Keep it

just over the berm, no,

further, beyond the punched out bicuspids of Kandahar.

If there’s enamel to be scraped

do it on the far side

of mud walls until smoke rises like a preteen in fits—

in short bursts of sporadic fire on the other end of a television

clambering to tell vapid tales

of concussive blasts—

an echo of a telegram, dead

by the time it reaches, acres clear of nodding infantry,

as if poolside by poppy plants.


It’s best to keep it

somewhere else.


Nope, not gonna’ get rope-a-doped

back into the material world of gunplay.

The hack-hacking

of another joking broken soldier unloading.


in the same ditch he finds his counterpart:

strokes from the cleft of the ear across,

shrapnel upending clean butcher slices

returning his pallet of bones to the stars they rose in.


This is not what sells. They say

if it bleeds it leads, but they insist upon ketchup.

Not the amber glow either of us were looking for.

We keep it locked in safety deposit boxes patrolled by Swiss guards

plucking chocolates

from a golden tray.


Back from Beirut


You can tell a hooker

whatever lies you like.  Become an anthropologist

dining at the corners

of her open mouth.


You tell her you’ve come back

from seeing the world, a journalist

if it suits you. Grope her gray ass

pock-marked like moon landings in the yellow hours

of your parent’s living room, brimming

with toys.


Your half-brother, 18 years your younger,

is 6.  She unzips your pants to the tune

of his Fischer Price accordion she kicks

away black heels, shooing off teddy bears

like jackals.


You invent a real estate license, confessing success

on a handshake for the family time-share. And,

even before you left the States, that

you were a generous son

between puffs up her skirt.


What’s finished is over.

You offer a glass of water and a chance

to watch TV, a break from the bump and grind.


Her palms still glistening,

I’ll leave you to your unpacking,

it would seem

you’ve still got much left to do.

Hang ’em High

When missile parts are found

bound for North Korea on a miner’s pass,

carving submerged stretches of the Panama Canal, wrath

silent as a Snowden redux, we

may never discern why. Whimsical armageddon

gauging Oahu? Or plainly, ballistic tests

set for islands depopulated

at the behest of dictators who wish seagulls

would go bang?


But Zimmerman’s spellbound beauty

will forever be a tale of a man

and his gun. That fragile solitude of American oblivion

we discharge the same in rap songs entrepreneurial

as dust caked country Broncos

where only the west

has won.


Shoot first into the starched mist,

where humid hoodies cling like

little sisters, because the winner

is always the living who deem those shot dead

merciful from an afterlife, if merely anthropologists

speaking through artifacts, now only acrid animals above a mantle.

So hang ‘em high, the Seminole and Apalachee

tangled in Florida branches

of the state’s great Slash Pine.

Take the Day

There should be a holiday for all the dumb-dumbs

the nit-wits, nincompoops, and harlots,

half-pints and hiccups—

turned full pints, business executives,

pilots, and professors.

One day for the re-construed connoisseurs of guffaw

and lager.


And how about a holiday from the hangovers?

From the hang nails and further cavalier trifles

pinched at the steaming corners of all

half-baked days.


Let’s take a week

for those common American monsters

who fluff couch pillows on Christmas Eve

before the tree lights go dim,

long after half siblings

and step-parents cast themselves upstairs.


There should be a holiday for all the scarves dropped

on train tracks,

a day for bent tickets

swollen hands

tender digits

as they scour down from the platform

and fetch a baby blue

Father’s Day accolade.


A vacation

from that worst kind of racism, the dull rub

of when it’s just too hard to tell.  Holiday

from the tin roll

of trolling earbuds, a shivering zip up

the escalator ricochet—

exhale into Ft. Totten’s red line midnight transfer chill.


A day off for Batman, for Oprah, for the blue pulse

of wall socket volts, a vacation for the ball players

and the varicose veins.


And for Atlas, who

on the first day of March

simply collapses

like a six pack, dusted in the sun’s orange evening shade.


I recommend a mental health day

for fitness trainers

exhumed from the coughing hulk of once leviable

Houston bodies, juggling night classes on Nabokov and tax law.

Slack skinned Saturday night gargoyle like a wing

over Georgetown libraries.


Take flight, take care to do no wondering

and just stare.  Leave the cupboards bare and the car horns dead,

especially if the turn sharpens up ahead.


For the teachers who bartend,

the students who strip,

the plaster on the terrace

of a Disney cruise ship.  For the unsolved murders

to the nose on your face.  For god sakes

take the day.

Just as a side note

I’m finding the ending pretty cheesy.

I’m shooting for poem aimed at those of us

who have changed our lives and worked hard,

but now deserve a little relaxation… a break from the world.

Any suggestions would be appreciated

The Human Condition



The artist painted this in the nude


or maybe summoned it in her sleep. Perhaps, woke

to the miracle of it and pawed at the fog of her morning eyes

like Dorian Gray, then

put on pajamas and made herself coffee.


Or maybe

the artist is a man

and his dining room view of New Jersey natural gas silos

forsook his granola Woodstock aesthetic.

He covers the scene, but should’ve known

tonight’s dinner date is old school eastern block:

Poland or Lithuania,

who might’ve been fond of an oversized silver thermos burning at the top,

shoved into the earth

like Michael Jackson’s dirty shoes.


Don’t be obvious.  Framed

by virtue of feeling like a secret,

of course a murder comes to mind if you’re American

before we have enough clues.

So please

don’t picture a stick figure hangman strung up by the slightest dash of black:

paint brushes swung from dry branches, if the space

left by the painting

inside the painting is what’s real.


It isn’t.


A friend of a friend has been there and back again

and has it on good knowledge…


The artist is from the Congo

and had been commissioned to render a self portrait

but it was found to be too abstract.


So she swapped it for a camera

with some dumb Belgian.


It’s her first time in Beirut

so Maria wants an authentic dish, homespun

as a bowl of Aunt Chuca’s albondigas on a San Diego

orange hangover morning.

She who will not stomach menudo

squatting in the kitchen beside rounded corners of a manila fridge.


You see, she is la raza, the race of the cosmos,

those effervescent feathered serpents:

Her brown people

who tore from their pyramids laying waste

to her brown people,

until those who gave her a name

cast their horrible armor upon her shore.

Together they forged Mexican Highway 15, erecting a million steeples,

billions served.


Hers is a people

found and found again,

who pitch for the genuine article

and hunger

only for what the Sultan’s sons dine on,

what the monkey suited narguile boys take in

beneath Phoenician tapestries, and

she expects Lebanon’s beverage of choice.


Her mouth moist,

she bites into the Burger King,

the french fries and on her hotel veranda

Maria makes a promise to share a Pepsi with her abuela

the next time she visits.