Regular Poem: The GCBRO Extends Its Deepest Sympathies

14 Dec

don’t worry

i don’t need
anybody to love me
or a baby to scold
or a job that treats me like a human
or even just an alcoholic old gruff racist sentimental dad to hang out with and be perpetually frustrated by

i just need
some cool ass guns
and a little bourbon

i don’t need peace of mind
or anything better to do

just full garages
and a little petty cash

just a hastily bought tuxedo
and second hand memories
and a ton of fantasies
about being a completely different person

just anger and grief
and ghosts and guilt

don’t worry



how do you like your new roommates?

you thought it was just going to be you
and that piano

fat chance, sweetheart

when you’re with a woman such as i
you’ve got to learn to expect these things
roll with the blind lurching punches
ready to jump up and punch back
or just take it
i usually just take it
old iron jaw
they call me
old bozo the clown bop bag


don’t worry

i’m definitely not
talking to my tuxedo again

don’t worry

my tuxedo that i did not name babe
is not
the closest thing
i’ve had to a romantic relationship
in years


we really did
bury him in a cigar box
i thought it had been a joke
when i had suggested it for myself

but then there it was
so perfect

his last words were

and one more thing

spoiler alert
there wasn’t
one more thing

there were eight rounds of cpr
and then a few hours of surgery
and then many hours of tremors and seizures

until he quietly gave up the ghost
none of us there to see it

it’s like
he wanted me to see it
and no one else
i should’ve told them to stop the cpr
he was probably mad at me for that
and that whole day and a half after
was a guilt trip

one time when i was a kid
i got in a fight at school
and his punishment for me
was a two week grounding
from all my favorite stuff
and i thought it was bullshit
because that kid i smacked
deserved it
and i’ve always been great
at justifying my poor decisions

and anyway
i talked him into
an appeal

he got a bunch of his cop friends together
to be a review board
we both presented our cases
they sided with me
and my sentence was reduced to time served
plus like three days

it was very us
they call it these days
so extra

he was the most extra
and i guess i’m my father’s daughter

and hanging on to the barest definition of life
by the skin of his dentures
to watch me suffer
to watch us all suffer
for 36 hours

seems like a thing he would do


don’t worry

i cut myself opening a condolence card
and then the content of it
was the sweetest one i’d received

but i’m not bleeding anymore

don’t worry

i really am contemplating
using my inheritance
to buy a houseboat
start a new life as someone
who wears a shoulder holster with a .357 magnum in it every day

don’t worry



maybe i’ll take you out tomorrow

maybe i say tomorrow too much

maybe there’s never a today for either of us
just bleary yesterdays and tomorrows that are never
the tomorrows we want them to be


don’t worry

i’ll find someone else
who’ll spend three hours driving around looking for a stupid truck with a matte black diy paint job
and homemade plywood topper

i’ll find someone else
who’ll tour cemeteries with me
get kicked out of casinos and Chinese buffets with me

i’ll find someone else
who’ll accidentally find dead serious bigfoot websites
while searching for the county code book
(counties don’t have codes
they have ordinances)

i’ll find someone else
to confess to
and to have confess to me

i’ll find someone else
who can make me laugh and cry and rage and love and hate and think and think and think

don’t worry


Regular Poem: Stiff-Necked

20 Nov

It is a stiff-necked people.

I always liked the phrase
but never quite understood it.

Until my own neck became stiff
my muscles tense
pulling my ribs out of alignment.

I had always imagined the Isrealites
gazing unchangingly
at their molten idol–
just being jerks,
focused on whatever
was in front of them.

But I get it

They weren’t stiff-necked just because of that.
It was the accumulation
that made them that way.
They carried their stress in their shoulders
their trapezia, their rhomboids.

They were stiff-necked
stubborn and proud
but probably also
after years of wandering and waiting.

You delivered me from bondage in Egypt
just to murder me in the wilderness.

I’ve seen the manna,
the magical, the miraculous.

And yet here I am
begging for a golden calf.

It is a stiff-necked people.

It is a stiff-necked me.

I need a massage.
And to repent.

Regular Poem: It’s Always Rosebushes

3 Oct

my stance on rosebushes
(to recap: fuck them;
they’re the worst)

is well-documented

consider then
my chagrin
horror even

and contemplating

that i am one
damn it

my pastor’s sermon sunday
(and you see now it’s
and i’m still thinking about it;
one or both of us
is at least doing
some t h i n g

was about change growth
(if you want to be like that
and he didn’t say the word
and i didn’t think it—
till just now)

to paraphrase

heat affects us all
(common grace, common tribulation)
and the way we respond
shows our heart
our root

are we inhabiting the parched places of the wilderness
or are we
as a tree planted by the waters

do men gather grapes of thorns
or thistles of figs

he went on to say
people don’t plant
thorny things
thorny things
spring up
from sin
from that heart of the old man
who hangs around
wolf whisting

but of course
people do plant rose bushes
pretty flowers ugly thorns
vines and vines and vines
horrible and intricate and beautiful

the roots are long and sturdy
difficult to disrupt
you dig and dig
and sweat and sweat

and from that root
comes great and terrible

you deadhead
you prune

and still
it’s both flowers and thorns
and still
a hearty rosebush
is the only discernible t h i n g

i ought not
have these thorns
i ought to be a mum or pansy

but here i am
this rosebush

heart divided
heat and rain encouraging
both flower and thorn

Regular Poem: Throwing a Rug Over It

18 Sep

i’ve been throwing a rug over it
for years
literally years
all the chances to fix it
fell through
all the windfalls
burned up in emergency vet bills
all the months i could’ve saved
i went to the casino instead

i’ve been avoiding it for months
keeping a quart of oil in my trunk
to slosh accidentally onto my
black patent leather pumps already late to church

i’ve been using a different mirror for weeks
the light fixture barely worked in the first place
half of it crapped out years ago
but an electrician would take one look
at my hobbled together ’50s diy circuitry
and give me a million dollar estimate
and i’d rather use a different mirror
and go to the casino

i make my bed
i sort my mail
i floss my teeth
i pick out my clothes for tomorrow the night before


if the train moves forward
always forward
always on the rails
always the same direction
all the cars go too

if the ship is sinking but can limp home
you throw stuff out
keep the sails up
prayer and fasting prayer and fasting

ignore tolerate hope
grin bear it
longsuffering forebearing


i run the dishwasher
i make my lunch for tomorrow
i vacuum
i keep fresh flowers on the dining room table
i set my alarm

and i don’t wake up the next morning
a different person in a different house in a different life

i know because
there’s that rug over that ruined parquet
there’s that change engine oil light
there’s that lightswitch that switches on nothing
there are those clothes i picked out that lunch i packed that same
face in that alternate mirror

time and money slip through fingers
dreams and ambitions slip just as easily
one foot in the grave the other
on a banana peel

so i’ve been throwing a rug over it
for years

Regular Poem: Amazing Feats of Strength

3 Sep

thirty years as a professional ballerina
say it over again and think on it

that’s like those 60 year old firefighters
still putting on 75 pounds of gear and dragging a hose up 8 flights of steps

a specimen

let me see your muscles
show me
meet me in an alley
and i’ll slip you a twenty to punch me
just once

thirty years dancing the most grueling physical dance
i did the research, lady,
most of you don’t last five
fifteen is a good career


thirty years a ballerina
i just want to see you naked
quiz you about your scars and injuries
hear your politically incorrect stories from the early ’80s
let the horror and humanity of it wash over me
a wave of things i’ll never experience or fully understand

i never took ballet
hardly even like it
leapfrog over myself trying to translate the french phrases involved
but thirty years
you hooked me
you’ve got me

tell me everything

i can be interested in anything
if the person talking to me about it is sufficiently invested
hours of my life gone talking about
video games i’ll never play on consoles i’ll never own
crops i’ll never grow in fields i’ll never see
engines i can’t visualize with horsepowers i can’t put into context
romances starring people i’ve never met
i’ll listen if you love it
i love to listen
if you love to talk

but this

it’s almost mythical

and i ache for it

Regular Poem: A Rosebush for Emily 

10 Jul

there’s a moth
that nests in walnut trees
makes a web
in which its numerous young cycle through
their nascence and adolescense
and then sneak out in adulthood
leaving entire braches
silken and draping and drooping
with gauze-covered crispy vacated cocoons
the tree is no worse for it
but it has a look about it

it has a look about it
like the brick wall of a house
overgrown with ivy
the same ivy creeping
all the way around back
up the porch
engulfing like lava
slow and steady and so much

it has a look about it
like dead honeysuckle
which is itself
like a tumbleweed that doesn’t tumble
just a sad carcass on a wooden fence
instead of a ghostly drifter on a forgotten highway

it has a look about it
like a gnarly rose bush
all briar and no beauty
the red seeping out of the flowers
into the vine
or maybe the blood of its victims
pricked on its cacophony of thorns

it has a look about it
like rusty lawn ornaments
and gutters full of accidental compost
and faded furniture
and dust on tile

it has a look about it
of abundance then neglect then decay

it has a look about it

but those moths never hurt anybody

it has a look about it
but don’t we all

Regular Poem: One Goal at a Time

30 Apr

the next thing is
finding a dry cleaner
or maybe grapefruit spoons
no definitely the dry cleaner
how evening wear
rather too consistently for comfort
buys me a couple drinks chats me up
and ends up living in my spare bedroom

in my fantasy version
of the scenario
it’s a front for the russian mob
and the little old lady who runs it
also does alterations
she takes a shine to me
teaches me how to make borscht
and i accidentally get mixed up
in a crime ring for a while

the fantasy for the grapefruit spoons
is a lot less action
less ambiance
just magically
having all matching flatware
without the tedious step of
going through all my flatware
the fantasy quickly
devolves into boring children’s book
if you give a gal a grapefruit spoon

if you give a gal a grapefruit spoon
she’ll want butter knives with the same fleur-de-lis handles
and if you give her the butter knives
she’ll want a fancy butter dish

butter dish leads to gravy boat
gravy boat to tea set
tea set to good china
good china to crystal whiskey decanter

and if you give a gal a crystal whiskey decanter
she’ll surely
drink some whiskey and
if she drinks some whiskey
she’ll more than likely
buy more evening wear online

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