Tag Archives: poetry

Poem fragment, started on november 14

27 Apr

(Wow, I’ve been out of pocket. I’m working/writing/striving, while staving off bitterness, frustration, and anxiety. Mostly succeeding. This is the first of two poems. The second—my annual birthday poem—is forthcoming.)


Fragment of a poem from November 14

No nonono

My head

My gut

My heart

My bones

hollowed out

blanked out

redacted out

No nononono






I cannot begin.

Our linguistic centers are fracked.

We’ve marbled our own thoughts.

Digging through our nerve centers with too many images.

This man.

I don’t understand.


Philip K. Dick wrote a short story.

“Faith of Our Fathers.”

It tells of a future

Where the people of the U.S. are

Controlled by a tyrant who isn’t real.

The leader is a machine.

Or an alien invader.

Or an evil god.

The revolutionaries want to poison the leader.

They fail.


I can’t help but think on it.

The leader who isn’t real.

A machine.

Or an alien invader.

Or an evil god.

I seem to have lost the ability to understand other people.


Philip K. Dick had a re-occuring line in his novels:

The empire never ended.

Brother, ain’t that the truth.

The same buttheads keep slouching towards Bethlehem

And blotting out the sunny skies.

Gingrich, Guliani, Bannon, where doth thou reside?

In an ice cave?

In a sand-packed crypt?

In a stained glass echo chamber?

Doesn’t matter.

We can smell you.

The stench of brimstone wafts from your backsides.


And how, Mr. Gingrich,

Have you lived this long?

Your face a mask of soggy skin

Dripping off your bones like hot wax.

What primal event started you on this course?

(The Big Bang?)


And what drives ye,

Oh Guliani?

What moves the rickety machinery forward,

Into the breach?

What infernal energy source heats your brow?

I can see the occult magic in your crazed eyes.

You . . . sold your soul, didn’t you?

(To Mammon.)


And how do you defecate, Mr. Bannon?

Do you squat and squint your bleary eyes?

Red-faced, slack muscles clenching?

Do you squeeze your velveteen rabbit

And dream of werewolves shorn of hair,

Pink-skinned babies scrubbed clean?

Penises that work?


Okay, okay.

Cheap shots.

Age and infirmity,

The specters that haunt us all.


Philip K. Dick had a vision.

That the Roman Empire was still in power.

That the empire never ended.

That we were all living in a virtual reality prison,

Constructed by our Roman overlords

Hiding the world we live in.

We are, he argued, trapped in invisible chains.

He saw robots and aliens as presidents.

Our leaders manipulating reality with arcane technologies.

Rewriting reality with words.

It all amounted to the same thing:

We are not in control of our own lives.


Enter Trump.

Trumpie. Drumpf. Troomp.

Immune to the slings and arrows,

Elected somehow because of his immense shortcomings.

People want this?

A billionaire bully

With verbal diarrhea,

Who runs out on contracts

And games the bankruptcy laws?

Troomp. Troomp.


When did America become a nightmare?

(This poem has no end.)


Bulls and Mr. Bones. A poem.

29 Apr

(Well, it’s my birthday, and like the absurd fool that I am, I’ve written another poem. You can read another here. I wrote some of this in full-on automatic writing mode, so say hello to my subconscious.)

Poetry doesn’t belong to those who write it; it belongs to those who need it.” –Mario Ruoppolo, Il Postino

“Bulls and Mr. Bones”


I fly on a broken umbrella.

Over purple sidewalks

black X’s on my hands.

My daughters sing gibberish songs

of dead pigs and crucified toads.

My mind is a wasteland of deadly storms.

Other people see me differently.

<Mr. Bones: You hope.>


Do my thoughts impact the world?

<Mr. Bones: No.>

Is reality so fragile?

<Mr. Bones: Yes.>

Nothing evokes nothing.

Everything comes from nothing.

Something exists.

Conundrums everywhere.

I’ve lost the desire to understand.


I’ve always been terrified of spiders.

But I never kill them.

<Mr. Bones: One of those conundrums.>

I have . . . auditory problems.

Issues sensitivities ringing hallucinations

<Mr. Bones: You hear things that aren’t there.>

Words sound dirty

sludgy and perverse in other people’s mouths.

Peregrine. Percheron. Parakeet.

Anthems for predatory birds.

<Mr. Bones: Since when do you give a fuck about birds?>


I have nightmares, still.

Mutated in my imagination

into pits and wells and shadows and blackness.

I’ve transferred this gift to my daughters.

Pearl wakes up screaming, “She isn’t learning anything! Hold her legs!”

<Mr. Bones: And those words terrify you.>


I woke up this morning and read this:

“Some people are born to be buried.”

Jesus, what a fucking line.

I’m 39, and I can’t shake it.

Last week, a tattooed man fainted on me.

His warm head drifted onto my shoulder and then he fell.

My first thought was pandemic.

Infection. Contagion. Sickness.

Too many fucking horror novels in high school.

I helped him up. He shook his head and said, “What happened.”

I scrubbed my hands with soap right after.


Poets of the gutter

Rimbaud Baudelaire Verlaine

<Mr. Bones: Bukowski too.>

Corruptors selling contagion of a different kind

Lust! Absinthe! Wolves!

Their message seems clearer as the years pass:

Do what thou wilt.

Everyone else be damned.


I know the general outline of fear.

Fear is a limbless torso,

plonked down onto a Victorian serving platter.

Fear is a frozen planet

giant phosphine plankton floating beneath the sheets of ice.

A gangly scarecrow with a thumbprint for a face

A beaker of clear liquid

A raging orangutan set aflame

A pillar of fire

A woman turned to salt

Scarabs pouring out of a camel’s back

I know the general outline of fear.


Fear of hitchhiking

Fear of hitchhikers

Fear of ptomaine

Fear of blindness

Fear of peddlers

Fear of chainsaws

Fear of time travel

Fear of my own capacities

<Mr. Bones: Fear of your own delusions>

Fear of my own deficiencies

Fear of myself

Fear of fear

Fear of being born just to be buried.


I feel more lost now than I did at 22.

It’s weird.

The feeling that I’m leaking something as I age.

Gumption. Pep. Pizazz.

I’ve never understood orange.

There’s an absolute for you.

I don’t admire trees.

<Mr. Bones: Even though, as the poet says, they never give up.>

I’ve lost some primal ability to appreciate the natural world.

Some days I feel so . . . bewildered.

I keep thinking there’s an answer in cardamom

Or cinnamon

Or ginger

And that either makes sense to you or it doesn’t.

<Mr. Bones: It doesn’t.>


I often wonder about Jack Kerouac.

What a miserable dude.

Self-loathing and lazy

Hard-working and narcissistic

The Buddha of drunkards or the drunken Buddha

Bloated on wisdom and self-delusion

There’s answers to questions in the outline of his life.

<Mr. Bones: You just don’t know what those questions are.>

And there’s the conundrum again.

Is On the Road any good?

Dharma Bums?

The Subterraneans?

Dr. Sax?

I’m not so sure anymore.

Have the books changed,

Or have I?

Was I me or someone else?

I’ve lost the desire to understand.

<Mr. Bones: You’re repeating yourself.>


Reading is thinking other people’s thoughts.

Children shouldn’t play with dead things.

A memory:

Robert and me, renting horror movies after school

The grislier and dumber the better

All those corpses and fake blood

Pieces Horror Hotel Texas Chainsaws I Spit on Your Grave

<Mr. Bones: Jesus, you should unwatch them all.>

I read somewhere that we absorb images on a cellular level

<Mr. Bones: Try not to remember what Ronald Reagan looks like.>

All that mayhem and dismemberment

Rattling around in my snake brain.

Fuel for the hate game

The constant chatter of my teenage self

whispering unsweet nothings into my adult ears.

I read somewhere

Of the occult superstructure of childhood

<Mr. Bones: Now that’s a fucking line>

A house we build as children

then live in for the rest of our days.


What kind of house did I build?

Floorboards of superhero comics

Wallpaper of skate-punk

Rafters of southern Baptist theology

Furniture of way too much soccer

An attic of pulp novels and professional wrestling

My own writing a ubiquitous threadbare carpet

Lampshades of Pensacola summers

Linoleum of G.I. Joe and knock-off toys

murderous vehicles, blocks and army men

Façade of southern culture on the skids

And a basement of absolute horror.


Here’s another line I read this morning:

“Nowadays I get the feeling

I’m in a complex situation.”

Ain’t that one of the eternal verities.

Cave people contemplating black splotches on rocky walls.

Thinking—is this all there is?

Every generation thinks it’s the last.

Every era a degeneration of prior years.

Those ancient runes,

if we could read them,

would probably say “People these days . . .”

<Mr. Bones: Or, “Future humans, you have it all wrong.”>


I’ve always felt closer to bulls than bears.

Hard-charging and destructive

<Mr. Bones: You were born a Taurus.>

I feel great affinity with scorpions

Hornets and bees.

Bulls and stabbing insects—

What does this say about me?

What in the invisible scaffold of my mind

the haunted house of my youth

the thinking of other people’s thoughts

produced identification with bulls?


Some people are born to be buried.

Nowadays I get the feeling I’m in a complex situation.

Part of me remains

a mystery to myself.

<Mr. Bones: Would you have it any other way?>

Interlude 1: Unfinished Poem from the year 5000.

27 Sep

(Wrote this months ago, gave up, unsure of where it was going. But, hell, we have to put our stuff out there, right? So here’s another intercoursing poem, incomplete and disatisfying. But it’s science fiction-y, which puts it in a strange sub-category. Finally, I think I wanted to use this as a jumping off point for reviews of 20th century art and fiction, with a few thousand years distance, similar to how we read/interpret/debate the meaning of Gilgamesh and other ancient texts. Not a bad idea, when I write it here. Try to enjoy.)

“Unfinished poem from the year 5000”



In 2500, human cloning became the norm.

In 2550, they bifurcated the human brain.

Our right contemplates beauty.

Our left solves problems of time and space.

In 3000, we were liberated from our bodies.

In 3500, they brought back Buddha.

They brought back Jesus.

They brought back Muhammad.

They brought back Lao Tzu.

They brought back David Koresh.

Their wisdom contributed nothing.

They were digitized and liberated.

Their bodies were disposed of.

In 4000, we learned how to transmit information back in time.

(Hello, 2015.)

Healing is no longer an art or a science.

We are molecule chains that live forever.

Organic nano-technologies with a collective memory.



Flesh is weak: a cliché from the ancient past.

But true.

The last skin-humans are sickly and repugnant.

They stink.

They have genitals.

They don’t know anything.

They live in stone huts on the edge of a burned out planet.

They scrape the fallow earth with primitive tools.

They waste their time at useless tasks with no meaning.

We do not understand them.

They are other.

They are different.

We sometimes contemplate removing them.

A half-second burst of life-eradication.

But something always stops us.

We remain, occasionally, mysterious to ourselves.



The cosmos consists of mathematical consistencies.

There is a fixed amount of sand.

There is a fixed amount of dirt.

In the entire universe.

The same clouds float by.

There aren’t million of horses.

There is one horse.

Replicated and multiplied.

We have learned these things through centuries of study.

Existence isn’t complicated, not overly so.

It is one thing amongst many.



And yet. And yet.

We are sad.

We are incomplete.

We still cry, only it sounds like scrambled signals.

We are not pure mind.

We are no hive.

We are not gods.

We are not god.

We are manifold, variegated.






We began transmitting this signal six days ago.

There was an event.

The right brain disconnected from the left.

We are spiraling away from each other in the digital ether.

We have, somehow, made a terrible mistake.

So, this signal.

To the past.

To our forebears.

Before the split.

A beam of pure information.

Our plea.

<And the entire output of the human race>

Einstein’s equations.

Bach’s orchestrations.

Samuel Fuller’s notebooks.

The pencil drawings of Gauguin.

The poetry of Emily Dickinson.

The photography of John Dillinger.

The things that matter.

Our beam into space.

Lonely, but strong.


Visible to most of the spectrum.

Molecular. Physical. Real.

Sluicing through the vacuum of space, cutting through dark matter.

The eternal fire.



Looking for our lost selves.

Interlude 6: Another poem by me/myself.

19 Nov

(I’m writing, writing, writing, writing. And reading, reading, reading, reading. Here’s another poem. By yours truly.)

“Greek dogs on fire”


This morning I learned about the Festival of Argis.

An ancient holiday in Argos.

The day of dog-killing.


The story goes like this:




he was a teacher of music to Orpheus

he was the inventor of melody

he was—this cannot be true—

killed by Hercules over a tiny rebuke

he was the embodiment of lamentation

he was a son of Apollo


was exposed to the elements as a child

and killed by Argive children.

Apollo sends Poino

—the spirit of vengeance—

in the shape of a giant dog.

Poino is killed.

The Argives are happy.

Hence the festival.


Round up the wild dogs in a pen.

Spear them through their necks.

Heap the corpses on a giant pyre.

Light it all on fire, in praise of Apollo.

Re-enact the old victories.


Symbolism can be so very literal.



Ancient values seem so strange.

Heroes seem cruel.

Villains seem confused.

The gods are vicious and rapacious and sick.

Rape is expected.

Murder is the norm.

Mercy is in short supply.

Every knows Ares and Hades and Zeus.

But who celebrates the gods of peace and calm and joy?


Ares had sons

—Deimos and Phobos—

the gods of terror and fear.


Athena has a half-snake for a son named Erectheus.

She kept him locked inside a tiny box.

Some nuns looked inside and threw themselves off a stony cliff.


There’s a pointless anecdote for you.


Dionysus had dozens of children.

Thysa, the goddess of violent orgies.

Telete, the goddess of Bacchic mystery.

Methe, the goddess of drunkenness.

Phthonus, the god of envy, who murdered all his wives.

Priapus, the god of the holy boner.


Sex and murder and madness


It goes on and on

a freakshow of dismemberment and slaughter

a complex information system of near-infinite savagery.


It’s inspiring to read the old masters.

They knew life’s antipathy so much better than we do now.



I admire Euripides.

He is pitiless.

He is humorless.

He is grim.

“The Bacchae” remains one of the great works of drama.

(Only don’t look to it for any sort of solace.)

It ends with Dionysus destroying the city of Thebes.


I adore Sophocles.

He is systematic.

He is prescient.

He is cruel.

“Oedipus Rex” remains one of the grand works of antiquity.

(Only don’t look to it for any sort of solace.)

It ends with Oedipus jabbing out his own eyes.


Aeschylus scares me.

He is schematic.

He is frightful.

He is vengeful.

“The Libation Bearers” remains nigh unreadable in its nastiness.

(Only don’t look to it for any sort of solace.)

It ends with Agamemnon and Clytemnestra murdered.


But I love Aristophanes.

He is laughter.

He is mirth.

He is ribaldry.

“The Birds” starts with two old men farting at each other.

(Only don’t look to it for any sort of solace.)

His endings don’t matter.



Four playwrights, most of their work lost.


And did they baptize their plays with animal sacrifice?

And did they dance, drunk on the blood of their enemies?

And did they celebrate the murder of innocent children?

And did Euripides beat his wife?

And did Aeschylus spit on the poor?

And did Sophocles cheat at cards?

And did Aristophanes molest little children?

And did they scheme with the rich?

And did they prey on the poor?

And do any of their actions, while alive, matter?


And—I can’t get it out of my head—

did they attend that goddamn dog-killing Festival of Argis?


Interlude 4: Simone’s second poem

7 Nov
(Simone continues to dictate poems to Beth. She did one in the car today, titled “Quiet Streets in London.” “Quiet street is sad, but London is happy!” she said. And no, she’s never been to London. Or seen anything about it. Anyway, this is her second poem, dictated right after her first. Meanwhile, I’ve been limping through my writing life the last few days. I’ve finished a new section of Brotherhood of the Eye, gone through a second draft, and I suppose I should start a third revision of The Taunting Light, and I want to write some short stories—I have five or six killer ideas—but I can’t seem to harness the will. Enjoy.)
“A Winter Poem”
Trees were falling like leaves.
people were made of stone.
everyone was beautifully made of stars and pink feathers.
everyone had beautiful, nice mothers.
vampires set pink cakes and flowers on the table, set for dinner with eggs and cheese.
everyone was so glad to have a nice, warm, healthy dinner.
everyone was so glad to see the warm, nice sun.
spiders were beautiful trampolines.
peaople were really, really pink, and they had red foreheads.
and Rumblebuffins. giants.
clocks clarmed and ding-a-linged.
everyone had flowers with sparkles, diamond glitters.
everyone was so focussed on what they were making for dinner.
giants were wobbling around having delicious dinner and buying stuff at the food store.
people have beautiful lives in their hearts.

Interlude 3: Simone’s first poem!

4 Nov

(Beth overheard Simone free-styling this morning, and asked Simone to dictate the poem while Beth wrote down everything she said. It’s her first poem. She’s calling it “A Fall Poem,” and it’s dynamite. Beth didn’t alter any of her words or thoughts, and neither did I. We don’t read her much poetry, at all, and we don’t tend to recite verse out loud. She dictated two more to Beth over the course of the day. So, dear believers, they’ll be more to come.)


A Fall Poem


eyes were like diamonds.

vampires were dreadful of cake on the table.

everyone was made to stone.

tables were beautiful pink diamonds on a skirt.

people were made to be fun, to be a monster.

everyone had eyes on Wyoming.

people were beautiful class.

everyone was being a human life.

people were coming to dreadful.

everyone had cats who died.

dogs barked at gates.

everyone had eyes on books that were torn.

paper had eyes on books that you couldn’t read,

books about New York City.

your shirt is made of stars and pink ribbons.

roses were beautifully made in a garden.

falling leaves were made of orange and red and yellow and green.

kitty cats played with Hello Kitty.

vampires set cake on a table for them to eat.

pigges said oink, oink.

skeletons were made of sugar.

books were made of beautiful pink pieces of paper.


interlude 4: ode to a near-forgotten Italian poet.

11 Sep

Ode to d’Annunzio.

(I’m still writing these. This was inspired by the astonishing biography by Lucy Hughes-Hallett)

Gabrielle d’Annunzio.

Fussy Italian maestro cum historical oddity.

Somehow both comical and terrifying.

Somehow both genteel and vicious.

He wrote novels.

He wrote plays.

He wrote poems.

He dropped bombs.

He gave speeches.

He flew planes.

He conquered a city.

He was decadent.

A 20th century Casanova.

He was one of the grandest servants of death.

An unapologetic worshiper of Black Tara Kali Hades Lucifer

He was a roaring glorifier of war.

(Hemingway called him a “son of a bitch.”)

D’Annunzio does not care what you think of him.

He shrieks out from the vapors of history:

war war war

death death death

glory glory glory

blood blood blood

sex sex sex

war sex death

He was:

short bald ugly

a legendary Priapus

a neuromancing satyr

a dandified soldier

a vicious bombardier

a foul-mouthed excavator of ancient words

a grand reader

a great appreciator of music

a lover of flowers

a prolific author

a total reeking stinking assload of shit.

He writes of flames and death and angels.

He sanctifies battle and murder and plunder.

The life of the world lies in slumber, he writes.

Men wept for his attention.

Women wept for his attention.

He conquered a small city in Croatia and declared it a new state.

He remains a pitiless shade.

He remains a terrifying apparition.

He was:

a proto-fascist

a part-time socialist (when it suited him)

a dreamy futurist

a sex-obsessed prankster-anarchist

an inspiration to Mussolini

(What do we make of this?)

And a precursor to all the outlaw literary movements:




the Beats

the post-modernists

everything transgressive and pornographic and wild

glides down to us through him

Successor to Huysman and DeSade

Friend to Gide

Contemporary of Proust and Pirandello

Joyce before Joyce

Woolf before Woolf

Hemingway before Hemingway

Burroughs before Burroughs

Ballard before Ballard

Bataille before Bataille

One of the most celebrated writers of his age

Now what?

a limping, near-dead reputation

summed up in a few disparaging words

fascist militarist narcissist

More read about than read.

Just dust.

war sex death

war sex death

War! Sex! Death!

Is there a more fitting mantra for the human race?

(d’Annunzio, my dear, did you see things as they really are?)