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Fifteen hours of dreams
broken at intervals by waking,
a breeze comprised of hope
and waiting: she is the sun
and I am a sunflower
with no star for guidance,
no star near enough to
turn my face if she hides hers.
She is the sun that I follow,
or lament when weathermen say
that she will pass without trace.
"Partly cloudy with a chance of rain,"
what tears does a sunflower shed?
Her eyelash-clouds hold the water droplets
which fall upon her hair,
--the soft earth to which I cling--
from my petals,
so my tears are hers.
It's a ham, turkey, and cheese sandwich
--what garlic is to vampires,
this sandwich is to vegans--
deep fat fried in the same batter
they use for funnel cakes,
dusted with powdered sugar,
served with a side of french fries
and raspberry preserves (for dipping).
I probably shouldn't have
ordered a meal this size and weight
during a lazy afternoon shift,
because now I want a nap.
And I don't get paid to nap.
Unless I'm sneaky about it.
My heart thuds a few times,
diesel in an unleaded tank,
that's to be expected.
My eyes close briefly, slowly, completely.
Baby, I can't tell you where I'm going.
I can't tell you if you guess correctly;
I can't tell you if you want to visit me;
I can't tell you even though I want to,
so that you'll know I'm as safe
as I say I'm going to be.
I just can't.
I'll be gone for thirteen months, over the ocean,
and I'll think of you often:
graduating from college,
getting a new job,
meeting some guy,
falling in love,
falling asleep nestled against him,
to dream about me from time to time.
I've come to help
with household chores; she has three girls,
seven, six, and four,
and this neighborhood is not
unlike the one I grew up in.
This Iranian woman is bold and brave,
allowing a man like me into her home.
In the back yard, I light a cigarette,
and she looks back at me, pained,
telling me to go back inside
before the neighbors.. come over...
The death squad is small
but the neighbors help;
I gather up the children
--she is already dead--
I don't have any weapons to save her,
or protect them.
Sitting inside the McDonald's
inside the Wal-Mart,
I watch people wander in.
It's back-to- school shopping season,
so I can't watch the young women
in good conscience.
A borderline elderly woman stops a young blonde
in a pink top
to make sure she paid,
then pulls carts away
from the rows of carts
pushed into the foyer from outside
so that the customers
don't have to.
There is a lull in traffic,
so she walks over to the fan.
She holds it in both hands,
as a loved one's face,
and shows me the weariness
of a greeter.
My hands once translated
for different parts of my soul;
they shepherded the notes
of jazz and blues,
those sweet darlings;
they shaped moods of lead
and empty pages,
sometimes showing me things
I had not had the courage to imagine
--and sometimes frightening me--
they were once my ambassadors
to the bodies of ladies,
showing a foot here
and a neck there
where their predecessors
had been rough and tactless.
They open beer bottles now,
light cigarettes, fiddle with computers,
and write lurid things,
but I imagine
they're not altogether to blame
for the devil's work.
Fuck everyone who ever wrote a poem
Fuck anyone who's written a poem
in Wisconsin, Omaha, or Colorado.
Fuck everyone in Austin
listening to poetry tonight,
especially the ones reading
to audiences already indoctrinated, with their scorecards
and lattes raised in jubilation.
Ten! Ten! Ten! Ten! And another ten!
To be fair,
the finals aren't usually like that,
and it's nothing personal,
but I have so much bad
wrapped up in that scene
that I can't not say fuck every poet
and the horses they ride in on.
As for me, I shall ride mine into the sunset.
Mixtapes for lovers since
the dual cassette, soundtracks for eras:
in the car breaking down
in the dead of winter;
in the living room
lips touching through speakers from before you met;
in the middle of nowhere
put on at midnight
to see those eyes;
that hip disgracing the rose;
to be heard again after years
to be heard again
after the words have been laid to rest;
and the smells, seasons, and colors
come rushing back
whether or not we remember committing
them to memory while we were.
So many years of kicking
and screaming every other weekend
and self-loathing and therapy
and different kinds of medication
and bad dreams and memories
and they want
to put another child through it
an emotionally unstable one, no less,
through the shouting and misunderstanding,
and emotional distance from someone
who should be there
for one when one needs it,
and I have been asked
to provide a reference
--a recommendation, really,
a glowing account of all the reasons
why they made (and will make) good parents
--such references should be mandatory,
even for biological parents,
to have children.
They return reluctantly,
prodigal children all,
and awkwardly they embrace me again,
speaking their names to me
as though I've never heard them,
for I am a steward of words,
guarding them like Cerberus,
the Third and Gordon corner phrase pimp
turning tricks with them,
and their revenge is living well
when I'm not with them,
my life's a living hell and
when I'm not with them I'm not myself,
I'm someone else with someone else,
but sometimes they come and visit
when I least expect them,
and I always try and make them welcome.
I have discovered the joy of salad.
They sell bags of it, pre-made,
complete with carrot strips and the purple lettuce
--what do you call that?--
and all you have to do is dump it into a bowl,
and put on a dressing.
I prefer ranch, but I also keep an Italian dressing handy
in case I'm feeling frisky.
Some people like cheese or croutons
on their salads,
but I eat mine with Triscuits topped with cheese
on the side.
I like the idea that I can eat healthy
and not have to put a lot of work into it.
Why don't we just burn them
to the ground,
we have worked so hard to raise,
to span these chasms between people?
Once the world is connected
by fiber optic cable
and wireless internet,
and anyone who wants
can view the up-to-the-minute logs
of where you've been and what you've done,
call you at any time,
we won't need to build bridges.
We will be superficially connected,
so why forge on in the ways of the old world?
There are already so few left,
then what's the loss
of another one or two?
The weeks don't really end;
they just continue on through the back
and into the next;
there are no brakes;
there is no anchor;
there is nothing but open sky on top,
terra firma beneath,
and the horizon to divide them
and whether for
cities or forests
we lose sight of the end,
we press on ever forward in spite of it;
and one can always return,
but the journey changes everything;
Saturday and Sunday are just illusions:
the trade winds blow constant,
and my sails remain open to them,
and it's all learning not to look back.
Thirty-fifth out of
three hundred sixty five,
you can find me among the others
if you just know the words to call,
and I will
in the town where we were raised;
claim my name tag
in the old cafeteria
constructed new all those years ago;
and those old days will be fresh
if only for one,
and perhaps I'll wander the halls
or scale the fence
and sit among the bleachers,
and perhaps a few of us
will trade war stories,
and perhaps some of us
won't care to look back.
Wake up very early
to go to the dentists' office,
wait for an hour,
and end up getting sent home
with my appointment re-scheduled.
Sleep for a couple of hours,
then wake up again
for a telephone call
from my boss's boss;
panic at first, thinking I've missed my dental appointment
or am late to work,
but am relieved to hear that I've only
earned a promotion.
Come in to work to discover
that I've been stuck with
exorbitantly long shifts
for the next two days,
and am absolved of them
only by a scheduling conflict
--not my superiors' wisdom.
Dr. Hatchett shows me
the four square holes
he has spent the last hour and a half
cutting into three of my back bottom left molars.
The fillings can't be tooth-colored
for some reason.
I leave too early for work,
so I stop and have lunch,
albeit with some difficulty,
and run some errands I've been putting off.
About a quarter mile
from where I work,
the creek that normally flows under the bridge
has washed it out,
and flooded the parking lot.
Cars are floating,
and being piled on top of
No work today.
Free day off work, today.
It should be
I just hang out, go for some fast food,
and watch a couple of movies.
It's only a month until my month in Maryland,
and I hope that the weather there
is temperate in September.
It may not be, but that's fine,
it will just be a first lesson
in not complaining too much about the weather.
Hopefully not too much of our time
will be spent on
of the lessons,
but applying the lessons
is something I'll just have to get used to.
Of the things I dislike,
trying to ignore you
and pretending not to care about you
to the depth that I do
are among them.
You don't notice my ignorance of you:
you could go for weeks without a word,
and probably not be
the least bit concerned.
And the other is like a new shoe
--not too comfortable--
but I'll get used to it
just like I've gotten used to it
with so many women before.
What I like least about this situation
is that you can't help me out of it
--you never can--
this is my burden.
We imagine romances like
the ones we see in movies
and read about in novels,
the great and the tragic,
those worth writing about,
but the fact of the matter is that
none of our romances are ever truly great
--no, not these days, not anymore--
or perhaps we're simply frightened
of living up to the dreams
we're supposedly so hungry for--
or perhaps we've just grown so tired
that we expect it
fully formed and vibrant,
into our laps,
but there is a catch:
life's neither a romance nor a tragedy
In the search for absolute truths,
we are bound to a path or methodology
--scientists searching for time zero;
historians for where it went wrong;
religious scholars for the crucial proof--
but these approaches are admirable and flawed:
there is no single truth
found in any discipline
that will ever get it exactly right
because there is no perfect method.
It disappoints me to think
that there are great minds bent
on shoving a camel through the eye of their needle;
and it disappoints me that
our biggest hearts smash themselves
against the rocky shores
of this vast island of knowledge.
I would like to write
a song for you.
I would like to draw
you in the nude.
I would like you to bring
me coffee in the morning
after I wake,
and I'll pour your nightcaps.
We'll keep our secrets
and have inside jokes.
We'll have irregular plans, like
"we haven't been to _____
in quite a while; let's."
I'll read your favorite books; you'll read mine;
and then we'll share our thoughts.
It might be a lot of work
to maintain that level of intimacy,
but that's what I would like for us.
But wait--who are you?
Being selected for promotion
and that being the bar from my leaving
for a year
in distant lands are both mixed blessings,
and I'm not quite sure
how to feel about either.
I would have very much liked to escape
all this, no matter the destination,
and I'm not too thrilled
about the responsibilities
of beaurocracy I will be made to accept;
on the other hand, it's a little bit cooler here
(and somewhat less dangerous),
and with this promotion,
perhaps I will be able to accomplish something,
as well as lead people
the way they need to be led.
There is no continuity anymore;
the days have ceased to blur
--a light and a dark provide some sense--
and the names of days don't even apply;
there is only forward:
the present just slips
--it never ceases--
I wake; I work; I sleep;
and it pulls me like freight,
silvered tracks neverending;
like deadweight, downward, depthward, heavenward;
and as the light fades,
the voices fall also into silence
never heard again,
but there is a sweetness in the passage;
in all these things remaining equal;
and the faster it goes,
the more distance there is behind me.
I am in Arkansas,
and the light sifted
through flaxen hair
is suffusive here.
It's so strange
--we haven't seen one
another for so long--
her face has aged,
but the thin fabric
of her shirt still rustles
around her like it did
when we were still kids.
We are in the parking lot
of a strip mall or gas station,
and she is looking down at me.
We haven't spoken all this time,
and it is clear that
life has aged her
so when she asks if I'll marry her,
my heart creaks like a barn door.
If there's ever anything important
that needs to be done in my shop,
it will always come in
at around two in the afternoon,
right as the people who
work during the day
Granted, I work nights,
but I always feel like
they're trying to get out of it.
In the long run,
it will have turned out
to be much ado about nothing,
this responsibility that I gladly shoulder
(as these things always do),
because I'm becoming something of a workaholic.
Which is sad,
because I don't get paid any extra.
But I get the job done right.
These words were written
within a building
whose purpose is classified.
To the left of my computer monitor,
I have an open-ended
wooden box with shelves,
1 - Ritz crackers
2 - dictionary and stapler
3 - classified
4 - classified
5 - Spanish Verb Tenses
workbook and classified
6 - highlighters and eating utensils,
which my co-workers
There is a wall behind my monitor,
which is where I pin stuff up:
a Dilbert comic,
a Far Side comic,
some reference material.
To the right of my monitor,
there is an unclassified coffee mug,
and behind the box,
My boss has come in
to catch up
on what he has missed out on
while he was in class.
Bill is a heavy smoker,
also a policeman,
with thinning hair
and a weathered face.
He is in a better mood today
than I have seen
in quite some time,
having spent a couple of days
working on a deer blind,
where he and his friend
--with guns and beer--
We walk outside to smoke,
at the Texas-sized clouds,
how much they weigh.
pointing at one,
There is a scar
on my left thigh
about four inches long,
thick and ugly,
left by a swingset
when I was about four years old.
It had a see-saw,
and it was made all of metal,
with exposed bolts
and hollow torn steel
faded by months in the sun.
A short fall, torn flesh,
the screams of a child
--they always scream,
but that's what kids do--
and I haven't thought about it
for over three years,
just watching Reservoir Dogs
on a free day off,
scratching the back of my thigh,
and there it still is.
I have joined the epic struggle
--war against the humans;
leave no survivors.
I had sworn I would never get involved:
I've lost too many good friends to it.
No, that's not true:
nobody loses good friends to another world.
They were already gone,
just nobody was close enough to them to notice.
And then there's us,
the hordes of zombies
dedicated to destroying the humans,
elves, and dwarves
no matter the cost.
No matter how much time it takes.
No matter how many times we die,
we will always rise again,
for we are the horde!!
We come back in late
to fix something
that had gone horribly wrong,
my boss and I,
because we're the only ones that know
what's really going on.
Some time later,
everything is more or less fixed,
and we drive dangerously away from it afterward,
passing in no passing zones,
squealing around highway turnarounds,
and speed onto the onramp.
I'm not sure how fast we were going,
because my van's speedometer bottoms out at ninety,
but I'd say we were doing
about a hundred on the highway,
and grinned to ourselves
like naughty little kids
as we parted ways home.
A young, beautiful woman
with curly black hair
and wonderful teeth and smile
answers the door.
She is surprised,
and so am I,
because we weren't expecting
to see one another tonight.
I know her from work,
and my overtures were,
For a split-second,
I have stalked her.
"Is Codye here?" I ask.
Codye is the girl
from work with new kittens,
and I just wanted to pick mine up.
The boy is two months old,
white, orange, full of piss
I think I shall call him Skeletor.
The Tip Jar