New Pencil Portrait of my friend, Esther.

A new figure study…feels nice to be drawing again.

Sunday Afternoon on Sutter Street
A new pencil drawing…the first figure study I’ve done in quite a while..it feels good to be doing visual art again.  I do think I shall continue.

A new pencil drawing…the first figure study I’ve done in quite a while..it feels good to be doing visual art again. I do think I shall continue.

“Did you say the stars were worlds, Tess?”
“Yes.”
“All like ours?”
“I don’t know, but I think so. They sometimes seem to be like the apples on our stubbard-tree. Most of them splendid and sound - a few blighted.”
“Which do we live on - a splendid one or a blighted one?”
“A blighted one.”
— ― Thomas Hardy, Tess of the d’Urbervilles

As the Day Comes Apart in my Hands

Another day beneath the phony sun
and the fear of it with me like a shadow
the beauty of things is buried
beneath concrete and waste
and I lack the strength to dig
and that thing I used to dream
I must have sold or given away
forgot it on the pillow
of a stranger’s bed
dropped it in the outstretched hand
of an angry beggar
who threw it down a sewer
because all he wanted
was a beer
and every now and then
I see it on television screens
or in storefronts
stripped and broken down
rebuilt into some refurbished sadness
they try and sell to those
poor souls who don’t know any better
and today when I stepped outside
I swear to you there was
something I was looking for
but I got distracted by a woman’s dress
or the eyes of an animal
and now I just wander the streets
with my Roy Orbison heart
turned to 11 and bleeding out
as all the faces plead or turn away
and the day comes apart in my hands.

Bicycle Review #29

The new issue of Bicycle Review is out and available free to read online. It opens up with a piece of fiction by yours truly, and contains work by the likes of John Dorsey, AD Winans and SB Stokes among many talented others. Please indulge.

All That Fire

Eventually you end up
wherever it is
that trouble leaves you

caught like a wounded thing
between all the days behind you
and those still to come

with nothing much
to say for yourself

but that girl
she really knew
how to burn

the thought of her
laughing like she did
in the middle of all that fire

its the kind of beauty
that leaves scars
in hidden places

the kind that breaks you
in ways you didn’t know
you could break

and while even people like yourself
eventually do their best
to forget and move on

her ghost still burns
in dreams and the spaces
between things

and the world is just the ash.

Meat

For a good portion of my life I couldn’t figure out why people liked steak.

I had nothing against meat, I liked meat just fine-
but in my parents’ house, in the summer months,
every Sunday evening we had steak for dinner.

We were to consider it a treat, a delicacy,
something to look forward to.

When I saw people eating steaks on television or in movies
it seemed like a good thing, and their eyes lit up when they spoke of it.

But when my father put the plate in front of me
the slab of meat was always gray and joyless.
It tasted like nothing and each leathery piece took an eternity to chew.

Our steaks were like that because that’s
how my mom imagined they were supposed to be.

My dad would bring in the platter from the backyard grill
and present it to my mom for inspection.

They’re not done, my mom would invariably say, look at all that blood!
It’s not blood, my dad would reply, it’s juice.
We can’t eat them like that, take them back and cook them until they’re done!

My dad would say something under his breath and then take the meat away
and bring it back a while later when there was no more juice or blood.

Then we’d all sit there at the table not saying much of anything.
We’d smother the meat in A1 Sauce and chew and chew and chew.

I’d put ketchup on mine, place it between two pieces of wonder bread
and pretend it was a hamburger.

My mother would scold me, she told me I didn’t know
how to appreciate good things.

At some point at a friend’s house, a restaurant, somewhere,
I had a steak in the manner they were meant to be consumed:
it was seared on the outside, but the thick cube of meat
was tender and juicy and red just beneath the surface.

I was startled at first; it was like nothing I’d ever experienced.
It tasted like all the colors of life and death and the blood and juice
dribbled down my chin and onto the plate, and I sopped it up
with a piece of bread and when it was gone I wanted more.

Things in general suddenly made a bit more sense to me,
and I wondered what else I had been missing out on.

It was then that a part of me first began to understand
that so much of life is spent simply recovering
the basic joys that others, through ignorance or malice,
are forever bent on stealing.

How To Survive Surviving

We wake to the day at hand
like another thing we never wanted
but can’t quite bring ourselves
to give away

outside the billboards
and the faces advertise
the latest version of fear

but we’ve already bought
the deluxe edition
with the lifetime warranty

honey let’s just find a place
where we can rest a bit
and get some poison in our guts
so we’ll be safe awhile
from the things that chase us.

See the world’s no different
from anything else
just another sad thing
trying to make it through

and just like us
some nights it doesn’t sleep
and cries for lost things
and the lack
of what it once dreamed to be

wear your sorrow like a favorite dress
and I’ll sing you songs of no second chances

our only crime is imagining the world
more beautiful than it was born to be

if we met it on the street today
it wouldn’t even know our names

but I swear to you it loved us once
and you can’t buy that kind of thing anymore
not even on computers.