Telling it Plain

The old pipes in this house
scream in the middle of the night.
Not as lovers scream
in motel or wedding bed.
Not as ghosts scream,
as oracle or agony of injustice.
They scream only as old, rusted
things scream
when they have been buried
within walls too many
run-on years.

Still, you taste
the weird tang,
the poetry
of rust,

and will spend it
like a quarter
you found

on a winter street.

Poem with Lines Not in Chronological Order

And then I’m dead, and no longer care, anymore than that empty billboard
everybody was using to send babies to heaven and hell in July.
And I had never seen anything so excitable in my whole life,
not even a gilded rat!
And I came into your Trojan bed with the stink of another there.
And you gave me orange roses,
oranges, roses who’re rogues
meaning swallow my confusion.
And you said you would be mine for ten thousand years,
not a single day more.
And I fell for bullshit like this.
And I came four times that first night.
And you said, you can’t kill what isn’t alive
but we were talking about that painting (I think).
And I don’t even know your secret name for yourself, I conspired.
And looking back, it might as well have been
a unicorn. I mean that fucking stupid,
to play riding games. When you’ve never even
seen how a unicorn actually grows up,
how it is raised.


Drive past a late summer match on a blue tennis court under shade
of a park’s greenest trees. Green shadows on a tennis court
of bluest blue, where young plays old, old plays young,
before it maybe happens, a quiet game elsewhere,
in other shadows, meshes of the afternoon, not hard fought
on either side really, since it’s nothing, nobody for keeps.


I like the made thing,
its intricacies which make me
over in its image, making it.
I like the found thing also,
the impossible moment when the wind blows
until the big green field goes crazy,
so there is nothing to do but watch
and enjoy our own uselessness
and — somehow — use. It’s rather like
a lover riding you astonishingly well.
Up and down like a carousel horse.
There’s nothing to do but be wonderful
down there, under the rippling joy,
to be the world, the ground,
that world-ground every sliding lover wants.
And the great satisfaction in knowing
you are a good ride, a satisfaction indeed.
Up they go again, and now your smile,
down they come, and know yourself
the perfect machine at delicious last.
And you are oiled with the satisfaction
of it.  And this and nothing more.


A frustrated man in an unhappy marriage traded in his wife for a gorilla.

It was a male gorilla, but the man put it in a truly vavoom pink polka dot dress, put makeup on its face, and placed a smart, pink toque on its head. The he took the gorilla out, everywhere, just as he had been accustomed to do with his wife.

The man was able to take the lead when they walked together and even steer this “ship of two,” and the gorilla didn’t run away from him in the stores to look at clothing or jewelry or other shiny things such as would formerly happen with his wife.

The man was now able to speak first. He was able to speak as much as he wanted also. But he didn’t know how to speak first and the gorilla couldn’t speak, so they went everywhere together in total silence.

Other men in shopping malls would see the man and his gorilla walking together, the man’s right arm wrapped around the hairy, left arm of his companion in a somewhat forceful, proprietary manner, and use this example, this object lesson, to demean the wives or girlfriends walking beside them.

“She might not be much to look at,” they would say while staring directly into their partners’ faces with the searchlight of an unstated accusation, “but just look at how well he’s got her trained.”

And then the wives or girlfriends would look at the sarcastic, smug expressions on the faces of their husbands or boyfriends and immediately think about replacing them with gorillas.

Bryce, My Shirt

I am wearing a shirt I named Bryce. My name is not Bryce. The shirt just looks like a “Bryce.” So I named it that. I think I bought this one drunken, summer afternoon in Kohl’s. I don’t know how many years ago. I was probably talking to the shirt. I was alone. I was probably very happy. That was the way it was then, euphoria in-between the hours like broken windshield glass cutting through me. I mean when I was an alcoholic. But I did have a shitload of credit cards then. I was responsible. Because I wanted my addiction to continue.  I was probably wearing sunglasses inside the store. I was probably sexually attracted to Bryce. What does Bryce even look like? Bryce looks like a hideously ugly tattoo. Let me take off the shirt and stare at it. Let me study Bryce for you. Let me pay the horror forward. There is a big electric looking dragon, blue body againt egg yolk-yellow background, snaking across the back of the shirt. Below this dances a series of higgledy-piggledy human skulls that look a little like they were applied as drab, white spray-paint.  If Bryce was a human being and not just a shirt, he would probably have to pay for sex. He’s that ugly. But I found him just now in the back room of my house; he was convenient; he was there. So I am wearing him. If this were Chinatown, if it were 1974, Bryce might just get lucky. If there were any sexually ambiguous bikers out on the block. Bryce would probably wilt in the Chinatown heat. He would melt as his cheap, synthetic fibers would under an iron, if that man were to just reach over and put his hands through the holes of Bryce’s sleeves. He’s a terribly shiny, terribly easy shirt.