Time Machine

 

Remember Tic-Toc, the mechanical man
from the Wizard of Oz?

(Does Everything But Live.)

He had to be wound up
to operate, and eventually,
his inner workings would slow
down like a roulette wheel until he stopped;
Stuck inside a frozen body. Looking out
through unresponsive eyes;
alive, but unmoving.

Life in a tin can.

 

 

Monterey

Seagulls whitewash the fences.

Hotels rest on platforms above the ocean

lit up like Disneyland, like the pirate ride

right before you’re swept

down to the depths.

 

Everyone is dressed like they’re at a convention.

Tuxedoed waiters balance silver trays of finger sandwiches

to serve strangers that stare in no direction or

down at their khakis, spying hidden rayon napkins

while patio umbrellas paint a monotone mosaic above.

 

Otters afloat on their back, shucking clams on their bellies.

Moon shine renders their sleek bodies down to a shiny

metal-liquid color that almost matches the ocean.

Magical mermaid flippers propel jovial bodies backward

cutting V’s into the water. Leaving seaweed contrails.

 

 

I sit with my back against all that thin cracked glass.

It stretches too far like it is it’s own land mass.

The blue-black waves roll like belly ache

escaping from a smudgy backdrop horizon

only to foam like spittle at a five-star beach.

 

The seabirds stand as sentinels on concrete pillars

and parking meters calling out friend or foe

waiting for the next big fish, or French fry dinner.

The big ones sound like they’ve lost their buddy, “Mike? Mike?”

The little ones puff up like hype men, tiny balloons losing air.

 

A woman in a green beret has binoculars around her neck

And a phone in her hand. She stands next to a sign that says

For public enjoyment, no purchase necessary.

“Is the WiFi free? Is there a password?” she asks the kid

dressed in the casual wealth of privileged youth

 

who shrugs, bored already.

 

 

 

 

Both Hands

I hold the softest part of you with both hands.
Will you hold this part of me with both hands?

He threw himself off the bridge today.
I hide my shame with both hands.

Standing in the rain, do you remember what you said?
Look them straight in the eye. Don’t cry. Use both hands.

the waves of grief seep deep and bitter into my skin
the grains of sand fall quick and slow through both hands

These are my fingers: crooked and bent in perpetual fists.
You were a one-armed man in a world made for both hands.

 

 

 

 

 

30 Quotes I Overheard at Panera

  • “I went to the Santa Cruz Beach, you know? And I saw one of those—what are they called? Those seals? Yeah! And it like jumped up all over the place and I was like, whoa!”
  • “I love Richard, but he’s in that category.”
  • “You’re supposed to have toast too, aren’t you? Good stuff, I like it.”
  • “It’s not him, it’s not you, it’s both of you. It’s both of your personalities.”
  • “Just go over there and say, ‘I’m sorry, Lord.'”
  • “It came out like peanut brittle, and I was wondering if I cut myself or something.”
  • “It’s gonna take an Italian Villa, yes?”
  • “I notice a lot of the Mexicans are very, very…really good, really good.”
  • “You’re not sleeping with her are ya? You don’t wanna catch a cold.”
  • “You drove from there to here?” “No, I drove from here to there.”
  • “It’s sandwich time again!”
  • “No offense, but my mom is a little more fuckable than your dad.”
  • “There was only one fat person seat—that’s what I call them. But there were two fats in the class. A fat boy and a fat girl. The fat boy was already sitting there, so I had to sit somewhere uncomfortable.”
  • “You gotta look at the numbers. Numbers don’t lie. People constantly lie. But numbers don’t.”
  • “Dude, man, rice is INSANE!!!!!”
  • “My brain is always working. It has never stopped.”
  • “Have you read The Secret? It’s just a fun and silly little read. It’s almost a dumb read.”
  • “At our age, using dildos makes more sense than having sex, right?”
  • “Pray ’til something happens!”
  • “N-E-W. New? New is the strangest word in the whole world!”
  • “The eating disorder in me really wants to be a Vegan.”
  • “I’m like, do you understand WHY I have to be like this sometimes?”
  • “I’ve never been to Hawaii. What’s the point?”
  • “I thought, ‘Uh oh. Right day….wrong place…'”
  • “I’m going to have one beer, and if that doesn’t help, I’m gonna have another.”
  • “She would have a beagle face.”
  • “You wanna close Yosemite? Bad scene! You wanna charge more to get in? Bad scene! Want rich people to pay more? That’s another bad scene!”
  • “Do you know what a “radio shack” is?”
  • “It starts to feel like I always want it, and I want it so bad. By the way, I also feel this way about pastries.”
  • “Sorry, I wasn’t listening—I  was thinking about your mom’s racism.”

The Poetry of List-Making

OVERRATED

OVERRATED:

Sex, fame, charity, arena concerts, music, rockstars, any stars, auto-tuning, being shocking, pretty girls, talent, humour, finding the perfect look to represent who you are, tortured artists, college, plastic surgery, bleached teeth, bleeding hearts, saying “I don’t see color”, expensive cars, expensive anything, cruises, going somewhere significant just to take a picture of yourself in front of it, attraction, happiness, corporate ladders, dance clubs, alcohol, religion, marriage and families, having a cause, having a political viewpoint, being the lead, being the director, being anything, self-help, positive affirmations, romantic love, being brilliant but misunderstood, popularity, having a majority agree with you, gated communities, youth, porn, being a man, playing Survivor while keeping your integrity, cop dramas!, the latest phone, the latest computer, the latest anything, ultimate power, fish, salad with fruit in it, U2, having babies, having everyone like you, fundraisers, marathons, movies that look just like comics, movies that are exactly like the book, singing sensations, calling a skill an art, calling anything art, pop culture, festivals, social networking sites, being a fan, sarcasm, comedians, Lewis Black, classic literature, Prius, recycling, having an opinion, being a critic, sex appeal, do-gooders, generating buzz, branding, individualism, Oprah, the obesity “epidemic”, anyone who says, “What about the children?”, accepting all viewpoints as equal, flags, Filet Mignon, zombies, vampires, pirates, petitions, protests, celebrities with a cause, skinny jeans, any story with a moral lesson, mottos, memes, sticking to an opinion, d.i.n.k., the pledge of allegiance, standing ovations, the first time, autographs, caviar, liberals, Dave Barry, enemas, living as long as possible, going onto a reality show to “be yourself”, mustache jokes, cute cats with bad English, Rush!, security, talking it out, hugging it out, letting it all hang out, nudity, sports, vitamins, Chuck Norris, calling anyone other than a Nazi a Nazi, anyone other than Hitler Hitler, vintage, irony, bumper stickers, self-reference, self-reflection, therapists, low-fat sugar-free no-carb diets, 8 glasses of water, having lots of options, pity, pranks, political correctness, Comedy Central roasts, malls, karaoke, True Blood, Bill Murray…..wait. Bill Murray is fucking awesome. Word.

 

(An unnecessary, overrated rant for the weekend)

 

Witness

witness me.

how brief how tragic a death magnet a sun already gone starry eyed with golden red locks of damsel
distress and a need too big to feed greasy spoonfuls of neglect regrettable stains on her bib and dress
fists and facts stack up and fall stack up and fall stack up and crawl somewhere unseen stuck between
a war machine and an apple crisp kiss-

witness

my battered breast beating a song long gone a bird bleeding in a tin cup cage my rage I wage terse battles
of lust and heat swollen meat in a secret place I engage abrupt espionage and wish her frail and failing
falling under some murky madness is it sadness is it an ocean of monstrosity and an island of sand
where I crush and burn a candle to her cheek too weak to point a finger at me-

witness

such clarity such moments of retreat where sunlight calls all the animals to their feet and all the dead
fall back asleep a bitter deep creeping love spilled on the bedsheets and the cracked cliché of linoleum
floors a door where all the animals hang their heads in defeat and sunlight hangs in the open air a fair
price she pays swayed by the wisps of dandelion hair stuck in her gaze amazed-

witness

me betrayed by wretched skin worn out and thin lies of regret beget my misfit deeds embedded seeds
sprouting from the heart on her sleeve a need worming down and under the hem of her dress a mess
between the fists and facts stacked up tall a wall a small bird’s nest where war machines crawl from her
broken baby blue eggs ready to tell to confess a relentless beseechment-

to witness.

 

 

 

 

 

Year of the Dog

(This is a kind of Found Poem using chronologically “found” dialogue from the movie, “Year of the Dog”.)

I hear my dog crying in your yard.

Let’s get plastered!
You need to get laid!
When was the last time you got laid?

What happened to your dog?
He died.
Ah, nuts!
That’s a lot to process: d-e-a-t-h.

I shot her in Wyoming.
I still feel terrible.
That’s why I never keep guns in the house.
Just knives, that’s it.

What is your type? Do you have a type?
My instincts say that you are a very sensitive caring pet owner.
No pressures!

This is Valentine.
I kept him in the pen because he still doesn’t play well with others.
Animals are like us:
they live
for love.

Down Valentine! Down! Down!

Shacking up with dogs-
it’s very political.
You can’t save them all.
Good Boy!
Eyes to me!

I’ve always had better relationships with animals
and that’s why I’m a Vegan:
humane and sane
tofu chop
veggie pizza
there’s no milk, butter or animal product in them.
I’m doing it for animal reasons!

Do you think you could get him to quiet down?
The one that died in your yard?

I got another one for you….
you have been running around here like Mary-Pippin-Poppins or something.
Have you slept together?
You made out?
…I’m celibate, basically anyway, so that’s beside the point.

VALENTINE! VALENTINE! VALENTINE! NO!!!

If you want to find someone else
to train Valentine,
I totally understand.

(We might see Babe today, a real Babe!
they fell out of a truck, and it’s a good thing, too
-they might’ve been somebody’s lunch.
And there is a hell just one mile up the road.
That’s a reality and we can’t ignore it.
Life isn’t like Babe.)

Valentine killed Buttons!

It’s a mess back there, don’t go back there.
You have to put a dog like that down.
I want every dog you’re gonna euthanize tonight.
s.t.o.p.

She’s traumatized.
She will not eat a ham sandwich.
She wanted to thank me for my generous contribution of $200
to help prevent the clubbing of baby seals
in Canada.
So what were you thinking?
How many dogs do you have in there?

You love animals, dontcha?
So do I- my dogs.
So many kinds of life within this life.
So many things to love.
This is my love; it is mine.
And it compels me on.

 

Le Monstre Affamé

 

the ocean foams at the mouth
and rolls its tongue down the beach
a fat man cleaning his teeth
spraying debris along the shore

rolling its tongue down the beach
tasting sand and salty air
spraying debris along the shore
carving toothpicks from the driftwood

tasting sand and salty air
the one with a cracked sand dollar face
carves toothpicks from the driftwood
where splintered bones lay bleach white in the sand

the one with a cracked sand dollar face
is a fat man cleaning his teeth
bleach white bones lay splintered in the sand
and the ocean foams at his mouth

 

 

 

 

 

The Weight Of It

In sixth grade I had a teacher pull me aside and say, “You carry the weight of the world
on your back,” and being what I am, I took it like a compliment, something for which I should feel proud.
I didn’t understand he was saying, “Why are you so burdened? Why are you so weighed down?”

And that same year I had a crush on Brian, a golden boy way out of my stratosphere, but down
to fool around. He wrote me a note letting me know I’d be worth more to him and this world
if I’d only weigh less. Oh, to be a possibility, a maybe, a note-deserving girl to this boy- so proud.

Middle School was lonely and I spent a lot of time alone. My mom said I was too proud
to make proper friends, I needed to smile more and laugh more and couldn’t I play down
some of that somber disposition?  Couldn’t I be lighter, like the others little girls in this world?

My shoulders slump like the curve of the world, and I’m not proud; I couldn’t find a place to set it down.