ghost town

escaping the clouds as the plane descends
toward my hometown by the western shore
nothing here to mourn, no way to make amends
no one meets me at the airport anymore

drifting through the crumbling buildings
blankets of fog shroud a concrete tomb
ashen streets filled with broken spirits
wandering through the rain and gloom

places once explored, friends since lost
childhood memories turn to haze
conveniently discarding, not counting costs
forgetting those whose souls I couldn’t raise

the lonely disembodied search the city each day
kicking through the ashes of everything I burned
ghosts surround the graveyard, pausing there to pray
in futile expectation that the living will return

pointless hope becomes despair
their dying souls reject the sun
the spirits vanish into liquid air
haunting days are finally done

(2010)

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staples, a love story

Sure, Edward Scissorhands got all the attention, what with the topiary sculptures and the hairdressing skills. Life was more mundane for Edward’s less-interesting cousin, Jim Staplerfingers. Jim worked in a non-descript office building in suburban Indianapolis, and while he wasn’t invited to many parties, he was an office mainstay when it came time to bind expense reports. Collating and stapling was not very fulfilling for Jim however; he was frustrated at his co-workers’ nonchalance about the proper alignment of the staples in their documents, and he was tired of always being asked to put up flyers on the bulletin board. He had a hard time letting go of things, whether figuratively (his feelings of loneliness and inadequacy) or literally (putting down the Sunday paper was especially difficult).

Life changed quickly for Jim Staplerfingers when he met his soulmate one day in Office Depot. Katie Stapleremoverteeth worked in as a clerical assistant in the next office building, and when they came face-to-face amidst the aisles of office supplies, they fell in love immediately. Physical intimacy was understandably problematic, but they were young and creative, and with practice they minimized injury to their erogenous zones. Eventually they had a perfectly normal child with no obvious office-supply-related birth defects besides a penchant for chewing on sticky notes. Uncle Edward cut the umbilical cord.

cold coffee

coffee’s cold again
although I miss the point
of heating it up once more
there’s no more left to pour

thoughts are disjointed
accusations pointed
as we sit upon the floor

future seems uncertain
look behind the curtain
to see there’s no one running the show

it’s up to us to decide
if love wins out, or pride,
and which of us will choose to go

rain streaming down,
it seems to want to drown
the feelings lost today

there’s no more debate
I’m resigned to my fate
as I watch you go away

 

(2017)

shampoo obsession

showering one morning, using my shampoo
a universe was found in the ingredients there
laboratory experiments only known to a few
I never realized what was going in my hair

hydroxypropyl methylcellulose
sounds like alcohol and wood
I didn’t learn much chemistry
I was never very good

at deciphering complex formulae
and chemical diagrams
ammonium laurel sulfate
perhaps it’s found in Spam

methylisothiazolinone
your name eats at my soul
were you planted by the government
for subversive mind control?

Acetomidopropyl trimonium chloride
propylene glycol, D&C red and blue
all suggest dark thoughts of suicide
were I to drink this vile shampoo

Tetrasodium EDTA, water (purified)
2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol
I think I want to run and hide
or maybe surrender and end it all

When I’m no longer obsessed with shampoo
perhaps I’ll study cologne
for now your ingredients remain unknown
methylchloroisothiazolinone

 

(2004)

wings

A man sprouted wings, and decided to fly.

He thought about flying to the sun, but it was too hot.
He considered soaring over the canyon, but it was too desolate.
He traversed the rainforest, but he didn’t like the humidity.
He tried crossing the desert, but he became thirsty.
He joined the birds in migration, but their journey was pointless.
He flew through the canyons of the big city, but the people scared him.
He attempted to fly over the mountains, but they were too tall.
He passed over the ocean, but the air was too damp.

A man perched in a tree and began to think.
Why do I have these wings?
These wings bring me no joy, only disappointment
All they do is take me to new places and incredible sights
but I get no satisfaction from experiencing life.
Why do I have these wings?
I don’t need them.

A man discarded his wasted wings,
then walked into the river and drowned himself.

 

(2017)

fields of light

skies on fire
countless stars
shining, glowing from beyond

silent woods
no trucks or cars
just us, gazing in wonder

holding hands
fingers intertwined
dazzled by your shimmering hair

silver night
dreams alight
reflected in your loving eyes

interrupted
a broken spell
a wanting world intrudes

dreaming ends
can we ever return
to our fields of light?

burrito – a tragedy

order:
perusing the menu at Casa Paco
the first food group I encounter
the waitress said it’s better than the taco
I had no reason to doubt her

burrito:
wrapped in a soft flour shell
the ingredients I savor
it was crafted very well
for me to taste the flavor

meat:
whether chicken, beef, or pork
shredded meat, the finest filling
whether in hand or with a fork
to eat it any time, I’m willing

beans:
mashed and refried into paste
the small nutritious legume
cooked and seasoned to taste
pause to swallow, then resume

cheese:
queso brings me to my knees
with its fat hydrogenated
oozing when I give a squeeze
gooey flavor, much anticipated

digestion:
as we leave I start to shiver
then an unexpected stumble
when my intestines start to quiver
and my stomach starts to rumble

driving:
hesitant to sit in my car
‘cause I don’t want to soil it
I’ll be wishing on a star
when I’m headed for the toilet

finale:
I know I’ll have to raise my voice
when at last I plead for help
tomorrow I’ll regret my choice
I won’t give good reviews on Yelp

world’s fair

I have an idea how the music would go for this, but I haven’t quite fit the words to the rhythm. Regardless, I always hear this as a song rather than a poem.


we traveled halfway round the world
to close the shortest distance
the space between your heart and mine

we needed the assistance
of a city way down under, and
at least a glass or two of wine

they threw a birthday party for the USA
with fireworks in patriotic colors
but I don’t think we really cared
about the twirlers and the jugglers
and the high school band performing at the world’s fair

as we talked for hours in our darkened room
that night, we finally closed the distance

that morning we were lovers,
we ordered breakfast in
because it finally felt so right

we continued our discussion
underneath the cotton covers
debating the merits of vegemite

emerging late that morning
cause we were done pretending
the slipper found a Cinderella

but the rainstorm was unending
so we hid out from the weather
while we looked for an umbrella

as we drank our tea and promised to each other
we knew we’d finally closed the distance

in a clothing store across the street
you looked at something twice
because you said that it was pretty

you forgot the good advice
you’re supposed to take a second glance
when in a foreign city

the traffic goes the other way …

as I knelt beside you on the pavement where you lay,
in the end, we finally closed the distance.

(2010)

crystals

snowflakes on your body
not melting on your frigid skin
protecting you in a layer of perfection
a quiet peace you’ve never known

crystals in your hair and in your veins
the warmth has left your pallid face
unblinking eyes went cold long before
pale blue windows on a broken soul

snowflakes falling, drifting, blown
lying in an alley, all alone

(2014)