Selected Poems / Stories
Grattan Street - Brooklyn, NY
In the slow Mexican air, The overweight daughter of the Puerto Rican family next door sang off the balcony in the evening. She and the 30 roosters perched on the power lines, they were fighting cocks that lived under some type of tarp in
The tortilla factory across the street was starting and the Mexicans in the street were still drunk in the shade. A wooden wagon full of belts sat in the middle of the street and
a car sat on cylinder blocks with no wheels, charred black smoking from the night before it burned. It was another world.
The babies were still outside at 11:00 they had beautiful faces like angels. Their fathers had worn the day on their clothes and faces and barely could get words to come out of their
mouths let alone the alcohol in.
The children run by smelling of fresh bubble gum and yell down the block into a darkness, and the working men yell back telling them to keep away from the boys at the end of the street, basketballs bounce of oldsmobiles and fathers
whistle to their children to come home. A child dances near me to the sound of nothing flirting with her toes in a dirty street puddle by a parked van. She wears a bright yellow dress
with braids in her hair. She splashes in the puddle gathering her father’s attention.
People carrying brown bags into my building as the door opens I smell pies. An elderly woman on the first floor who I never see has been baking. A man carries a vacuum to his car and puts it in the passenger seat. The girl in the yellow dress
smiles at me like I know her father. A black man
standing nearby eats seeds from a bag with funny hair seems to be waiting for someone, he looks up at the window and calls to someone. Thew wind blows the smell of the people to me. The man who works at the gas station around the corner
drives by. The Mexican men stand and admire their vans constantly cleaning them. The little girl has left a cup of juice in the fence, I hope it doesn’t blow away. The cup is gone. The sound of motorcycles swarm like bees and car stereos
pound the sky.
My Father's Ring
My father wore beautiful silver ring with a blue stone in it when I was small. It had pictures and stories on it. I thought it was grand. One day when I was older it didn’t fit him. I got older and I saw they cost 100$. I didn’t buy one.
I waited for my father to come home from work sitting on my mother’s lap facing her. I would play with her hair looking out the window. I knew what it had felt like to be in love and loved at that moment. Neither she nor I knew when something was going to happen. I asked my mom why some people kiss on the mouth and not the cheek, my mom didn’t want to kiss me on the mouth. We just waited for my dad then.
The dogs at the garbage dump took my lunch each morning at the gate. The owner and his son would shoot guns at the rats in the garbage. I would grease trucks all day and fix hydraulic lines that broke. I had to climb into the back of
the empty trucks. I had a friend named John who was from West Virgina, he had 11 kids and just got out of prison. He girlfriend would bring him in an old Trans Am. He had no teeth. He had hands that told stories. He showed me a picture of himself on a horse with guns like a cowboy.
One day I accidentally broke his hand with a sledge hammer and he just wrapped it in tape.
The Big House
The white walls were cold and white. I closed my eyes and imagined that I was sailing.
When I woke up in the morning paper had holes in it. There was a child rapist who was put in general population last night and didn’t want anyone to know so he cut the articles
out of the paper. He was beaten almost to death in the showers before lunch. I ate breakfast and saved a muffin for later in a napkin.
It was my birthday and I was sitting in the back of a pickup truck. The axel was broken so a it was strapped with a tow cord falling off as we went over the hill side. I sat with a new
worker, there was always a new worker, everyday. Someone in need that was willing to trade themselves for anything. He smiled always but didn’t really want to. We would be picking
up cigarette butts for 8 hours. It was really sunny.
I stood in the quiet, winter night watching as the young mexican dropped backwards into the snow. Bleeding and choking on his own blood, gasping for life as he was shot in
the chest. The crowd around him vanished, I turned backwards alone looking at him puzzled and walked back to my apartment. I felt like Clint Eastwood in some way or thought about how he saw this when he was acting. But I didn’t shoot
I worked at an amusement park. I was stuck at the top of the world’s highest roller coaster, some people feel a moment of terror for 30 seconds. I was there for 3 hours.
The Strip District
I stood outside the restaurant on the summer night waiting for my father to pick me up on my 16th birthday. A man in the street raised his arm as people around him scattered as he fired a gun into the air. I looked directly at him and he looked at me. I didn’t move. I didn’t know how to move at that moment. I was only thinking it was my birthday.
The Tattooed Wife
She ran in crying from the night in a night gown with no shoes on, she had dirty feet. She had been beaten, she looked deep into me, looking for something. She told me she had escaped from being in a dog cage. She still looked very
beautiful. He promised to kill her. She didn’t ask me for help but stood there in my arms crying, I held her closely also afraid of what was to come from the outside following her.
She fled back in the night to Ohio. I didn’t go to work the next day. If I went to work, I would have to kill that man, there are devils everywhere I thought as I slept.
Michael Jackson Jacket
It was the fourth of july in Philidephia. A warm summer night with hot sidewalks. Ben and I walked down the avenue, he was wearing a grey leather jacket that made me think of Michael Jackson’s red leather jacket. Ben is a black guy raised
in Philidephia so he was walking with a swagger. As we walked two men on bicycles blocked the sidewalk when we were close enough they ask we turn around and get on the ground and give them all of our money. They asked with guns. They
also wanted Ben’s Michael Jackson coat. As he turned around the man pushed him down holding onto the jacket. Ben came out of the coat. Also Ben’s .38 special came out of his coat with his hand. Ben shot the man holding the Michael Jackson coat three times as he dropped to the pavement with dead eyes. The second man ran off like a deer. I lay for a moment listening to see if we were the cause of the silence or if it was silent without us. Ben served 8 years.
A high fever, whiskey and a gun
barreling along a rusty road of swollen houses
jug of wine on floor between your feet
sweating under a plastic sofa cushion sky
we were going to Harlem
with 100 bad ideas and pistols in our jeans
looking for someone
we parked outside a tired yellow house with
a peeling white porch
the warm asphalt like a dance floor
a mouthful of gold teeth and a lopsided heart
ran towards me
maybe he drove a bus or was a sex fiend
mister louisville slugger
he reminded me of my father
I drew a black gun that winked at him
he paused giving me time to think about what reminded me
of my father
time stopped as the sun and wind kissed us
I had no idea who this man was
we were both in our subconscious
I flexed my jaw and squint my eyes
I was in clothes that didnt fit I thought to myself
I didnt look like I was a man
I stood for nothing
and he stood for everything at that moment
There is where I saw my father
I lowered the gun and left
When I was small I remember an old man that resembled my grandfather. He wore a white sweat stained T shirt with bleeding blue battleship tattoos on his forearms. He some how wore the wars with him, in him. He was weathered
by life and even though I was small I could feel and smell it. I didn’t know what it meant but I had a sense of fear. There were many of these men in my neighborhood that fixed our lawn mowers in their garages under old lamps, cut down
our trees, sharpened our knives and changed oil in our cars. They had been a part of something and now were part of something else. They had big, beautiful flags hanging like sails from a mast on a ship above their garages. All of them.
We don’t even mow our own lawns anymore.
I was trapped in a store as a parade passed eating watermelon in summer with new white shoes.
As I walked out I was greeted by a dark man in suit who gazed into my forehead proclaiming how lucky I was and wrote something on a folded piece of paper and handed it to me. “Put that into your pocket.” he said. So I did. He could see my aura and began to tell me about myself and my life in great detail. The numbers on the paper
later contained my birthday. I went to the museum later that afternoon and fainted and was
awoken by a group of tourists from Texas in the Cy Twombly room. In the evening, I felt alone as if I was on the moon and met a
prosititute from Eastern Europe who arrived that day jet-lagged. I had a difficult time understanding her. I asked if she wanted to wear sneakers. She did. We switched her shoes and smoked in the parking lot. She told me her lover had left her and went on a holiday alone.
I felt terrible for her and confessed I passed out in the museum in my new white shoes to make her feel better.
I was in the department store with an elderly black woman
I can’t steer my wheel chair
I see old friends
Wedding dresses are everywhere
I ran into a rack of delicate crystal swans
I caught one in the air
it was $100 dollars
The woman saw me catch the swan and smiled at me
she said it was $100
The Afternoon Subway
I was all alone on the platform and this woman was staring at me. She was old and dirty. Her husband beats her and dents her out for cigarettes in the middle of the day with a white
plastic bag. Her clothes are tired and sag off her body. She shit in her sweatpants and was afraid to go home. I gave her 5 dollars, I would have given her anything but I only had 5
Gas Station Man
There was a man who cleaned the windows at the gas station,he lived in an old school bus that was robbed, he came to my party and we gave him all the lunch meat and beer he could
carry. He loved being at the party.
The Garbage Men
I used to work at a garbage dump on 13th street as a mechanic. The others working there who had less skills cleaned the garbage on a conveyor belt and took decent things for lunch
that day off the belt. The forklift driver wore the same hat every day with blonde dirty hair to his shoulders, he had no teeth, he was a transvestite with really large breasts.
One of the other men I sat with at the lunch table was the brother of one of the Dixie Chicks and my boss, the head mechanic was one of the strongest men I had ever met wore a bra and told me he had both parts.
I couldn’t breathe. I was in a bush hiding but very easy to see, when your small you think you hide well but you don’t. You also believe bushes are a great place to hide. A man hit another man in the face with a shovel across the street. and
this lady came out from behind a screen door.
I held my dad’s hand, I remember being very low to the ground and I felt he controlled the world. He was like an oak tree. We walked in the night, on the hot city street. He slowly turned to me, smiled and turned my head gently in the other
direction as a man in a white t shirt swung a machete into the back of a man sitting on the stoop. I saw the look in the man’s eyes, he looked at the sky.
I stacked 10 sharks in the freezer, it was -20 inside this ice box and summer outside. I was in the cold from 6 until 6 in a snow suit. We stepped outside in the hot dark to smoke and
wait for the 20 minute buzzer. Looking into the parking lot and our pickup trucks as semis screamed by on the highway above. We were naive and stolen by someone, it was like being on the moon.
There was a black man who had a million dollar buried in his backyard someone said. When he came into town people always were found dead the next day. He had tattooed all the men he killed on his right arm. He sent me to Texas to buy him a red Camaro with $20,000 in cash.
As I awoke the house next door was on fire. I didn’t want to get out of bed.
It was around 4:00 a.m. The pizza man came to the door and I had a pistol aimed at his head. I thought you were someone else, and I didn’t order that.
Life as a Door
8 years old, I stood in the drive way alone and frozen in silence. My hand trapped in a locked door of my father’s green pickup truck. Helplessness. Life was that door. The heavy door, Holding me and crushing me at the same time.
The Cat Room
I sat naked on the couch covered in cat hair in the dark smoking with her, looking out into an abandoned parking lot at night where a light shine on a dumpster. We didn’t care about anything. I sat with my arm on my leg smoking a cigarette looking down at my foot each time.
The red amber light lit up the small space around us when I took a drag of the cigarette.
I could feel her next to me but niether of us needed to move we smoked together in silence
It was perfect.
The Easter Knife
I opened the door and stepped outside the truck on Easter’s night. I drew out from my waistband a black gun and leveled it with the face of the boy holding the a pack of eggs he had been throwning again the car. He stood paraylsized in front
of me. A coolness ran through my body, all I could think of at that moment was eating as I fell to my knees looking at the eggs in the hand of the boy as he dropped them to the ground. I pulled the knife from my back in the grocery store parking lot and fell to the cool ground near a broken egg. I had been stabbed on Easter.
Green Garden Hose
As I put my mouth on the garden hose in the blue plastic pool the cold water rushed through my teeth and filled my mouth. I wished it could last forever.
Buddy & Richie
Buddy and Richie were best friends. Buddy was lanky and skinny build like a women and Richie was the size of child whole looked like a perfect doll with the face of an angel, girls loved him and his was cocky. They were always together.
I remember visiting them years later in an abandoned warehouse in the Strip District with a bed sheet for a door. Still together, I watched them as they shot heroin into their feet. They would eventually die there.
I woke up in the grass sweating in the summer sun in the back yard. I followed a bee until she sat down on this leaf to rest in the sun and I pet her fur gently on the back with my smallest finger. That was the first time I ever had pet a bee. She didn’t move, maybe she was afraid or thought I was a god.
F Train, Brooklyn
I was drunk waiting for the F train
I was wet and tired in the belly of the beast
I noticed a girl sitting on the platform
everyone else had dissapeared
She was beautiful with dark hair
I had never seen her before
her and I were alone, waiting
The setting is something only devils could have arranged like the devil himself was below the earth that night
I knew I would be with her
I glanced at her and heard her voice call to me
"Come over here."
I walked slowly to her and said nothing
nervous already knowing
I sat down next and looked into her eyes
She then looked over me, looking through me
pulled me with her gaze onto my train which was hers
I sat next to her as if we were married for 50 years holding her hand not knowing her name
there was an easiness and comfort about it
we both needed something without know it
I followed her through the dark of Brooklyn into
the park where we never spoke a word and sat in the wet grass
We run all day in the sun like horses
and lay forever like a shipwreck in the sand
Scorched and sun kissed
Salty winds dance with the dunes
We wore small shorts and big sunglasses
Slept in a tent that was too small between campers getting high and thinking we weren’t
the night fell
Only us and the moon were awake that night
Staring intently at a glowing burnt red ceiling as if Mars was touching our noses
We lie in the dunes
Stoned and still
Listening to a radio like electric sugar
that had to be 5 miles away
It had woken me up from the couch
I watched my hands
One was dripping from the heat
my other hand was being held down
and I saw it
the hot butter knife
glowing a beautiful orange from the fire of the stove
the only color fear and metal made together
they pressed it into my other hand
and I watched the skin melt away
melt away layers
as that cheap steel knife pushed through my hand
my hand that my parents held when I was small at the beach
I clenched my teeth and stomached any sounds
you won’t find what your looking for
I lost it before I got here
Ice Cream Boy
The dust of this city gets on everything, people’s car and ideas, the white siding and wet sheet hanging on the cloth lines. These mills don’t work anymore everything is dirty. I
don’t know where I am. Looking for wine and cigarettes, I spoke to a kid on main street standing by an abandoned ice cream parlor watching bricks fall out of the bank walls. He
told me everything here is dying and he was bored.
A mathematician drunk on red wine and oysters stood behind me at the urinals with a razor to my throat. I didn’t know him that well, he was having trouble with his ex-wife and it was his daughters birthday today, he didn’t see her yet.
I could imagine her, what she looked like ,and being with him. He asked me what I knew about life and real problems, I said I didn’t know.
Coney Island, NY
I was in Coney Island with John (Can) from Turkey late at night. A man on a 10 speed bike dressed in an african sweater wanted a portrait taken of himself by the aquarium. He looked like ray charles, but he could see, but he was wearing
sunglasses at night. I was making a poem on the wall. Another man staggered out of the darkness from nowhere and told us we needed protection. He put down his can of beer and showed us his gun. We left the aquarium with him. He took us back to the train station and we also made a portrait
At the horse races you can watch life happen in 40 seconds. Money, sadness, happiness, desperation, hope, belief, true love, reality.
My Grandfather's Room
Cold, stale air from a air conditioning unit blow forever. Everything was blue and dark, the blind had never been raised. It didn’t exists or live until he was there. The bed lay unmaid
forever. He used to lay there in his underwear with the door partly open and the glare of the TV in his glasses.
200 Sheets of Lead
Mick from the steel yard was quiet and hand his hands register by the FBI he said. He stood firm always like an Indian, I think he said he had AIDs or cancer. We were never allowed
to drive the machines only stack the steel or wood. We were desperate somehow. The new and the old, working for rent, cigarettes and a drink
that would get us until tomorrow. We still smiled, when we lost ourselves for a moment or the pain had stopped from the continuous lifting or our yard bosses lost track of us as we
slept in the insulation bins escaping the cold 14 hour days. I thought I could die today. If I can just carry this one more piece of metal I can live. if I can make one more step I won’t
die in this abandoned building.
United States Army
I joined the Army the day I didn’t care to live any longer. My room mate who I entered with was 16 with a new baby girl on the way.
He wore glasses and was built of nothing. We needed money and a way out. It was a show, there was nothing, emptiness in action. A day at the horse track. I was a trumpet player with no trumpet, or maybe I priest I can’t remember. I got $15,000.
The boss’s son was a repo man. He used to bring a different car to work each day. He would open the trunks looking for clothes to wear or old pornography. He always wore small navy blue shorts, and a mickey mouse sweatshirt wearing a
really wide smile that fit directly under his sunglasses on his sun kissed face.
He drove an old chevy pickup truck as we walked next to him picking up garbage and cigarette butts that he pointed out on the ground.
I wanted to be tall because of my grandfather. He was the oldest person I knew when I was small and he was the tallest. He was a carpenter. He build everything by hand including our church and his house. He never had a car and would take the bus everywhere with his tools. The Marine who wore pants and folded his bed covers with tight corners until the day he died. He was the toughest man I ever saw. I thought John Wayne should meet him. He loved John Wayne. He had 5 brain tumors removed from his head the size of apples, he kept living but couldn’t speak anymore. He wouldn’t die. He had a language of his own and half a head. He devoted himself to everything he was suppose to. He served his faith, his country and his family.
I remember coming down this long drive way, it was warm and sunny afternoon, the grass was always freshly cut. He would stand in the shadow of the garage peering up at us with his hands on his hips in a wifebeater and slacks. I could
see his cross and dog collar around his neck glistening in the sun. He was America to me. Standing there. There was a wood shop in the basement with the oldest refrigerator in the world sometimes full with root beer. The
floor was always covered in saw dust. There was a large green trunk with his name on it from the war. He had large hands and walked with a bow in his leg from battle. He had a beautiful haircut like Marlon Brando. When he died the
government took his house.
The air conditioner kept the room alive like a lung and no light entered the brown room. It was like opening a tomb, nothing moved, everything was frozen and wanted to freeze me. It was paralyzing, the window wouldn’t open. Semis
screamed by on the highway at me. Cold smokey air blew back in my face dancing with curtains. Im not for you everything seemed to say when it looked at me. I went outside with paper and cigarettes and nothing moved there either. The door closed behind me and locked. I tried to
speak to the sun but she didn’t hear me. I cried out for something to tell me if I was alive here but I wasn’t sure. The land and farms crushed me. Nothing wanted me. I would smoke until she the sun left and go back to sleep in the cold and wait.
We lived there my brother and I behind an old white farm house they sold cattle supplies to no one ever It was a motel that wasn’t a motel anymore. Three units that lay next to each other in the middle of nowhere. Two Chinese people lived next doorI had never seen before I think they were Chinese because they moved the furniture every night. It was a shit hole. It would snow over the doors and we couldn’t get out for weeks. We worked by candle light and breathed paint fumes until we went to the hospital. The electricity was out most of the time and we had no food.
We made kool-aid with the snow outside when we got thirsty. We slept all day and worked all night alternating with one bed. The work we made was questionable now but at that time it was great It didn’t matter. The outcome was irrelevant. It was just what we thought at the time that’s where you have pure magic believing in something like your crazy you have to be crazy sometimes follow your mind where it wants
and just let it all go when we left, we just left everything there inside and poured a bottle of warm soda on the hot linoleum floor
in the kitchen. let’s go home, fuck this place
There sat yellow and pink plastic flowers of all different sizes stuck in a picnic basket next to a mop and some old pants. They were ugly but perfect, they would probably last forever.
I thought for a moment I maybe would like to be a plastic flower. I would then be able to live forever though I couldn’t feel alive or be beautiful. They don’t wilt or taste rain, there
was a sadness in how perfect they were and I think they knew it. They would never dream of other flowers. I dismissed the thought. I made up my mind that night that I did not want to be a plastic flower.
I sat locked in the closet for days
I bled in there quite a bit
there was a turquois carpet
I had used a stanley knife and cut open my chest
maybe 20 stripes across
I wasnt trying to die
I felt nothing except when I lay under the sheets
hiding from my parents
soaking my T shirt red
laying on my stomach thinking about that feeling
trying not to move
I wanted scars that's all
I had something inside that wanted out
I was moving like a deer. There was an actress who had short hair in the front yard rehearsing a scene with a card board cut out of Steve McQueen. There were leaves on the ground and bees all over the neighborhood. The barge worker had a knife behind his ear, he worked these ferry boats for cars. He lived in an old auditorium with
his wife, she said she had invented the color blue. They asked me what I was going to do. Their daughter has never been outside, she was old and had red hair, she walked through glass doors. The mother began working on a different blue.
I used the bathroom which was burnt from a fire. When I came out I saw the knife behind the barge workers ear and his hair was clean.