There are no conflicts of interest!
This morning I made sure
to box my feelings and leave them
out on the curb for the garbage man,
which is backwards since I’m the trash,
so I jostle and rumble with the rubbish
in the dump truck. It’s my place
to tumble with the banana peels.
After a long day of meeting my peers
we swing onto the interstate,
out of town to an eco-landfill
with a concrete seal.
A rain has blown in.
The roads become glistening bands of flesh.
I plunder billboards for poem titles
and that coveted coin, inspiration!
(now a Chinese export) and the body,
these shapely lines come for web banners.
Here’s what Obama isn’t telling you
about Obamacare: we took a breath
of compassion, so your pets are now insured
and all the birds received a bill for dental,
just today I saw a march of robins
going to have a tooth pulled,
and your bikes have a neurosurgeon now,
assuming the death panels don’t get them.
All of them. I saw dog shit
left in the park today,
the perfect crime steaming like a warm body
left in some corporation’s backyard slum.
Both nerds and trash tell me
there is beauty to be had in a passing flower,
in the fish flinging their scaled bodies
out of the lakes. What’s more fucked up
is Babel and babble are homophones.
God is surely dead but
you won’t believe it when I say
doctors hate her for finding
a natural remedy for aging skin.
Make Justice your daughter’s refrigerator
drawing: color outside the lines.
I watched the sun bleed into everything—
the doctors hated it. I watched a painting
melt like aging skin from all the spotlights
shined on it—the doctors fell in love.
I’m sure we can tear this city a new one,
the same story for every city. Is climate change real?
One scientist learned the shocking Truth:
She climbed the tallest building in the land,
slicing her fingers and thumbs
on chipped glass all the way up,
and as it stained the sidewalk below
like a fountain pen left on a page too long,
she reached the top and plucked
the low hanging fruit of clouds
and tore the sky down and when the stars
got close enough she handed them off
because everyone deserved a chance
to shine then explode for a billion years.
We finally got the chance to burn
all that bubbling energy rattling
inside our beer can bodies,
since I saw Miller Light is the perfect handoff,
cold in our palms and ready to burst.
There is a scab on my scalp
I can’t stop from tearing loose.
Provoking the consequence—
the essence of poetry
like sticks tumbling into bear traps.
Tomorrow my sister turns twelve.
In her birthday poem’s foundation
the bones, clay pots, and shark tooth medallions
of dead civilizations are mixed
with the cement. In the poem
I build for her many doors and windows
but not walls—this makes placing
the roof difficult until I plant
a stem to lift it and paint
the shingles the colors of tulips.
In the poem I forgot
the garden but laid the planks
for a wraparound porch
so guests would have to guess
which door was the front and which
the back. Hospitality in the poem
as critical as eating, needs a site
of entry and a site of leaving.
There—listen. The hunters rattle
around in my sister’s poem
swinging on their limbs,
sweeping up into the air and crouching
in the rafters of the attic, ivory talons
sunk into wood like carving knives in balsa.
They come down on my sister’s birthday
to tussle her hair, lovingly,
with their blade-fingers. Love
moves into my sister’s poem so unassuming
the people think it’s the sun.
They turn away—disappointed.
In my sister’s poem is a phone call,
an awkward, “Sorry I won’t see you grow up.”
Said like “Excuse me” after bumping
shoulders while leaving a theater.
The wedding of two strangers
is held in the poem’s backyard.
Deer, birds, bunnies, squirrels, even snakes
and all the etceteras gather to watch
the groom’s cloying fingers
as they lift the veil. There is the frog
they hope will become a beautiful woman
when the two kiss. The parents paid
a lot for the ceremony, so it better.
My sister watches from the window
while the happy couple lock lips
and tongue jockey grossly, envy
budding in her, a wish to be there already—
like needing to go to the bathroom on a tour bus.
She knows it’s a good wedding
because the breeze runs right through
her legs and uses the gap in her thighs
to sing a Disney song. Can you paint
with all the colors of my sister’s wind?
In my sister’s birthday poem
I erected a skyscraper named Draft Two.
Draft Two has many hanging gardens
and kids—legs dangling—seated on plank swings,
contorting their bodies to kiss the clouds,
waiting for the right time to leap
into the playground I named Draft Three.
I stepped on the setting and Draft Four
became a pair of footprints in the mud,
one big and one small,
and as I reach into my head
for Draft Five, the scab pulls away
and what is it I get when I take
my hand back and let my fingers
drip lace onto the page? Right—
the blood we share.
its been a while since ive read a sentence this beautiful
This is what living on an island is like.
I’m ape-hunched on the shore
with the water asking my knuckles
what I’m doing fronting on their turf.
I watch the storm form over the sea.
There is a typhoon. The satellites
interview its arrangement,
find the formulated whole
complex enough to compete with the soul.
Water raises its head, cuffs my wrist,
The storm hits the shore
two horizons over. I floated
overhead, a miserable satellite,
I got all the might of a star
and all the distance castrating me.
I got to watch you breakdown
two cities down, watched the city
collapse in on you. The snow fell here,
casual as an uninvited guest.
I had to make accommodations
while knowing something like weather
passed over your head, and something
like grass bore your weight,
that something like love brought
the relief of a street lamp at night
in the roughest part of town.
Our disconnect of cities
became a disconnect of countries.
I clenched feelings in my fist
and punched them into my laptop
to blast you with. Such beautiful starlight.
The words swing into the air
like an exhale in frost. I used
all the worthless energy of nuclear fusion
to build us an island, crafted
each grain of sand and some bushy
coconut trees, heads like shaggy boys.
Wait until you get there, I say.
Over the water the storm blows in,
and for all my strength I’m the useless
sun on your back before its blotted out.
There is a singing woman in my bathtub. I woke up and found her there. She sings the greatest pops songs of the 90s. She butchers the lyrics. She sings the soundtrack for The Sound of Music. Her voice is a doe, pristine and filling up space in my apartment awkwardly. I ask her what she’s doing in my tub. She says she came for the acoustics. We sing a duet. We fall in love. We divorce after I cheat on her with a man who plays trombone. In the divorce she takes my bathtub.
The Monster disliked that the smoke stacks
on factories made his eyes water,
so he swallowed all the furnaces in the city
and belched fire balls for a week.
Since the factories are gone the city makes
its money with tourism. Throbbing
buses slither into the city every day—people
jab their fingers and take pictures.
The kids jump up and down and squeal,
sometimes the Monster scratches
his armpit. The city gets by and the Monster
only eats one or two tourist every year.
He can’t help it. People climb into his mouth
while he sleeps. They go like
the seven spiders we take in every year:
Searching for a warm, wet place of dreams.
1. A car compactor.
2. Eat hawk talons without chewing—digest while standing on your head.
3. Make a grilled cheese. Use provolone and muenster and when the bread is a perfect golden brown slice it in half and drink in the sight of oozing cheese.
4. Write love letters to your exes on parchment paper. Eat the paper. Write hate letters to your exes on your belly. Press your belly so flat it fits in an envelope and mail the letters.
5. Kill bees and steal their pollen. The cum of roses is your diet.
6. Hate your belly so completely it shrinks away from your glaring.
7. Love your belly so much it expands until it fills the gym you work out at. Love it so fully that it suffocates the trainers and ape-armed weightlifters. Love it so completely it bowls over your town and the next over. Love your belly so incredibly the Earth is gently pushed aside. There is so much love in your belly it begins to fuse hydrogen into helium. Love your belly so fantastically it goes supernova and reminds everyone caught in the blast that we’re the dust of stars.
Roland Barthes interviewed in «Cahiers du Cinema» n. 147, September 1963
I folded the corners of a dollar
into the abrasive edges of a dime
and flicked it off my desk
and rolled with the loss in personal
mobility. There is no going up
when the rungs are missing
from the ladder, but at least
those on top have great stilts
to see the crowd! They swing and wobble
on their legs like Uncle Sams
in a Fourth of July parade.
This connection isn’t important.
What is is my Cold War connection
to a foreign policy of Militant Optimism.
I got big boots to march in and popguns
I level at the enemy and fire
streamers and rainbow things into their
throbbing, vulture hearts—I got circular
rhetoric that’s carrion and carry on.
Here’s my point of departure:
I scooped the gore out of wounded
cities—from LA, Detroit, your Syracuse
then circled back to Santa Cruz—
and I let the blood run through
my fingers and let the people
in each drop pool at my feet.
I finger-painted a red game
of hangman. There’s a noose
for every man—but despite the guilt
connecting every joint and the pain
needed move my knees, elbows, wrists—
I swing my limbs until their fulcrums.
I’m a machinery of change,
an investment in capital gains
to replace the factory worker
with sense of loss, of a great
inefficiency in the present moment.
If you find yourself out of breath
stop holding it and take some fresh air.
And lean back! Air’s cleaner
when you aren’t brown nosing.
A short lyric essay written in response to Corey Zeller’s Man Vs Sky