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Loveseat, Navy

48° North
Bisecting my Inner Mongolia, my Automomous Oblast
Bypassing the Post with tinned meat and fruit, now label-less, and spiral scrapbooks full
of DIY porn
Broadfall buttons for relief or access (depending on interest)
Woolen tops and bottoms, but salt-cured within, rashered beyond the scope of damp and cold,
and, well, porn

Fire & Rescue welcomes you
and the stuff that accompanies you
and those preceding you
and those not yet on the way to you

124° West
My unclaimed territory, my plastic floats
Scrawled with indelible entries, ingredients, backup routes, and maritime law
But sadly there are no surface roads anywhere for the first responders
or Amazon Prime
I hacked a tincan flue through the roof, but it just backdrafts diesel fumes
and you can’t even read by its light

Fire & Rescue still welcomes you
and the crap that accompanies you,
as for those not yet on the way to you, they are still mostly unaware
they ever missed you

The newest house

We walked home together, only in separate hours,
each a brushed and scrubbed foundling,
set upon a new path in the thinning hour,
just to follow an old route and boundary.

Neither built or unmade,
our newest house is squat and plain.
All of its doors beset with roads,
found by some, then lost again.

Still, even the smallest windows glint in the late sun;
joyous, welcome, and bright chaos in the thin winter sun,
like spectacles on a favorite aunt,
her smile harboring all, and expecting none.

We are always walking home, and most will never know that we ever left,
where we’ve been and how we’ve left,
we are always coming home, together,
as absences standing in for our kind regrets.



Cherry kerosene

It’s been a year since I wrote a poem and
I’m excited about the event;
the writing, the versing.
My meter’s grievous bent.

Words may no longer dazzle
like sunlight on water,
freshly corked champagne
or the eyes of only daughters.

But if gifted a causal notion
or some extemporaneous ruse
I can supply a blackbird on a wire
or some field mice, now nesting in my shoes.



Stiff life

Maybe I will buy a rifle after all. One that takes quite some time to load.
At least as much time as it took to set up the still life that I will shoot with it.

A nautilus shell as the sum of all shallow diagonals, and corn lilies on a sympathetic background, all the world limbed with an inky lack of sleep.

A smoothbore ball to suit, breaking some small mammal skull into mosaic intractability, muzzle flash igniting the kinetic.

Smoothbore, like a clay trail polished by generations walking to the mailbox.

Smoothly bored

nowhere as often

as on the return trip

with your postcards and rejection letters.



Kingdom of holes

On 51, I decommissioned my calendar, wristwatch, and wooden pencils

On a path that encircled a gut-shot Buick, and waded a rent wetland, and at last dove with some swallows under a small mobile home

My filthy jeans slid down my ridiculous hips, under a wallet’s weight of  faded receipts and expired IDs, and robbed my freedom of its knees

Following as closely as the rattails swishing from the low floor joists allowed, and sliding over plastic sheets of invertebrate mold,

my thin pupils whistling Der greise Kopf, otherwise breathless in the dust and shit


At 27, adjacent to but above the new car alarms and tiny phones, and swishing in all that generous time instead of stepping on its neck

Sleazy amoral fucktard,  sooty with bunker flannel and shallow nihilism,

and despite these carefully hoarded misfortunes meeting my future wife, on the clock,

at $11 an hour, our future hedged on bourbon and statistical inference, and love despite it


As for 5, it is now all bloody unrecoverable

a child may understand art like no other but he will never remember any of it

a poem just behind the teeth, just before sleep, and after only 6 hours it’s already a thousand years lost







#1 thanks

At the table of witches even the spoons are pointed. The food still grows, the chairs settle still.

At the table of the commonwealth all the songs and conversations are forced, self-referential. The printed word will wait while dogs crowd below, one hundred legs for a dozen heads.

In the benches of the smiths commissions cool, need slouches towards anger.
In the arc of winter birds bolts of missing fabric are described in every space, from every angle.
Of all the many things left at home, thanks are the sorest missed.

9 volts, pt 3


I begin stalking Ulysses. To facilitate my obsessions, I get an apartment downtown. I buy old clothes, quiet shoes. I approximate her diet and routines. The blackbean and chard omelette at Roodaughter’s, Sunday nights at the perpetual Kurosawa festival at the Neptune. In the No 45 bus I disguise myself with terrific stenches- smells that would knock her eyes inward,  clog ears and throat. There is a thrill that I might be compromised by my intense need to be close to her; but for the will of imposed distances there is a shimmering and altogether inappropriate coziness in the staid dread of what is coming, a small but beloved stuffed toy burning on a wide featureless plain.

I find my head is emptying, softening, like a unstoppered wound. Or soft cheese at attic temperatures. I’m pleased to find that my obsessions are purgative and there’s perhaps an ironic health here. Consolations as they discover. Even my crap is unrecognizable. I can freely inspect my stool without revulsion and panic. I’m smoking less, and have given up coffee in favor of green tea.

Noe encourages me daily. He comes by my loft. He speaks at length on the aesthetics of my spartan living arrangements, like an interior decorator for the demented. He swoons comically over the sublimity of the typewriter under the bare 100 watt bulb, the 25lb bag of dry blackbeans in the cupboard, the cockroaches dried and clutched as if irradiated by cliché. He peers again at the typewriter. Wow, he says. Three words more than yesterday.

This is the museum copy I keep for him. In truth I am writing volumes. The words flow like bukake spray. I cannot contain them. But for him I keep a separate ream of paper with only one page used, nothing crumpled or tossed, a single meticulous passage growing at an indiscernible rate, like a trifling but trickling charge from a radio wired to a starchy potato.

East vs West


Sometime in the night he became aware of the sound of an infant left out of doors, a galling coo and caw of a child nearby. Not distressed exactly, the noise dewy and without pronounced dentals or even soft consonants, without the murmur of any attending adults, a child not crying but perhaps in the preliminaries of being nudged by a predator, outside in any case, vulnerable, in the ward of moon and night-blooming vine, and maybe this is where his dream began:

There were soft footfalls of bare feet in a dark kitchen in the pursuit of a rodent, the floor without texture or sound or sensation until the sticky smacking warmth of blood or excreted milk spilled underfoot, a sweaty belly-on-belly noisiness, and in this the pest and pursuer tracked and tangled and eventually became a solid undifferentiated mass,  struggling and damp and not without sexual hues, and upon the pest smooth bare patches of skins were discovered among its wet fur and upon the pursuer a predatory ambition perhaps more lenient.

He awoke to the odor of substandard living and he just lay there smelling in the caul of a thought but mostly in the margins of uncertainty, hesitance, phlegm. His eye falling upon nothing it had not already immortalized in dread, an erection but only to choke back a flood of pink urine, a toe of one foot cool. He wrote this down:

When she died there was no need to view the body, she’d been out of the apartment for five days and word came back from Jack Julius a strip-pit trombonist that she’d been dead for four, burned on a mattress in a melon patch on Bogalusa, the Volunteers saying no kerosene but maybe [joking] splo whiskey and too much Max Factor, a slender cheroot–this being the patois for a white man’s ambition.

He rarely flushed the upstairs toilet. The smell cast an odor of authenticity, an authoritative throb in the throat of the day’s heat. Someone beat on the door, the door to the furnished rooms below, now vacant. Hey motherfucker! He shifted his weight on the toilet. The joists creaked, the wax ring of the toilet wept a little.

Mamma Chakoa smelled and just lay there. Smelling. Then a magenta flame leapt to her window and she jumped out of bed and in her panic her Civil Defense uniform and her Daughters of the Sphinx fez. By then the smoke was greasily boiling so she cut a wide triangulating path to the fire like a schooner on a moonless bay: back door the post shop Treat’s Bog and came with dawn light out of the wind breathing through the felt of her fez. Then she saw the source and ran back to close the widows of her house and the ministry. She forgot to shutter the Post Shop, they’re still trying to boil the smell out of those greens, ruined Alice’s soup bone.

The door rumbled. It’s your mother, motherfucker. [Laughing] All angles must earn the weight of their marble.

I told Croe all this didn’t seek him out or anything, never much liked him. Or her either, even French Emma said she was still fired when we heard she was dead. I was gigging at the Caledonia then near the Derwent Hotel where they stayed and he was in the street pale and sour like after five days he was finally coming down to ask about her. Maybe he’d already heard, I don’t know, still don’t know what they were to each other, old and young cooped up together like that. Anyway nothing seemed to get a rise out of him, not even the part about the soup bone. [Laughs]. The boy was dense. Asked me [laughing] asked me if I wanted pie. Seems her last domestic duty was to bake this boy a loganberry pie.
August laughs: Bet you had some of that pie.
Shit. I didn’t have none of that pie.

On carrying on hence


What could I take if I went in the woods
and knew I was going to get lost.
I imagine string would be useful then my mind wanders;
some companionship or at least an issue of New Republic.
Something salty for my companion so she doesn’t eat me by mistake.

Things found useful in popular tragedies are common enough.
The more uses the better- like a space blanket, useful to signal for help or confound the carrion scavengers.
A handgun to pistol whip squirrels or cauterize a gunshot wound.
Or a nightjar, for crepuscular song as well as low-light foraging,
or perhaps a rare smoky musk to attract woodland mates yet disgust the barking beetle
but this I already have to spare.

I have not researched these things well, but even so this is where we part ways, friends
for I have an appointment with sleep
and with the droning hum of the earth. Let me in.

One man band


Moses lays his big Caribbean hands on the piano, the place shakes. The gas jets jump with the bass run and your spine seems to want to snake out of your very asshole. The sawdust floor would be muddy even if Opel didn’t serve a drop. But there is whiskey, yes. Women in these little snakeskin slippers, too- small and tight like a baby boa scarfing an ostrich egg. Fat Fava bean lips hiking up coyly violent smiles. Did I expect to survive?

The week Willa and I didn’t sleep, beginning that Sunday with the first rain of well it seems like that whole summer. I remember all of the pigeonshit dust finally washing off windshields on Canal, down the sides of shop windows, even off Willa’s burnt purple slightly moldy eyeshadow when we went out on the fire escape to stand in the rain and smell the reconstituted city. It seemed things might at last be a little cool and clean, at least for an evening. Presumptively beautiful. Willa had found “work”, had a crisp new twenty dollar bill. I remember that twenty very well. It didn’t last long. But I can still feel the temperature and grit of the paper. Bills were bigger then, more ornate.  The paper held a crease like calico. Had more gravity, seemed more immediate, less detached, less sociopathic than modern money.

I could stay up for a week then. From Sunday to Sunday. I was seventeen. I can’t imagine. At the time my mother was in Paris doing a record, some old Fats Waller and King Oliver fakes, I think in French, but I’ve never actually listened to it. She wouldn’t come back for a long time. She got married again even though Dean was still alive and married as well , flaking around the west coast, no place to receive a summons.  Dean was nuts, Ginny wrote me all the time, if for no other reason than to remind me of stuff like this. But I never read her letters either.

But Dean was somewhat fucked-up. He taught music at UNC when we lived there then he got into inventing all these strange instruments–I remember this rice paper thing, a cross between a banjo and an erhu with a rice paper resonator, it sounded pretty cool, but he started to insist that proficiency on these instruments be necessary for a passing grade and he was fired. Then we moved all over while he followed tours, Kid Ory, Sidney Bechet, and he would play their material in the white clubs even as they played across town. I think, I hope, he believed he was getting the word out about this music, but he pissed people off. No one so much as Ginny. He’d [laughs] he’d get the crap kicked out of him outside clubs then he’d stagger home and get the crap kicked out of him at home. Today, well, I don’t know. Once he sat at breakfast in his little Noel Coward robe, smoking Chesterfields with fingers swollen up like kielbasa and suddenly fold over the paper and say:  Bugle to buttocks, toe castanets, and a voice to crack cement: this one-man band is some grand ham. Really, I should just roll up my dick and go home.

You are home, Pop.
He looked around the apartment, but not at Ginny. He reopened and rattled the paper vigorously. Yeah no offense pally, but this isn’t home.
Then where’s home?  We going back to Chapel Hill?
He looked at me.
Ginny said We’re building a suit of windowless rooms, just for your father.
Shit. The belly of any whale will do.

I could live in anything then, among anyone. Not anything planned, not anything avoided. Was it from excitement about being out of that house, or about the new situations? I can no longer remember. Willa, Wilma, Vilma, Villa, Villian, her many aliases like the conjugation of dead verbs. She was certainly exciting, at least to a seventeen year old. Living away from home was exciting, although there was a mysterious familial connection to her that I never asked questions about that made it all peripherally a little nauseating. I never completely respected her. But she had scars that I could find out absolutely nothing about, which titled things back towards sympathy, intrigue. She wore nothing but silk shifts, like a sheath, like a low-friction covering in which to move through the night and pluck children from first-story windows. Low-heels to de-emphasize her height, spare her from her own clumsiness, jewelry and rings to distract from her absolutely fucked-up hands, but I always thought this achieved the opposite. She moved in oblique starts, tilting backwards, not so much in recoil, but like someone was pushing a 7′ Gaillard wardrobe across the room.