the cat is mad
because i won’t let her lay on me
she paces back and forth
wailing and wailing, waiting for her comeuppance

the wife is mad
because i yell about poetry
threaten booze soaked suicide
and ruin the few hours that we get together
on these hurried weekends

the mailman is still mad
about not getting a christmas tip last year
so the bills and magazines arrive wrinkled
and torn

the cockroaches are mad
because the floor is mopped
of food and old wine
because the walls have be caulked and sealed
from their constant barrage

the cable box is mad so it stopped working

old friend
in old cities
mad because i won’t accept their kind of god
because their idea of country
has never been good enough for me

the american flag is mad at the world
so it drops bombs and bankruptcy

the bar drunks are mad
wasting sunday afternoons
talking to old ladies perched on rotten wood stools
instead of slinging salted insults at each other
in between downs of the game of the week

the president is mad at his sagging approval ratings

the poetry rags are mad too
because the word is not up to snuff
because they have to sift through mountains
and mountains of bullshit for one decent line

the landlord is mad
because the rent check got lost in the mail

the garbage men are mad
at their big salaries and ample pensions
so they leave trash strewn all over the street

the co-workers are mad
at the ceaseless hours revolving
on the slowly moving cock

the teachers are so mad that they cannot teach

the children are mad
because they are learning that there is
really nothing to look forward to
because they will ultimately become their parents
and suffer the insults of adulthood

the ballplayers are mad at another losing season

and the artists are mad
because there is nothing there
for them to paint

the people are mad
because there are no jobs
because they are losing homes and bank accounts
because there is no one left to lead

they are mad because the dream has failed them

days like today
where the sun shines the brightest in this hell
it seems as though the whole world
is mad about something or another

you’re mad at me
and i’m mad at you
as we sit here on the common couch
with four walls staring back at us

searching for a different kind of anger
to crystalize our hatred anew.


from the
slice on my thumb
from the
dying cat’s nose
on the floor
blood on the wall
of the cockroach
on a paper towel
blood in the food
blood on the couch
of the housefly
smeared on the window
on the dusty sill
blood on tv
blood at the movies
on the internet
blood in the great books
blood in the dirt
in the history books
on the sports fields
blood dripping
from this drunken pen
centuries of blood
on human soil
war blood
senseless blood
nationalistic blood
running through
the veins
blue blood
un-oxidized suffering
for the masses
blood in my eyes
for you baby
i got a knife right here
just waiting
for the first

tough bitch

from work
sitting in the dark
the last beer resting
on my swollen belly
i feel defeated
as always
mentally exhausted
waiting to be
by the next day
when the cat hops
up on the couch
she has a new scar
on her chin
from a fight
when she yawns
i notice that
another tooth has fallen out
this old cat
is one of my only friends
she has hardly
a tooth left
her hair is gray and brittle
she can no longer jump
and sometimes
she craps on the floor
but still she sits there
this old battle ax
this tough tabby bitch
regal as all hell
cleaning her paws
looking at me
every so often
in my weak
and useless state
as if to ask me
what in the hell
could it possibly be
in this world
that’s made me
so goddamned tired


she spots me on the morning bus

she recognizes me from the job
where she likes to talk to me
about nietzsche and schopenhauer

she tells me that the shop
on the corner of 86th and 24th avenue
is a good place to buy nuts

she eats nuts every day

a whole bag

and dark chocolate

it is good for the heart, she says

she eats plain yogurt
and walks forty blocks a day, too

she is eating plain yogurt out of a blue carton

probably thinking about nietzsche

as people get on and off the bus
some of them sitting in the seat that is wet
from christ knows what

the woman who was warning
everyone about the wet seat
got off at 22nd avenue
as my friend was telling me
about a good place to buy nuts

the guy across from the wet seats
tried to pick up the mantle of warning people
but he gave up after a block

now he just sits there shaking his head
as if everyone should already know about the wet spot

as she talks to me about nuts and yogurt
nietzsche and schopenhauer
forty blocks and dark chocolate

i watch people sit in the wet seat
their look of disgust humors me a little

this is known as schadenfreude

but i think that maybe i should
be the one to warn people about the wet seat

be this morning’s big hero

it would give me something to do
something to end the conversation with this woman

telling the people would make me a good citizen

and sometimes that is as good for the heart
as walking forty blocks
eating nuts and yogurt and dark chocolate

or talking about dead philosophers
until your face turns blue.

candied yams

these ladies have orange faces
drinking pink liquor in this gray bar
on a sunday afternoon
i feel blue watching them
in the mauve light
these ladies
getting loaded and eating big boxes
of m&ms
spreading the green and yellow
and red ones
on the brown bar
like a stoplight
as the other ash faced drunks look on
they have black sunglasses
and rosy cheeks
these two ladies crying over pink drinks
falling off of their stools
scattering m&ms and potato chips
all over the stained floor
playing jukebox songs
to try and make themselves feel better
sad over the world
sad over whatever
sad over i don’t care
i watch these ladies
with bored wonder
as if they are some kind of alien life form
two squat women
hunkered down like toads
with orange faces
they look like candied yams in clothing
sitting at this bar
killing sunday with the rest of us
as the nfl season plays on and on
on the bright television
and the free chili steams from the pot
which one learned drunk
tells to the other
is white hot and scalding to the touch.

catch the game

they want to know
did you catch the game on sunday?
they want to know this
first thing on a monday morning
before you’ve accepted them
before you’ve even accepted your fate
for the week
did you catch the game?
and you wonder which game
buffalo vs new york
the new england game
pittsburgh and baltimore
so many goddamned games
that it leaves a hole in your stomach
having to stand there
and talk about them
is it even football that they’re talking about?
but they want to know
did you catch the game?
they ask you while they talk to others
about the game
they all caught the game
they all killed their sunday watching the game
green bay and san diego
miami and kansas city
they can talk about the game for hours
during their morning breaks
during lunch
eating food leftover from the game
five hours later and they’re still asking you
did you catch the game?
did you take that last precious weekend day
plant your ass on the couch
and catch the game?
sex and food and sanity be damned
did you catch the game?
are you watching tonight’s game?
well, come on asshole
are you?

summer in the fall

it is summer in the fall outside
and the people are confused

walking around
in the sun and the haze
with heavy jackets and fat sour faces

i am in this apartment
with the fruit flies and the fan blowing

curled on the couch
with a bottle of bourbon
and a fear of the world

enveloped in the hollowness of art

surrounded by pictures of
london, paris, and madrid

feeling as though i’ve never been
to any of them

awaiting the work day
awaiting the futility of all life to cease this madness

blocking my ears from the bird song
coming too late this year

for the birds are as confused
as we humans are

us lords over all of creation

having murdered
the verdant earth and the climate

spilling generation upon generation
out of stretched and mangled wombs

to eat up precious soil and methane gas

and my face is a blackbird

my arms are rotten from the struggle
my feet are giving out one toe at a time

and my knees crack at each step

it is summer in the fall outside

blinding, hot, and putrid from the trash
that lines these crystal streets

autumn disguised as the summer

but in my heart
there sits an eternal winter

clear and cold

content to be alone

in full circle of the seasons

the beauty in this world

she’s still young i think

shit, she’s younger than me

but her blue eyes have gone tired
her face has deep lines
and when she talks it’s far off and vacant

like she’s no longer used to talking to adults
like she’s thinking about
something good that once happened to her
over a dozen years ago

and we are all together at this party

and my wife and i are telling
a table full of people
about how i’ve vomited
in both paris and madrid

like a big, tough alcoholic hemingway

but between the laughs i keep watching her
chasing her kids back and forth

through the living room and back

these two thundering, screaming devils
under the age of five
who keep kicking people
stealing their glasses
and hitting each other with thick sticks
that they’ve brought in from the outside

when they aren’t knocking over
tables and chairs

i watch this young girl chase her kids

her body rail thin and worn
defeat emanating from her

as her husband sits in the living room
watching football
drinking beer and eating a bowl of pistachio nuts

and i feel bad

i think i want to tell her
that there’s still beauty in this world
if you really look

but stopping to chug her wine
before chasing one of her kids again

i doubt she’d believe me

and to be quite honest
if i were her

living her life at this exact moment

i don’t think i’d believe
a line of bullshit like that


you are upstairs coughing
the after effects of an asthma attack
while i lay on my brother’s leather couch
leading a one man revolt
from our marriage
we are drunk on red wine
and catholic baptism parties
made miserable by strangers
with faces that we used to know
and you are upstairs coughing
and i am downstairs in a dim living room
stranded in a state that wants me to
live free or die
feeling like a bastard again
but still self-righteous in my gloom
i think let her cough
let her roll around on that inflatable mattress
in the hot, tiny room
that they’ve shoved us in
for the long weekend
it is too easy for me to stay here and play martyr
not run upstairs and help you
maybe in ways i would’ve in the past
put the argument aside
for the greater good of our marital health
but tonight i plan on staying here
letting the clocks run down their miserable hours
as you hack and hack
turn over on that rubber cradle
as televisions turn on in other rooms
and people stir in beds
their own sleep perverted
by the injustice we’ve slapped on each other
christ, i think
childhood was bad
but being an adult for all of these years
hasn’t been any easier
it’s been a series of okay times
in between the anger and sadness
it’s been me sitting here for hours
ignorant and indignant
with the way that life sometimes goes
planning an escape i don’t want to make
almost paralyzed at the thought of making
this slog through existence
without you
or this damned day any easier on either of us
at least not this night
where i’m incapable of sharing a thought
let alone an entire life
as you lay upstairs coughing
your heart racing from four puffs on an inhaler
and i stay in this living room
my back cold from the leather and this wide room
my heart made colder
by the man that i’ve sometimes become
in the heat of battle
with the one i’ve chosen to love.

true revolutionaries

true revolutionaries sit in old man bars
drinking cheap beer
while watching the riots and protests on
the television
true revolutionaries shout at the images
on the screen
they tell the kids to get a job
true revolutionaries do not understand
what is going on in their country these days
they think there are jobs to be had
any decent human being can find work, they say
they talk about how dirty the kids look
true revolutionaries contemplate the smell down there
in the anarchist’s trenches
they shout at the television to take a bath
they talk about bongo drums and hippies
and the complaints from business and good neighbors
they wonder who is cleaning up all
of that garbage and shit
a bunch of young punks, true revolutionaries says
even though the screen is showing protesters
with hair as white as theirs
true revolutionaries cheer for the cops
the cops who circle in packs of blue
like playground bullies
to beat down one man with dozens of nightsticks
until his face is red with blood
the cops who have no remorse
the cops who always act like a pack of sniveling cunts
the cops who don’t have the balls to go one on one
true revolutionaries look at yellowing images from 9/11
pasted around the bar
and call the cops our heroes
as the boys in blue carry away
another bloody protester
as true revolutionaries sip on short drafts of beer
that they claim they can no longer afford
because many of the true revolutionaries are out of work
they worry about their mortgages
and their unemployment checks
they are deluded and misguided
and have no time for irony in this day and age
they are worried about reclaiming a park
that they’ll never go to
they fret about the working man just trying to get home
through all of this violence and protest
true revolutionaries would bottle time
if they could
send us back thirty or forty years, they say
back when people were decent
back when america was great and exceptional
true revolutionaries don’t realize that people
thirty or forty years ago
wanted to send us all back as well
to a simpler and decent time in the good ol’ us of a
true revolutionaries don’t understand
that people were never simple and decent
that they’d have to go back to the dawn of mankind
to even try to find a simpler and decent time
and how even then
they’d probably fail miserably.

the dirty wine glass of my very soul

laying here
in the basement
the dirty wine glass of my very soul refilled anew
as in-laws chatter in the piped-in heat
and the holiday season inaugurates
another loud fart
on our very separate lives
i realize that it was fifteen years ago
that my grandmother died
a november that seems a world away
drinking from the dirty wine glass of my very soul
i think of what a tough broad she was
with her government cheese and whisky
putting dashes of salt in her beer
as the morning bookie stopped by to
run college scores and secret lottery numbers
i got my love of bars from her
the brilliant blackness of a tavern in the middle of the day
not a window in sight
just dark men slumped over dark drinks
with sad laughs and sad stories about lives wasted
in sad, old pittsburgh
with sinatra or dean martin playing on the juke
with the television the only blue light in the joint
with the cancerous sun kept at bay
and pepsi and lance’s cheese crackers on my breath
the taste of a stolen sip of beer
bitter and cold and carbonated on my tongue
as my grandmother plied my brother and i with quarters
to play the illegal poker machines
that paid out in money and free drafts
oh, laying here in the basement
as the dirty wine glass of my very soul
clutches for youth and mists my glassy eyes
and chokes me with memory
as the promise of one year
slips into the same regret of the last one
where we all continue in one dull circle
and missing the dead
makes no sense in the grand scheme of this fleeting life
but we do it anyway and always
because don’t know what else to do
with all of our wasted, gluttonous time.


moustacheo is in the bar
when the wife and i come in

he sees us and gets up
puts a hand on both of our shoulders
and tells us how glad he is to see us

moustacheo is probably drunk

we don’t even know his name
we just call him moustacheo because
he has a big, white moustache

his name is jack or something

most of the old men in this joint are named jack
and the rest are named ron or bill

but there’s moustacheo between my wife and i
so happy to see us like we’re his long lost friends

he lets go of our shoulders
and staggers back a bit

says, hey, did you hear
connor and chrissy are getting married

that’s nice, i say

yeah, he continues, they finally decided
to tie the knot after all of these years

good, i say

they’re having a civil ceremony
and then an informal reception over at skinflint’s on 5th

okay, i say, taking the first pull on my draft

moustacheo leans in and puts his hands
back on our shoulders
gives them a good, friendly shake

it’s wonderful news, he says
i’m just so goddamned happy for them

me too, i tell him

then moustacheo goes back to his stool
he sits there and watches the news
fingers his short beer with a smile on his face

he’s thinking about marital bliss
or a million other things

who in the hell are connor and chrissy? my wife asks

i take another pull on my beer
stare at a handwritten sign offering $2 shots
of root beer schnapps or flavored tequila

the fuck if i know, i say.


the badass gets on the after work bus
somewhere around kings highway
and immediately the whole vehicle is his
the badass is a short arab kid
dressed all in black
with his hat cocked sideways
and his pants down to his knees
he sits in the back of the bus
with his one-eyed friend
and raps line after line
of some of the worst hip-hop i’ve ever heard
the badass keeps calling his friend
playa and nigga
although i bet if there were
an actual black on the bus
the badass would probably keep
his fucking mouth shut
but it’s just us yellows and whiteys
tired from another miserable day
at another miserable job
and the badass knows this
so he exploits it
raps and raps
shouts playa and nigga
the badass turns on his little portable device
and lets his music blast throughout the bus
it’s the same song that the badass was rapping
so there goes any originality that the kid had
but the badass doesn’t care about originality
because he owns the bus
and a bus full of tired people
and the bus driver who just wants to make it
to fifth avenue for his shift change
make it there so that the badass
can become someone else’s problem
he wants to pass this buck along
like we’ve gotten so good at doing
here in america
so the badass sits there smirking
his portable device loud and dangling over
some other poor fucker’s seat
he’s rapping
because he’s king of the world right now
but what the badass doesn’t know
what this shallow little cretin doesn’t get
is that in one more stop
i’m going to close my sinclair lewis novel
get up
turn the prick’s hat face forward
pull up his pants
and shove the portable music player
down the badass’s throat until the music
echoes in his stomach
that is, unless, of course, this chapter gets good
then i’ll turn on my own little music machine
listen to mahler full-on
forget about all the badasses in the world
including my own
say fuck it to being everyone’s hero
wait until i can get off this hell machine
go home
and drink myself well into the next dreary
unfathomable day
like the soused coward i’ve come
to know and love so well.


with our sorry-assed jobs
with god and country
with our own sad decades of formative wonder
with alcoholic bliss
with hard bodies dressed in thick heads
with houses and property
with 3,000 channels of television
and nightly sports hero glory
with grande ice coffee daydreams
with the fountain of cosmetic youth
and digital entertainment at a moment’s touch
enamored with the redundancy of art
enamored with hollywood slop
with bad movies starring bad actors
with bad music sung by bad singers
with bad art hanging bad artists out to dry
with politicians playing constant endgames with our souls
with plastic possessions on ugly lawns
with right and left bully pulpit thought
with orwellian conspiracy theory
and video game dead children
with science fiction public transportation
with msg blood clogging the veins
enamored with pets who don’t fulfill
who only live to die and break our hearts
with significant others who fail to please what rests deep within
enamored with hope going south
with prospect that doesn’t exist
with arab springs of speculation
forever trying trying trying in this lost decade
enamored with the next door neighbor’s luck
with escape on beach vacations of misery
with video streaming package plans
with this year’s savior media fuck up
with legal medical marijuana highs
and endless interstate exits to nowhere gridlock
enamored with commercials of hollow satisfaction
thirty second spots promising whatever is to come next
enamored with the next guy
who’s always getting duped by this shit
because it is never we
as blissful and ignorant as a nose-picking ape
who are bought and sold
in this modern, exploding land of tin and rust.

in the year of everything dying

the one cat paces around the living room
crying, scratching on furniture
not following old familiar patterns
i think she’s just trying to drive me mad
but my wife tells me to look into the animal’s eyes
which are blank because the poor thing is going senile

the other cat keeps pulling out tufts of her white hair
they float like pussy willows in the living room
where she sneezes blood sometimes but mostly snot
leaving patches of mucus and crimson splatters on
the hard wood floor
like little pollock paintings there for me to find
when i mop

in the year of everything dying all at once
political systems and the stuff of one man’s life
i cannot seem to save a goddamned thing
and fear that i’m losing balance

killing cockroaches to pass the time between deaths
buying new pairs of shoes to replace the old ones
that have worn holes too quickly in their soles
surgically repairing the coffee pot
finding black grubs hiding in the old water stains

taking time off of work to replace cable boxes
that we don’t even use
saying ciao to radios that have rusted
throwing away power plugs that have done their time
smoothing down the chipped metal on the frying pan
so that it doesn’t get into the food

patching the cracks in these old walls
caulking the floors from invaders and drafts
striping the dead pc of its motherboard
before casting it off into the garbage abyss
of the bug-infested basement
patching the tears in window screens
that i’m too lazy to replace
holding sills up with big books
duck taping the old ones that have sentimental value

replacing keys that are too bent to open
the apartment door
exchanging dark facial hair for more
of the white and gray variety
feeling the knee bones crack
whenever i get up off of the couch to fix another drink

yes, in this year of everything dying
i wonder what’s set to go next
my constitution or my civil liberty
what is destined to be replaced or lost for good

the dvd player that is rapidly becoming obsolete
the digital music player pumping mahler into my ears
on gray autumn mornings
the computer router with its green beeps
that can’t find an internet connection most days
the ever-loving toilet or bathroom sink
the oven that smells of old meals digested
on lazy, drunken sunday evenings

or these waning years of anticipation and promise
the ones meandering through the columns
of months and weeks on a calendar
that has to be replaced every twelve
whether or not i like the pretty pictures of the months
the ones that have haunted me from january to now

offering me nothing really but a collection of days.