Men in suits imagine themselves posing
for cover of Black Belt magazine: white
shirts open, black chest hair turning gray,
exposed, gold neck bling, a single edged
razor blade affixed to a chain. Sit at a four
top table. Order elaborate cocktails with
precise instructions. Blood red steaks,
so rare the cow might moo when they cut
the outer, blackened flesh. Want everything
pronto. Yesterday, if possible. Call their
server: Honey, Dear, Babe….
Say,” Be a good girl and follow orders.
We tip big because we’re large men.”
She can hear them thinking, what they imply,
“You know what we mean by Big.”
Makes sure their drink order is exactly right.
Says she’ll be right back with their food.
Feels their eyes on her as she walks away.
Brings them death warmed over on a plate
and drops the food, not quite sliding it into
their laps. Waits.
Waits for the inevitable reaction, “What’s this?”
“It’s not what we ordered.”
“No shit, Sherlock.”
“We’re not going to eat this. Take it away
and bring us our steaks.”
“Take it or leave it. That’s the only meal
you’re getting from me.”
“We want to speak with the manager. Now!”
“You’ll have to make do with me.
As the owner, I’ll speak for her. She couldn’t
make her shift today and I’m filling in.”
“You’re being exceedingly rude to paying
“You’ve obviously mistaken me for someone
who gives a shit.”
Death Becomes Her
She came from a place no one
had a name for. Anyone who had
been there never questioned Death Becomes Her
why you would leave as, once someone
was gone, they never came back.
Even the stop lights were lonely
on what passed for main street
having nothing to stop and go for.
She said that she had never dreamed
as where she was born is where
imagination went to die of hunger
and neglect, even the bones of images
became brittle and dry there like dust
that had no real substance to it.
Her old man had been blind and useless,
reduced to a drooling stammer that
passed for need and want. Was incontinent
and thirsty for beer he could only
drink through a straw, hands shaking
so bad from the need of it; he could not
hold what he had to have. She never
had a mother.
Waited years to hitchhike out as there
was never anyone passing through or
leaving once the Interstate came through
fifty miles South in another world that had
actual people in it. Figured the only way
out otherwise was flat on her back or
feet first dead and it made no difference
to her which as long as it was somewhere else.
Once way out of town she set up shop
in sleazebag roadhouse along some twolane straightway to hell Michigan and places
beyond. Forty bucks American and she’d show
you a real good time. Well, something different
anyway. There is no accounting for what men like
in a woman or how they will express it.
If indifference moved you, she was a woman for the ages. Death becomes her.
Manual typewriter left over from
a Naked Lunch dream sequence
Fingers like beaks of oversized
Bosch birds pecking at keys
covered in flesh that bleeds each
time the surface tension is breeched.
Random wordplay poems that are
alive, syncopated as rain on a hot
metal roof or automatic weapon shells
expelled after lock and load fire.
Two days without a drink and
the paid-by-the-week room stinks
of garbage, even the sink, the tub
overflowing; cigar stubs burning.
It’s always four in the morning
somewhere when there is nothing
Every day and night the same,
even the walls crawling with dream
creatures, insects and the exterminator
is coming with his magic powders,
the fairy dust, that cures the
kills bugs dead, what passes for
called the new state of mind,
being, The Interzone, but it is much
worse than that, than a place where time
and space have no meaning.
This is Death Valley at high noon,
even the cats in heat.
Everyone smokes in hell.
Life has become a straight-to-DVD-,
low budget, no future, apocalypse
movie. In the sense that he had
friends, they’d all be dressed in
no lace Timberland boots, navy
blue Dickies work pants, white
ruffled dress shirts, only buttoned
at the neck, and with long, greasy hair.
The only variant in their attire and
appearance, would be how many
tear drops were tattooed at the corners
of their eyes. Never more than three.
In most states, if you earned four,
you were eligible for the needle.
Boosting cars and mugging drunk
college students leaving open-to-just
before-dawn college bars where
workers, who celebrated” The dawn,
the Goddamned dawn,” with hand
rolled spliffs they shared outside
in a black hole, where two corners met,
and the security cameras could not see.
The existence of such a space was a secret
passed along from one generation of
workers to the next like a secret family
patent for a fortune-making elixir or
the location of a forgotten, long-since-
thought-to-be bricked up entrance to
the personal wine cellars of the owners.
Sometimes these two worlds overlapped,
co-existed for brief but memorable
intersection in time. These confrontations never ended well.
Lust for Life
After the last arrest, a battery of tests
reveal he has the same IQ as one of
those squiggly things you see writhing
at the bottom of plastic garbage cans
after trash pickups in the summer.
About the only task he is qualified for
would be pub dart catcher for clockwise,
round robin all night team competitions,
a specialty not likely to be of much use inside.
Eventually best options considered arrived
at “heavily sedated at all times,” leaving him
best suited for a nearly immobile role as
real life model for artists whose work
closely resemble that of Francis Bacon.
“Naked Man Drowning Standing Stock Still
in Communal Shower” was the heavily ironic
title that best represented the last moments of
his life. A subtitle added suggests this work
was a study in gray, drained of resonance blue,
jaundice yellow, and gangrenous green.
Was a finalist for the Turner Prize but did not win.
An injustice if there ever was one. Especially
for a man who maintained a mortal fear of water
in any shape, form or composition.