Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Truth About Cars

i've always thought most cars are left as eggs by garbage trucks
out in the boonies
beyond rats
beyond city dumps
and far enough from people that no one will notice them
and when they hatch they're little things
like multicolored roaches
only meaner
that run all over fields and shear down crops
sythesizing the juice into gasoline
until they're big enough for highways
and their gasoline glands are gone
then they all crawl off to the city
and gang up in the streets like herds of dragon armadillos
meditate in masses behind traffic lights
and swarm in hordes once the lights have changed
frustrating the few city people
not pure drivers under the carapace

most people here
think most cars are kept
in individual homes in the suburbs
that's not true:
once their teem down city streets is done
they shrink
smaller than when they were hatched
and creep inside your head
like words from advertisements
that continue
their motorized mumble
until you buy yourself a car
that can join them

from Thebes (1991)

Friday, November 25, 2011

coffee mends

coffee mends
the holes in morning's curtains

coffee saves
your eyes at nod of night

where is the coffee you promised me?

from Thebes (1991)

Monday, November 14, 2011


now that he's quieted they say he's blind
his mind blurred their quarrel
having closed itself behind him swallowed him
and satisfied emitted him mostly undigested
plagued and poxed and they say pitted of eye
with walking stick half off on the road to thebes

too much acid?     yeh     must a been
he's sure burnt now but i don't remember him
any other way the boy's brain is gone
and if you remember him as seer
don't mention it to us war?
what war? have another drink we're trying to forget

all his followers they say have changed themselves back now
painted back the numbers on the houses
of the city he once redesigned
cut their locks locked their doors
and as in distance heat and plague approach
they close their eyes and go about their mothers' chores

From Thebes (1991)

Friday, October 21, 2011

mother got out of whatever game of

mother got out of whatever game of
conversation drifted
(reinforced) dislike of physical
our ancestors want us to kill
it's traditional
with his razor
like a dog
make happy
war with desolation
of feet on ground
your knapsack
like a dog
your knapsack
the fat
in order to live

from Thebes (1991)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

berserk marathon

berserk marathon
berserk marathon berserk marathon
marathon berserk
ah ooo berserk marathon
berserk marathon berserk marathon
ah ooo berserk marathon
try out

try out our ice cream
eat it
try out no fuss
try out our ice cream
eat it eat it
no fuss marathon

second road is the same
second road is the same
buy some
buy some now

buy     buy    
buy buy
buy buy buy
buy buy buy buy
berserk marathon buy
from Thebes (1991)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Notes By the Virgin Mary's Social Worker

mary and i
had a long talk about the baby
she said that she'd seen an angel
or that maybe that had been in a dream
and that she and her old man
had been on the road a long time

she paused
maybe the times could have been better
she said that way we could have afforded
a better hotel and maybe the tax collector
would have been easier on us
she said she hoped the baby'd be a lawyer

from Thebes (1991)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Gods Eat My Face

gods eat my face
my face gods eat
gods my face eat
face my gods eat
eat face my gods
gods my eat face
my gods eat face
my gods face eat
face gods eat my
eat face gods my
gods eat face my
my eat gods face
gods face eat my
face eat gods my
eat gods face my
eat my face gods
eat my gods face
face gods my eat
face eat my gods
face my eat gods
gods face my eat
my eat face gods
my face eat gods
eat gods my face

The first line of this poem was a graffito I saw on a wall in south Berkeley.

from Thebes (1991)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Bed

the squid with the woman's face is on the ceiling again
she sets one of the tentacles into her mouth and licks then
sucks it all the way in and the ceiling implodes
rather than go with it i watch
an amalgam of colors and shapes
dull at first going brighter later
i reach up with both arms
pull her down onto my face slip
my tongue into the gap of the cosmos
i have just seen and we are borne up
to the bed where i am suddenly alone
and the shapes of the ceiling will not focus
i cannot focus on her face or remember it
from what must be previous lives the room
has become my body and what i see on the ceiling
i also feel and am i long for such as she is
i close my eyes maybe the image will come in better

green grow the lilacs
i'll show them to you
green grow the lilacs
i'll show them to you

now the bed has widened into a vast white desert in japan
i am digging through the sand for the seven blue potshards
that i can build again into my soul
i have four of them already
the others are within inches of my body
i will find them i will build us up again
both of us

green grow the lilacs
i'll shw them to you
green grow the lilacs
i'll show them to you

from Thebes (1991)

Friday, July 22, 2011

from The Children's Hour

between when     comes that
i hear the patter and the voices
the sound from my descending

the grave alice and edith a whisper
yet i they are

a sudden!     a sudden!
to take to take they enter they climb
they seem their arms
descending the sound from mouse tower
oe'r i a sudden and voices
the grave a sudden
grave oe'r i
tell i their arms
they seem
oe'r i
the grave

from Thebes (1991)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Earn Big Money Just Weeks From Now

more and more people
are drudgery
one with

more and more things are
made of these days
observed everywhere
peeling chairs
wherever you there's vinyl

i like being in charge of my TIME!
i also work part TIME as a teacher!
i want to be able to spend TIME
with my children!
the business has allowed me the opportunity and
to work at home and still spend TIME
with them!

asked why     he decided
he says there's a need
actually most areas
never have enough people

he     works
charges seven dollars per inch
plus fifteen dollars per hour
his latest job so far was the local
three hours to complete

i like being in charge of my TIME!
i also work part TIME as a teacher!
i want to be able to spend TIME
with my children!
the business has allowed me the opportunity and
to work at home and still spend TIME
with them!

from The Troubles (1993)

Friday, July 8, 2011

From A Dream

last night i dreamed i was
stuck in a room full of sleeping old men
and that it was the house where i grew up
and that i knew most of them
as my own mediocrities

the moon shown through one long high window
i marvelled at its yellowness before clouds overcame it

i stepped carefully between the men's spread mattresses
mattresses everywhere
these old guys two or three to a mattress
all asleep half of them snoring
as i tip-toed in the dark until i got to the front door

where the rhythms of their snores
paced the motion of my hand
as i reached for the doorknob in the weird yellow light

there was just enough space     to swing the door open
and stand in the face of the cold alien air
i saw the lawn the street
the old sycamore that i remember
from as early as i can remember
how quiet out there deep three a m
i stepped out closed the door and the cold air took me
the snores seemed so warm i could smell their breath
and taste their breath in my own mouth even away from them
nothing moved even the squirrels were asleep
blocks away i could hear a car running

from Auto Bio (2010)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

July Rain

this is the hour that sticks to the skin

cuckoo clocks droop
over stones
in the midwife's garden

drool drips down
from the dog star

captured mice are photographed inside your eye
and can't get out
for the pressure behind them

from The Troubles (1993)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Santa Cruz

my grandfather's eyes are covered with shells he
has his mouth open
inside there are ocean sounds
they murk in his beard
my aunt refuses to hear them
and hides in her bedroom watches television
her children play on the floor
tear toy wagons apart
put the pieces together again
making small furry animals

from Thebes (1993)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

That You Like It That Way

the real loser may be a thief

do i enter the room?
do i? do i?
hello clock
hello plate
hello chainsaw
what's for dinner?


the wolfman enters stage left
puts an entire bungalow on his head
sings shakespeare
juggles a whale

cut to the foreign legion
and a random national anthem

that you snort coffee
from rolled-up salvadoran peasants
that your cat doesn't like you
even when you feed it
that you treasure the wine of your youth
only when it's vinegar
that the iron in your shirt is only instant starch
that you're your own mortician's ultimate fantasy
that you like it that way
that the chess game on the wall
has arms and you think tells the time
to fight for you


the wolfman is someone you were
the chainsaw is your voice a year from now
your shirt your chest
nailed together with invisible flesh
the mansion in which you plot
is only part of the wolfman's left earring
and below his feet
you can hear the jungle
when the creatures intuit that you
were born there

from The Troubles (1993)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Last Surge of Romance

at the end of its life a world is conscious
of not being in love
stars zooming away like romantic mistakes
scientists carrying fish in their armpits
numbering bombs like bottles of mouthwash
while entire streets
stick their noses into junctions of tall buildings
and inhale deeply

my hands
can't find your buttons anymore
have you sold them?
how much did you get?
the street
is cold to all offerings
the choice between apology and war
is made on broken down streetcars

on those steel hands rings of flesh grow
the rings throb unmercifully
grow like worms copulating with themselves
they swell
but cannot scream
there is no mouth to them
instead we watch the skies
for hints of mehanical romance

from The Troubles (1993)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

For A Wall Street Journal

even you
have tomatoes you to scream saw angels sauced
another burglary
giving it the rocks

your more
has mold inside the cranium
and even the would have been you
has a wealth of should have grown:

rich     in the wrong reason

even your church of commerce
has mice inside
is still alive

from The Troubles (1993)

Friday, May 20, 2011


brightness     is probably
the least predictable outside of cleveland
two cars smashed in a bar together
all the ditch can drink is water
and still when no one expects it
the light blazes bright
outside city hall
for at least a moment

from The Troubles (1993)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Reunion Gig (after Ginger Baker)

i saw you beowulf at your drum kit
fifty years since grendel
since the breakup of the band
that made you royal

now you're ordinary
the speed of your sticks slowed to slow competence
your old guitarist's slower too but his fingering's more subtle
your old bassist needs a crutch to stand up

but you pound now     hard
as you did when you were worshipped
and your slow courage drives the music forward
and the songs still stand brave
at the mouth of the dragon's lair
where he wakens
as in the old days
and waits for your solo

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Paintings For Tourists

paintings now by a schlock artist
the purple onion stands a chinese nightclub
cigarettes burn low the last vestiges of high school
my heart is a building pass
in my shirt pocket

yes     yes     my friends are dead
begging blood while leaning
against buildings in the financial district
brandy turns into cherries
sheep on the street look up
hoping that stuffed potatoes will fall from the sky

you sat here once
the chair you sat on is tamed
bicycle messengers ride in your jugular vein
you just exhaled the blacktop of columbus avenue
now worn it still never refuses to shine
from The Troubles (1993)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

For Joe Speer Two Days After His Death

if i believed in such things
i'd have known the vision meant you were fine
visiting me no interrupting reveries
as a large yellow dog on a red sandy cliff
staring at me in what might have been anger
two nights after you'd died in albuquerque
i felt the anger     then my own shock
and confusion after feeling both
if i'd opened my eyes i'm sure i'd have seen you
right across the room
then i felt the love and the hurt
as you stood more solid than dream
then faded to the color
of the insides of my eyelids

     the hillside on which you stood
was neither california nor new mexico
the land was wild land is wild
belief is wild and it's scary to be so tame
that you don't believe anymore
did you visit me after you'd died?
were you making the rounds
of all your old friends?
i think that you'll be a happy dog
or maybe untame a happy coyote

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Mythologization of the Lightbulb

the two lightbulbs use electric knives
to carve their dinner of broken candles

along the bannister
the amateur statue's severed hand
groping for another lightbulb

it is well known that lightbulbs
seldom go out walking at night
scientists argue
as to whether this has aided in their evolution

on the piano a candelabra!
an audience of lightbulbs!

the half dozen lightbulbs visiting the zoo
back away and avert their eyes
from the cage where it is rumored
they keep lightbulbs with simian diseases

on the silver screen:
lightbulbs in love!
like the northern lights:
lightbulbs in love!

a herd of white elephants
stampedes through a library
of fastidious lightbulbs
who are looking for a bright corridor
back to the veldt

isn't there somebody here
who will agree with me
that even the dreams of lightbulbs
once had arms and legs?

at the end of each millenium
all lightbulbs are broken
by people with glass jaws
who are looking for revenge

from The Troubles (1993)