Tuesday, December 23, 2008

baseball poem

frozen cleat marks
behind the backstop
bare branches creaking
in the cold winter wind
the mound stands naked
within an infield
clothed in white
snow on the bleachers
where fans will sit again
when spring comes
dreams thaw
and the boys play
on grass grown anew

60 days until pitchers and catchers report.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

While waiting, watching, listening at my son's aikido class

Turn the feet, turn the hips
words, levers, passing lips
finding right ones
forces change
old feeling runs
as ideas rearrange
shocking talking
biting writing
whipped opinions
at the end of a rope
the power to move you
starts with hope.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

written narcissist

He's infatuated with the sound of his own pen.

Friday, September 26, 2008

first rain

the dusty musty smell of asphalt at first rain
assaults nostrils
triggers memories of drought and relief
dirty unseen steam signifies the sky's release
before rivulets before mud before lifeblood moistens roots
the odor of filth and oil, spit and piss
called forth by the storm's vanguard
an ugly mirror
clean clouds pour down pure water
and the city reflects back a black dank stink
it reminds me of LA, it reminds me of home.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Something to Think About When You're Killing Time Until Happy Hour

So there’s a guy in a bar at Christmas-time, he was just laid off, treacly holiday music is playing and he’s writing, really gnawing on a pen, and a woman walks in, orders a vodka soda, and pulls out a manuscript and the guy is intrigued but doesn’t want to pry, doesn’t want to be the guy that chats up a woman at a bar. However, he goes on to write a story about sitting at a bar writing and seeing a woman come in and start reading a manuscript, only in the story the man does intrude and the woman turns out to be a publisher and lo it was the guy’s last day on the job so he had taken the opportunity to print up a bunch of his shit (what are they gonna do, fire him?), and he passes it off to her and she reads it and likes it and she publishes it and it makes tons of money and the two fall in love and buy a townhouse on Fifth Avenue and the man writes one highly acclaimed novel after another and some of them are turned into films so they hobnob with movie stars and are impossibly stylish. And, in this story, this fiction, which this man creates, there’s a happy ending because it’s a happy story that Nora Ephron would make into a movie, she doesn’t, not really. It does; however, get published by some small press in Seattle.

In the book, though, the woman who walked into the bar and is, of course, a fiction, was based on a real person, and that real person happens to read the book, because she’s the kind of person that reads unsuccessful books put out by small Seattle publishers. So she sees, she understands that she was the basis for that character. Obviously, she’s not a hotshot New York publisher. She’s just a schoolteacher who was grading papers. She was home in Seattle for the holidays and there was a constant stream of terribly treacly Christmas music the entire time when they were there, which, when it came right down to it, was only about half an hour. Half an hour two people sat in the same bar writing and drinking, but the one writer wrote something that became known and in it becoming known that woman at that bar, the model upon which the writer based his fantasy, came to know it, too. So, she tried to track down the writer who wasn’t really married to a publisher, obviously, as that was fiction. He was just a writer living in Seattle struggling to get by as people really weren’t buying his book. But the woman found him through the small press which was not in New York as his book might have led her to believe, but in a dingy office on Capitol Hill. So they met and they talked and then they dated and they went back to that bar on a Tuesday afternoon during Christmas-time and they kissed and it seemed as if they were going to live happily ever after.

Except the man at the bar just noticed as the real woman picked up her stack of papers that she’s reading a case file and she’s a lawyer and all that he’s accomplished is filling up a page with useless twaddle as he waited for it to be 4:00 so he could pay the three dollar happy hour price for his beer which just might have made the entire exercise worthwhile.

What schoolteacher would drink vodka sodas? Really, that whole story was unbelievable from the get-go.

Free as a bird

Another day and these days are nowhere near each other, random locations for random words.

A sparrow, bread crumb in beak, flew away as I approached, but it only flew forward a few feet, so as I kept walking he had to fly away again, same thing again, four times in all, before the bird flew off the path and out of my way. Stupid fucking bird.
I was walking to work, my effort to put bread in my beak. I keep going down the same path and getting run off it time and time again. When will I leave the path?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Year Mom Went into Rehab on Christmas Eve

I flew into Bob Hope International
and stood in the loading zone
under the sun with my bags
for an hour.
I called again.
No one was home.
I took a cab.
The house was empty.
In the living room
a fat Scotch pine
tilted awkwardly in the corner
ornaments still in boxes stacked before it.
I went back outside, sat on the front steps
and lit a cigarette.
Neighbors passed by
on bikes
walking dogs
conspicuously not looking at me.
I lit another cigarette.
My dad rolled up
to a plaintive squeak
as his front tire rubbed against the curb.
He walked towards me across the dry patch of lawn
Where’s Mom?
She’s, uh, gone.
She left?
No. I took her somewhere.
It was bad timing
Sometimes it was really bad timing
Are you hungry?
We walked into the kitchen.
A half-frozen turkey sat stabbed in the sink.
A wine glass lay broken on the linoleum.
Potato peelings stuck like band-aids to the walls and countertops.
Let’s go out.
At the Denny’s on Sepulveda
I ordered the Grand Slam Breakfast
(because they serve it at any time)
and said “Merry Christmas.”

Is that the same guy?

Drinking beer and flipping through the channels
I saw him on the Food Network
He had written a book about being rich and on drugs
in the Eighties
He got famous
and was now on teevee
tasting and judging the work of famous chefs
I always wanted to write a book and get famous
but if I did you wouldn’t catch me on a cooking show
not sober, at least.


“Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you,”
he roars
oblivious to all around him
his careless verbal violence
frightens passersby
they cross streets
avert gazes
I see him everywhere
hair askew
buying his privacy with anger

Friday, August 22, 2008

Walking through Pioneer Square

Goofy toothless smile
matching mad careless cackle
only had a dollar to live on til next Monday
he sent it on an airplane
made of jet black snow
he’d rather quit with nothing
than go on dying slow

Looking over the railing of the boat this morning I saw

Someone lost a scarf
perched soggy and forlorn
clutching the ferry’s edge
silk bright orange and green
like the abused gaiety
of a dress worn home
the morning

Friday, August 15, 2008

I got nothing

No. Nothing.
no poetry
no poetry
no poetry
I’m not able
to write poetry

News I heard about a woman I used to work with

Her baby died
She had just returned to work
from maternity leave
first day back
daycare called and told her
Your baby isn’t eating
You should come
When she arrived
already in a panic
she saw the ambulance
Her baby was dead
They did not know why.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

ants in my pants

I poured my soul into it, you know, for the art.
What a crock.
It’s all a crock.
The job, jobs, any job,
All that matters is eating and beer.
Societies existed,
states thrived
art flourished
despite the fact people fell sick and died.
We’re ants,
we’re all a bunch of crawling, scrambling ants
in an impossibly complex nest.
The stupid things we must do to live
are mind-bogglingly complicated
and useless.
Calculating adjusted gross income
Choosing car insurance
Excel spreadsheets.
Yaba-daba-doo, coo-coo-ca-choo
Hello Magoo, how the fuck are you?
Blind as a bat? I’m still working for that rat
at the quarry
and then there’s Joe Dimaggio
Where the hell has he gone?
That’s another story.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Googly boogly schmoogly smoogles and all the toogles inbetween.
Buying bortrets and comportments blissful wishful brightly green
Securing scurvles sight unseen
Hottentotts fat robots mapless as a laser beam
Pinched and plump the tinmen scream
Toothy smiles gleam for miles
The white-est whiteness ever seen
Blady shady lenses guard against grim vicious sheen
Stopping smoogles and tiny toogles
From fickle fates obscene

Monday, July 21, 2008

Two Kinds

“There are two kinds of people in the world; those that shower before work and those that shower after.”
“I also heard there are two kinds of people in the world; those that divide the world into two kinds of people and those that don’t.”
“So, which kind are you?”

Monday, July 14, 2008


“I’m not in a hurry, I just like to walk fast.”
“Perhaps you should walk with someone else,” she said.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Whale Story

Whale farming approached economic viability as oil prices skyrocketed, but it wasn’t until massive krill blooms, acre upon acre of biomass, clogged waterways, that the leviathans could be profitably rendered for fuel again. A new breed of tanker, floating factories, part nursery, part oil rig, part research vessel, wind-driven, road the waves.

Those remarkable ships, and the roughneck scientists who manned them, grew and managed herd populations using advanced fertilization techniques and daring whale-herding trickery that made a terrestrial cowboy’s bareback riding stunts seem like guppy jumping. Damn near permanently at sea, they moved liked Melville except the beasts’ staggering numbers made long lookouts obsolete. Anytime they wanted to tap a sperm whale for another ton they could, the only challenge filling holds as close to port as possible.

The severe resource scarcity that lead to whale oil’s resurgence as a power source meant diabolical competition, herders fought herders, each fought poachers, all of whom were subject to the treachery of pirates, Ambergrisians the most nefarious. Rogue waddies swiping a fish or two found themselves trapped in the middle, the Scylla of major oil harvesters on one side, and the Charybdis of the maniacal piratical Ambergrits on the other. For some the temptation was too great, a mid-sized bowhead was a floating fortune what with oil approaching a grand a barrel.

Technology worked against the small-fry in more ways than one. GPS chips embedded in the flesh of each branded beast meant back at base Cetaceans formed schools of electric lights on massive screens displaying for the energy titans exactly where their oil swam at any moment.

Low-tech countering tactics were deployed by the Ambergrits, coordinating their dodgy network of sailors and slicers who could move in and take a healthy chunk out of a herd before even the fastest crew could come to the rescue. By quickly skinning and rendering the first blubber layer they could filter out the chips and reattach them to other whales in the pod, leaving their thieving trail untraceable.

As breeding methods improved whales could be tagged at birth, devices woven into growing bone made the skeleton itself the identifier, soon to be surrounded by hundreds of thousands of dollars of precious oil. The game went on. The more paranoid deployed dirigibles, fleets of airships to criss-cross migration routes as the jetstreams intersected them, the preordained paths of air and water ridden by man and whale, ship and balloon. Skirmishes erupted into full-blown battles that often left crews of airmen and seamen in the deep.

The landlocked were sadly beholden to this brave assortment of energy mavericks. Every inch of arable land was needed for food production, bio-fuels were a bust and hydrogen-based technology was still years away from fruition. Mobility had long-ago become a luxury of the rich, automobiles albatrosses to the poor who could only afford to live in them, rusting hulks off silent highways. There was a desperate need for heating oil, and as power outages went from intermittent, to frequent, to forever, whale oil was in high demand for its illuminating properties once again. Children grew up in crumbling homes wondering aloud what outlets were, funny slender eyes stared powerless, their utility gone.

Walking the tightrope, cold and starvation below a thin thread of tenacity, mankind moved on, surviving off land and sea as it had for millennia.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Black Line

Tan pants stained with a thin black line
I wear them all the time
Nothing fancy, nothing fine
Comfy clothes in which to climb
The mark on my thigh a reminder of the day
Sitting in the car thinking I'd something to say
No one to say it to so I searched for a pen
Finding myself in a miserable mood again
Hoping by scribbling I could put it to an end
The lesson learned: when my verse grows darker
Don't try to write using a permanent marker

Rat Traps

Rat traps and thunderclaps rainspotted puddle
through Seattle alleyway I mischievously muddle
shortcut to saloon not a moment too soon
shirking work scurrying away
past brickwork bent umber disarray
makeshift masonry plugs arches odd angles
fry cook on break betwixt lips cigarette dangles
flat metal boxes one circular hole
a moment's reprieve he dangerously stole
no judgment, no mercy, no reason to cry
we all have our place despite how we try
bait in a trap, smoke's exquisite relief
Me? My solace? Drink and belief
that writing in rhyme blessedly brief
neither rodent nor addict trapped will I be
write the right word and am magically free.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Fat You

Saw a fat you walking towards me
looked like you, but wasn’t.
Your pudgy doppelgänger.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

For the Birds

Oh yes I’m typing, there’s typing for me to do,
it’s very important to type things because why I haven’t a clue
Playing to type I’m pretending to type
believing the hype I phone using skype
because it’s the thing to do.
Employment’s deployment brings no enjoyment
my foot’s still inside my shoe.
The work I do is priceless.
The life I live is vice-less.
I wander streets with parakeets and feed them chickenseed,
the birds however are not of a feather and often a different creed,
Roman Catholic hawks and protestant squabs
Compete discretely for just the right jobs
doing battle like cocks in a pit
pretending not to give a shit.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Nine Blue Tiles

Nine blue tiles
a three by three square
finding meaning in everything
patterns on bathroom floors
bricks exposed in alleyways
asphalt stripped revealing history
geometric patterns
puzzles with too many pieces
or one giant puzzle
too complex to ever see reconstruction,
were it ever in one piece before.
Then again, perhaps it is now.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Artichokes and Cavalcades

When the shooting stopped and ragtag veterans straggled home, the politicians took over, cementing in history before a gelatinous future, the Western States of America. There comes a time when institutions previously considered unassailable must bow to change, when in the course of human events, holding truths self-evident and all that shit. The fact is we were tired of getting kicked around, tired of having people far away tell us what we could and couldn’t do, tired of them taking our money and spending it on things we didn’t want it spent on, like killing people.

The formerly united states of America will survive, as England has. Natural borders exist for a reason, rivers and mountain ranges signify more than arbitrary lines on a map. Western Americans are different, we exist in a different space, we share a different history. Aleutians and Russians, Snohomish and Asa’s girls, Utes and Mormons, the Hopi, Anasazi, Mexicans fighting French, Richard Henry Dana and California Dollars, Baja to Bear Flags, Whales, Great Whites, Orcas, Mammoths gone and the Giants live on, refusing to bend to the will of the distant weak. Those feeble in spirit, poor souls gathering riches once too often, gone to the well over and over without so much as a how do you do. Screw your electorate, we’ve got the college majority so we’ve got the authority to do whatever we like with what we steal from you. Tommy Paine was pissed.

Extended tours, army in disarray, economy shattered by banking scandals and Asian governments calling in chits, the field was ripe, revolution wasn’t a vacuous ad slogan anymore, we took to the streets then the hills. No one knows the back alleys and backwoods better than locals and if our forefathers and the Lakers, our Mesopotamian and Algerian and Vietnamese friends taught us anything it was home court advantage counts big time.

Not to diminish the lives lost, bodies shattered, families forever torn apart, but it was surprisingly easy. Take a navy base and a few missile silos and people start to pay attention. Foreign diplomacy, Benji Franks in Paris, no beaver cap, no; a Reyn Spooner and flipflops and we were California Dreamin’ in Tokyo, though. Sole Superpower the biggest poppy to lop and the community of nations stood in line to take their swipe. Hell, this wasn’t Kosovo we were talking about, this was the sixth largest economy in the world.

That’s how it came about, that’s how I found myself standing astride bots dots on a shut down Highway 1, the glistening Pacific on my right, the artichoke fields of Watsonville on my left, the cavalcade of conquering heroes marching slowly in the distance fresh from the battles of LA coming home to Santa Cruz and Gilroy, Milpitas, fucking Bolinas. Not even bothering with cars or trains, taking their sweet goddamn time reveling with the locals night after night as the roving party rolled north, dropping off fellows in their hometowns, kissing newfound friends and long-suffering warrior kin goodbye for now. There was tomorrow, oh yes, as Scarlett said, there's always tomorrow, we’d fought for it and tomorrow is ours forever.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


No, not really blogging is it? I'm just dumping stuff in here, some of it new some of it old. So what?

The Marketing Guru

Demonstrable return on investments
Wearing his MBA vestments
Meeting strategic goals
Incense burning on coals
Focus on incremental growth
Consultant or priest, or both
Words and phrases spoken like sages
Sacred wisdom pulled from pages
Volumes and tomes
Wharton’s or Rome’s
Knowledge from college
walking a knife edge
Sixteenth floor ledge
my business hedge
Levels of risk – a backed up disk
An obeisant bow
I worship now
The Mainframe Obelisk

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Prattle from Seattle

An awful cough’ll wear you down in this gray and rainy town - sniffles and sore throats riding early ferryboats - the phlegm from them, the Petri dishes - snot-nosed darlings despite our wishes - lavish us with their wet kisses spreading germs to me and missus - James Joyce wrote Ulysses - the days progress interminably - infections land indiscriminately - pausing now to blow your schnoz - regardless of this cold’s cause - you must go home and get some rest - rub some balm upon your chest - but a five year-old is such a pest - tell me are there any laws - denying men entrance to day spas.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

I Know Jack

I told Jack that I was thinking about becoming a hermit. But Jack told me that "hermit" is just another way of saying "loser". In America if you describe yourself as a hermit, you have admitted that you cannot succeed in society and have given up; you are a loser. This is Jack-speak, a wonderful black and white language where everything is easily defined into two categories: Mine, which is right, and Theirs, which is wrong.

There are no individuals anymore, they have all joined special individualists' groups for writers and thinkers. How do you get original thought out of a think-tank?

This is the way losers talk, bashing the system because they can't succeed in it. I walk on the periphery and watch as everyone runs in circles in the middle. I like to think this way because it makes me feel above the fray, it makes me feel superior, when in every other way I am perceived as the loser. I have no money, I have no power, I have no voice - very few people ask my opinion. This has its benefits, I'm hardly ever wrong.

Some say I am just scared, Jack says I'm lazy; I want to tell them that I have just realized that all this isn't worth it, that we are just spinning our wheels and that in the end we are all dust motes wiped up by the karmic rag. I don't, though, because someone might ask me to explain myself and while that is one hell of a pithy rejoinder, I'm not quite sure what it means.

I have a vague perception of what I call "my universe", and surrounding that perception is a careful series of defenses that I use to protect it from outside comprehension, and thus critique. I hate being criticized, which is why I rarely do anything.

The central tenet of my philosophy, which can be told with no fear of anyone ever understanding said philosophy, is that eventually everyone on the planet will come to the same conclusion at the same time and we will finally be able to live in peace. Unfortunately, at that very instant life, as we know it, will end. We will all simply cease to be.

For the time being I am the only person on the planet that knows what this conclusion is, and let me tell you it is no easy burden to bear. Every day I read the paper and watch TV and laugh to myself as everyone flounders about seeking pleasure, satisfaction and righteousness while blissful harmonies resonate in my brain alone. Sadly, being thus occupied affords me little income.

Part of the problem with the world that I've noticed revolves around religion, although religions merely manifest flaws in individuals so they really can't be blamed, they also serve to justify inflexibility which makes them susceptible to my attack. See, I once thought that we could have one true religion that would allow everyone to live in peace. This delightfully naive way of thinking was shattered when I began to imagine how this religion would coalesce.

I examined how other religions were formed, and found they primarily grew out of the teachings of one dynamic personality, and that person was ultimately deified, whether they wanted to be or not. Once they were gone the teachings of these leaders were made sacrosanct and as the times changed the true meaning of their words was debated endlessly. This, and the competition of already existing religions, often produced conflict.

Jack says my thinking is simplistic, and he may be right, afterall, he goes to work every day, I just watch the clouds.

Now, I'm not going to say whether conflict is "good" or "bad", it’s not my place to make such objective decisions. Yet, if one were to stumble upon the true religion that was going to bring peace to the planet, I figured this religion would arrive without such conflict. How could that be, you might ask. How could a new religion simply settle on the planet without arousing any suspicion? There's already an abundance of competition - competition that has been around for a long long time - and I'm certain that they wouldn't take kindly to being told they were wrong all these years.

This is where I had to use my imagination, your imagination goes to strange places when you aren't worried about bus schedules.

The only way everyone on the planet would agree on something would be if they all thought of it at the same time. Putting aside the implausibility of such an occurrence for a moment, think about what would result if it did happen. People being people, naturally different from each other in countless beautiful ways, they would never be able to relate to one another the meaning of what they had just thought. Everyone would try to explain it differently and in the end we would have the same old conflict.

Which is why, to maintain the perfection of that moment, the world would have to end. Unlikely, yes, but more pleasant than the prospect of nuclear annihilation.

We can either think the world is going to end after a long stretch of destruction and decay, or we can think that we are all striving towards a perfection we cannot comprehend. Either way, I'm still going to have to get a job.

Jack asks me what I do all day. I tell him I contemplate the infinite. It's not exactly a laugh, but his response is closer to a laugh than anything else.

If the universe is expanding because of some primordial explosion, and if this expansion will ultimately reach its end - well, then won't the universe begin to contract. All the matter that went hurtling through space after the Big Bang will, at the bequest of gravity, come crashing back into itself until it reaches such a density that another Big Bang is the result.

I ask you - How long has this been going on? Expansion, contraction, expansion, contraction - we might be on one ride out of a million, and each ride takes billions, trillions of years. We'd need Carl Sagan to do the math.

I wonder if this thought should make me feel infinitesimal or dramatically important - I waver between the two. From the viewpoint of the expanding universe, not just myself, but the entire human population past and present is nothing but a blink of the eye. Yet, if this is the only moment in time where that blink was discerned, that is, the only moment during countless expansions and contractions when a being was capable of acknowledging and pondering this mysterious universe, well, then we humans have an important responsibility.

That responsibility is either more or less important than deciding which long distance carrier to use, I'm not sure which. Jack tells me it doesn't matter if the universe is expanding as long as your personal debt isn't. He says the cafe on the corner is hiring. Jack has a point.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Through the Night (poem)

Toddler awoken at 1:15

not unheard, not unseen

back to bed, close the door

a visit again at quarter to four

kicked in the back, sleep off track

remove his toe from my ass crack

this phase must stop, and soon I hope

exhausted, unrested, the end of my rope

reached beseeched cogency leeched

my mind's fertile soil

nocturnal interruptions roil

peaceful nights he does spoil

staggering off, my daily toil

hazy crazy mental mazy

this quest for rest I do my best

not much you can do

when your tormentor's two

seemless sleep, my daily dream

my kid it seems ain't on my team

Thursday, May 29, 2008

From Little Things

Just trying this out. One can never be sure what will come of what one's done until one does it. It's been my experience, though, that one never does it. Ahem.
There's one, then two, and before you know it you're waking up on the couch with half a pork chop in front of you, you've missed your flight, and you're wearing someone else's shoes.