Face It, Tiger (You Just Hit the Jackpot)

    Calm and collected,
    this city never looks quite as relaxed as it does
    from fourteen stories above
    and tonight, the night has just begun.
    Now it’s 12:35 and the night’s so alive:
    Are those ants down below
    or just people I’ve known?
    And that war thoughts have left me,
    I step off the ledge
    as delicate thoughts take their place in my head.
    But those sticky white strands would soon fly from my
    and I will swing across rooftops
    to find someplace to land.
    Perhaps your apartment
    with the lights turned down low.
    I’ll quietly creep in through your bedroom window;
    You sleep like a beauty,
    and I kiss your head
    as I take off my mask, and I take my place in your bed.

    And you said, “Isn’t it time someone saved your life?”
    Baby, be my Mary Jane

    You know that I’d rescue you
    if you’ll rescue me, too,
    and if you call me your “Tiger”
    I will always be true.
    There will be nights
    that I come home real late,
    but you know that it’s hard
    when there’s a world to save.
    I’m super lame, a super hero
    who fell in love with a super model.
    I’m dangerous to know
    and you’ll be threatened by my foes,
    but I promise that I’ll never let you feel harm
    if you promise that I’ll have a place in your arms.

    I will crawl to you
    Up the wall to you
    I will swing to you
    As I sing
    Be my Mary Jane.

Atlantic Avenue

    Shattered shards of sunlight
    off the greyish noontime clouds:
    “I am not tied down to the day.”

    Moisture still penetrates the air,
    the day is right, and I lace up my shoes,
    music in my hand; a one-strap
    backpack with cloth patches of bands
    I haven’t listened to for years:

    “Feet, don’t fail me now.”

    The inches of green that flutter and wave
    goodbye: I’m led somewhere alive.
    It buzzes and honks,
    creates and destroys,
    pollutes me with noise
    but it’s alive.

    My headphones drown
    out the passing sounds,
    suggesting the soundtrack
    to the final scene of
    another pretentious art house
    film we should have never even written.

    Still, content, I march
    towards the harbor
    towards the sunset
    of cliches, of every beautiful metaphor
    that she’s already fallen for, but still
    I’m stepping out:

    “Feet, don’t fail me now.”

    She offers me a penny for my thoughts.
    “This is it,” I say, as I smile, laugh,
    and make a wish.

Dad’s Diaries

    Dad’s diaries are waiting in the top drawer of
    a bed stand in the places that we go when we
    get lonely for an hour. The paper-thin parchment
    crunches when I turn the page, like autumn leaves
    that fell from burning trees too soon;
    translucent and impermanent, the noises
    keep me company in every bawdy tomb.

    I read my favorite stories to a girl that I
    won’t Mary from the time when you were
    thirty-two, and think of all the shit you carried
    with you on your back (you never let it weigh
    you down) and I am hoping to remember all
    the things you taught me back when you were still around.

    Dad, I see your diary was written down by
    someone else’s hand, but I still remember
    everything you taught me about how to be
    a man. You’ll be glad to know your grand
    daughter is working overseas where she is
    farming in a fertile land and does it all for
    free, and how I almost tied your grandson to
    a fence the other day, but I just pelted him
    with rocks until he bled out all the gay.

    See, I’m trying hard to live my life
    just the way you told me, or at least
    the way I read it in this dusty little
    story book where your friends had all
    your best intentions written down.
    But Father, I have got to ask how you
    drank from that bloody glass and split
    the fish while we were killing kingdoms
    in your name, and how you loved the lonely
    lepers and you knew your mother’s whore,
    when you told me that the wicked
    would not be let in your doors. But you’re
    not around to give me all the answers
    I might need, so I am forced to watch
    as Mary takes my sixty bucks and leaves.

(number nine)

    Click. Armed. Or was it his arm? He isn’t sure
    but swears he feels the impact. Somehow,
    he knows just how it feels to be the hammer,
    with just one chance to pound the metal casing
    and send a bullet to wherever bullets go.

    He lightly sighs and feels the gun become
    an extension of his arm: Fire-Arm.
    The cold steel texture of what was
    once a handle has gone numb,
    warmed and smoothed by the flesh
    and blood that is pumping through veins
    and past the grip before it pours into
    the chamber. His heart is swelling steadily,
    screaming perseverance (or at least it tries);
    but our blood is built to spill before its time.

    Ideas are bulletproof, he reminds himself.
    A single bullet starts a revolution. Forty-five
    revolutions every minute sing a song in
    seven inches. If one hundred bullets start
    one hundred revolutions, doesn’t every
    bullet have a tune? He needs to find a harmony.

    He counts the bullets in the chamber as
    a single bead of sweat falls from where
    his hand became the gun, landing on his toe
    that he had shot an hour earlier; irony. Only he
    could ever salt these wounds. He breathes
    in deep, and checks his watch: it’s 9:43.

    Good time for a revolution.

Electric Lights

    The selfish unawareness of
    a window painted blue, and
    electric lights that won’t reflect
    but sound so clearly overdue.
    It permeates the smell of sanitation and
    of jaundice under skin

    that has been peeled away by saline soldiers,
    crawling on their knees
    across a bridge of gathered lives.
    Maybe this time-
    she’ll sound so much better
    in a sweater, than this dress
    that leaves her back exposed
    so all the coldest
    air can make a nest.

    All the stabbing, all the dripping,
    all the fevers and the cries,
    and poorly picked out tiles
    on the wall have watched
    a million maidens die
    (underneath electric lights).

    She’s so mixed up like metaphors, it’s
    better for her, but
    when all the shallow echoes fall
    and settle in her cheeks
    she’s still demanding all that I can V.

Idiosyncratic Routine

    I think it’s the start
    of a beautiful day
    when the robots have all gone home
    and away,
    and the sunlight sneaks in
    through the blinds and cracks; your eyelids part to find the calm of her back.
    You lick your lips, they split to press against her skin,
    as you watch her warm chest
    rise and fall.
    Rise And Fall
    to the side and you can’t help but smile and sigh.
    And you can feel her goosebumps rise.
    Your fingertips draw lines
    and pictures on her skin;
    you wrap your arms around her
    where the hourglass grows thin,
    and it fits just like a key
    as you fall into her smooth and naked body.
    You kiss her neck to taste the sweat
    as you watch her warm chest
    rise and fall.
    Rise and Fall
    to the side
    And you can’t help but smile and sigh,
    and every thing’s alright.
    Her faint lips part to breath your breathe
    and you watch her, watch her
    Watch her smile.

Lover’s Walk

    I’ve turned my back on the world
    and now I’ll try to keep you safe
    from the tryant rain of Independence day;
    We’ll watch the sky explode above the hospital,
    and I’ll think of all the things that I can say
    to you to make this moment perfect, make it
    worth it, make it better than it is. But instead, I’ll whisper
    something dumb, like “I’m just happy here,”
    or maybe “I could wrap my arms around you,
    stay forever, and I think it’d be alright.

    I’ll quickly realize that I sound so lame,
    so I’ll just laugh and look at you as the sounds
    sneak past my lips and through the rain. I’ll try
    to play it off, but then you’ll smirk and shake
    your head; I hope your windswept hair slides softer
    than your planted septum kisses and your girlish
    scent consumes the sulfur silhouettes tonight.
    And then you’ll turn your head to watch
    the burning sky above us fall again
    (I love the way it sparkles and it fades),
    I’ll shudder when I feel your olive neck
    lean against my chest, and for maybe just a moment
    I’ll forget about the irony, drip-dripping from my shoulders.

    If the sky will split again, then
    I’ll quick-nibble at your ear–
    there’s a word for that, I think;
    I’m sure I’ve used it once before,
    but you’d still let me repeat it, like
    the Angels, Brits, and Willow trees
    of which you never bore, or the sweetened
    factories with temple guards and green
    monkeys you seem to know so well.
    At least we’ll have your ceiling stars
    to wish upon if nothing else goes right.

    I know that you get scared of heights,
    but baby, this is just how lovers walk.

Mal Means Bad (in the Latin)

    How heavy, thine heart?
    I’ll weigh it on a grey scale
    and then I guess we’ll talk.
    Do you recall the time you told me,
    “Mal means ‘bad’ in Latin?”

    I still speak in tongues and lips and fingertips,
    and I keep stuttering semantics, and I always
    let you fall for it, making meaning out
    of every fated kiss; and I hoped that it
    would never come to this (but it always does).

    As always, art is open
    to the interpretation
    of the patron, and while I may
    have lost you in translation,
    I was found sleeping soundly
    in a sea of constellations where
    I drowned beneath the comfortable
    blankets of abyss, its never-ending
    nothingness reminding me
    of all that I had missed.

    Though I’m hardly a scientist, it seems
    to be my density, and not my mass,
    that helps me stay afloat; I guess that I’ve
    been lying to myself all along. My heart
    has only half the hallowed substance of
    the ocean that it swallows (albeit eloquently),
    but like drinking too much water, you
    can drown your cells and suffocate yourself
    until you choke (metaphorically speaking).

    My betrayal knows no tragedy, and so
    my greatest stories have all spilled
    from my own pen, and my authenticity
    is never called to question, like the
    greatest of the dead white men; it seems
    I will not go down in history as the
    soft romantic man that I believe myself
    to be. Instead, I leave my Juliets’ for
    dead and carry on, never stopping
    long enough to wonder if I’m wrong.


    press my fingers delicately
    against your auburn skin;
    Oh, to taste the steel,
    mahogany, and sweat:

    Ivory and ebony inhabiting her ears,
    where the stabbing sharps and numbing flats
    are natural as far I can hear

    and she is ever ringing
    with a certain stunning dissonance
    that fingers finer harmonies
    than I could wish to breathe.

    Hers hips that curve in brilliant reds
    press hard against my thighs each night,
    and her dog-eared lips always
    scream at every wall like Seraphim.

    My fingers feel the action
    As they curl, and as I sweat;
    I clench my eyelids tighter
    and allow my hands to guide me home

    But I only kiss your neck to hear you sing
    and I only pull your strings to make you scream

Scenes From a Reflecting Pool

    I’ve prayed that I could find the kind of place
    that separates the church and hate, but
    stained glass symptoms tell the same
    old stories that I’ve known since I was four–
    Will he still bear this cross alone?

    (Someone turned the fountain off;
    the youth have all gone home)

    I drink a draft of cleaner air than I have
    tasted in two weeks, and you’re not here
    to share a sip with me. At least I’ve got
    my pen and paper, drinking in the night with me;
    At least I don’t imbibe the air alone.

    (Is this medicine,
    or is this me?
    Sometimes I
    forget to breathe.)

    Molecules meticulously marching in cohesion
    as they slide across her marble curves
    to do it all again; Sad to say, the water
    can’t escape; at least the crickets still sing me to sleep.

    Cobblestones, she walks alone
    Determined not to fall into the fountain;
    Where’s she been? Will I see her again?

Squatter Song

    I’ve got a dead mattress
    thrown on the floor
    where I pass out every night.
    And the polyurethane
    that coats the floor
    reflects the light from the street.

    There’s never been a fire
    in the fireplace
    ever since they came and sealed it up,
    and every time I open the door
    I’ve got to give it a kick
    ’cause it gets stuck.

    I hear the thudding pitter-patter
    of the kid upstairs;
    I’ve never seen him, but he wakes me up.
    And that’s the funny thing
    about the cross I bear:
    I only need it to get me going.

    And it’s quiet, sometimes
    quiet when I’m singing
    in the shower all alone;
    it’s not my home,
    but it’s a place to rest my head.
    I’m never home,
    I’m told I’ll rest when I am dead

    (Sing to me, Jeff Tweedy,
    am I listening to you?
    Is this how I fight loneliness,
    by running somewhere new?
    I’m sorry that I’m leaving
    but it’s something I must do)

St. Elsewhere

    at half past, work is over; time
    to watch the changing guards
    as they dance their canine cares
    away, or hide the smoky veil of truth

    from pairs of pale men, pockets
    lined, to brown bags hiding
    closing time’s desires. There’s a fight
    on either side–one with claws, and

    one with knives. Across the street
    They hide beneath the shade and
    gamble lives, but no one on the
    other side will stop to bat an eye.

    While some may wear a leash of chains,
    the other side is held as fast by bars
    and by the rain and by the promise of
    a supper that He prays is not His last:

    Patron Saint of Somewhere Else, please
    bring Us greener pastures and better days,
    otherwise entitled to those good enough
    to pay. So We laugh it off like child’s play,
    endearing simple-minded pleasures–stay out
    of the way, of the teeth They bare and call a game

    beneath the watchful Eye of telephone lines.
    There is a Man who stares across the street
    in silence, and in envy, of another man’s best friend:

    They will not let You play, and They will not let You in.

(quis custodiet ipsos custod)

    he softly watches her walk
    away, her nimble toes and
    stunted heels directing her
    across the interstate.

    she’s headed north with no
    delay, and he just waits and
    watches as she walks away.

    he knows at least a thousand
    words, a thousand things to
    say to keep to her near, but he
    could not speak the syllables
    that she had hoped to hear,

    so he stumbles home, confident
    and cool and well aware that
    he will sleep alone, and he turns
    around once more to watch her
    walk away, but finds her gone.

The Ballad of Gideon Stargrave

    In a city full of strangers,
    or a town that’s drowned in dreams,
    I’m the albatross, awaiting flight;
    a soldier’s greatest scheme
    before his life and pride are blown apart.
    Locked on target for her heart:
    His pen’s his only missile that he flies.
    But he’s still stuck somewhere
    between himself and I.

    Oh, if I could be him
    he wouldn’t have to be me.
    There’s an albatross around my neck
    and we both know what that means.

    So he’s offering his blessing
    to the boy out in the cold
    because he’s given all that he can give.
    He’s left with just a face,
    and though the girls all swear he’s handsome,
    it’s just not to his taste.
    Without his arms, without a neck,
    without his feet, without a heart,
    he’s more than alive,
    and that’s more than a start.

    He gave me most of his mind.
    He asked me to write,
    to color his life
    but a poet is lost
    when his life is all right;
    when the girls are in love;
    when he sleeps through the night
    without a sound.


    Winter’s wicked claws tear across my
    face; they draw no blood, but shred my skin
    until I fall awake
    inside a doorway, in a city,
    under blankets torn and old
    I am choked by dirt and worms
    but still protected from the cold.

    When the freezing rain is falling, I
    am certain I have earned my discontent,
    just as I deserve this green oak
    park bench as my bed

    I could use some conversation;
    I could use a warmer heart.
    But I sleep with ghosts and needles
    in this dead, abandoned park,
    mumbling between my failing breathes:

    “Excuse me, mister,
    can you spare some change?
    This city’s cold
    and these shoes have holes.”

    I caught you in an eye-to-eye
    and still you kept on walking bye,
    naked but your three-piece suit
    and tie around your neck just like a noose

Your Last Fall

    The harsh winds of late October
    howl as they tear across his face
    like sandpaper. The open front of
    the glass bus stop walls frame his view
    like a diorama, but face straight
    into the gusts of unrelenting autumn air.

    The screech and squall of downtown rush
    hour traffic is quickly overcome by the
    abrasive crunching sound of deadened leaves,
    crumbling to brownish dust beneath his feet
    and tires. He sits in silence, waiting, breathing
    slowly, as the repugnant subway steam from down below
    billows up through the sewer grates to fill his nose
    and consumes the crisp aromas of the fall.

    The setting sun casts a brownish-yellow shadow
    over everything, covering the world in sepia tone;
    even fallen leaves, once glowing with
    immediate transcendence, have turned
    a grayish-brown and lost all warmth (have lost all life).

    and this was your last fall with him (if it ever were at all).
    you said you’re scared of the colors and the wind,
    afraid their whispers may remind you still of him.

Love Song in Eb Amateur

    The mixtape failed again, I know
    that I have one last chance to
    show you how I feel inside.

    So I thought of songs that I could play
    the Cure, the Cars, the Clash, or Saves The Day,
    but I still can’t get it right.

    So I grab pen and paper and play
    my guitar, and think of that night
    that we drove in my car, and I sing.

    I try every chord as I try to sustain
    all the notes that I hit reverberate
    like the pain in my beating heart today.

    But I have something to say
    Because you’re something new
    And all the songs by the other bands won’t do

    So I’m writing a song about you

    These palm-muted chords beat in sync
    with my heart, and your beauty’s reflected
    in every part and every harmony

    I think of metaphors and cliches for
    your smile, I’d quote Robert Smith
    but baby, you’ve got your own style

    I know it’s just noise and it’s hard to compare
    to the touch of your fingers and curls
    of your hair that I adore

    But I’m writing this song because
    there’s no other way to express how I feel
    and how you brighten up each day:
    my life will never be the same

    But this I must do
    Because there’s something about you
    And words are not yet written that hold true

    So I’m writing a song about you

    This song bleeds
    from deep inside of me
    I wrote every part
    from the words and the sounds
    through my hands
    straight from my heart

    But this I must do
    Because I really like you
    And words are not yet written that hold true
    So I’m writing a song about you

Rockstar Me

    I see her at my show
    and she’s longing to go
    home with me, yeah
    what a sight to see
    but soon I’ll find
    there’s one thing on her mind;
    that’s why she only
    loves me half the time

    I guess it’s not that bad —
    Now I’ve got more girls
    than I’ve ever had
    But there must be something more
    than another selfish groupie whore

    She’s in love with the rock star me
    I’m her celebrity fantasy
    Now I know our love will never be
    ‘Cause she’s in love with the rock star me
    So I’m showing her the door

    I call her on the phone
    And she’s starting to moan
    When I speak about my week
    I know she’s bored
    so I strike another chord
    and talk about the bands
    with which I’ve toured

    So I guess this could be fun
    But I know she’s not the one
    So I’m leaving her tonight
    Her lips don’t taste to me so right

    She’s in love with the rock star me
    I’m her celebrity fantasy
    Now I know our love will never be
    ‘Cause she’s in love with the rock star me
    So I’m showing her the door

    I was at a party
    I was hanging out
    When our eyes met
    She knew what I was about
    So I said, “Hey baby,
    I can play the guitar.”
    And she said, “That’s cool,
    But I don’t date rock stars.
    If you wrote me a song
    I guess it would be nice
    but I just want someone
    to hold tonight.”

    And we kiss good night.

Somewhere Someday

    Locked outside, late afternoon
    Either growing up fast or it’s coming too soon
    And I’m supposed to figure out
    what I want to do with my life
    But there’s years ahead,
    I’m sure I’ll change my mind
    ‘Cause you can’t plan life out ahead of time
    Somewhere, someday, sometime is where I’ll go:
    but right now I just don’t know

    So I’ll enjoy my life
    and I’ll live each day
    I’ll face the real world
    as it comes my way
    Who am I to say where destiny
    should bring me in 5 years?
    We woke that morning
    and we came to find
    that the burden at hand
    could be left behind.
    There’s so much more to see
    so why the rush to make my mind?

    So many mountains left to climb
    So many words I’ve yet to rhyme
    I say we get it right this time

    Somewhere, someday
    We’ll find our way
    So come what may
    Somewhere, someday

    When you can’t tear off
    the ideas you wore
    and you had your plans
    but there’s so much more
    now your heart’s new path’s
    been buried by the way
    you used to think.
    As we walked that path,
    said my friend to me:
    “Is this where we’re
    supposed to be?” And I said,
    “If there’s no one place we’re going,
    then how can we get lost?”

    So many mountains left to climb
    So many words I’ve yet to rhyme
    I say we get it right this time

    Somewhere, someday
    We’ll find our way
    So come what may
    Somewhere, someday

    It’s time to make my mind
    I’m not wasting mine
    I’ll get it right this time
    (I’m getting older, it’s my life
    here’s my chance to do things right
    before I disappear from sight)
    It’s time to make my mind
    I’m not wasting mine
    I’ll get it right this time
    (I’m getting older, it’s my life
    here’s my chance to do things right
    I’ll make myself just as I’d like)

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