i wish i was pow

about eight feet up,
the Rylance/Rudko (94) was usually reliable
having still functioning the following keys
– I W S H O P A Z M –
and indeed now a woman in jeans and a white t-shirt
(it’s usually more Lees than Austins here)
with a foothold on Willis/Smith (02)
scrolls in a piece of paper and pecks away
the gummy clacks perforating the quiet
of Fort Sheridan in summery swelter

then there’s me,
leaning against the Hoskins/Sher (81)
pressing what’s left of the space bar on the Irons/Bryant (09)
and though i’m really here for the Hoffman/Reilly (00),
i’d settle for the Reilly/Hoffman (00)

the idea was given to Shepard by Peter Boyle
(Jones/Boyle (80), about halfway down, on the east side)
and though he wasn’t known to be a sentimental man,
Sam collected one from every production
from Broadway to the one in the back
of the coffeeshop at the other side of the
St. John’s Bridge in Portland, Oregon,
where the play was punctuated by the
drive-in box at the Burgerville out back
(that typewriter actually struck an audience member in the face)
and piled them here – ten feet high
running half a city block

and as she passes, i ask this Lee what she wrote
she straightens, says the shift key is broken,
and turns the paper so i can read
i am a wampish mishap

what are you going to write?

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hands

silver pipe
cellphone
toy gun
loose cigarettes
skittles:
what’s in their hands

is now on
ours

 

– via a prompt from Two Sylvias Press
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Full of Stars

space construction

from 2001, dir. Stanley Kubrick

i tire of the sun
it’s always in sight
and its brilliance is taking its toll

the stars all around
shine ever so bright
and i’m tired of seeing them all

the rings of Saturn
are epic and grand
but once you partake, so what?

a comet streaks by
the fourth one today
have they nothing else better to do?

i do

i’m building a pub at the end
of the universe
and no one is ever invited
the drinks are thin
and prices are dire
the jukebox plays only the Eagles
our peanuts are stale
the urinals cloudy
and space rats run shuffleboard rackets

so
i’ll lock all the doors,
and draw every shade,
and on repeat, play Take It Easy.
i’ll maw through some nuts,
wash ’em down with Buds Light,

while i take pointers from space rats on how to handle my cues,
and pray to Cassiopeia that no one comes knocking.

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Vanity, You Pretty Thing

In a f e w days, i’ll be reading a statement
directly on camera, silver gun pin
impaling shirt to tie, fixing me here,
staring into red hum light – a stop sign
i’ll ignore while my needle skates across
Hunky Dory

look out the window and what do i see?

In a f e w days, i’ll be a vintage typewriter
in the library of Lewis & Clark, ribbon twisted,
f key mashed down from one too many
f words – a problem best addressed with a
pry bar while my needle skates across
After Hours

i’d rather be all by myself

In a f e w days, i’ll be a seagull off the
Oregon Coast, lofted by winds over the
vista, cars parked, doors open, arms
pointed, eyes squinted at that or that
spray, while i dive for spun thrown
Nilla Wafers

 

– based off a tricksy little prompt from Two Sylvias Press
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when you believe

when your mom told you bad luck results from going outside with wet knees,
you scrubbed skin to raw red medallions, never as dry as could be. now you
believe bad luck opportunes from clipped toenails after rain, from whistling
in bus stations, from writing poems on napkins at Yo La Tengo concerts.

things get ugly and out of hand, things get un and sur real in ways and weights
that defy the reasonable parts of your once sane, once calm brain pan (simmer).
you turn the flame low, and brush your finger clockwise over the top. you
don’t even question anymore – the debatably practical staves off the bad.
understand there’s always something to fear understand your way back out

Then when things get ugly and out of hand and un and sur,
you know it’s just a haphazard dry in the first steps out that makes you
suffer. just a too quick towel dash as the minutes clip by pppppppppppppppppppppppp

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The Boss’ Jag

Over the past few years, I’ve participated in 30 day found poetry challenges during National Poetry Month. This is the first year I’m participating in a non-found challenge. We’ll see how this goes. Anything posted here should be considered a first draft (at best). Take it all with a grain of salt.

This month, I’ll be playing with prompts from Two Sylvias Press. The first prompt talked about a mistake, what one learned from it, and being playful. So here goes:

The Boss’ Jag

The boss’ Jag is grey and sleek,
and parked beneath the ground,
aged nineteen me now has a task:
“Take it out and have it cleaned.”

The boss’ Jag is grey and sleek,
the mom’s car parked behind,
“I’ll go with and move it back,” she offers.
I concede.

The boss’ Jag is grey and sleek,
mom’s Honda’s pulled away,
I barely breathe, but turn the key
and feel the rumble low.

The boss’ Jag is grey and sleek,
and now it’s in reverse,
I peeeeel my foot from off the brake
and creep the car back slow.

The boss’ Jag is grey and sleek,
and glaciers have moved faster,
the mirrors checked,
and checked again,
but I’ll look one more time.

The boss’ Jag is grey and sleek,
but now it’s ceased its motion.

My palms’ sweat wiped on pleated pants,
my heart rate starts its climb.

The boss’ Jag is grey and sleek,
and rooted to its place.

Time waltzes by in painful drabs.
I check –
the Jag’s still running.

The boss’ Jag is grey and sleek,
and though it’s at a stop,
my foot weighs down upon the gas,
the engine steady gunning.

The boss’ Jag is grey and sleek,
and suddenly scoots backwards,
jump on the brake,
and glance around,
the problem now is clocking.

The boss’ Jag is grey and sleek,
but the Jeep next to it’s red,
and though there’s no one in the seat,
the Jeep has started rocking.

The boss’ Jag is grey and sleek,
save 18 inches scratched,
about the height of that Jeep’s bumper,
straight across the back.

The boss’ Jag is grey and sleek,
and also has a scratch,
from the boy who saw just one way out
from in the driver’s seat.

The boss’ Jag is grey and sleek,
but also comes with doors,
and answers are sometimes better seen
from outside, on the street.

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fever dream

I am at a conference with a poet I admire. In my dream. In my dream, I am at a conference with this poet. He isn’t the keynote speaker, or even a presenter. He just sits next to me (as though perhaps we came here together), listening to the presentation. But his focus is distracted. While his eyes are on the presenter, his mind is on my screen.

“You should close that,”             says, pointing. “It’s too bright.”

It is indeed too bright. The conference room is lit in some shade of grey – the color of the air in bars when one was still able to smoke in bars. My laptop stands on the table in front of us, wide open and, for some reason, defying logic, on a plain white screen, blazing. I try to laugh nonchalantly, like it’s no big deal that I’m annoying a poet I admire: one of those poets who make me want to write, who make me want to say, “I can sleep later; I have to write now.” Of course, I’m annoying him. I reach up and close the laptop and wonder why I’ve brought a laptop when I draft with pen and paper, in hardcover blue books my Aunt Becky had given me. Why had I even brought a laptop?

My stomach rumbles low. I put my hand to my belly and am startled by its size – bulging up and out in an unfamiliar way. When had I let this happen? I press my hand to my newly protruding gut and am fascinated. I stare at this perfectly smooth half oval. This is a Belly.

“You want coffee,”             says. (In my dream). “I could go for coffee.”

I nod. I can’t find words.

“I should call            , see if she wants to get some coffee. I could really go for some coffee. I know it’s late, but coffee right now would be great.”

And I would agree, having coffee with two of my current-favorite poets would indeed be great, beyond great, really, and how did I even get here in the first place?

Which is the question that echoes in my head as I wake up coughing hard enough to nearly throw up. Coughing and coughing and coughing. I stumble to the bathroom and stand at the sink. I lean forward and try to focus on the drain. Drool trails onto white porcelain. I count the whisker hairs near the faucet. I’m not going to throw up. I stare at myself in the mirror and tell myself that I’m not going to throw up. I’m not.

Tonight, I’m keeping it all down.

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