Poem for October Shootings

Another autumn comes
to get the trees stoned,
to squeeze your hand
with thin and late light
a little on this street
that’s shaded by all these
ancient sycamores. You love
the scraggy sounds
those giant leaves
make when, dried-out,
they fall, and run like rats
down the street when wind
comes around that corner
that’s actually a dive bar.
The soul spittoon’s only windows
are narrow glass cinder blocks,
castle slits, so you’re spared
from seeing the dead/dying
who sit in there and watch
a small television
in the moist underworld,
who sometimes shoot each other
dead-for-real just outside the door
of this cave establishment,
because someone else just said
what they were already
thinking about themselves
in a cruelly honest way.

A Few Short Paragraphs about Walls

I am the camel-colored spackling sealing the bullet hole in this public white wall
on this busy street in the center of this town. This is Busytown with all the anthropomorphic people who are sometimes animals driving cars and sometimes
animals committing felonies while eating sandwiches or just after. Imagine. You put your finger there, stranger, into my filled tan hole. I think I am punk. I believe
I am punk rock. I am, after all, a bullet hole. But I am old.

You think this is a place where someone almost died, that the bullet could have gone through a human heart, which is really only thick red paper. You think, What a mercy.  But you are wrong. The bullet did go through a human heart’s paper. Thick. Red. Wet. You forgot ropy. Heart that is a lantern of blood. And the bullet is still in here. It is still in me. I am the bullet hole that talks. I don’t want to give the bullet back. I’ve just gotten used to it, the feel of it in me like language, or metal type in an old wooden box in a sealed room. It is a form of possession. That’s all I will say. Velocity gave you to me, I say to the bullet in me. A lover will make such stupid statements of bald physics. It’s like the things people say during sex.

I am a public wall that has a desire to retain some dark and decent privacy. So I place one side of me in a place you cannot reach. The dark side of me is buried like an ancient rib deep in the shadows of the building. It is all so Biblical, to be a wall. Touch my outside all you want. Touch the outside of my wall like Southern people turning around a meteor in a church. As Russian people once turned
around Sputnik and touched it. I am rough-textured. You can touch me and stroke me and accuse me.  You can drive your car into me and just die. You can shoot bullets into me. Nothing will change my anchoring into this darkness. Only if an earthquake occurs and I fall on you, will you know my inner side. But then how will you tell? See how cleverly I have designed this scenario?

I am the stale bread that you hold in the plastic bag in the middle of the night,
in the middle of your kitchen, in the middle of your life, as you calculate
its weight over and over before throwing it away. I am the cubic zirconia of dread.
Something comes down in your mind like a wall then. Something which allows you to throw me, living bread, away. How am I, bread, alive? That I will feed. That I will colonize a gut or be colonized by primordial forms of life. If left to stale, if left to the colonizing interests of air, the spores and tiny carriers of ladders of still
evolving things. Blue plushness will grow like velvet on my skin of bread. I will
suddenly have antlers of blue mold. Pale green overgrowth textured like the strangest moth will cover me like a blanket. Mold and its cities. You
want me, the bread, to stay in this plastic for eternity. There is less guilt if I can’t escape the plastic wall in which you have immured me, and which you call, ridiculously, a bag.

Seagulls

the seagulls attack the more normal birds
and that’s the new level of savagery
that’s the new normal
on the boardwalk facing the rented ocean
it’s the same as everywhere else
a child drops her hot dog
a goon-squad with claws closes in
instantly as hunger
screaming like a bloodthirsty crowd in a war
and who doesn’t know by now
there is never anything but crowds in a war
the ocean rolls its tumblers over
there is always some animal setting the level
of universal panic for the rest of us
our dream of utopia is disproven by seagulls
Q.E.D.: seagulls
somehow the gunman posting to Facebook
is the same, the same as this
all the other birds stand back and wait
they watch the horrorshow existence of the gulls
they are afraid of the hooked beaks
those screams like metal claws dragged across more metal
eyes like those of an absinthe drinker
soulless along the water at night
waiting for any victim with a soft throat
the ocean (their mother) is depositing fresh kills
rows of dead things down on the beach for them
bits of crabs are broken up marionettes
all sorts of other skeletons with gobs of meat on them
but it’s not really good enough for the gulls
they want what you have, your undead food
so often decorated to look alive
that human food that expresses its desire to be eaten
the way it looks on menus, posters, billboards
pleading with us like would-be lovers
that’s what they want
the pigeons watch the gulls from the shadows
they wait in the dark corners of buildings
or the foul alleys between them
for any little snippets the seagulls might leave
they rarely do leave anything
you can’t tame them, these seagulls
they will never be your pets
they will never perform tricks
for society or anything else
their collective mind is mad like the ocean
and it is all one hovering mind
Niceness is not part of nature
it is our little doodle on top of it
They rarely do learn anything
that they don’t already know
The nicer, normal birds just watch
the carpe diem birds who are not guilty
you walk back to your quiet hotel
it’s after-season, so the gulls don’t haunt
the parking lot that much
they don’t devil-bomb the balconies
in the off season, won’t waste their time
they know the rhythms of the ghost town
plunked down on the ocean
You turn the t.v. on in the quiet room
there are human gulls all over the screen
you turn it back off and the shadows
of the hotel room make their own quiet noise
this shadow noise is acceptable
the only sanity is a quiet room
four walls were the greatest invention of all time
and the cool quiet of this pillow
whoever invented this
I love you

Trash Talk

that man who was screaming in the middle of the street

who shot all those people

the same guy who was shot dead

who’s flat on his back in the street now

wearing his last wifebeater

with his pit bull licking his blood

licking his brains from the asphalt

the man who shot everyone

who shot all his neighbors

did it because of a $700 trash bill

see, the township was going to start fining him

for each day he didn’t have trash service

(they all gang up on you like this, see)

for each day a fine and his trash

would no longer be picked up

but climb to the heavens in a pyramid

and they say that’s why

he did it

the thought of mountains of trash and fines

the word “why” for mass murder

is comfortably insane       believing itself

I’m just sayin

if you need a sturdy pit bull

I know a traumatized one

yeah, he has a confederate flag bandana around his neck

but hell, you can just remove that

that poor dog had no idea

he was a racist with a tail

How Will You Ever Get Out of This?

Well, there’s a roughly one in three hundred chance
you’ll die by a bullet in an assault.
It’s one in a hundred your own hand
will get there first. Suicide trumps the gun.
Beware of dog? Beware of others. Beware yourself.
Your chances of winning the biggest lottery
are well over ten million to one.
Have a nice day. Be kind and careful with others,
and especially yourself.