First in Class
He showed up early that morning.
Sat in his usual chair at the back of the class.
Beside the periodic table on the wall
with all those initials and never any explanation.
He opened a book from the library
and pretended to be reading.
People reading always seemed like they were pretending too.
As though no one was reading at all and just thinking
about sex on a waterbed.
That made the most sense.
Other students began showing up.
Paying him no attention just as they always did.
Not noticing the large bulge in his schoolbag
on the floor this morning.
A quick look to the clock.
Having rehearsed this moment in his head
a thousand times.
Waiting for the teacher to come in
and close the door.
For everyone to stop pretending
to read books for good.
Straw Man, Fire Woman
Did your father whip you like you say?
All fathers did, it was the times.
Why do you think “wait until your father gets home”
held so much weight?
It wasn’t “wait until your father gets home
and goes right to bed with tiredness.”
He wasn’t playing a game of tiddly winks.
I guess I was lucky I was a girl,
I never had to deal with that.
We just give each other eating disorders.
The wine is going down fast tonight.
It has been dark since six.
She says I can cut her hair
and I shake my head no vehemently.
I’m not walking into that trap!
A man knows better or at least he should.
Pulling at her long stringy hear,
she makes a face.
The hairdressers has been closed for over a year.
She wants to get her hair cut in the worst way.
It’s easy for men,
You just shave your head
and you’re fine.
I’ll shave your head,
Never mess with a woman’s hair,
That’s the first thing you learn.
She sits back
and smiles because she knows
I am right.
But she can’t stop pulling at her hair.
She can feel it getting longer by the hour.
I offer to buzz her head down twice more
Making that sound of taking it all away
that she has always
hated so much.
We Could Strangers
Everyone waves goodbye
never believing it the last time.
With large foam hands
you can get at the stadium so the
local sports teams can cover up
for personal shortcomings.
That Dracula Does Dallas way my feet sweat in the dark.
Veiny and hung over the side of failing
dry mouth world.
Salty sports bar peanuts leaving the shell.
Bus station runaways never in the driver’s seat.
This way the flu climbs up my face
like some cheeky rose Renoir
doing sooty jerk Paris.
Parades are a war of people,
I have always wanted some long
Ignoring that dirty shave water way
we used to collect around the hairy backlogged
drains of each other.
Kiss at swollen drive-in lips
so that the ticklish hours
escape the screen.
Someone brought a wall down
and I am lost in the resale value
of ferocious landlords.
That crinkly newspaper way
you sit beside me
on the trains.
We could be strangers.
After all this time together.
Morning coffee so strong.
Both of us in our housecoats,
refusing to get dressed.
A tray of punch-drunk cigarettes
forever between us.
Four Letters into Someone Else’s Tired Alphabet
Hooper drained his beer,
trying to belch out the alphabet.
Only getting four letters in
before all fortitude left him.
Joekel drained his beer
and tried to place it in the chain link fence.
It fell and shattered on the sidewalk
beside his feet.
You have stick the thing in on a lean.
Guess he ain’t used to sticking it in,
Joekel gave him the finger.
You know the one.
When you have been bested
and there is nothing else to say.
Pete chugged his beer and placed it on the
perfect lean in the chain link fence.
Sure enough, it stayed there.
Like a true thing of beauty.
Crumpled song-less crickets in the near-distance.
The sound of balding tires skidding across pavement.
Let’s go lift some snacks from the Korean,
Hooper nudged Joekel in the side.
A two block trek
through the sleeping world.
Humping through a jungle of lawn ornaments
to corner convenience.
Joekel standing out front.
Under the constant buzz of that neon burnout sign
that seemed to attract everything
and nothing at the same time.
Joekel thinking of that empty beer bottle
on the lean.
How the first person to come across
such beauty would never see it.
Knocking it off
with some giant thoughtless paw
of a swat in passing.