Sunday, September 6, 2020

Guide to Rational Thinking

A man gets on the train 
wearing shoes made of duct tape
and a straw fedora covered with sequins 
in a pattern of stars and stripes.
Along with his knapsack, he lugs 
a gold painted folding chair
and one of those sticks 
with pincers on the end
for grabbing things. 
He plops down with his stuff,
taking up five seats, 
rummages in his bag
and pulls out a paperback copy
of Dr, Albert Ellis's 
Guide to Rational Thinking 
He spends the rest of the ride
reading it, smiling to himself 
from time to time, 
like he's remembering some
delightful secret

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Sweet Creek

I'm on my way to work
with a thermos of coffee
and my lunch in a plastic bag
A kid is standing
on the railing of the bridge
taking pictures of the parked cars.
When he sees me he jumps
onto his skateboard
and wheels away.

The sidewalks are lined
with tents and shelters made of tarps
and advertising banners
One of them, hung upside-down, shows
A row of women in swimsuits
standing in front of sports cars
Furniture scattered here and there
Milk crates, a file cabinet, an office chair
The skeleton of a papasan

A flier taped to the side
of the convenience store
shows a photo of a cat
above the words
My Name is Pizza
My owner is JJ
Help Reunite us

Miles outside the city, the fires rage on
Lionshead, White River, Green Ridge,
Sweet Creek fire 60% contained
Nothing but heat and wind for days

Moon still bright and low
in the morning sky
Crow screams overhead
No rain in sight

Monday, July 27, 2020

Remember tangled limbs
Remember someone else's sweat
Remember soft lips hiding hard teeth
Cursing and laughing at the same time
Pull back. We can lose
what we need to lose, shed
what we need to shed. I slough my skin
then pin it to the wall, listen to it whisper
when the door blows open.
Stories of wet grass and dry sand.
Or dry grass and wet sand.
The story of the glass of ice. The hot macadam.
The story of two palms, paper thin,
writing stories on one another.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Staring through the transparent mountain
that separates me from the outside.
The thin, clear line
of melted, flattened rock
I would reach my hand right through it
As if it was a crystal pool
The morning sun ignites it
I press my palm against it,
a mirror of flame
still cool from the night.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Butterflies

At the post office, 
I complimented the woman behind the counter
on her face mask, covered in butterflies.
She glared at me and when I handed her a twenty
said they preferred if I could pay with a card,
said that there is a national coin shortage.
I made some joke about looking for change
in the sofa cushions. The woman
continued to glare. She asked me
if there was any contraband in my package,
any controlled substances, weapons or chemicals
or fireworks, any live animals.
Just a couple of books for my mother, I said.
She told me I had the zip code wrong,
made it sound like a personal affront,
made me change it myself.
I corrected it and put my card in the slot
and thought about the statues coming down,
the slave-owners freed from their pedestals,
the founding fathers finding themselves
tumbling to Earth. I thought about replacing
the faces on the coins with pictures of animals.
We've already tried eagles and buffalo,
why not jackrabbits, termites, porcupines.
As she printed my receipt I kept making
stupid jokes, trying to get her
to lighten up, but it was useless.
There was no smile beneath those butterflies.

Cottonwoods

Beyond the industrial park is the woods,
and beyond that the river.
The path through the trees is cobwebbed
with white fluff that drifts through the air,
catches in the blackberries.
The forest stops abruptly at the beach,
littered with logs and hunks of driftwood
and little shrubs with roots that cut
through the gray sand like electrical wires.
A yellow butterfly flits erratically, never landing.
A young woman stands at the water's edge
with her tiny daughter.
Waves from a speedboat slap the shore.
The wind picks up. The trees moan.
The woman reaches for the little girl's hand,
grips it so tightly the child grimaces
and squirms to escape.
The trees are waiting for her,
sending their downy emissaries
to show her how easy it is
to float away.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Very Fine People on Both Sides

Here come the fuckerbells,
the wingtarts, the zagnuts
Here come the fartlickers
and tithonkers. The goose suckers,
the pussy slappers.
Please, greet them with a mild smile
and albatross arms. 
Massage their cobalt taints, tarantula their scalps,
Squeeze oily tinctures and soothing ointments
across their bedbug freckles.
Polish their waxy foreheads,
squeeze their ruby blemishes
until they gleam.
If they hand you a book, and they will,
do not attempt to open it.
If they pass a greasy sack, don't peek inside,
no matter how enticing the smell.
In their minds, they are already busy munching
on what's left of your dignity.
For now, just smile
and gingerly shake their paw
when they extend it
and look forward to the day
when you can pick their hairy rat tails
from between your teeth.