Thursday, May 31, 2007


In a first-time event, this poem has a dedication:

To the birthday girl, from whom I borrowed a couple of lines.

Title from Okkervil River (MySpace)

This is not a red cat

with patches of brown

and a keen interest in you,

even if it's only when it's hungry.

This is not a red house

with white shutters to shut prying eyes

out from our party that squeaks

when it's filled with red rubber balloons.

This is a red flower

that I picked as the color of love

and the color of your hair

after you dyed it last winter.

This is a red flower

because I'm allergic to cats

and your house is states away

and I wish that I could see you today.

Monday, May 28, 2007


Title from Erin McKeown (MySpace)

I don't know the names of the birds that

wake me up with a disjointed jamboree band of

squeaks, squawks, squeals, and honks barked out

on the upper range of nature's cornets and trumpets.

But I know they hate me.

And I know their night-black feathers are an ironic joke

when the sun rises and those dark wings spread

and the birds sing, "Don't you wish it was still so dark?

Don't you wish the sun waited on you?

Don't you wish we waited, too?"

And I do.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Yer Birthday

Title from Casper & the Cookies (MySpace)

The reason I didn't call you on your birthday

is that when you speak, the power of your voice

pounds the skin from my bones and

makes my teeth rattle like a firmly-flipped Franz

in a game of Guess Who.

But that power isn't mighty and bone-crushing

like Thor or Zeus or my grandfather.

It's calm and earnest,

almost as serene as the Sacandaga Reservoir,

like the expressionless tone in which I was told,

"Toby was hit by a Ford doing forty.

His ribs exploded and popped a tire.

You should've kept him on a leash."

Or maybe it's a stomach-turning sweetness

of snack time and lollipops and Mrs. Langley

who used to delight in telling 1st graders,

"You'll have to wait to use the bathroom!"

She stopped smiling after a liter of urine

found its way to the carpet during story time

and I had to see the nurse for a change of pants.

But I ended up being sent home early

because the nurse didn't have pants for husky boys

and I didn't call you on your birthday

because remembering how you sound

sends a chill through every layer of fat and loneliness

and fond childhood memories

from the time I was a husky boy.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Title from Eagle*Seagull (MySpace)

This is actually three mini-poems.

Photograph I

I'm in the fourth row down, third from the right.

About a dozen people aren't looking at the camera.

We're looking at the guy next to me

with his pants around his ankles

and his ankles in the air

while he did a bare-assed handstand for our Senior photo.

In four seconds, he'll fall,

knocking a third of the graduating class

right off the bleachers.

Photograph II

My girlfriend and I are grinning

like a pair of Ronald Reagan caricatures,

holding hands with matching bracelets and

standing to the left,

a wide field of potential ahead of us.

In about a year and a half

she'll dump me outside a Ben Folds concert.

And I'll cry more because the smell of

marijuana and new t-shirts irritated my eyes,

and because I paid for the tickets,

than because we're breaking up.

Photograph III

My dad is, in a fit of irony, fixing a camera.

A cigarette dangling for the corner of his mouth

as he's caught in the middle of a throaty grunt

that sounds like the metallic twang of when

he spackled the stairwell three summers before.

In eight years he'll be diagnosed as terminal,

and his mechanical grumble will turn to a soft whirring,

and then to silence.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Here I Am (Come and Take Me)

Title from Al Green

Sometimes I stutter the starts of sentences

like the rusty red lawnmower I retired last summer.

And with frequent fervor I favor delay,

electing instead to exhume volumes from the library's depths.

I can't comb my curls nor control my cowlicks

nor be counted on to help you move your couch next weekend.

I won't wash my whites without my colors mixed in

and I haven't tied my shoes since I was fifteen.

I don't drive unless the windows are down

with wind shaking the coffee cups and plastic bags in the back

of the car I can't clean 'cause I won't pay the garbage collectors

to haul my house-full of pizza boxes and CD wrappers.

But I'm smitten with you, and if you say it's okay,

I will wake up next to you every morning from now until we die.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Lies Are Much More Fun

Title from the Grates (MySpace)

Did I tell you my mother's sick?

Sits in a wheelchair or sleeps all day.

I don't really know the details,

haven't spoken since that mess out west,

but I know she's got a tube between her breasts

feeding medication directly to her heart.

That seems kind of shitty, huh?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Van Helsing Boombox

Title from Man Man (MySpace)

I like remembering how we got out

of that creepy old castle in North Hampton

with cob webs in the corners

and moss on the Victorian wallpaper

and a coven of coffin'd Counts in the basement.

They had us surrounded,

fangs dripping with anticipatory saliva

as they hissed and waved their hairy hands

like they were casting a pre-dinner hex.

You threw me a "Holy shit, we're going to be killed by mythology" glance,

but I just smirked and shook my head

and pulled out my boom box.

I dropped in a copy of Van Halen,

and when Eddie started shredding "Eruption,"

those neck-biters bit the dust.

When you asked how Van Halen just saved our lives,

I laughed and shook my head

and pointed to an emblem on the boom box.

In raised letters: "Made by Van Helsing."

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


Title from I'm From Barcelona (MySpace)

We found it held aloft in the brown and green palms of nature,

pieced together from planks and beams and plywood

all decades old,

turned gray, then green, now black.

But it didn't creak.

It sloshed and sucked,

which should've been a warning,

but it didn't creak,

so it was sturdy.

It didn't even snap when the flooring gave.

It just sloshed and squealed as the damp wood opened up.

The only snap was your leg when you hit the trunk,

then a thud when you hit the ground.

The next couple of hours get hazy

in the fog of that early morning forest.

I know I ran until my muscles were sore and firm

and my sneakers were as damp as that floor.

I know you got out of those woods eventually.

And I know your mother never let us speak to each other again.

Thursday, May 3, 2007


Title from Arms (MySpace)

In movies, books, and the various other marvelous fantasies,

words get whispered of the old magic--

the stuff that transforms death into life,

the spiritual hand that bends darkness into light.

But what of the new magic?

The stuff that brings life not from death,

but from nothing.

From nuts and bolts and bits of chrome.

The sleek, whirring mechanizations that don't transform dark,

but internalize it.

The magic of the mind and hand as much as of the heart.

Is this magic less valuable?

Less important?

Because it's novel?