Abandoned Factory on Shade Street

Broken glass
fragmented as
a childhood memory
mingles with weeds,
catching light;

little lost stars strewn
across cracked pavement.

Inside crumbled walls
dormant boilers resemble
the tombs of future pharaohs.

Among them,
webbed machines corroded
beyond motion
make for silent sentinels.

I see the child I once was
playing
a ghostly riddle
a translucent shape
in my peripheral.

Such places and I
are no strangers
to the end.

Teeming with
abandoned wonder
buried under
decades of paperwork
this still air stirs the
little dreamer
and here the dreamer dances.

I let out a breath.
I can feel what is lost
what is gained
through time.

The largest skeletons
you can find
are of metal in distant fields.

Both harrowing and peaceful
-a past that stands in light.

Forgotten and
vacant
like last night’s dream.

You of Raging Self-Importance

A piranha in a power shirt.
A vacuum cleaner salesman at midnight.
An emperor at a garage sale

at my door
under my car
in my backyard
down my shirt

ten carat
thousand watt
billboard
colgate
prime time
smile

It’s never enough
to rule the world
ask anybody
at the chalet.

All of you
of raging self-importance:

I am tired.
You need to stop
being so rich.

I’m running up a
descending escalator.

I’m always out of breath
out of time
out of mind.

I’ve got to get to work.
I’ve got to survive.

I lost my shoe…

When I Pass

When I pass
I don’t want flowers
or a sermon
or tears.

I want the shade of a tree,
a gentle breeze
and a bird song.

I want to be that bird
and that tree
and perhaps a snail.

I would still want to live
and I will.

It may be dark
for a little while
until there is light again

but it will come
as sure as the next sunrise
the next song
the next rain.

So don’t mourn for me
because I’m not there.

I’m in the trees
in the grass
in the air.

I’m everywhere
but in the box.

I’m already on my way
to something else.

Take this moment instead.
Take a deep breath.
Take a good look around and

don’t cry for angels
that won’t cry for you.

Welcome To America

It could be my father.
It could be the traffic.
It could be your skin.
I’ve got a gun.

It could be tomorrow.
It could be today.
It could be right now.
I’ve got a gun.

It could be a church.
It could be a school.
It could be a stadium.
I’ve got a gun.

It could be a stranger.
It could be a neighbor.
It could be your son.

And I’ve got a gun.

Lost and Found and Lost Again

Poetry like
a fierce violin or
a gunshot and then silence.

Poetry like
an atomic bomb
inside of the skull
-blinding,
incinerating.

Poetry that
like a night river
takes you with it
wherever it may go.

Poetry that
after you let it in
never leaves.

Poetry
that will make you abandon God
leave your wife and kids at the airport
steal.

Poetry that will make you
rich
with madness.

Where is it?
Where is it?

It’s definitely not in this salad.

It’s not down the fire escape or
under the sink.

It’s not in your flatulent rhetoric.

No, no, no…

It’s in a child’s pencil.
It’s in her laughter at the station.
It’s in the myriad shapes
of the breaking waves at dawn.
It’s in the lilies and the lawnmowers.

It’s in the way we always
fall apart after the miracle
of coming together.

It’s in the defeated posture of
a torn curbside recliner.

It’s nowhere
but everywhere.

I never tire of finding it.
I’m always looking.

Lost and found and
lost again.

Like me.

Corporate Melancholy

Oh, but to button up your salmon shade shirt
as first light suffuses the sky
to grab your leather case
to head out into the utilitarian
concrete venues
the slow murder of the freeway
the stone faces behind desks
the clerks the admins the accountants
the space between eyes like
air between walls
the cubicles lashed together
under fluorescent strips of lights.

The unsettling labyrinth of hidden voices
hitting their sales targets.

It can skew your sanity
itch at your primordial mind
that this isn’t and never
was intended to be
the way for us so long
hidden under rocks and leaves
our soul.

This isn’t really you
beneath this artificial skin
thin as paper on a desk
but the children require cellphones
and your wife a new look.

As slowly your face
moulds into that shit-eating grin while
thanking your next client
your blood wants blood
your past cannot forgive you.

You measure yourself
with false advertisements

and spend all night
locked in dreams
mocking your life.

Built To Last

Humans are predominantly fragile creatures. You cannot deny the invariable condition of the species. People collide into all sorts of things including each other. They get scratched, bruised, and sometimes broken.

Then there was Henry. ‘Built to last!’ was his slogan after he shattered his elbow and fractured his femur.

You couldn’t tell Henry that he wasn’t superman no matter how many times he came home with another fall or fail, another fracture or broken bone, another gratuitous scar. His attitude was firmly stoic despite all the operations, the orthopedic implants, the sheer amount of titanium introduced into his body over time.

Some people would just quit. Stay inside. Hire security. Weep before an ever-loving God with complete resignation and devotion. Not Henry. He would book an extreme parasailing adventure or unsuccessfully take on the Bangkok underground fighting circuit. And he would always come back with a new injury and an incredible story that’s validity was questionable at best.

Henry’s singular drive towards putting himself in harm’s way was exhausting and seemed to be his only talent. Some people were just built a certain way that confounded the rest of us. Perhaps it was life laughing at itself.

When a building finally came down on Henry, he should have been absolutely crushed but miraculously had managed to only break his leg (again). How or why no longer applied in his dimension. I didn’t even get the full story except that he had stumbled onto a pending demolition site looking for a lost puppy. At this point in his life, I was the only person left in the world that would pick Henry up from the hospital.

Henry snickered as he hobbled over. “Built to last!” He gleamed.

“Shut-up, Henry. Get in the car.”

Keep It Together

It’s a daunting task
trying to keep all the
nuts, screws and bolts
inside of your head
fastened tightly together.

Holding everything
in the right place.

All of the time.

Keeping the questionable things
inside
from spilling out
all over your friends,
your lovers,
your coffee table,
your shaggy seventies carpet.

So that you don’t end up
growing your hair long
planting a bomb
or even worse:

becoming an artist.

Monster Under The Bed

My mind goes to some shady, slippery places
while I’m brushing my teeth or
grooming the cat or
removing evidence with bleach and a paint grinder.

These thoughts
come scurrying out of the
subconscious darkness
like cockroaches on cocaine.

I become immersed and
disconnected
-an astronaut untethered.

Maybe I should switch to light mayonnaise.
Avoid traffic.
Unplug the television.
Just start over.

Maybe I should check for ghosts in the attic
skeletons in the closet
monsters under the bed.

Maybe I am the monster.

Antihero

Are you cynical?
I’m not.
Die.

Are you trying to be the hero?
I’m definitely not.
You can’t see me.

I’m just trying not to
antagonize the rabid dog at my fence or
sew my fingers together or
pop the child’s favorite balloon
with a rusty razor blade or
bring any notice whatsoever
to the protagonist
of an incredibly unimaginative story that’s
more like a prolonged senseless beating
than a beer commercial.

I look out the window and shudder.
It’s just not for me.

I blend in with the drapes.

I am the drapes.