3 poems for August


point taken

I wanna buy Beethoven a beer
but they insist I’ve missed
my chance, I wanna jump
through the ceiling and crash
down on another version
of the sugar glass floor
you can take me
or you can tell me to go
I’m ambivalent, quiet, neutral
but when cornered I sing!
that’s a warning shot, man
I sing bad, break all your windows
and mirrors and lots of bad luck
tonight all my heroes are dancing
it’s enough to make a grown man
give up, and in the morning
go out and get a real job
and stop living in another
dimension with clouds kissing
all down the front of my shirt
and pulling my fly open with their teeth
what? you’ve never been
blown by a cloud before, grow up.

I got all my world weariness
from the usual hells, ignored them all
all the hells, happy to be alive
and driving this car covered in bird shit.



Turn To Stone

or salt or a frog
a soldier, a college graduate
a girl leaning on the pay phone
at the truck stop
turn to pink pills
dart leagues, exploration
love in the muddy fields
crystals when properly clicked
can god-damn-look-at-you
turn to lesser skies, lesser need
lesser want
lesser bullets broken apart
sort the ashes
sort the pebbles
the fragments, the skulls
the skills, expectations, losses
long may you return my glance.


The Crooked Painting

I didn’t do good upstairs
the body lying in its nest
and the people kneeling
saying good bye
at the foot of the coffin

I never do too good
at these things
I walked down stairs
away—to a quiet spot

the funeral home was laid
out like the maze of the
underworld, past the coat closet
I found a room marked ‘private’
and opened the stubborn door

it was an old smoking lobby
mostly preserved
the way it had been back when
it was active, and comfort was different
I blew dust off leather chairs
and lamps made of gold-plated
knight’s helmets
the otherworldly ashtrays
were mortally empty
newer signs, warned someone,
not me—“no smoking”
that’s cute, it’s been saying
no smoking
since before I was born

It was very dim in there
I turned on an extra lamp
to make it less creepy

a crooked oil painting
leaning off kilter
caught my eye
it had two boats washed up
on the shore, wrapped in seaweed
little rowboats nestled together
the scene dark and somber
seagulls overhead like vultures
or I guess sea gulls do the same thing

I got pretty upset again looking
at the crooked painting with the rowboats
because of course, each empty rowboat
represented a person and the people
the boats represented were together, in death
but that wasn’t the same thing
that was happening, upstairs
upstairs was all separation
we weren’t all there yet, together
if we ever would be

I sat on the dusty leather couch
wishing I had a shiny red apple
or a pomegranate or an answer

the afterlife is a room marked ‘private’
you used to be able to smoke there
you can’t smoke there any more
so as I left the room
I straightened the crooked painting.


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