Sunday, December 06, 2009

first snow

held in, not fully
formed until born,
spat out in shapes specifically and
on hair coats gloves concrete so quickly melting:
this sleet, fleet

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Squall

Unclarifying, merely muddling,


I'm weather that never

ends, only pauses

like the whine of a newborn.

Sickly, almost sticky,

and pairing with wind to ram skins,

I am slick

and slippery, can be

insidious, residual. I

change all into fuzz and rust.

Eye-catching shine,

and those black wings I've snapped

broken. I'll wait

'til you think I've left. You forget

and go out without your boots on,

foregone, and

I'm not gone at all!

I make raincoats gain a hazy glaze

like snails;

I leave sidewalks undrained,

beating down


And the buildings drip like sides of meat.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


Drag me up the roofs, bull,
push me through the floors;
I will break the boards,
stain the wood,

and when I try to shape my mouth
I blow a bubble with right angles:
I cannot speak but with my hands,
those roving birds that court south.

Oh, you are yoked, you are rooted,
but I have seen you chase vermilion,
your twin horns balancing oblivion,
your nimble hooves confused

and accidentally crushing.
I may spill the pail,
empty the grail
and still you will never end up with nothing.

Why would you need the filling of a lover?
I will be the one tipped over and cracked,
as your toes stay wreathed in clover.

Friday, October 09, 2009

10 Washington Place

Here are yellow curves,

orange cubes, a floor of suede

and dimmed reflections on the floor,

marbled. The stairs drop

like a Jacob's ladder. One wall

is shapely, the other bricked;

trios of lights harmonious,

seven suns, black-and-white and glorious.

Columns hold up the ceiling

like verbs, attached to phrases

at both ends. Speckles and

moving squares like adjectives,

decorative, and I can sit on these

nouns as if they were couches

and chairs. The walls glassed.

(Language, here, is glassed.)

A hushing building, the air filled

with invisible words, unyelled.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

washington square after a rain

somehow the benches are dry,

somehow the world is pastels

and the clouds are soft, the

air is soft; somehow the

quiet pervades, pervades;

dogs are walked, smiles

are swapped (some brighter

than others, some bright

as the hiding, peeping sun);

and when somebody has a

diabetic seizure while he's

playing the guitar, cover

songs, the paramedics

come in the sleepy calm

of after-rain and move

unhurriedly, professionals

don't hurry... and meanwhile

the two men on the bench

next to mine, one white

and old, one black and young,

talk, too, unhurriedly; they talk

of children and of bedtimes

and of how no one wants to

have a seizure in the park when

it's such a nice day.

Saturday, September 19, 2009


New Age music is on in Coles and

the flabby women soon to be draping naked in the

locker room splay obscenely with heavy

rotten breaths beside you, cobra,

cat, pyramid, hold it --

breathe in, breathe out like a

moron -- nothing further from

exotic Gandhic philosophies thought up

in a language you don't read.

Perhaps if it were done

in a world pretending to be India --

asanas on East Fourteenth Street or on Canal Street,

put in the street vendors but

pay them to yell and to hawk,

arch the bridge in the middle of the intersection of

Houston East First and Avenue A with

taxicabs honking and bikes swerving surprised at the veering shapes of the street --

breathe in, breathe out.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Know that love can only be reached after you leap the channels of risk.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Man in a White Hat

Our lives

seeds in maracas, tapping...


Aged eyes, crinkled skin, black

man in a white hat, I

saw you helping the shrunken white zinnia, I saw you in

the library, I saw you again walking by;


when you said "hi" I felt nervous though I'd already smiled

that mouthless smile of glass girls five feet tall,

wallets uncasually guarded, black

man in a white hat coming from somewhere, feet leading, eyes watchful,


looking classy in that white hat.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

While you are dreaming

While you are dreaming,

While you are awakening,

While you are standing on glistening tile,

While you are brewing,

While you are switching on the vent,

While you are reading headlines,

While you are filling in the two answers in the crossword that you know off the top of your head,

While you are stopping at a stop sign,

While you are running a stop sign,

While you are turning right at a red light,

While you are tapping your fingers on the steering wheel,

While you are reading the personalized license places,

While you are finding a song on the radio that you know,

While you are humming along because you don't quite know the words,

While you are parallel parking,

While you are working,

While you are worrying,

While you are making a call,

While you are laughing,

While you are looking at the menu,

While you are ordering,

While you are calculating tip,

While you are paying with your debit card,

While you are checking your watch,

While you are checking your email,

While you are feeling the breeze or lack of breeze against your cheek,

While you are thinking about the one you never called back,

While you are smoking a cigarette,

While you are whistling,

While you are driving home,

While you are narrowly avoiding an accident because somebody else ran a stop sign,

While you are cleaning your windshield with the wipers and the fluid so convenient,

While you are fumbling with your keys,

While you are microwaving,

While you are doing the dishes,

While you are flipping channels,

While you are examining hairs,

While you are undressing,

While you are unmaking the bed,

While you are making love,

While you are praying,

While you are sleeping and dreaming again...


All the while Niagara runs,

All the while Niagara falls,

The water changing color when it vaults into the air,

The roars of nature's forces colliding and combining,

Sometimes making rainbows, always making mist,

Greater than time, the celebration, the power unending.




Monday, May 25, 2009


The way he grazes, unattainable,
Fingers clean and callused.

Running unbridled, walking on tiptoe,
Sleeping standing up.

He is a singer, he plays the guitar.
Neck so wide,

Calves so hairy, teeth so frank.
He rolls the joint, chews the roach:

Lazy glow,
Breast braced in the wind.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

interlude : 3 poems by noah cicero

Noah Cicero's blog is one I've been following for a while now. It's worth checking out for his political views and extrapolations as well as for his unique, Youngstown voice in the world of writing.

The following are three short poems that Noah wrote; enjoy!


Noah Cicero got a check
for 130 dollars
instead of buying food
he purchased cigarettes
and starved to death


I once had dreams
of being a great man
now I dream
of fixing the fuel pump
on my car

The present

I'm overwhelmed by the present
some poets are overwhelmed
by boats
and juniper trees
but right now

I don't wanna talk about it

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


A year has passed. This summer's a lot hotter
than the last. Do you remember when
you turned eighteen? Now I am eighteen, too.
I did it without you.

You ran out of butane not long ago, stopped
lighting me afire. I require
something greater now, something monstrous. I am leaping
into the pits and opposites of pits:

The city will sift me to ash.
The lasting flashes will reduce me
to a girl of marrow.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cross-scheme experimentation from a few weeks ago

Sing out, whistle a tune for the world's end:
it rings in echoes, ripples and then fades,
like small things dropped into a well and watched
until they're gone. Zing! Beats like bent lightning bolts,
jagged, unsure, strings sent across a line
in different ways; sent strings, crossed messengers,
the lyric bent and limed, zinged in weird ways.
In a well-mannered way, the things behave
and then watch it all fall. The bells ring tolls,
end everything. Ragnarok. Muses, sing.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


This morning I wrote through to the last page of a notebook, a rare event in my life.
This notebook contains a couple of poems, raps, stories, and journal entries, but what it is primarily comprised of is dreams, transcribed in that half-awake, incoherent, coherent state of morning.
Paging through it, I found this entry from February 20th:

I lived next door to James Joyce. He had just recently died.
I woke up and water was lapping all the way up their house, halfway up my own window.
Huge waves.
It was just the Joyce house. I watched for a little bit.
I was going to call 911 but it didn't happen, but someone else eventually did.
I think the pets drowned.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

old school, cold war

Peach pits sat in your lungs, your kidneys lingered.

And you were unlettered,
you could never read or write back to my letters.

Thumbing from your friends,
you skinny-legged child of bums and guns,
you never knew when you were wanted.

Sleeves too wide,
you eyed the hammer and sickle,
cocked the pistol,
let your fingers win it.

(a rewrite of this)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I tossed a rock onto the sand.

The moment it left my hand

I gave it up. It made no splashes,
settled before the crashes,

but when the sparkling water rose
my pebble changed Neptune's flows.

We trip gods with our crumbs.
The sea is moved by a slip of the thumb.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The waiting is over.

This is hilarious....
and probably what my life will be in about nine months.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

paul newman is dead


"Pick a color: Red, blue, orange, green."

"Blue," said Diane.

"B-L-U-E. Pick a number: one, two, three, four."

"One," said Diane.

"One." The cootie catcher's mouth moved sideways, like a shark.

"Pick a number: five, six, seven, eight."

"Seven," said Diane.

Woody opened the flap. "You will meet the love of your life," he read.


Woody shrugged.

"Cool," said Diane. She popped a bubble of gum. The mole on her shoulder was still intact, large and fascinating.


Gabo is alive. He wakes up every morning and has coffee and takes a siesta every afternoon in his hammock and looks at his typewriter every evening with a hand-rolled cigarette in his hand. He is thoughtful. He has more than eighty years of wrinkly experience inside him. He thinks in lyrical Spanish.


On the last day of her life, Sylvia put the butter back into the fridge and she realized that by the time the butter hardened again, in the cold of the fridge, she would be dead.


More than once Davie looked in the mirror and thought that he probably had Down's Syndrome. Probably no one had told him because they were embarassed, and because they wanted to protect him. Whenever Davie got a bad grade on his math test, or failed an art assignment (an art assignment!), or tried to do the English reading and watched the words turn into Pacman and the little ghosts and blobs, he thought it was probably his Down's acting up again.

He would practice widening his eyes, practice straightening up his smile. Standing tall.

In later years, seeing himself on television, orange hair and creased face, he often wondered about that secret. Perhaps it had never manifested because no one had believed in it enough. Perhaps it was lurking in his system, like TB, waiting to strike when his defenses were down.

That was not at all how it worked, but Davie thought it anyway.


One day, Dakota will go to prom with a boy who will slide a corsage onto her wrist and smile for the pictures that both of their parents are taking. Or maybe she will go with a group of friends, and they'll go out for Thai beforehand and then all flock to the bathroom to redo their lipstick in the mirror.

One day Dakota will be at Long's buying toothbrushes, concealer, and disposable cutlery, and somebody will recognize her and she will probably have to sign their receipt, she will probably have to smile for a picture taken with somebody's cell phone, a picture that will come out blurry.


Friday, February 27, 2009


Which Emily is the real Emily?
The lines of their hands are the same.
They speak chunks of sweet peanut butter,
cookie batter. Their knees are shaven.

Which Emily is the true Emily?
Teeth dusty, breathing internally,
their ribs uncracked, skin marbled.

Which Emily is the best Emily?
Their stars, their eyes offer no clues.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Train, again

I never wanted to die in my sleep. I wanted to die with my eyes open, to know that it was not a dream, to witness the world shifting.

He sat next to me, his head crooked awkwardly in his shoulder. He was leaning heavily, perilously away from me. I looked at his open mouth, the precisely formed upper lip, the forgotten scruff below his chin. I wanted to tickle him. I pressed my nose against the scratched-up glass instead. Anonymous, unvarying trees barreled by. When I thought about it too much I felt a reliable vertigo, like when you sit in your parked car and somebody is reversing right beside you. Like the world is going in a different direction than you are. It made me sick.

I was listening to the Shins. That year I was always listening to the Shins, and sucking on cough drops to distract myself from the cigarettes I wasn't smoking. I played three hard and fast games of iPod solitaire. I touched his shoulder. He felt felted. He felt soaked in the dripping glue of unconsciousness.

We dove underground. I put my head against the wall and felt everything rushing by. We were in a tunnel. If everything around me disappeared, I would have been sucked down quicker and quicker and I would have shrunken into nothingness. I took his hand. It was slack and flaccid. There were dark bristly hairs climbing from his arm and wrist up onto his hand, past his knuckles. I wanted to tell him he was an ape. I had never seen him shirtless and I wondered, again, if he had back hair. It frustrated me that he kept himself so private.

I wanted to get out my vitamin water but it was down by my feet and bending down would have wiped me out of existence. I was barely corralled in reality between the wall of the train and his round, uninterested hip.

Four more stops.

I decided I would wake him up after Canal Street. I was feeling nervous and impatient. We were rushing through the tunnel and all was fluorescent light. Everybody in the train looked sallow and distant. We were all in transition. Nobody ever sat on the train just to be on the train. This had never happened in the history of the city.

I squirmed for my phone and scrolled through my contact list again. There was no reception, of course. My mouth felt dry. He looked so uncomfortable.

The train squealed to a stop. Three more until we got home.

I made myself cough. "Adam," I said softly. Then again. "Adam." I felt bolder now. I reached over and snapped my fingers in front of his face. "Adam."

He shifted a little. Then he opened his eyes. Blinked at me several times, like somebody nearsighted, and closed his eyes again.

"Adam," I said, taking out my earbuds so that the overhead buzz of the train wholly took over, "it's almost our stop. Come on, wake up."

A woman reading a book looked up. I cowered.

He arched back to a sitting position, cracked his knuckles, looked thoughtfully at me. "How much longer?"

I shrugged a little. "Five, six minutes." I felt hyperactive, nervous, now that he was awake.

He rubbed his eyes, blinked again, and looked at me. He was pulling down one eyelid so that I could see the inside of it. His eyes were the color of moss in August.

"Okay," he said.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Harvard's Ode

Brass, anglican, your eyes are
pupilless, your toes are pennied.
Lucky as a rabbit's.

O, justice, she is running
in slow motion, but you are immobile
and cannot catch her.

They pose, and when they smile
you cannot smile, your face held proud;
yes, always your face is held proud.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

not quite lupercalia

This, sneaking into you twice, creeping,
anointing boys you forever denied,
boys similar in height and eyes and sadnesses,
chaster boys, with cracked voices and fragile lips--

is this, maybe, love? Wanting it not for yourself,
but for them, wanting to be
their whiskey, joyful and sparkling all the way down?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


My senses are restless,
leashless, giggling, battering, lapping
with echoed smells, tinted with myth.

They pause not at Persephone,
quicker than Hermes.

They whistle palm-ladders for Hermes.

I am chapped with keeping them,
my fingers skinless, I read in Braille,
but when they wind home I leach the world from them,
voracious, vicarious.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

slings & arrows of outrageous fortune

i am published here (breadcrumb scabs)
you can download it for free
i am the first one in the issue, so you don't have to read the whole thing
however, if you want to, it's worth reading
most of the poetry is good and interesting
i recommend joseph reich's piece

Friday, January 30, 2009


Walking back to the car I saw a woman I remembered. Settled, with flaky orange hair, drooping features. Her name was Aisha and she had been in my sign language class. The class had been taught by a fantastic, sincere guy named Mo whose parents had both been Deaf. Most of the students were there trying to escape oral language courses, with the three notable exceptions. There was a couple, a worried brunette named Elaine and her partner, a sweet-eyed, intelligent Iranian; he was going deaf. And there was Aisha, who was going deaf too. She was in her thirties and she spoke almost normally, but she couldn't say her R's, and it made me wonder if losing the ability to hear also lost you the ability to distinguish between R's and W's.

Once, in class, we'd been talking about the pros and cons of cochlear implants and she had spoken up in her funny crippled voice, said she was considering getting one but she was undecided, she was "scaiwed shitless," and there had been a sort of stabbed silence, all these home-schoolers and hipsters too cool for Spanish and older people trying to pick up another skill and me, a high school junior with half an aptitude for language and half a desire to listen to that exotic voice of people with no voice, all of us sucking in a little, unable to imagine sound growing duller each day, the big chunky plastic hearing aid palpably less effective than it was, the workings of entropy spelled out in the gradual obvious muting of the world....

I saw her crossing the street, her movements impenetrable, unrevealing. I could not know if she had chosen to get the implant. Irreversible, unlike any decisions I had yet to make. Me, still unbetrayed by my curious body.

On the way home I drove along the cliffs, twenty miles per hour. I was driving a different car, and I was still unused to the engine's quiet. The sea was exquisite, shimmery, echoing a periwinkle dome, rippling with light, opalescent. And the sky just above it was tinted orange. I drove and looked and felt like I would die of beauty.

And within meters and moments it had changed. The orange had faded peach and the contrast was lesser and death was postponed, again.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Mixed-up trees stepping in orange leaves,
Skin blessed with affectionate breezes;
Blues, greens, warms, silk feathers,
A crime to drive in this weather;
Bright shadows, flown smiles, limbs bared,
If global warming takes me this peaceful way,
I won't revolt, I will obey.