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