Monday, December 28, 2009


There's a killer in your house
you cry for the shepherd
but he doesn't hear
and the rest of the flock
has long since disappeared
You try to reason
but his mind is only the fang
of an insatiable soul
and you were never accustomed
to getting down on all fours
on the floor
like an animal.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

I will be starting a new project soon as a street poet down by ASU on Mill Avenue. I will be reading my own work, as well as the work that my friends have written and poems made popular by Frost, Dylan Thomas, Shakespeare, etc. I will improvize and accompany myself on accordion, as well as enjoying the unique opportunity of having some really fine musicians also sit in with me, who have already enthusiastically stated they want to be a part of this.

I will be posting the stories and interactions, etc on this blog as they transpire.

On the last Sunday night before the holiday, I was playing Christmas carols on accordion down on Mill Ave. I played for about 4 hours, and about 2 hours into playing I noticed a homeless man about my size standing off to my side, leaning against the post office building, just looking out at the busy street. As I was re-arranging my music to stand up to the December wind, he said that he really liked my playing. I thanked him for staying and listening. At that time he had been there for over an hour. At the end of the night, another hour later, as I was packing up, again the man spoke. I was surprised that he was still there. He had ducked further in the alcove to take refuge against the wind, which had even become more bitter. He asked me what size sweatshirt did I wear. I didn't think twice about my answer and told him large. From his pack he produced a very expensive sport sweatshirt, one that a sports enthusiast with money would not be without. He looked inside the collar and, with eyes with a sadness averting mine, extended the garment to me. "Here" he said. "Someone left it behind at the train station. I...well...I liked your playing and...well... I don't have any money..."

I told him that it was real nice, but I couldn't accept it. This was the nicest thing from what I could see that he owned, although I couldn't tell him that. He knew the value of it both in money and, more importantly, possibly survival in these winter nights. "Besides," he said, "It wouldn't fit me."

I could have easily argued the point, but his demeanor, that of almost embarrassment but with also with such humility, choked the words in my throat. "Thank you" I said, extending my hand to accept the gift. It was then, and only then, did his eyes meet mine and he sighed and smiled.

Monday, December 21, 2009

This was the quick charcoal I did to get an idea of values. Not too much detail, just light and darks...
This is the finished pencil sketch

Monday, December 14, 2009


A bottle tips over
and rolls
smashes when it falls.

You're long gone
and I'm smashed
but it isn't that easy
with kids involved.

When bottles fall, they don't usually smash.
They bounce around a bit
then roll
and end up settling
settling against the wall.

They only smash
when they are thrown.

Monday, December 7, 2009


My baby and I went to the fights one night so she could bet the sure thing
The reigning great white hope whose golden robe read "Security"
But I took her change and the bet I placed was on the contender
Brooklyn trained, by those drunken rains of December

I spent my time down at the bars at night while my jellyroll stayed home alone
I stayed out a little late one night and when I got home I found her note.
She left me then for reasons that most men seldom remember.
No one to blame, but those drunken rains of December.

Well that was too long ago to harbor regrets
she always did what was right
I always did what was left.

When Gerty wrote Ernie*, her old writing pal, for a token to remember him by
he thought, "Why Ms. Stein do you need a token? Parisian memories should suffice."
So he started to think that the next best thing that he, as a writer could send her
was a letter
stained by those drunken rains of December.

As close to religion as I ever come, is playing Thelonius Monk
but I know of Jesus' soft spot for lost puppies, old pickups and drunks
So when death comes to call I know my next high ball
will flow from heaven's blender
and bongo's will play
like those drunken rains of December.

*Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemmingway

Copyright 1996 Crissum Publishing

Sunday, November 29, 2009

(for you)

I'd like to put it on my table.
Where it is closer
but soon
it will die there.

It is much better
to spend the time
and the effort
and slight inconvenience
to travel

in whatever way
to see it alive
where it is happy
where it is healthy
where it will last

where it belongs.

Monday, November 23, 2009


She says that she has a file on me
-unlike the one I used to get free
from her, her's had teeth
that can still make me bleed

when I been out drinking
on a bar crawl
or walking
slower than reality
-or so it seems

Or some windy night
long past midnight
going home
I'll hear a newspaper roll
down the street
and I'll start to think

maybe it's a page
that was able to escape
from that mysterious file on me
A file that I've never even seen

It clouds my heart and sometimes I feel
that no matter what I do, she'll
have a hold on me
cause she's
got a file on me

Monday, November 16, 2009


She's going to call again
I can feel it
Just like back East
how you can feel it in the air
when it's going to rain
and all of the leaves
on the money tree
turn inside out

The walls
want to do the money tree on me
but I keep watching them
they're whining
Just one wall"
The one with the window and the door-
it's not a big wall-
Just a little corner?
How about the baseboard behind you?

The phone rings
startles me
breaks my concentration
I pick up the phone
that I forget is connected to the wall
as they curl and turn

Monday, November 9, 2009


She says:
I don't drink anymore
and I only smoke once in a while
I see the kids at least once a month
Remember the car that we thought had caught
on fire out in the desert?
Sold it.
I work as an administrator now.
Moved into a place with more light.
Got married.


Monday, November 2, 2009


Light milks forth from a hole in the basement
I hear you clog down the stairs
walk through the light
and disappear
into the sound of a closing door

close my eyes
the door scrapes open
and I imagine
you in the light
of when you once believed
in me
and we slept together
sharing the same dream

Now off
More out of fear of my anger
than courtesy
up the steps
more unsure than before

Hesitant Requiem
postpartum thuds
of a wooden chamber
of an empty gun

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Define the beliefs of a people and you are a prophet,
Assemble them and you are a king.

Monday, October 19, 2009


I'm only here to break up your sight line
a side line on a carnival of dreams
Merry-go-round and the Ferris wheel dance
I wish I was a midway and you-
the eternal last chance.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


The lights go out on the Sante Fe
The moon's still there, it's all that remains
and the night wind tells me to take it on home
-but I don't want to go.

Thinking about you
and all the grief that I put you through
We quarrel through the night
-try to win all the time-
or we don't talk until we do.

I told you that I love you
and I meant it for more than just words
but now that I see
us falling apart at the seams
I'm feeling a bit insecure.

I said I'd be yours forever
but you know how those forevers go
it was fate that cast us together, babe
but you know fate just loves a show

So if we can make it though this night time
on this never ending flight
though I'm feeling confused
I don't want to loose
this feeling for you that's my life.

The lights go out on the Sante Fe
moon's still there, but there's more that remains
though the night wind tells me to take it on home
I still don't want to go....

*The Sante Fe is a train I used to try to hop after she and her family were transferred to Charlotte with IBM. The part about fate and casting refers to the Senior Play we were both in and how we met.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


It's always 2 Black guys. I knew a girl who
was raped by 5 Black guys once. She was riding
the bus late at night from downtown to the edge
of downtown and these % Black guys got off when
she did and took her in an alley and did her.

It was an incredibly sad and personal story and
I hate to say it, but I doubt that it really
happened that way. It wasn't the fact that she
was a low cost call girl making money so that
she could take her acting classes, or that she
had a natural flair for the dramatic that made
me question, it was the fact that she said it
was 5 and not 2 Black guys.

The phrase is so common that, in the near
future, it will be just one word. Then there
will be no police graft, gangs, drug dealing,
no bigotry, racism, or any type of prejudice.
By then, we would have forgotten where the word
originated from, just like so many other
colloquialisms and, because of our declining
educational system, our use of adjectives will
have decayed to only one word for ill-fated
circumstance; tooblackeyes.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


I'm feeling the need to jump a train again.
I want to ride my motorcycle until I hear a train,
race it,
pass it,
wait for it,
hop on.

Just go for a couple of miles,
knowing that I could go farther.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I can watch the sea
but it will never call me
and never stop me
from falling--

As the night calls
I know not how to answer
in a way so I will get an answer
from my father
for I am Night's bastard
and yet I scream
Why won't he reveal himself to me?

"I am your father," the Ocean said
"the Night is your Mother, though we ain't
never wed
and although she blankets you and comforts your head
I want you to know, and never forget
that in me are all of the tears that you have
not yet shed."

I finally understand
what it takes to be a man;
and just as the night shows the emotion
vast as her sky
as she cries
the tears for the ocean;
My Mother will always govern my sleep,
knowing my Dad,
though strong,
is full of tears
but will never sea him weep.

Monday, September 21, 2009


No, not me
Cop pulls me over
asks me where I been
and I deliver a line so sweet, you'd think I
just got through baking one of Mrs. Smith's
apple pies

-But he ain't biting

Driver's license
No need for tracers
he knows where I am
Left breast pocket
in front

Give him the notebook
Drivers license
driver's license
-It's in my jeans

dig it out
flip through the rubber banded flats of plastic
feel the heat of the tracer
give him the license
like a bus transfer that I'll be using
here on out

He should have taken my notebook
instead of the transfer
'cause that's who I am
and where I'm going

Monday, September 14, 2009


Judas took his gold
went down to the store
bought a pack of smokes
and a thistle turned rope
to string another bead in the blackness

stumbling down the road
was he doing what he was told
and, after all, can a spirit be sold?
all of the questions racking his mind
Why did he pass on the bread and the wine

busted, broken, not knowing why
tore off the plastic from the cigarette package
mind fully primed he went through his jacket
how could I
How could I
"CHRIST!" he cried,
"Where the hell are my matches!"

Monday, September 7, 2009


He knows

He knows the beauty of lyrical pain
Impulse rejoices for his acceptance
Easy access to rib-cage vaults
Unwind the tensions of this
Maniacal doom

He tastes

Tastes the emptiness that comedians
See at the bottom of their glass
The residue of transient bravado
is made still by his whisper

He perceives

Perception of death
Enlightens his ovation
His tonation takes hold of
Surface designs and
Guides their risk to his iris
Rigid lines in shadow curve into
Stone bodies that kneed (need)
Precise lotion administered

He returns

Returning to the constellation
He gently kills our
Lame horses
They die with open generosity
They die and he rides toward
Red horizons never using a whip
They volunteer for subjective infinity

He will guide them through
Granite domes into yellow and
White meadows
He will guide them because
He knows

---Jonathan Mittleman
01/25/1988 Los Angeles
Written for Thomas Michael Angelo

Monday, August 31, 2009


Your off the cuff comments,
dressed with my suspicion,
perceiving more then what you ever said

I probe slightly like a blind surgeon
around with curved intonation
The last sliver of the moon caught in my throat
with a direct question
Sacrifice the crescent
for a sickle

her pain
my sickle

takes over the brightness of the moon
and the obvious
as it slides the light to the edge
and then off...


Trust in what you can't see
Love is all you believe.

Monday, August 24, 2009


Men leave for 2 reasons,
either the fire isn't hot enough
-or they get burned.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Prayer at night should I wake with God.
Poem at dawn should I work with man.

L.A. - 8/23/09

What I catch
I give away,
Each to it's own purpose
-To fulfill my own.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Ain't no love
just a train
and desire
a hot summer rain

I thought I loved her
'til she yanked the reins
and I could tell by my reactions
that I was just trained

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I knew a girl named America
Called her Meri, for short
Had her first abortion when she was 8
She still named it,
Named it Faith,
In hopes that promises made would some day be kept-
When Faith was with America

Monday, August 10, 2009


Perpetually drawn toward the mysterious
the charms of the silent,
the anticipation of the eminent exploitation,
all the while hoping it will be
of a great enough magnitude to burst the walls
around my heart.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


You met me
tried to suss out my identity
although I knew that I didn't have one

But I knew you wouldn't wait
so I made one up
with a scaffold of questions
and papered agreements
that weren't mine.

'Cause I needed someone I wanted you.
I wanted you to stay.

And now,
years later,
I have no more questions.
Now its your turn,
and you start by asking me
if I feel a draft.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Monday, August 3, 2009


I went to my dentist the other day with my 15
cavities, down from 19, so I knew what to
expect on this visit.

"Well Doc, you took care of the front teeth on
the last 3 visits, I'll let you choose this
time-just don't let the power go to your head."
He laughed, "The power of the drill, right?"
"No," I said, "the power of choice."

"I had a patient once and we started talking
about politics and after we were through with
the work I told him that it was really nice
meeting someone who had the same political
views as myself and that it was interesting
that we agreed on many social issues. But as
he got up from the chair he said that we really
didn't," he chuckled, "I guess the idea of the
drill got to him," he looked away, "It's just
finding someone who shares in your political
ideology is so rare."

I thought to myself, yeah, almost as rare as
having the same god. I didn't say anything
though, as he clasped the chain around my

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Sunday, July 26, 2009


Slow Poke Bill asked me to do Cami's portrait in watercolor for her birthday. I ended up doing a couple of them, proving that a pretty woman is far more difficult to portray than the irascible rascals of Phoenix Motorcycle Riders Group. I ended up doing four paintings and a graphite portrait, each one saying something different to me, although they were taken from the same pose. I'll probably only post one on the sidebar, taking a poll from those who check them out to see which is the most popular. So e-mail me, leave a comment and let me know which one you like the most (red, close-up, only brown, more standard). They are all about 9" x 12". Thanks! Happy Birthday Cami!


I'm afraid that you'll look too long at the
stranger. Whether it be the bartender with the
long hair and beard, the bag lady pushing her
cart, the beat up Valiant, the curious page
from a dirty magazine that's lying in the
street. I'm afraid that you'll want to
rearrange the furniture. Or, worse yet, do it
while I'm gone.

Sometimes I'll wake up in the middle of the
night and listen to you breathe. I'll listen
to it, pacing my breath with yours. Listening
so long that I am startled when you move and
then wonder what it was that suddenly made you
aware that you were uncomfortable.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Sunday, July 19, 2009


Animals react differently in a zoo.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Sunday, July 12, 2009


Hemingway? I ask, she states was just a drunk
and Kerouac to her was just bebop scum
Shaking my head, not wanting to push it further,
Jesus, I sigh,
she quips
-Just a martyr.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

for, and because of, LMK

My good friend had a dream in which a person she knew to be deceased said to her,
"God's timing is all knowing."
She wondered what that meant.

Then I wondered, did the spirit know that she would tell me this dream and the
message was really meant for me?
I wondered what that meant.

Then it occurred to me, that if the spirit knew her that well, it must have known
me well enough to also know that I would post the dream here,
-and the message was ultimately meant for you - now.


This was an exercise in zen and patience. Each chip took three cuts to make and all done with a single knife, lid and all four sides. Box measures 11"x5.5"x3" Basswood

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

GUNTHER 9 X 12 watercolor

Monday, July 6, 2009


My father's

bull mastiff fists
Jaws clenched around the collar of my shirt
The wooden legs of the kitchen chairs, running and tripping
My legs strike the table and it grumbles aside

My mother's

basket of hot clothes and towels, just out of the dryer,
watches from a corner of the room
A strangled sleeve hangs over the edge.
Her slow voice, just as wrinkled, smoothing his name

My body is

wrangled backwards towards the shuttered windows
Sunlight filters through dusty splintered wood and warms my face
The electricity of the moment, accelerated, is still familiar
So my muscles relax, eyes softly close, and surrender to the wait

My brother's

frozen figure in the archway, paralyzed from the voltage,
unable to let go, rigid, shrieks with a piercing howl
of a heart impaled, collapses to his knees,
-the blown fuse that breaks the current.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Remembered at the memorial service.
Forgotten until we see his widow again.
Six uninteresting things that make me happy:

1. Going to bed when the sun is coming up.
2. Staying awake until that time.
3. Restaurants that have coarse ground pepper on the table.
4. Rocky Road ice cream that has FORMED marshmellows instead of that non-committal white swirly goop.
5. Twilight transition in late Spring, Summer and early Fall ONLY.
6. An infant to a toddler who smiles back at me because they know that I know that they still remember what heaven is like.

Friday, July 3, 2009


The night is hot and fragrant like the smell of an oasis
sweet like jasmine climbing over every wall
and the jukebox blaring be-bop
and the lovers on the rooftops
drink in nectar
bodies trembling and enthralled

There's a promise in my pocket
a stolen picture from a locket
swiped from Save-On off of Lincoln Boulevard
Her face looked so familiar
but from where I couldn't figure
so I freed the photo and left the locket in the cart

I strolled out toward the parking lot
playing down my excitement and the fear of getting caught
zig-zagging through the cars in case I was followed from the store

Leave the diamonds for the losers
like spent asphalt behind cruisers
Hallelujah. I'm not alone anymore.

Arrested coming out of the post office after mailing your letter and the rats could smell my words still on my collar, but under my sleeve was the one thing that they didn't plan on. Just as the man in the suit from Vice was reading me my rights, an officer grabbed my hand and brought it around my back. I turned, releasing that hand at the wrist. Another one stripe grabbed my shoulder and I gave him my whole arm, separate. There was no blood, no snap, just a sigh. The detective jostled back to the car and snatched the radio for backup. The cop who tried to cuff me was shooing my hand into a corner by the door of the post office. The hand looked confused, the same look as it had when writing your letter. The other officer just let my arm fall - then grabbed me in a headlock. He wrenched it under his arm and I let go of the face, the wince and grimace you no longer see. Imagine. I stood straight up, my head apart from my body now. A news van pulled up. I walked my torso around to the front of the policeman holding my head. He screamed and my head flew into the air, spiraling, as the detective tackled my body from behind - severing me at the waist. My head landed in the rubbery shrubbery near the officer trying to corral the hand. I wiggled my jaw feverishly and fell out of the bushes onto the sidewalk, faced away from the scene. All that I could see was my legs running up the street. I flashed on what you wrote about how I should move to New York. More grist for my mill. That was their direction. Doors slammed and there was a scampering of feet that sounded like a stampede with my ear to the concrete. I saw my left hand scurry around to the front of my face and hook my mouth with the index finger, rotating my head on my ear to face the scene where I could see that there was a lot of commotion about my dismembered parts. My upper body was flapping around, rocking in spasms. The News was asking the detective, "Which part do you arrest? The hand for writing, the head for thinking, or the heart -"
-The detective silenced him by reaching into his cot and pulling out his .45. My hand was wedging under my cheek like a scared salamander under a rock. My fingers flipped my face, my head rolling down the sidewalk. I saw the mail truck, like a kaleidoscope, pulling out of the drive. My letter was inside.
My head stopped.
The driver smiled.
His hands turned the wheel.
You'll get me - whole.
I heard

The web is broken, Charlotte's dead.
Hell is the absence of all things familiar.

To mark the finality of the end,
I may only get:
One crayon.
To chose one word.
To make one movement.
One note from a single tone flute.

-and it has got to be enough.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


I found them on the floor in the back of my car yesterday-
cleaning out the empties.
I recognized them as yours because,
just like you,
they were practical
and efficient-
and very hard to hold
as they have an edge
on both sides.
And only Virgo blades
could cut the heart
and the wrist
at the same time.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A bunch of wood carvings.

Monday, June 29, 2009


The bed was always crooked in the back of the van, just like it was askew that a boy from the suburbs of Upstate New York would be living in a parked van with a lean toward the gutter on the dark streets of Los Angeles. This isn't a violent act, I wasn't doing anything wrong, nothing to have the red lights of justice swirl and bleed through the black curtains of my home. Cops with their Eye O' God iron flashlights and I would lay real quiet and listen to them talk, walking around the van. I'd hear one try to boss the driver side door, with the clicking and the shake, the butt of the flashlight rapping against the window. Voices like exhaust, and I slowed my breathing. I pulled my wool cap down over my eyes with two slow fingers and slinked tighter against the edge side of the van and the mattress. One cop called out my name, asked me to come out. I was sweating ans shaking, prayers like ticket tape behind wide eyes. This is all I have, it's all I have.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Here's a couple of pictures of the first leaded stained glass window I did for my mom. She found out I wanted to do stained glass so she put her order in for a couple of windows before I lost interest. LOL! So not much time to practice.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


It's like going down the boulevard in a
methyl-alcohol powered rocket sled that can't
be stopped, just ripping through everything
that gets in your way and seeing the whole
thing explode before your very eyes. You don't
even feel the impact and it slows you down in
no way, the only thing you hear is the high
pitched whine of your engines. At 240 mph all
they have left is premonition. You rip through
suburban houses with no regret, through 50
story office buildings, cutting through xerox
machines, typewriters, and executive office
suites, paper sticking to your windshield, you
can't see what is ahead of you and soon the
paper is colored--white, red, brown, then to
ash. Glass storefronts are only an illusion
and you slice through translucent marble like
sunlight. You are the yin and yang, the zen
of motion, the Buddha of speed, and you strike
like the Holy Spirit of destruction and
rebirth, baptized in Kerouac's oasis. Spinning
the wheel like a barrel of a gun, you find the
direction and embark on your intention. The
straight line divides, then christens you in
liquor, gasoline, ice cream, and blood. With
the bank up ahead, you take your first pass
through the building, cranking the wheel after
passing through the first wall, spinning
through the lobby like a death star, through
the wall opposite. No green bucks on the
windshield so you start through the building
again. Whirling gold and glass sparkle before
your eyes, more paper, and you realize that
you've hit the safe deposit boxes. The vault
couldn't be far from this, so on your next
crusade through you figure you'll spin through
the lobby again like the blade on a table saw
when you are close to that same area.
Jackpot!-bills and coins and you try the same
maneuver again to make sure that you've ripped
this pyramid wide open. Paper plasters your
windshield so you hit the wipers. The first
swipe of the blades strips the bank and the
town from your vision and you find yourself in
the country, flying through meadows, toppling
trees, barbed wire streamers cling to the base
of your windshield and you jerk the wheel
again, sending fence posts whiling like
medieval weapons. Then you decide to go back to
your home town on the east coast and pay those
fuckers that you grew up with a little visit
to remember you by-

-After Las Vegas

Saturday, June 20, 2009

When great orchestrators and arrangers die, do they work on the sounds that occur during a storm? "Okay Jones, you got the thunderstorm in Cleveland. Thomas, you handle the same storm in Chagrin Falls when it comes down there. You won't need as many woodwinds. And keep an eye on Reeves with the tympani! Last time he got carried away. He's lucky he didn't get moved to the glacial melting project up north after that one."


That's it. Reeves blew it. He's been moved to Wilson Smith's 1954 Harley Shovelhead with the blown out exhaust baffles over there on Cypress and 54th in Mesa, Arizona, south of the reservation.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Wednesday, June 17, 2009


A local pizza place displayed a banner, offering a free personal pizza to all fathers this Sunday for Father's Day.

I watched a priest read the sign.

Monday, June 15, 2009


scratches paper
with a stick
but no words come
of a language we know

the map of a place
she remembers
from a long time ago

When she was seven years old
at her grandmother's house
in the basement
behind the water heater
Maybe some treasure
someone forgot about

A woman
A treasure
An artist
A key

I collected baby food jars. Every time that I had a painful experience or was in a time of frustration I would open one of these jars and fill it with the ether of emotion, cap it, and label it on the lid, figuring I'd open them later when I felt I was able to better deal with them. I wouldn't stick the tape on the sides or the bottom, because I wanted to see through that time, all the way through, see how the contents would change shape with looking through the glass-quantum like. I had about a hundred jars, all the way back from my teens when I started.

I had them up on a shelf, never out of sight. I would try to guess at what they were before I looked at the label. I got pretty good at that. I would arrange them as far as how painful each one was, then chronologically, or by their complexities like a vintage wine or, I guess, whine.

When the earthquake came, I heard the jars fall to the floor and smash. I jumped out of bed, the moments shattering in the darkness all around me, the sound splashing and running down the walls. I cut my feet on the broken air, I jumped off onto another painful lacerating moment that pierced high into my foot, up to my knee. All that pain I stored up.
All that pain.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

This is what the walls of my apartment USED to look like about 5 years ago (ALL the walls)...

And the windows didn't look much better!

Monday, June 8, 2009


Wind blows
Reeds bend
upon each other

Hard wind
Reeds press
share the warmth
and the ache

a stray seed
grows a reed
that bends

and breaks
now a stick

With time it grows
grows to bend
perhaps to break
perhaps to ache


From my kitchen window I spied a skunk rummaging amidst my neighbor's flower bed. There was a toddler out in the yard, all of three years old, playing with some toys. The child heard the rustling of the leaves and went to investigate. At first the skunk moved away and then, later, out of that mutual curiosity, eventually came closer. The child kept his hand out and the skunk sniffed it. The infant's face showed no signs that this was a formidable creature. There were no tears, agitation, or accompanying facial distortions, although I waited - from afar. This went on for about ten minutes before the mother emerged from inside the house and, seeing the skunk, shrieked the child's name. Just then the tail of the skunk went up, spraying his own name nature gave him, and scampered off. The child screamed and the mother, not knowing what else to do, ran over and spanked the child's butt, whisking her off to the back of the house, Wisdom under the arm of Knowledge.

Friday, June 5, 2009


On the 33 going downtown, the bus was almost
full when I looked up and saw this young Black
woman carrying a triangular cardboard box,
almost cradling it. She was trying to stick
the tape back down. I recognized the shape of
the box, a 3/4 size guitar. She kept pushing
on the tape, as if not to have any of the music
escape out of it before getting it hoe. She
kept smiling coyly, as if it were her joy she
was trying to keep in that box. I wondered if
she would ever play anything as sweet and
personal as the expression of her face. Then I
noticed on the edge of the new box, stamped in
red "USE NO HOOKS" and I wondered if that was a
warning or the first lesson.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009


I drive my car
like a needle in the arm
of a junkie in heat;

Primal scream of guitars
leave suburbia scarred
-as sirens wail for sympathy.

Saturday, May 30, 2009


After our breakup
and you moved out
to a studio
close to Santa Monica Pier
Right on Pacific Coast Highway

I painted a blood red heart
in the middle of the
northbound lane
as mine was going south

I went back a few days later
tire marks smeared
the paint
made it look like the heart
was falling-
falling south

a heart that
had been tread upon.


Tickle the carbs until they're wet and the juice trickles down the side. Pull the clutch in and slowly prime the kick starter with an easy up and back motion. Listen to the clicking of the spring on the return, like the roulette wheel on the Big Spin. Release the clutch. Feel the breeze off of the ocean, the calm of the sky. Offer yourself to the gods. Take a deep breath and throw your chest up towards the heavens....

And then SLAM that kick starter straight to hell, wrench back the throttle and scream with the roar of the engine. Your past has tumbled off your back, perplexed and disoriented, not able to catch up. Stomp on the gear shift lever, the tires spin, and the frame is twisted in the backdraft of torque, kick it down again, hugging the road, take it into a turn, motor hums, toe up the gear, twist the throttle, the bike lunges forward, toe up, toe up, single mind-forward, squirm up on the seat, into the wind, crawl up to the tank, place your heart against it, feel the vibration, the heat of the engine and that wild wind, and the succulent desire to fly faster than gravity.

She looks down
the long of the bar
caressing the back of her ring
with her thumb

I hold her gaze
a slight smile
forms around the silence

Her eyes
soft petals
to her glass.

Another man may carry her words
on his back
but only like soft earth
in a wire basket.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


She broke our date tonight
saying that she had to choreograph a dance
and she could only get the dancers tonight
but she said she'd call.
I played her message over and over
making sure that I heard it right
That she would call

I strolled down to the store
to make myself unavailable
bought some smokes
and something to eat
ran home to check the machine
too quickly
and checked to make sure it was working

I then thought of all the things to do
that make people call and interrupt.
I shaved
and bled
took a shower
purposely got soap in my eyes
and, after that,
so it would be inconvenient to get to the phone,
I climbed the ladder to the loft
and accidentally
cracked my skull against the beam
so hard
that I fell off the ladder
and landed on my ass

I jumped up off the floor
doing the hot potato in a circle
rubbing my head and my butt
and it occurred to me
when I looked at the phone
that the dance she stood me up to choreograph
-was my own.

Monday, May 25, 2009


Dynamite stick and a beat up Cadillac
Wind roars like an incinerator with it's top hat blown back
Like an Egyptian pigeon, gotta catch me on the fly
Cause when I swings baby I swings wide

Plutonium toe clip and barbed wire 'round the heel
blaze into town, like a dragon on two wheels
It ain't the glare off the chrome that makes the cop hide his eyes
It's the fear of when I swings, maybe I'll just swings wide

Wiped out a herd of caribou, and to me that was just a snack
love the smell of the wildflowers, sniffed so hard they never grew back
When time came for them to name me the elders of my tribe
said that nature couldn't tame me and called me the one who swings wide

Scrape the bark from a dogwood, steal the tears from a willow
Roll them in the paper, first chapter of Gideons, blow the toke out the window
They say she never said goodbye before that iconoclastic ride
on that hell bound train with that guy who swings wide

Angry mob of rebels, brandishing swords
Torches are a blazing, and it's me their coming toward
push the button of the moon, pop open the glovebox of the sky
Release a flood of angels driving chariots that swing wide

I told you my stength lies in the length of my hair
but should I go weak in my arms, in my heart love will persevere
Delila you're my diamond in the navel of the night
and for you I'd break chains, push these pillars and swing wide

Coming down 'round your mountain, bound to cross that double line
How you swings baby? Cause I swings wide

copyright 1998 Crissum Publishing

His shirt was open
and I couldn't get over
how well defined his

I went over to ask him
how he ever got his
that way

You mean that you don't do
anything to get your
like that?

Wait a second-
I went into the coffee shop
grabbed a chair
and pulled it out to him

That's really incredible!
I said again
then I picked up the chair
and hurled it through a window.

To a good man.
The night is solid
the night is clear
My word is only silver
compared to your gold tongue.

Clouds are moving swiftly.

---Mandy, Monastery bar, 02/23/08

Saturday, May 23, 2009


In the lounge of the Marina Yacht Club
You would expect to see a man
in crisp pressed khaki slacks
smiling with a whiteness
I can't afford

But in this dirt floor bar on Jeff'son
in front of the amps
stands a man in starched loafers
and a twice-a-week tan
snapping his fingers
to the beat
of my drumstick
he's paid for the blues
so I give him mine

As I squint my eyes thin
press them tight
between the plates of cymbals
where I keep
forged Medi-Cal scrips
my mother's blue lips
and the hiss
of rationed oxygen.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009


been on the phone all day
No one calls back
I lay in bed
hear the messages
she leaves
goes into another room
I roll on my side
face the wall
like a tourniquet
around her tender wrist
tightened by my manic desire
--to be free.

There was this girl in my office that I was really attracted to, so much so that I couldn't think of anything to say. I just got tongue tied. I asked my buddy about this and he suggested just talk about the weather, just to get warmed up. Just make a comment about how hot it has been.

So the next day I saw her out on the stairwell having a smoke. "Sure is hot today eh?" I asked passing by her.

"Balmy" she said.

That was all it took. I blushed. I stopped walking and turned around. We ended up talking. We ended up dating for about 2 years and I never told her that the reason why I pursued her after our first exchange was because I honestly mistook her comment on the weather as a seductive request.

Monday, May 11, 2009


She looked in my direction
walked over

"I like--"

"--Two Buds and a Miller."
the guy behind me barked.

She brought them over.

"--Can you break a 50? Good."

She took the bill, came back, and counted.

So did he.

I didn't.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


I am not facebook
or my space
that can give me
700 friends
in one week.

The word friend
still has great value to me
and it has been time and experience
that has enabled me to judge
the difference
between friend and faux.

Monday, May 4, 2009


I was sitting in a coffee shop and this herd of
people sat down at a table to my right and
started talking about the time.

I took out a cigarette to mark it.

A girl from the group approached me and
politely asked if I would not smoke because it
makes her nauseous in such close quarters.

I told her that before she put another one in
the meter that she should move.

"I can't ask all my friends to move, " she
mouthed, "Besides, there's only one of you."

So I looked around, saw a chair that was just
recently vacated, and told her that she was
right. I picked up my smokes and notebooks,
took a long drag of my cigarette, took a few
steps, and threw myself down at her table,
exhaling low and slow, fogging the confused
flock of the Misguided Shepherdess.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


Today at work I had to ask the head guy from maintenance for gas that he has in cans in his workspace for my security golf cart. He said that he would put it in the tank for me and I said okay. He then said "Thank a republican". (drill baby drill). I then said I already did. He said, "How so?" I said, "I thanked Lincoln for Obama."

I called into dispatch at work for my hourly check-in when Ted answered the phone. "Tom, I see you have weekends off."
"That's right." I said
"How do you rate? I've been working for the company for almost two years now and I've never gotten weekends off!"
"Those were the conditions I made when I was hired. I've always had them off."

Ted changed the subject. "Did you hear about that auto auction in town?"
"Yeah. One of the valets here parked a 1957 Ferrari worth 2.5 million last night. Jay Leno is probably in town buying."
"Yeah, how about that guy? He has a whole garage full of old cars and motorcycles and stuff! Where did he get all of his money?" Ted asked.
"Worked for it like all of us."
"No, really! How did he make so much money to have all of those cars, the nice house and stuff?" "Really Ted. He said the right things and exactly the right time, but first," I said,
"He got weekends off."

I walk amidst cardboard cutouts. I liked them so much better in the early days when they were viable, living and breathing trees of spruce, oak and pine-before the compression, adhesives and paint.

I walk among them until it is their time to return to the nurturing earth, finally free, yet still confined in boxes made of spruce, oak and pine.

Two voices that are too alike, singing the same note will never create harmony.
Sometimes all it takes is an interval away.

I serve in the Army of Love.
No seaman,
just a one-stripe,
Private kind of guy
-wearing fatigues.

I'm more than Harley-Davidson.
More than any other person's name
or the name of any service or product
or flag-displayed on yet another product.

You're more than Harley-Davidson,
though I can only assume, not knowing you,
like you know yourself,
and would respectfully concede to your truth
should you disagree.
May 2, 2009

I had been working with an accordion player over the past 3 weeks. Come to find out he lived for a while in California. We ended up knowing some of the same musicians and even some of the same accordion players. We talked of their styles, how long we had known them, etc. We talked a little about how we both started playing accordion, how his first accordion teacher so inspired him with his arrangements and jazz possibilities. I told him how I had the opposite feeling towards mine. I hated the accordion and everything Palmer-Hughes/Myron Floren stood for. I couldn't wait to become old enough to earn my independence and shed the straps of this wheezing iron lung.

The next week I again met with him. Someone had left a message to return their call and the call was placed from Binghamton, New York. I overheard this and told him that is where I was from (actually I'm from Vestal, a township next door). He told me that he was from Endicott, the village across the river from Vestal, fierce high school football rivals. We talked of all the great pizza places back there, Pat Mitchell's ice cream parlor, speedies, etc. Come to find out we had the same accordion teacher, Alex Apolovich.

I told my folks about this. Come to find out my parents went to his father's funeral and to both his brother's and sister's wedding. Also they told me that his mother is the god daughter of my cousin, Dina, my mother's sister's oldest daughter. Funny how you go so far out of your way only to find yourself back at your beginnings.

Friday, May 1, 2009