guys all called him names like gumshoe and flatfoot.
Everyone laughed like it was a joke but shot him bad looks.
He played dice like a cop, but paid bills like a crook,
Plus he lined his cap with tinfoil.

Antone sat on a bridge and stared into the sun until he couldn’t think.
He wrote his stories on the back of chinese fortunes in bloodred ink,
Stuffed them in empty beer bottles filled with rocks and let them sink,
Saying how strange it is that rain makes the sea boil.

Most folks don’t understand him because his voice comes out backwards.
The silence at the beginning of the record is him waiting for answers.