John Yamrus – “this chair”

Since 1970 John Yamrus has published 2 novels and 25 volumes of poetry. He has also had more than 1,800 poems published in print magazines around the world. His work is taught in a number of colleges and universities.

this chair

where i sit
and write my poems
is beat up and scratched,
held together with wire, tape and hope.

you figure it out.


*Editor’s note

The symbolic art of “less is more” can be a tricky device. To truly achieve this the reader must be primed for the intellectual indulgence. The poem as a whole must be an universal metaphor. The parts which make the whole build understanding, like deciphering the layers of a particular rich but bite sized piece of delicious pastry. Probably the most famous of these types of poems is “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams. Volumes of analysis have been written on this Imagist little gem, each analysis as germane and valid as the next, but with an overall consensus that the poem delivers a powerful statement on the nature of existence and the human condition.

Likewise, John Yamrus’ poem here, delivers an exclamation mark in clear concise language. The poem begins with a declaration of an object, “this chair.” Now, is the chair the subject, the title? The chair is declared. Then the reader is given the state of the chair and why. Of course, the state of the chair is also the state of the poet. Indeed, the state of all poets. The state of all poets who surrender to the discipline of symbols, objects, and image.

The last line is the wink and a nod. For you, dear readers, you will figure it out.

– Angel Uriel Perales, July 8th, 2016

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Push Mower


I love being white. I love my whiteness.

When I was younger, for a while, for a few years,
all I did was mow our yard. We owned 5 acres.
5 acres which had to be mown. I mowed them,
the 5 acres. But, silly boy, you will say, how lucky
of you to have lived in a house with 5 acres.
Trust me, when you have to mow 5 acres of brush
and rock and ditches with a push mower, you
will wish your yard was smaller.

I once asked my dad, could we PLEASE
get a riding mower. My dad said no.
My father said, you want a riding mower,
you want to sit on a mower
and drive while mowing the yard,
you want to mow like a NASCAR driver,
work for the privilege. Work. Work hard.

So I worked hard. I mowed that yard, hard.
I became my own hard mowing machine.
I pushed that mower and, by the time
I finished one side of the yard, the other side
had already grown out. And I had to start,
to start again, my life was an infinite loop
with no recursion, my summer life,
my autumn life, an endless loop,

goto :A

Fall brought out the colors and the leaves.
I saw none of the beauty. I saw leaves to rake
and a yard to mow. Spring.
Spring bred the lilacs out of the dead ground.
Spring also bred a tan. A glorious,
beautiful tan, and another year when I begged
for a lawn tractor.

Nobody owes you a thing, my father taught me,
And you will learn to protect and maintain
every speck of dirt you can call your own.
You will feel the fear in a handful of dust.

I think I will, I think I shall
write entire verses
of the time I went to Sears
to buy a cheap Craftsman riding mower
and of the time I damaged the blade deck
with the first rock I hit.
Necessity breeds ambition
as well as invention. I became an expert
lawn tractor mechanic. Harsh lessons
needed with the purchase
of my first used car.

Oh my glorious tan, my tanned shoulders,
the lean frame of my body in those days,
my body which wooed the girls
when they would touch my flat stomach
and look up into my eyes at night,
a night following a day
of mowing my yard all day,
every day.

I hear the whiners,
the complainers,
The Kvetchers kvetching
and bitching about whiteness
and how the white man holds them down.

I love being white.
I love being fat.
I have earned that pride
and privilege.

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The Shirts You Wear

The body is not even cold and the opportunistic, profiteering vultures have swooped in to pick at his corpse. Almost as if this is their mentality: Bowie is dead so now how can I exploit this opportunity for my gain? How can I make Bowie’s death further my social justice agenda? This is their mentality. The social justice warriors with their social justice con artistry, they paint the town dead with nauseous gasses emanating from their open craws, Agent Orange you glad I came along to tell you what to think and how to think and how to grieve. Whom is worthy of mourning? Not White privileged rock stars who may or may not had sex with underage groupies back in the 60’s and 70’s. Not them. Not those white people. And Bowie was so painfully pale to these jackals. He even named one of his personae the Thin White Duke. How dare he?

No. I will not link to the webpage of the ridiculous Social Justice Warrior. I will not give her the added web traffic she craves. I will state that she calls herself “an expert” in her field though she is not even 30, maybe not even 25, and she has not finished her Master’s. Her field is “activism and presentation.” Her big brush with fame was once appearing on the Laura Ingraham Show for a debate “and surviving.” This is a Conservative radio show. Of course, the SJW has a face for radio.

So how does this SJW begin her smear on David Bowie? She begins her rant by talking first about herself: “Every other week, I co-lead an all-gender process and support group.” Oh what a good person. What a righteous gal. She co-leads and supports an all-gender process. If you need a more clear explication of what that means then my guess would be that she has a “gather around the circle” coffee and donuts get together to let people transitioning from one gender to another know how wonderful they are and how they should feel good about themselves. So the fact that she co-leads this group makes her an authority to wax self-righteously on Bowie’s shortcomings as a horrible pedophile and White privileged rapist.

But she doesn’t stop talking about herself at this point. In fact, she never stops talking about herself throughout her entire rant. “… yesterday is also when I found out about the rape allegations against him, that were cleared by a jury, but I also know that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, and the facts of his statutory rape of a 14/15-year-old. And so my feed has also been ripe with explosive anger as well as nuanced discomfort, frustration, and exhaustion.”

So in her worldwide-gathered expertise, she knows better than a jury and is all so willing to believe the allegations of a washed up Hollywood 70’s groupie now in her mid-50’s whom, to hear the tell all, lost her virginity to Bowie at age 14, was more promiscuous than Sweet Connie, better looking than Pamela Des Barre, sultrier than Michele Overman. The groupie even has pictures of herself with Jimmy Page to prove her allegations. (Wait, is that the same outfit and even the same angle of the pic of Page with Des Barre?) I saw the documentary “Let’s Spend the Night Together” on VH-1 (since they have the documentary on constant repeat.) This underage groupie was never mentioned once. But never mind ALL THAT. The important part of the rant is the tone and attitude that Bowie has already been convicted as a child rapist in this “expert’s” fantastical mind and her “feed”- let me repeat- her “feed” not “her“- has been “ripe” with “explosive anger, nuanced discomfort, frustration, and exhaustion.” Yes, this SJW is exhausted from thinking about all those underage groupies who flung themselves at Bowie and Jagger and Page and were found naked and waiting in their beds possibly already spread-legged and wet. The SJW is totally exhausted thinking about this. Picturing underage girls all naked and fucking rock stars, this exhausts her, these thoughts, so she has to write about it and tell us how exhausted she feels.

“So what am I, a gender/queer Latinx, supposed to feel and do about this cultural icon?” ANSWER: Stick the allegations up your ass. Have you ever heard of due process? Even the dead are innocent until proven guilty. Whatever can be conjured up in your deluded mind without evidence can be equally dismissed prima facie without evidence.

Latinx? Where have I heard this term before? Oh from our illustrious and fully venerated Los Angeles Poet Laureate, Luis J. Rodriguez: “I am using the term Latinx to cover both male and female genders (Latinos and Latinas), but also the shifting non-binary transgender, transsexual, and other manifestations of our human existence. Unfortunately, a significant section of our society is still kicking and screaming to understand how fluid and marvelous our full humanity really is. Latinx are no exception. I personally don’t use terms like “Hispanic” and rarely Latino. They only describe the colonial/conquests aspects of history. Since the 60s, I’ve called myself Xicano, U.S. born, politically active and arts engaged, whose parents were born and raised in Mexico. But this term doesn’t resonate with many of my own background. As for native tribes, I’m Mexika/Raramuri (my father born in a traditionally Nahuatl-speaking area of Guerrero, and my mother from the Raramuri-area of Chihuahua). But, of course, I also have Spanish and whatever African my Guerrero roots draw from (many African slaves were brought into the state; Guerrero was named after the first African-descended president, in 1829, of Mexico). If this sounds complicated, it is. Latinx cannot be boxed into any old demographic.”


Latinx. “… I’m no homogenized, non-historical, non-political or non-cultural person. I’m actively involved in environmental justice, social justice, economic justice, and peace in the world as well as home.”

Fuck me. Bad writers of the world unite! Forget literary quality, fuck that noise! Let all our mindless diarrhea prove how non-homogenized, non-historical, and non-cultural we are not! Look at all my activities! This proves how great a writer I am and, by extension, a great person!

As a bad writer myself and a Latin-o, I am so inspired I think I will write a poem:

How can a very special snowflake
break away from all other special snowflakes
and prove that this special snowflake
is more special
than any other special snowflake?
Oh I know. Latinx.
Now if only I could figure out
how I can prove that this Latinx
is more special
than all other Latinxers?
Oh I know. Fuck Bowie.

To quote Bowie right back them: “Is it any wonder I reject you first?”

Ok. I’m done. The rest of the rant is not even worth mentioning. The SJW thinks that by stoking controversy she will create discussion on her pet social justice projects. Throughout her rant she sprinkles key terms which mean nothing such as “intersectionality” and “in this space” and “White supremacy.” She thinks these terms, which she learned at Brown University diversity courses, have any link to Bowie’s death. This quote made laugh: “Are we critiquing how, due to ignorance and White supremacy, many mourn the loss of a White star and ignore the losses of countless people of color at the hands of police brutality?” Key words. Key words clanging written only to bring the mindless Pavlovian social justice dogs a-salivating.

What the fuck does police brutality have to do with the fact that Bowie died of liver cancer is fuck all to me. Makes no sense. This is the social justice scam, the con game, say and do anything to bring attention to yourself and your self-righteous agenda, all in the name of money. Yes, money. Did I tell you this person has a press and media page? To wit: “Have an inquiry, want to do an interview, and/or need someone with expertise? Contact me!” Some of the topics this person is an expert on is “polyamory, kink and BDSM, use of technology and social media for activism,” (watch out! She might hash tag the internet outrage robot army and send them out after you!) and, last but not least, “sexual pleasure.” I shit you not. Sexual pleasure. She will speak on sexual pleasure for a fee. Chew on that vomit you just regurgitated up for a moment.

Meanwhile, Bowie is dead and we are sadder by the day. The Social Justice Warriors dance in glee all around his coffin. They dance in glee in the name of their social justice agendas and they fuck up everything they touch. They touch something and it goes to fuck. They just love putting their finger of fuck on anything and everything. They don’t give a fuck. They see people enjoying something good and pure and they have to put their finger of fuck-this on it. They have to ruin everything for everybody. This is the only way they know how to be heard, fucking things up, so they will try, as hard as they might, to fuck everything up. Don’t let them fuck up your grief at Bowie’s passing. Don’t let them fuck with your memories and your love for the music that David Bowie left behind. Don’t let them fuck up Bowie’s legacy.

The cover for today is the band Passenger doing a cover of David Bowie’s first hit song, “Space Oddity.” Enjoy and remember.

Original song:

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Drama in the Parking Lots

Drama in the church parking lot, one man woke another sleeping in a car, and then they got into an argument. You’d think the man sleeping in the car would be a kid or a teenager but this was a grown man, balding, sweating,

arguing with an elderly man, his father, yes, his father woke him up from a deep sleep inside a black Lincoln Town Car large enough to be a limousine. The limousine was parked next to a double deck motor coach which never moves, a fixture in the church parking lot.

Sorry, not a limousine, the Town Car always parks right next to the elongated bus, in the shadow of the bus, to take advantage of the shadow cast by the tall bus. Almost everyone else parks out front. The vast parking lot is perfect for practice and skateboarding.

The old man throws up his hands and walks away but now two women get a hold of the man, by both arms, the two women on either side of the man lead him away by the arms towards the middle of the otherwise empty parking lot.

His sister, yes, his sister wears a big black angular hat on the side of her head, like a flying saucer landed on the side of her head. The hat has attached a small white mesh veil about the size of a lunch pail napkin, waves slightly in the breeze,

and because of the angle of the hat, waves about a half inch above her forehead, in the breeze. The hat also has what looks like green grapes attached to the crown, and ivy, and a band like a roller coaster circumvents the hat.

She pulls the man towards one side of the parking lot, “what’s wrong, Howard?” She pulls. “Why won’t you tell us what’s wrong?” Howard’s mom, yes, his mother tugs Howard the other way, “You shouldn’t talk to your father that way,

Howie, your father only wants what’s best for you.” Howie stumbles along between them, stammering, stuttering, “Mother! I was having a nervous breakdown inside the car, Mother! But I was having a nervous breakdown in my dream! In my dream,

I completely broke down and I was crying. The whole thing is very nerve wracking!” “In your dream?” The mother scoffs, “well, I’ve never!” Howie stops and points directly at her double row of pearls, “No Mother, you’ve never! And you know why?

Because you are a Jew and a jewel. You’ve always had good work as a jeweler!” Extra disdain in his voice, his mother’s panty hose seem to wrinkle up more at the ankles. I peek to confirm we were indeed all standing at the First United Methodist Church of North Hollywood

in the parking lot off Tujunga. Howard crying, he sobs with his face in his hands. His sister holds on to her hat with her free hand and leans on him. “That’s ridiculous, Howard, you can’t physically have a nervous breakdown while sleeping.”

Howard drops his arms and screams towards the sky, “I’m fully awake now!” Awake and hiding, I climbed inside the cubby space of their lime green vintage ‘76 Volkswagen, I offer no explanation.

Well, okay, Ben and Emanuel are gay. Gay and live in the condominium right next to mine and are always making my life a living hell. They complain about everything. I need to water my plants on the balcony because they wither

and look brown, an eyesore. Move the grill to the other side of the patio, they are vegan, and the smell of meat is nauseating. Their latest grouse is the oil stain on our shared driveway. They told our HOA that I need to clean out the hoarded junk in my garage

because my car leaks and the oil has created a huge stain on my side of the driveway, an eyesore, and in any case, they are certain I am the one feeding the stray cats. I am now stuck with the cost of resurfacing over the stain and I am pissed off so

where do they go every night? I know they do something nefarious every night. Gay bars or sucking dicks somewhere, faggots piss me off so much, I can’t sleep at night thinking about them and their petty complaints. Two buck fifty per square foot, the resurfacing,

so tonight when I saw they left their car door open, while both went briefly back inside their condo, I climbed into the back of their oh-so-cute vintage lime green piece of shit VW Beetle and hid under a blanket. One of them, Ben I believe, bitches with a lisp

about kids and an ex-wife. I didn’t know he’d been married. And Emanuel encourages Ben to reread some passage in the Bible. Their conversation is very strange and almost normal. We bump over some train tracks, probably the orange line on Chandler, and I

scrunch myself smaller under the blanket and begin wondering what the hell was I thinking? What if I get caught? These impulses I get. Once I broke back into a mall and urinated into a fountain after hours because a security guard gave me grief about taking quarters

to play arcade games, “hey, those are people’s wishes,” the guard said and chased me and I hid between some cars in the parking lot and the guard stood at the entrance of J.C. Penney’s and yelled out to nobody, “if I see you inside the mall again I will handcuff you,”

he yelled and rattled the cuffs on his belt, “don’t you walk in here again, don’t you dare walk back into the James Cash Penney store,” he pronounced each word, “James,” “Cash,” and “Penney” and that was how I found out what the J.C. in J.C. Penney meant.

These two dickheads will certainly arrest me. I might lose my job if I get caught, fucking morals clause. I make up my mind to try to slip out quietly first opportunity I get and find my way back home no matter where I end up in the city. They parallel park

and the driver slams his door. The car sits idling. I can hear the other one texting in the driver’s seat. He makes a call, “I saw you on Grindr.” Pause. “Bi-curious my ass. That one is about as gay as Stephen Fry and probably smells like he looks.” Pause.

“Don’t get involved, he works six floors below me in the commissary, I think.” Pause. “In H.R.? Really? Even worse. I’m telling you, I saw your sexy little avatar moving around on Grindr.” Pause. “Nope. Just doing the daily run with the kids. In fact,

here he comes, I gotta go.” The road is bumpy, we pass over the train tracks again. Ben lisps something about carpet runners, fussy, and something about a heavy marble table. Emanuel wants to eat somewhere, oysters, “the white solé fillet plate

at the Oyster House Saloon sounds good, no?” He pronounces solé like Cirque Du Soleil. He rhymes solé and fillet. “With their house Sauvignon, no?” Ben calls Emanuel a gourmand, a “goor mantht,” lisping out the “ntht.” Somebody’s phone rings,

nobody answers, somebody swipes off the ringing phone and then silence, chilled silence. Second stop, car idles again, the passenger click-clacks on his phone. What feels like a ton of kids pile into the backseat but I know, from eavesdropping, only three kids. They throw

inflatable and foamy things on top of me or, rather, on top of my cowering blanket. I smell chlorine. “Did Nana let you swim?” The kids squeal “yes, she did.” The older kid, a boy, offers up this gem, “Pop-up shit his diaper and shit squirted all out the side of his wheelchair.”

“Really stinky in the kitchen when we tried to eat fish sticks, so we got to eat in the TV room,” says the girl. “We could still smell Pop-up when we tried to watch Sam and Cat!” added the boy. The kids laugh. “Really stinky” says the girl. “That’s cool,”

said Ben, “Did Lydia talk?” “Lydia doesn’t talk” one said with an echo after the other and the girl repeats softly, “Lydia never talks.” I can smell the faint odor of shit under the chlorine. “Lydia, did you smell Pop-up’s shit?” asks Ben with a chuckle and

this made Emanuel say, “stop it.” One of the kids or all of them kick around, the backseat shakes, I have to readjust myself and the blanket slips down a bit, my hair exposed. “Is mom at the gym?” asks the girl. “Yes, I’m dropping you off at the gym.”

“I hate the gym, we have to wait in the lobby and the magazines suck.” The kids kick around and were jumping or something. “The gym sucks ass.” Ben laughs but chides them, “Language! People! I just heard you guys say shit and ass, what’s going on?!”

I felt a small hand grabbing at my hair, feeling my hair. “You just said shit, you said shit!” said one and the other chimes in, “Yeah, you said shit. You said shit just now and ass!” The little hand is now pulling at my hair, smacking me on top of the head.

“Don’t get them worked up,” says Emanuel, “we still need to drop them off.” “Fuck her,” lisps Ben over his kids‘ increasing volume, “Let them get worked up. Hilarious. Serves her right.” In his excitement or residual anger, Ben “thts” his “esses.”

“Drama in the parking lot. Avoid at all costs.” Emanuel sounds like a lawyer with his sensible counsel. I am convinced I will be going to jail. My head is being pummeled by what feels like a foam pool noodle. The kids are shrill, screeching, jumping, they

ricochet all over the back seat. The bug swerves. I bury myself under the moving bedlam, close my eyes, forget myself, forget my sins. My prate is over. I am spent. I’ve been disavowed of all rectitude of judgment. I’ve ruminated on the Pater Noster and prayed

for the Noblesse Oblige. I see the young dissidents laughing. They pass each other on their skateboards, high-five in greeting and oblivious, prodomal to the vacuities of life. Some will become homeless, live out of backpacks and sleeping bags, cluster and

obstruct handicap access ramps, panhandling. Some will turn into rent boys and work out of a proscribed hierarchy: Top boys to jockeys to bottom dwellers to diseased junkies. And still others will move beyond the gestalt, survive being Monday’s child,

graduate into the parallax, afford to pay the mill rate. Their Selfies and Instagrams are modern digital carte-de-visite with perfect smiles. Their shame unknown with no endless pain. Their cabinets varnished and protected. I see them now in slow motion as they seek their place,

traversing asphalt and the painted lines on parking lots. I consider them by most accounts. I take advise. I speak my mind. I feel the slaughter and the consumption and all I ask of the weaving spiders is that they don’t scratch my Town Car nor follow me to my fallout shelter.

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Actuality Film: 9/11


Tuesday, dark before dawn, September,
Rachel left her essence on my bed. Shoes,
my shoe size has not changed, St. Agnes.
This morning I sat on the side of my bed
scratching my Tycho Brahe nose, sniffling
and shaking after sex, white powder, snake
demon, my body stuffed with newspapers.

This particular morning fetes coffee,
my first sounds pentagraph, phlegm
and phlegmon exposed en plein air,
all primrose & purl before my drive to work.


The bull-baiters sat or stood in their spaces,
reading magazines, water cooler, copier,
fax machines. The AM news crew, West Coast,
interlocutors of bad weather & slow traffic,
Bocca Baciata, await further banalities.

Some bull-dogs boarded their flights in Boston.
Boston likewise harnessed some of the others.
A third pack snapped at their leashes dully
at Dulles, vellicating, the final dog pack on
their haunches in Newark, pari passu.

Pis, the Manneken Pis today wore a taqiyah,
was attired in a kufi blowing in the breeze.
The bull-dogs wore light sweaters draped
over ironed button-up shirts, pastel colors.
Who would suspect atavism from cretins
wearing light pink over baby blue? Who?

When the images began to filter in
they were inaccrochable.
I can’t hang these monitors up on my wall!
Look at what they show: A baize rip
in the fabric of time and space. The façade
of a horrified opera frozen in a rictus
of heads and faces. Melpomene.


Actuality film: 9/11.
The first plane fumes inside.
The din of the newsroom, telephones.
The assignment desk calling everyone.
Gary Oldman. Bring me everyone.
Crack your neck. What do you mean
everyone? I MEAN EVERYONE!
All telephone lines ringing.
DVCPRO tapes flying across the room,
no time to hand off tapes civilly,
no courtesy. Curses and fuck yous
and do your damn job for once, asshole,
editors actually getting out of their edit bays
and picking up their tapes in shock, disbelief.
What is going on? Two PAs assigned only
to label tapes correctly, to write timecode
on the labels. Telephone keeps ringing.

When the second plane struck, the explosion
roared in the middle of our newsroom.
My vision became hieratic.
I could not comprehend what I was seeing,
I had a sinking feeling I wanted to be doing
anything else, be anywhere else,
Eisteddfod. The Buttermilks.
My job, watching the news wires, I saw
everything, every angle,
the airplane flying over the firefighters,
the direct hit, the camera panning
then running, Moloch.

Averroes, I have read, was banished
and all his books burnt. His rationality
was condemned by the Fuqaha of his time.
Fuqaha. Fuck you. Fuqaha. Fakir. Faker.

Actuality film: 9/11.
The Twin Towers fell in silence.
The first one fell. My nose bled.
I had to staunch the flow at my work station.
I used my shirt, I didn’t care. Epistaxis.
The second tower fell. I’d shut down
my ears by then, worked by rote.
The phone lines died down.
An eerie quiet, a shroud, covered us
like ash, the drifting ash
emanating from the monitors.
A swordsman swinging wildly,
whistling air and snow blind,
palliated and forced to listen
to the distant random thuds
of landing bodies, his comrades.
Fade to black: Calumet Farms.


One camera fixed on a gaping hole,
deep smoldering embers, fire eyes.
Thirty-six months or more, fixed lens,
a chasmal gorge, engorged catastrophe,
the Ground Zero update became staple
at the bottom of the first block, 11:08 pm
approximate. By that time of night,
lights and smoke, lights on smoke,
a spotlight on an accidental crossbeam cross
delineating new battle lines, the crescent
and star against the cross, jamais vu.

I reinforced my lack of belief in God.

A Mosque proposed at 51 Park Place,
never finished. A war, invasions,
shoe bombers, fuses in underwear,
full body scanners in all airports,
Guantanamo, Afghanistan, cartoons
of the prophet, piss be upon him,
the rising death toll, never finished.

The World Trade Center memorial & museum
finished on that same Arab Spring.


Pis, the Manneken Pis in Brussels
dressed like a sailor, I check the statue
online at least once a week. I wonder
if this means some seafaring calamity.

I shave and I look in the mirror and I
shake with some kind of Capgras delusion.
My peripherals are all water blurred,
I perceive cascades sliding down my walls.
I walk on tenterhooks floating, syncope
barely held at bay. I’m dying. I’m dying
and I’m blasé. Rachel, she married
and moved away. I’m too old now
for palimpsest, too fat to be a man
of active virtue.

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With Girlfriends Like These

Historically humans
can be known by their latrines,
traced by the detritus in their wake,
Calomel at abandoned campsites,
Dr. Rush’s little pills.

Fish, eggs, garlic,
the homeless in the dumpsters,
about as obnoxious as Fordyce spots.
Mithras wearing surgical gloves
rummages throughout Ravenna.

Hollow mask optical,
Lord Kitchener Wants You.
Who can understand the Polari of teen talk?
The cant of discarded teen blood and lust,
their bloodlust, ablution attained in emojis.

Michelle: Are you going to do it now?
Conrad: I just don’t know how to leave them.
Michelle: Say you’re gonna go to the store or something.
Conrad: I want them to know that I love them.
Michelle: They know, that’s one thing they definitely know.

You’re over thinking.
I’ve been over thinking for a while.
Are you gonna do it now?
I still haven’t left.
Leaving now.
You can do this.
I’m almost there.

Look at them, budding scientists researching their homework. How oddly picturesque. 3200 ppm for ten minutes, death in a half hour. Truck is diesel, low carbon monoxide levels. Portable generator in bed of truck would work. The one I stole from my father is broken. Did you read the manual? Go to Sears, they sell generators, they can help. A new one is only $135 bucks, that’s cheap go buy one. Just Google how to fix a broken generator, lots of stuff comes up, you can make CO from candles and glass.

Michelle looks in the mirror, she wears a cloche hat.
She’s found her raison d’etre, activism, suicide prevention,
maybe a softball tournament, “Homers for Conrad.”

She dreams Balls Mabille,
dances in her dream, eyes closed
holding down close her cloche hat,
Brigadeiros on the night table.
She mourns her long lost friend
with a sip of grenadine,
such a small sip, grenadine
reddening her puckered up lips.
A thought snaps her reverie,
a nasty thought snatches up
her cell phone, erases texts,
nasty texts, the Fons et Origo
of her Lusus Naturae.
“I must aver.”

Find a spot.
I’m thinking a public place.
If I go somewhere private,
they may call the cops.
Someone may notice you.
Do you think you’ll get caught?
Park your car and sit there.
It will take like, 20 minutes,
it’s not a big deal.

Conrad stares at the Fairheaven K-Mart,
the parking lot empty, the clouds beyond
passing by, floating by, shaking cold.
He feels the husk inside him circulating air.
Michelle calls every few hours, logorrhea mouth.
He is a procrastinator. He’s fine with that.
His watch a Swiss Belair, platinum, black band,
he never looks at his watch. He looks at his phone,
Facebook, Angry Birds, angry texts, Instagram.

All the girls throw their heads back and smile
or they bend forward laughing at the funniest
joke in the world. Their mouths are impossibly large
with their white teeth when they wave at the camera.
Surmoulage, bronze statues copied in white.
Korean dude, his large smile, his squinch eyes,
the larger his smile, the squintier his eyes,
green Heineken bottle, how does this happen?

Michelle, I’m scared.
I’m unsure about this.
Fucken get back in.

Apse Mosaic, the dome of the truck,
Christos Benedictos, two fingers up,
Nike and Victory banners trailing,
Conrad, the anointed one, melts.
He swallows his life. Vide Supra.

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The Body

The body has acquired an extended life, floating down the newly created Venetian canals of New Orleans, almost lazy in disposition, face up like a tourist, gaping at the beaded verandas and abandoned terraces of a moratorium Mardi Gras.

The missa cantata happy hour has been suspended in the Big Easy.

The body floats past blankets strewn on rooftops and folks shielding themselves from the unrelenting sun with handmade signs beseeching assistance and reprieve.

A child blowing bubblegum dips a yo-yo on the edge of the rain gutter as the body floats on by as if it was, well, just like any other body.

This body seems more overweight than bloated, although the cracks along the cheeks and forehead betray what used to be thin once, a few days ago, darkened fingertips practiced at a charcoal piano perhaps, clenched and split-lipped like the numerous unemployed trumpet players of the French Quarter.

A drowned black cat joins the body, a faithful pet, two tied hefty trash bags trailing behind their only meager hobo possessions.

They wade in place patiently when a helicopter hovers to throw some bottled drinking water at a wheelchair bound elderly woman slumped precariously over a leaning balcony. Three of the five bottles splash into the current, another knocks off a potted fern recently placed on the railing, and the last bounces into a darkened opened room next door.

What a strange wake through the discarded streets of a much beloved city. The body undulates slightly from the ripples created by distant crisscrossing swamp airboats searching for survivors.

Here, a snag next to a light post marks a spot for reflection. A wild-eyed man hurries chest deep holding a rifle, a loaf of bread, and a fifth of whiskey over his head. He sneers at the body, a temporary perceived threat or impediment.

Not any more, the body merely continues on a concluding journey to redemption, a small eddy swirls the body around slowly in a contemplative arc, one long last sweeping look at the unforgiving crescent fishbowl where dreams came to fail and to die at length, just one more story in Storyville.

A truly somber waterlogged procession carries the body to a realized final resting place, at the foot of a submerged exit ramp, amidst the accumulated debris, garbage, refuse, and stink, amongst the other lost souls who arrived there first, to greet the snarling feral starved dogs fighting and slobbering.

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This evening I took the redline into DTLA at the invite of a friend. From the moment I walked in she was on her cell phone. Whatever. I don’t care. I’m tired at staring at my four walls so I guess I’ll just go stare at her walls instead. Law & Order was on TNT. Law & Order is always on TNT. I don’t think TNT shows anything other than Law & Order. I got really sleepy. I’d been up since 1:30am because I worked a 3am shift this morning. I worked an early game broadcast on a popular sports channel. I wanted to see how the afternoon game broadcasts were doing because I had set them all up. I couldn’t figure out her remote control. I tried everything I knew how to do. The most I managed was to somehow turn on her Netflix panel through her Blu-Ray player. I also changed the channel to some static and then I had to sit there as her cable box set up all of her 2000 cable channels again and scroll through them. When that was done I hit default or reset and TNT came back on again. Law & Order is permanently being broadcast on a loop on TNT.

I took a nap. I woke up two hours later. Law & Order was on TNT. I felt really guilty because I came to see my friend but I fell asleep. This happens to me all the time at other people’s houses and I always feel really guilty and stupid. But I can only go over to visit my friends on my free time and I am always fatigued during my free time. When I am at home and I have some time to squander I usually go to sleep. This makes me feel old.

Either my friend didn’t notice or she didn’t care that I fell asleep on her loveseat. She was still on the phone. I made hand motions that I was about to leave. She said wait a minute to whomever was on the phone and then said to me “do you want some cobbler?” The original incitement for me to come over was that she had some peach cobbler and vanilla ice cream. I got really excited and nodded my head yes. She said, “it’s in the fridge, help yourself to some.”

I got the cobbler and ice cream out of her fridge. The cobbler was cold. I wanted to microwave it. I got a bowl and put the cobbler in the microwave. I only needed to microwave the cobbler for :30 seconds. I pressed a button and the microwave began cooking for 3 minutes. Nope. I press stop. I pressed another button and now the microwave is cooking at ½ power level for 5 minutes. I press stop. Her microwave is all presets. I can’t figure out how to just do :30 seconds. So I press the popcorn icon and count off :30 seconds from a 2:30 cooking cycle.

The cobbler and ice cream were good and I sat at her kitchen nook table and smiled at my friend and she looked at me and smiled back while she kept talking to somebody on the phone.

On the ride back to North Hollywood on the redline, I sat with my back to these old two aging punk rockers discussing punk rock history in LA. Believe it or not, this is a very common conversation I run across almost everywhere I go in this city. If I am in line at the 7-11 ultimately I will have to suffer overhearing a conversation about who is more punk rock than whom. “Hey man, you weren’t here when TSOL played at the Hong Kong.” “Dude, Agent Orange used to be Punk what are you talking about?” “I saw Mike Ness blowing some dude at the A-Go-G0 on a Thursday night, man.” I will overhear these conversations everywhere. If I am at Gelson’s or at True Value in Los Angeles and I see two people over 50 with spiky hair and leather jackets discussing something, odds are they are arguing who is more punk rock than the other.

Sure enough, these two old farts were comparing punk rock dick sizes. They argued over everything from how “El Jefe” got his nickname in NOFX to whether China White played a set on stage with The Vandals or not. I couldn’t stand it. I wanted to turn around and rage: “There are no punk rockers anymore!” “Nobody in this whole wide world is a punk rocker. No more punk rockers exist assholes!” “My dick is more punk rock than you, suck my dick.” “If you live at the Brewery, I’ve got news for you, my shit flushed down to the sewer this morning is more punk rock than you.” “Henry Rollins has been reduced to writing self-indulgent opinions for the LA Weekly and Flea lives up in some mansion above Camarillo, get the fuck over yourselves already!”

I wanted to turn around and say something but I didn’t because of bullshit. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. A literary press in Los Angeles is called Punk Hostage Press. Smile. One of their books has the following critical blurb: “…They [the poems] are in the spirit of resistance to dudebro culture and beefpizzle literature. This book is a heartless and utter rejection of the white cis male death grip on all our lives….” What? Yeah. Cis-gendered male death grip. Think about that. Or don’t think about that. You either think about that too hard and your brain will break or you will not think about that hard enough and your brain will make the transition over to NCIS or some bullshit.

While my mind was wandering, the two ancient punk-rockers-who-will-never-die had transitioned to how much they hated grunge in the 90’s. They were arguing L7. One of them says, “I thought L7 meant you were lame.” He makes a rectangle with his fingers but has to turn his hands to show a square. “See ‘L’ with one hand and a ‘7’ with the other- ‘square’.” The other punker’s reaction was deadpan, “I thought L7 was a play on the word ‘lesbian’. L-seven. L-sesbian….” What? Yeah. I had actually heard that.  Instead of standing up and kicking everything in sight, I simply got up and sat somewhere else, out of ear shot. I used to have the hots for Donita Sparks. She would pull out and throw her bloody tampons out into the crowd from stage. Ok. I think that just happened once. But still. I can only achieve Zen thinking about how Donita would have reacted had she just overheard the conversation I just overhead on the redline.

Ommmmmmmmmm. Zen and the Art of Used Bloody Tampon Delivery Systems.

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another funeral,
another trip home.

When the clouds part and the plane
dips north to south,
like it always does,
I see that shoreline creeping over
to that crooked finger in the distance.
I have to steel myself
and not just for the harsh landing.

Ah, San Juan, Puerto Rico de mi alma,
graffiti city,
fuck you too, you have claimed
too many lives. The bards sing about
your beauty and your essence.
I will not deny you that
but I am your bastard son.
I have walked where bards seldom
make an appearance.

La Perla:
Where the sea salt corrodes every fiber
of your being.
Worse than termites, the wooden shacks
become standing flotsam through the years.
My childhood cot I slept on was always damp
and never dry and my clothes,
my three shirts and two pairs of pants,
waterlogged and seaweed smell.
We were all tanned Calibans.
I remember lifting my feet on the rocking chair
and letting the crabs scurry by in the common room,
not living room, I said common room.

This time, it was my cousin, the musician.
He lived in El Fangito, the muddy place,
you drove your car there at your own risk,
it could get stuck for weeks.
The sidewalks changed with the direction
of the the wooden planks, eventually,
the mud sucked those down too and you
had to lay down new ones.
At least the land was free
and you had no fear of development, at least,
not yet;
in Puerto Rico, there are no new houses
being built, there is no more land,
just new houses being stacked.
You can pay your mortgage by selling
permission to build on top of you.
In El Fangito, you are forced to add extra
rooms above when you see the mud
seeping up through floor.

Anyway, my cousin, the musician.
He’d played at one party or another
and he’d sang a ribald song at the wrong girl.
He was quick with a “bomba”, that guy,
and he’d already gotten one underage
girl pregnant. He was sitting outside
on the porch drinking a medalla when
somebody on horseback rode up,
on horseback,
and struck him across the neck
with a machete.
A gallop-by-slashing, you could say,
and just one of the many ways
to die in Puerto Rico.

At the funeral, resentment hung thick
with the smoke in the air,
for the death, for the circumstance,
for their lives, and towards me,
who had nothing to do with any of it.
You see, I had escaped,
after a fashion, and I had done
the unspeakable and moved to America.
I wore my small modicum of success
without even trying,
much in the same way they bore
their jailhouse tattoos or inch-long
lacquered pinky nails
that was the new fashion trend
to decorate the cocaine nail and
not think it the least effeminate.

My sisters were present as well,
full of resentment,
for having to be there at all.
On the last trip, Maria Elena,
the youngest, wore flip-flops
to take a bath in my grandmother’s tub.
She saw a lizard in there.
The flip-flops started the avalanche
of gossip about the “gringo” side
of the family.

I knew how to get along with them.
When they would walk up to me
and ask how that “writing” thing was going
they all know I moved to Los Angeles
to become a writer- I would reply
as coarsely as I could, what writing?
The women or masturbation over the women
interfere with the writing. I knew
how to earn that slap in the back and
beer in my hand. My resentment can be
understood in the fact that everybody
is conflicted with the place where
they were born and raised.

One postcript to the funeral:
at the very end of San Juan Bay,
at the very tip of the peninsula,
in the old city, stands guard
a picturesque Spanish fort, called El Morro,
which boasts being one of the oldest structures
in the new world.
(The oldest is a brothel)
This fort once guarded the entrance of the bay
and the old city walls from pirates and
enemies of the Spanish crown.
Now, this tourist attraction is where the family
gathers for a quick get together from their
self-imposed diaspora the day after the funeral.

A lone sentry tower extends over the cliffs
overlooking the ocean. About 100 ft. below
are the jagged rocks. I used to love this spot
as a child enthralled with the myth of
forlorn lovers who threw themselves on
the sharp teeth below.
What is new, what is impossibly new,
is that on the two largest rocks,
somebody, somehow, spray painted
the words- “hello”


I mean, you can’t swim down there,
the water is too rough, even on a
rowboat or dinghy you are risking
your life. There it was,
mocking and glaring,
and written in English to welcome
the steady stream of tourist looking
out of the sentry tower.


Most ironic and most sad
is the angle of the drooping lettering.
By the way the surf was pounding
those rocks,
what was most obvious,
was the letter “o”.
The letter “o” would be the first to fade
and wash away.

Written in 1996, this poem appeared in my first chapbook, Brown Recluse, in the year 2000.

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Six Faces

I live in a miasma of ashes
and the haze of Southern Comfort,
speaking molasses, stuck in sorghum,

and the only sweetness in this life
was watching her smoke
Newport Lights out of the hexahedron.

The tiled table top holds
nail polish droplets,
poker bloodstains and gin rummy,
Peach Shnapps and dominoes,
the girls laughing at the guys.

The bed sheets have been stripped
into bandages and banners
announcing the end of the world,
the odds of love are even with lightning
and true happiness striking lottery winners.

I found a beige bra and a mini skirt
in the bottom drawer; did we eat
bloody steaks across from each other?

Late night Jerry Springer and clatter
before the internet age took over,
drunken dawns and halitosis face to face,
fucking till we were out of breath,

I discovered six faces after developing
lost Kodak cartridges; witness ecstasy
and death, a toothache, a summer’s dress,
a crooked smile over pot filled eyes.

So easy to forget about that time,
looking out the gravel driveway,
the lights being turned off
at the end of the cul-de-sac.

This poem first appeared in Poetic Diversity in April of 2012.

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