introduction to my third manuscript of poetry

one hundred little droplets, misty trail
of lines, of verse, iambic rhymes and beats;
o fourteen hundred lines you shall prevail:
you tread upon your darling bouncing feet.

old Shakespeare took your wanton surly ways
and made you tell such lovely royal tales
to which the Moderns took and dragged away
your morning song, so sweet and pure, so frail.

but now upon the page: Navarro's turn
to break the bouncing meter and to free
the sonnet's inner demons, which all burn
away the chains of thy and thou and thee.

one hundred sonnets: now the form shall stray

A Toast

here's to you,
i raise this glass of stardust up
to the gods, ask their blessings
upon all your waking pleasures—
my good man you have conquered
the peaks of infatuation
and i as the one who fell
must now step aside
and let the student become the master

when Venus comes to you, fear not.

when the rivers merge to form
a thick life-giving serum
do not worry.

it's all reason to raise another glass
to you.

below the hips

below of the hips
of her eternal heads
rest and keep company
with thighs

making a blanket
of thinning hair
and scraggly beards

on her

her asleep
in a one-man bed
with one man
and her

and ghosts of
three-in-all haunting
the sex of her
and one more specter

waiting to lay lips
on her still breasts
and drink

to rest
to prepare for boys
resting between
the hips of her

her awake breeds asleep

Waiting on a Broken Heart

a song—indie—key of ???

i've got nothing left to cry about
my eyes are all dried-up
there's no reason to scream and shout
over fallen sippy cups
when her skin is peeled and grey
i'll look up again
instead i see the only way
i could trust the touch of men

now i'm waiting for a broken heart
to show me what i need to see
and i wanna see it break apart
'cause i need something here to make me breathe
something here to set me free

there are swirls around my head
just like the Milky Way
there's a hold inside my bed
where my fallen father prays
i'll put on a blackened veil
kiss the white goodbye
lips will sting like falling hail
but i will not cry

now i'm waiting for a broken heart
to show me what i need to see
and i wanna see it break apart
'cause i need something here to make me breathe
something here to set me free

i've got no reason left to keep breaking down
i'll kick it up, up, up, i'll bring it crashing to the ground

now i'm waiting for a broken heart
to show me what i need to see
and i wanna see it break apart
'cause i need something here to make me breathe
something here to set me free

Ode to Tiffany

you were once that redhead
who chased me 'round the playground
with your grabby hands:

you said i was your husband
and our babies would soon be born
by the jungle gym.

i at age eight knew not how
my babies wound up in your belly,
nor did i care that you tore me away

from my foursquare game.
i embraced those pea stones
as you embraced God, your hands thinning

and your hair thinning,
the gap between your teeth filled
with Christ's sweet body

which was just too filling
for you. i waited to see your babies
but you have none.

i waited to see where your Bible
ended up falling
(it's right at home in Alabama).

i waited to see where your red hair
would finally fall out—
but now it is blonde

and clinging on for dear life.

Not This Thought Again

pillage the thoughts of the saffron
drowning in striped oases where seagulls
leave the ground.

she smoked her reefer
in the night and let the fumes pile up
over her head where her boyfriend
sat waiting for his fixing, his fucking
and her demise, her demeaning.

Apocalypse When

will God's fingers be true
when He plucks the land barren
to set it ablaze?
where will the boughs grow
once the roots have been milked?
who will dig up tubers for us
to feed our little mouths?
how will childless balloons rise
to the mountains where they can
see the blankness of this earth,
the screeching winds howling
over the sand traps, the deserts
and tundras?
when will my son look down
and see his father's feet itching
with fresh spring mud
for the last time?
when will the air lift my daughter's hair
up and make it dance in summer
around the trunks of trees?

will God's fingers be true
when He plucks the land barren
to set it ablaze?

Israel's Drums

Israel your
as your fists
on this padded chair
in the waiting room—
my son
your music is
to those with such
cultured tastes:
you like your
uncle are torn
between simplicity
and complexity:
between clanging
and banging


anarchy is bliss:
Buddha takes a snarling breath;
behold our bed sheets

Rivers Poem

I. Cuyahoga

this is where the river went wild
and the fennel seeds came in
spilling oils on the shore;
this is where those damned grey suits

stood and smoked their Cubans
and lit the whole damn thing up:
the flames are green and the smoke
moves up into the already grey sky.

the rain stings. the way the faces melt
when the river blazes and our fathers
from the north look on, wide-eyed
and bent-kneed, waiting to see

what will happen after the flames subside
and the man standing over the bridge leaps
off, thinking that his leap plunged him
into the greasy Hellfires.

II. Raisin

my father floated logs down you
to construct a railroad that now runs
through my back yard, where dinner cars
and cars carrying gasoline chug through,

making my dogs crazy with sound.
when the automobiles come back
there's only one way to go: that rusted steel
contraption under which the desolate currents

flow. the flora reeks of lagers
which i'm sure my father enjoyed
after his labors were complete, after
my mother's labors, her shrieks shaking the water

and the cattails and high grasses on your shores:
i was born on it, baptized in it;
its waters still crawl over me
and my still-laboring father.

III. Kalamazoo

the waters are still;
the waters are swirling with colors
like a twister over the farmlands
which your waters now irrigate with poisonous

vittles. there's no place to walk
without seeing blackness; there is no where
to swim, no rocks to beat your tattered clothes against.
she looked deeply at me and her mouth

curled up like the river bends, her eyes
fell smoothly from her face like the oilslick
over the surface. her words are crude
and coat doves with thick soup

and resistance. the drums are easier
to pick up than her pleasures,
they're easier to haul away to make
the people reclaim their moment.

IV. Huron

there are too many poems from my own fingers
praising your unclean rushing waters
drowning the bougainvillea buds
with acid rain: the treetops rustle

as your thick white foam pushes up
against their roots. there's a centaur somewhere
in the lushness surrounding you.
the ravens overhead cannot see their reflections

in the brown that makes you up:
i tread along you but i cannot drink
because Ypsilanti takes her gears
and dips them in your waters:

they run down to Ann
where the sun is just as hot
but the boys sweat longer because they have
no place to bathe.

V. The Stream Across from the Bay

concrete shores
and an old man on the ledge
enjoying his dinner
while two walk along

in wanderlust. there's a step down
and a hand over my slacks
until we see a runner coming.
a kiss before we think of somewhere

we could go, something we
could do. we can't hear the bay
over the rushing river; i can't hear
anyone say stop over the rushing

in my mind. we can return that night
and feed the river and ourselves wine,
curl up, fall asleep naked
to the sounds of the flowing waters.


this is where the hyacinths come to die
after the summer floods, tornadoes,
the blandness of August when May was so subtly luscious
and June was nothing but a damper:

the maidens hide themselves
as September creeps up, they plan their grand romantic gestures
by using twigs to draw in the moist July soil—

keep the telling signs under spring dresses here
while i plot what to do with these sunbeams
shining through my window: everyone is gone

and now the world is ours as the heat weaves in the air
off of the sidewalks and black streets paved over
our wonderland (this is where the stamens made love
to breathe into this new life significance)


a song—folk/indie—key of A

i stepped on a thorn
outside of the church
where my mother was born
i called out his name
because even a man needs
a man to blame
he came off the street
waved his finger
pointed at his feet
handed me a sponge
told me to wash
and watch my tongue

he told me he's the one
whose name i've gone and done
made up as a word of pain
i knew that he was wrong
'cause he sang no hollowed song
in the midnight rain

and i found my Jesus
in the back of a Chevrolet
and he said he don't need us
to teach our sons to pray
in his name

i told him my step
on the thorn was enough
to call his death
he sat on the ground
took his hair in his finger
twirled it 'round
he looked up
took a big swig
from a communion cup
got to his feet
walked out the yard
and back to the street
held his hands out
and let these words
spill from his mouth:

"boy you don't know who's who
or know what's true
when it comes to your saviors"
but i knew he was wrong
because his deadly song
had no amorous verse

and i found my Jesus
in the back of a Chevrolet
and he said he don't need us
to teach our sons to pray
in his name

Optical Illusion (A SONG REVISITED)

a songalternative/shoegaze—key of C

worlds collide in a land of fantasy
i can see it in your eyes
smooth sounds swim off soft lips
i wish i could dream of times like these
but there is no time

here's to the thieves that ruin lives
i will not dream or sleep tonight
everything makes me come clean
that's not what i want

talks and rhymes are so surreal
they venture up above the stars
the hanging motion from my necktie
keeps the Duchess on her feet
and off her stool in smokey bars

here's to the thieves that ruin lives
i will not dream or sleep tonight
everything makes me come clean
that's not what i want

i can't decide if i will try
to use this feeling to cloud my mind
so i'll take a drink to keep it around

when hollers come around in credit cards
the sentimental walls keep coming down
my watchband is tight, it's bony
making my right hand turn red
just like all graffiti in this town

here's to the thieves that ruin lives
i will not dream or sleep tonight
everything makes me come clean
that's not what i want

i can't decide if i will try
to use this feeling to cloud my mind
so i'll take a drink to keep it around


stars rise and leave
their apologies below the horizon—
they form constellations of pride
and vigor when the celestial ceremonies
laced with May Pole dances around Polaris:
the beams are candy, luminous
and luscious, still lingering on my tongue
as they come into my eyes:

the sky has every right
to hold its beaming head high
after making this night and moon


here are the teeth
which sink in, bite

the blackness on the wall

the halos from the light bulbs
of off-blonde hair
the tips dark and moving

how the sky comes alive
over her pretty head

SONNET: Olivia

her name's Olivia: a dirty-eyed redhead
who will their thrills in their own bed

she wakes up laughing every day
at the boys who keep their hands at bay

when she brings her hips about
and uses her tongue as a whip inside her mouth

—her smile a sign of distress

for the boys who wish to caress

her pale thin thighs, her empty womb
that makes a thousand boys bay at the moon.

her breast remain pure, untouched by a hand—
she refuses to feed the boys, make him a man.

her name is Olivia: a dirty-eyed redhead
who lies and simply smiles alone in her bed.


the black ticking clock hands
move about, making a galaxy
of thousands of gyres—step cones
led by the moon—which make us know

that the earth moves. Apollo has rigged
his chariot to keep the sun whirling about
in the day. the clouds are hurdles,
impeding his ride. he told us stories

of his rotating lovers; he sand of arrows
and told us that he would turn us into heal-alls
so we can sprout together, birthing buds
to keep his melodies alive throughout the Grecian plains.

the hours illuminate his face and elongates his verse
while he strums his lyre—each note
a dept to his Father of Time, a plea and prayer
written in broken scribbles on lamb's skin.

here the drums beat like very second hand
and the rhythms keep the spirals
around and about—this is where
nations breed, where love demands inception from Apollo.

Babies and Sleeves

a song—indie—key of ???

i'm on the floor, i'm not alive:
i'm in suspended states of time
i'm on my hands and knees
looking out at redwood trees

there's a boxcut blade right next to me
the cartoon's technicolored green
i want it to turn red
before i climb back up in my bed

where does the sunset go
when the babies go to sleep?
i'm afraid i'll never know
'cause there's blood soaked in my sleeve

i'm on the floor, i'm not alive
i reek of coriander and thyme
my veins are left without a prayer
rising up into the air

there's a boxcut blade right next to me
and it seems it's all i need
i only want to see red
before i climb back up in my bed

where does the sunset go
when the babies go to sleep?
i'm afraid i'll never know
'cause there's blood soaked in my sleeve

there's a boxcut blade right next to me
and it's over: one, two, three
i can count inside my head
the times i fell out of my bed

where does the sunset go
when the babies go to sleep?
i'm afraid i'll never know
'cause there's blood soaked in my sleeve


a song—shoegaze/indie—key of G

fallen dreams in a cloudy sky
what keeps the humidness of night
when our slumbers become one and all?
broken fingers hold on tight
can't get the stardust from your eyes
because the galaxies aren't there at all

orientation left alone
we're lost without our telephones
who can we call to make it okay?
the moon above is styrofoam
our conversations, dial tones
how do you know what you can say?

here's the sidewalk where we
spoke our minds
follow the cracks until we
say goodbye

the north is up, the west is gone
south and east, moving along
the compass needle spinning round and round
i'm outta here, this play's too long
we can't even sing our finale song
until we know we're nowhere bound

here's the sidewalk where we
spoke our minds
follow the cracks until we
say goodbye

The Planets

a song—indie—key of ???

a centerfold in a pile of newspapers
the smoke is clearly wearing down
i'm alive, i'm awake, i'm undeterred
to the sultry faces in the crowd

put on your hat, your walking shoes
it's gonna be a long ride
to that place where you spread the news
where your apparitions hide

i'm not around the planets
matching up, they are aligned
your blood is thin, deluded
enduring and unkind
pick pick pick the meanings
you want to hear from me
and when you mix them up
what do you see?

common ground, a place to wander
with your hands upon your knees
you're asleep, you're for real, you're going under
to your winkled flowered sheets

put on your gloves, put on your coat
winter's coming fast, now
i'll heat up the car and you get in
because you're unattached now

i'm not around the planets
matching up, they are aligned
your blood is thin, deluded
enduring and unkind
pick pick pick the meanings
you want to hear from me
and when you mix them up
what do you see?

pick pick pick the meanings up
up off the ground
let the swill swirl around your glass
perk up your mouth
pick pick pick the grasses off
your sweaty white feet
how do you know? what would you know
what the rumors and ladies need?

i'm not around the planets
matching up, they are aligned
your blood is thin, deluded
enduring and unkind
pick pick pick the meanings
you want to hear from me
and when you mix them up
what do you see?

Sugar Beats

this was all sugar beets
before the desolate lands settled in;
as far as the eye could see children's eyes
lit up like inflated balloons,
ready to float beyond
where those same eyes could see;

we bent our backs and broke our hips
for the sweetnesses in your mouths


alone is not the same as oneness:

alone means death lurks through shadows
in an empty house while spiderwebs create paintings
on the wall; a creak is a heart-felt speech which moves
the mushrooms in the garden to take action;
the drip of the kitchen sink rings out over the hardwood floors
and to your leather chair where you are alone
with your books, your pens, your journals and the unopened letters
upon letters from your estranged son—your husband took him
years ago because his mother spent all her time
polishing clock faces and conjugating her feelings
to lay them out on the table, analyze them and somehow
turn them into a cup of black coffee and green ink

oneness is dig dig digging up the solutions
to philosophical equations, turning them into tulip bulbs
and planting them onebyone in other's delusions;
candles rimmed around a bathtub light up in the moon
shining through the skylight; where car rides and water parks
make you think that maybe you should have brought a sweater;
a little wooden shack just off of the highway where one
carves another's initials into the rain-worn wood
with an office key and where a mouth lurks over and eyes look through
the gaps in the wood so that no one knows intimacy exists
off this beaten path; oneness is twoness while alone
is all one.

Chorus to an Unfinished Song (because Brian still has my guitar)

but i found my Jesus
in the back of a Chevrolet
he said he don't need us
to teach our sons to pray
in his name


i realized today that waiting for someone
looks a lot like being lost.

outside: the sun blazed over the streets
and the sidewalks contained the wanderers
as their eyes shifted over sales and tents.
my friend Brian asked to borrow
my guitar for his show because his had gone
to shit and this was a onceinalifetime-type thing—
he even said he would pick me up.

outside the stuidio i waited,
checking my watch and my phone frantically,
hoping to maybe get home in time to grab lunch
but hope dwindled.

i surveyed the street, watching for his beater
of a car: up and down my eyes shifted,
my hands running through my hair in hunger
and frustration. i am too nice, i thought.

check my phone
check my phone

did he call?
did i miss him?
i don't know what his car looks like
other than shit.

a woman came up to me with smugness in her eye.

are you lost?

i almost quipped back with something like
do i look lost?

but at that point i realized i did.

i stood there waiting, wishing for someone
to come so i would have an idea where i was going.

for anyone: Brian, Jesus, my mother, her, him

so i told her no, that I was just waiting
for someone—but in our waiting

aren't we just lost without the other?


the lightened faces walking about the streets:
devils with closed eyes and treading feet.

This Summer

i'll take this summer with a twist of lemon
and a shot of bourbon; a rub-down with eucalyptus
and aloe; a way out, a method to my madness
and a telephone call to remind me of winter

Like Any Good Poet

like any good poet i sit here with my tea
and my fingers moving, making nonsensical workings
down to their bones: ignore the pile of papers
with numbers and other such unpoetic things—
like any good poet i've read my Elements of Style
to learn the language and Tender Buttons
to learn to fuck up said language.
like any good poet i admire women & men
because we all know that beauty know no bounds
as the air knows no vacuum or the stars know
no lifespan except for in those last waking moments
when they burst—like any good poet.

SONNET: Train Window

out the train window there's a landscape
that Ophelia feeds upon when her face
lay buried below the river waters. it moves.

in the corner i see the window has a little scrape
where a stone lept up and took its place
of power by means of a man who behooved

his love not to leave, not to take her escape
from her prospects, from pursuing grace
in the form of her pedestal which soothes

her memories of the last time the nape
of her neck was left wet from her tears which place
her sorrows back on the platform in her winter shoes

out the train window there's a landscape which sits
as a man remembers and a woman forgets

Dear Darling Dear

dear darling dear

three names for three times,
the pluckings from a celestial garden
where crumpled sheets lay as our soil:
we bloomed as tulips in Spring
then wilted like willows allyearround.


alone we drank champagne
and let the bubbles leap off our tongues
which made sparks in the air—
the girth of Casseopea's curved hips
held us down, held me pressed against you
until i yelped and you fell asleep


this time together we swayed
as a ship on broken seas: the bow plunged
and the stern untouched, the waves pushed
themselves upon us until we bundled up,
leaving ourselves alone to rock
until the storm settled, the clouds gathered
and rain came down


sunlight feeds our candles
and opens our eyes—the day is young
like our supple bodies, ready for picking
from the depths of speaking and soil:
the light radiates above us,
reflects off our skin and back into the sky
where now Venus sees us and smiles
at her children's fancies come alive.

For Bill Gates

i am forced to use a rock and chisel
to meld words and photos on this machine:
there are spinning circles round and round
like a tidepool on my screen. i wait and wait
for a dear darling okay so i can keep pounding
away in my menial tasks. my button-up shirt
and khakis, sandals (because it's a casual office,
you know?) on this old printing press that huffs
and puffs its way into remission: i'm afraid to stray
because everyone can see where i've placed my marking
and what i call my own like a cat in heat—
my life is fully of copy and paste,
now Publisher and i will get reacquainted
after years and years: little does she know that i
have been having an affair with InDesign for years.


dimensions crumble as worlds collide
around starched collars and half-empty latte cups

the cellphone nation keeps a solid preamble
and a pledge for us to stay where we are: up

one lights a cigarette while another takes a bite
of a giant muffin, the way he took a bit out of

the competition last week at the board meeting.
this is where giants walk, where they crush redwoods

and level the earth with their big blue BMW oxes
named Babe.

May Poem

this is the ground where the seedlings lay.

here Cupid pisses on them and makes roses bloom
for the boys to carry to their girls.
the thorns are sharp, drawing blood from bare fingers
as the waters wash away the fragrant smell
from the garden.

there's a stretch of barren land
where two eyes ponder the happenings in the soil
in which these love-buds lay:
over the hills there is silence
as the bushes break the surface of the land.

this is all we can hope for
from a deadly arrow and a stream of earth-water.

Poemfone Poem

i'm twisted;i'm still;
a bombardment of fantasies from Catholic mothers
and behemouth fathers: i get off on making them think
their daughters are safe and secure; that sharing a bed
just means we like to cuddle and it's cute how i don't touch
when they are around; how i went to mass with my mother
that ONE time. there's no room for talk
when a sidewalk can be shoveled
or a dish put away with a smile and a reassurance that
it is no problem; it will be a problem
when she thanks me for being so goddammed nice
to her mother and father.

Tell Me When

tell me when the rush settles in,
when your muscles firm up
and strain themselves so much
that your arms stay locked
and your toes curl until they creak

tell me when you feel it in your gut,
when your thighs clench tightly
and push me away only to
open widely and let the brutal
thrusts continue through the humidity

A Word on the Ann Arbor Art Fair from Someone Who Lives and Works There


For Comrade Totsky

you grabbed me by the biceps
and made me curl up, you grabbed me
by the heartstrings and made me
tear up when our father left the family
after packing up his suitcases
and running off with that little mistress
called Advancement. we raised countless cans
and bottles to mindless things, to summers
spent dreading the heat and wishing the tourists
would find a new place to go. you taught me to say
something when you're drunk because dammit
that's when you're the most honest! you taught me how
to turn garbage into gold, a paycheck into a good time
and a teardrop into a cackle that echoes through
our empty halls.

Ode to the Puerto Rican Girl in the Flowered Dress

you thought my name
was Dave
and you were ashamed
that you were wrong.

you weren't even close
except for the fact that
both names have four letters:

but knowing your Protestant background,
i can see where you would have trouble
with four-letter words.

Ann Arbor Art Fair

the fragrance from maple bark
of my dear sweet Ann has been sucked from the air
and replaced with that of fried dough,
and vinyl. the white tents erect
like barbarians circling, waiting to attack
the simple village where the boys and girls
get their fancies from picking flowers.

the streets are flooded like the Second Coming
but i feel no cleanse—instead the wicked walk the earth
in fanny packs and Crocs.

walking a tranny approached me
and asked me if i could donate to a children's fund
but i had no cash so i turned my earphones up
to pretend to ignore him/her—he/she still told me
to have a nice day.

later, a girl wanted to ask me
to give a minute to the environment—
i tried to think of a smart-ass remark,
perhaps about the fact that she had a clipboard
full of empty pages which was deadly
to the trees, but i was too tired
and late for my appointment with Jim anyway
so i turned up my earphones
and kept walking.

i expect nothing but poems
out of these days when the spirits of my Makers
go on holiday, leaving room
for those dreaded Changers.

3x3 Poem

my eyes lay
when fingers

slip away
to below
my still hips

which sit up
and down 'til
your eyes sleep

The Branches

the branches
of the

oak tree out
of the

window sway
in a

tango as
the grey

clouds swirl up—


this is what the youngins
wish for: the view of the river
from the passing bus window
where they wait. some dream of drinking
its murky waters to make their insides boil;
some wish to bathe themselves—a baptismal
for the scented oils of sulfur; still more
(like me) wish to spread their ashes
over its bubbling surface where the banks break
simply to be carried away
and to finally discover where
the damp brown waters finally end.


a joint-curse: a slip from
out stands where we as statues
remained unchanged—you can't add more granite
to expand us. across the way, that baby
eyeing the apple in his mother's hands,
his bronze mouth waters,
wishing to gnash his gums over
the tartness—as this curse came about when i
gnashed my teeth over your breasts then more


take my point of view
walk away—
step away from the gun,
put the knife back in the drawer—
use it to cut up those tomatoes
for your heart-healthy salad
i had better not see
any fluids other than
watery tomato juices
on your kitchen counter.

SONNET: Instinct

it's a turn-about: a ripple in time
disrupting the balance between
us & we—there's all the weight of the steeple
that holds down the little serfs, plowing the fields
and plucking grain for their brides:
from above the Duke sits and waits for crown jewels
to give to his Duchess; below the tiny ants and bugs
dance about on scurrying legs to feed the queen bees.
farther above the gods lay down their arms
to fill them with goddesses, their hooves with maidens
and their talons with sultry flesh.

across all plains—all realms, realities—
the notion is the same:
the instinct lays claim to all desire; all desires to love.

The Mundane

poetry, you are a dilemma of sorts
while i ponder you, ponder your being
for the purpose of such: you are words
set free from necessity but what is
your point? how do you function
when you are so free when i cannot arise
from my bed unless there is a note on my calendar?

but i wonder where and how you can
get off by simplicities, the mundane
and all the like. how can a blueberry bagel
with cream cheese make a poet
immortal? how about this thick black
coffee still sitting in my pot from last night?
i thought you were an escape from coffee
and bagels and a way to make things touchable,
like God and heaven and gyres and those feelings
we all seem to write so much about.

the worms on the sidewalk and the way the rain
drips off of maple leaves is in itself a heaven;
the way this city cries our names over
clouds of hazy must makes the face of God
appear in the stormclouds above; this city bus
is our gyre, moving us to another place
in space and time. the mundane is such an us thing—
but how about when it is a you?

Forgetting Poem

the sunlight still
on couplets

turns about the

and all the sands
of streamlined beaches

peel away
from the shore

SONNET: Estlin

o Estlin i know the Elaine you stole
from good ol' Thayer and how eager she was
to grab you by the hips (how droll!)
and how you miss your Nancy because
now Estlin i saw that check and balance
when she took your words and verses
and all your little commas in malice
made of porphyry and lingering with her curses
o Estlin how your hands turned blue
when Elaine found that Irishman, so tall
who took your beloved from you
across the ocean, where Nancy became nothingatall

and now, o Estlin, you sit and ponder well
how the poets (you and i) can rectify our hell

Red Brick House

a song—???—key of ???

there's a red brick house
where the sinners lead the way
they wander around
to keep the simple boys at bay
they are deep-eyed girls
who let their swagger speak
to the wide-eyed boys
when their constitution's weak

with their hands on high
and their bellies sinking low
in this red brick house
as their daughters start to show

there's a red brick house
where the Devil keeps his word
to keep the boys at bay
as a scarecrow haunts the birds
there are pretty girls
for whom the summer flowers bloom
there are light-skinned boys
that are trapped inside their rooms

with their hands on high
and their bellies sinking low
in this red brick house
as their daughters start to show

there's a red brick house
where the sinners lead the way
and they close their house
at the break of every day

with their hands on high
and their bellies sinking low
in this red brick house
as their daughters start to show

The Song for Isabella

an explication

I've spent the entire day in the hospital waiting for my sister to give birth to my first niece, Isabella. With that, I spent the majority of the day looking for a song that would best describe what I want my niece's life to be. I had a song with Israel, my second nephew and Isabella's older brother. For him, I chose "Electrolite" by R.E.M., which became a sort of a lullaby that I would sing for him. The song was a farewell to the Twentieth Century, as Israel was a goodbye to all of the silly notions of mine that I would be a childless bachelor for my entire life.

But with Isabella I've had a deeper connection since she was in utero. She is my first niece, the only female that I will be partially responsible for raising. With her, I also have a connection to love, a connection to something deeper that I hoped (and still do) will last forever. With that, there are dreams, there are notions, there are expectations that I have with my bond with this little girl with curly black hair like her mother's.

I finally settled on a song that describes what I wish to say to her:

"Rockets" by Cat Power.

You can listen to the song here.

Here are the lyrics:

Where do the dreams of babies go
'Cause you know they're all so good
And they're also gone so fast
Keep all your guns at home
Help keep your momma safe
'Cause you know she's pretty good too
Where is the night so warm and so strange
That no one is afraid of themselves
Pick, pick up, dig, dig out those weeds
Out of your happy-go-lucky fields of such polluted thinking
Where do the rockets find planets
Where do the rockets find planets
Where do the rockets find planets
Where are the dreams of the babies going
'Cause you know they're all going fast
Take, take as much as you can
'Cause you know it's going so fast
You know it's so good.
Where are the many mountains so brave
That they do not explode over everyone
Pick, pick up, dig, dig out those weeds
Out of your happy-go-lucky field
Of such polluted thinking
Where do the rockets find planets
Where do the rockets find planets
Keep your guns at home
Keep your guns at home
Help keep your momma safe
You know she's all good
She's pretty good
Where are the dreams of babies going
'Cause you know they're all good

Why did I pick this song?

First off, the first line is a simple cry of innocence. I ask Isabella where her dreams go because they should never leave her sights: they should always be with her.

The line keep all your guns at home reminds her to keep her agressions and frustrations at bay, to only fight with her mind and her heart.

The lines help keep your momma safe is pretty self-explanitory: I ask her to keep her mother (my sister) safe and secure. A big responsibility for such a little being.

The line about gardens and weeds and the ones following are my plea to make sure she removes the pollutions, the dampers on her dreams. I will not let her happy-go-lucky sense be taken from her, even though it may be polluted enough to hide the cruelty of the world from her.

The line about mountains serves to have her ask where are the wonders, the mountains, where she can dream, where she can find something for herself.

And it goes on and on.

This is the song I have chosen for my niece. Isabella, let this speak to you, for I cannot ever speak to you in such a wonderful and sweetly manner.

Welcome to the world. May you never let beauty—especially that in your dreams—willingly (or unwillingly) die.

Random Thoughts While Waiting for the Birth of Isabella [Part III]


my mind is a desert—a holy land with uncertainties
where someone left alone can finally find nirvana of some kind.
my sister went from four to seven in an hour: about an hour or so
they're saying—they being my sister and cousin, seasoned veterans
in the world of childbirth: they both encouraged my sister
to get a needle jammed in her spine. i remember you saying
that you would never do such a thing, and i would be there
whatever you decided; we've been over this: i don't get much of a say
when it comes to your womanhood—whether we wanted it or not
i don't get to choose. i imagine what you would be like
in the hospital bed, i remember you told me you remember your birth
but i was too much in a haze. my sister flips through a magazine:
Lindsay Lohan is only twenty-four, only about two years older than i
yet she is in prison. my family is discussing the father of the child,
what we would say to him if he bothered to show his face here—
all i saw were his feet from the other end of the hall. he's bigger than i,
stronger than i, i've got speed on him but that's not much when he's got you by the neck.
my cousins are coming, prepared to defend what little family honor we have left.
it would be just you and me, i promise.
they now discuss custody, how no man can take their kids away
and how my mother has lawyers all over this town to take on any case.
i'm Israel's godfather and i could not take him.
i can't remember if i asked you if you would want to take him with me
if something terrible happened. part of me always imagined him with us
in New York somewhere, even just for a visit.
now i just want you to visit.

Random Thoughts While Waiting for the Birth of Isabella [Part II]


i'm sitting now across from my sister, she takes bites
of greasy chicken broth in between contractions:
her water's broken, but Isabella is a fighter.
my other sister is here, being monitored because her inutero son
(whom i call "Matthew" even though my sister swears his name is "Aiden")
won't settle down. i told her i hate the name Aiden because
my ex-girlfriend is pregnant with a boy whom she has named Aiden.
truth be told it reminds me of you—that name you picked way back when.
i thought of you unjustly waiting. i still do.
i can finally listen to those songs that remind me of you, but now
i can't while i see my sister. those songs that remind me of you,
that remind you of her and her of nothing. i'll stick with The Autumns for now.
i see you're awake, i see you're alive. i see my sister
writing in pain, imagining how i would take it if it were me—
truth be told i probably couldn't. her fist is clenched, her head
buried in her skinny arms. she tried to go to sleep but dammit
Isabella is a fighter. the nurse comes in, something for the pain.
i hate needles, of course you know this. everyone in my family
knows this. their eyes all turn to me as my sister is about to get poked.
the nurse makes a joke about Star Wars. i have no idea what she means.
my sister's legs squirm, the syringe is taken out and my mother cannot look:
whenever my sister cringes i look at my mother, knowing that she can't stand seeing
her children in pain: my mother had the drugs and encourages my sisters
to do the same. no one in my family has a good pain tolerance
which is why i was always surpassed when you refused aspirin. the nurse is blocking my view
of the needle. if i keep my mind in this "poem," i'll be fine.
the bed creaks. her baby's father sits outside, i have not said a word to him
since he left all those months ago. i am the closest thing to a father
this little girl will ever have. "Thieves." perfect. just as i was starting to let my mind drift
away from you, the one song that puts you and you alone in my head.
damn She & Him are so catchy. my sister continues to writhe,
nearly in tears. i am the same, only i don't show it like she does.
There's thieves among us. my sister and i both know this:
he stole her chance at normal: you stole me away
and left me with this shell of a former man-in-making.
you are not to blame. my sister is crying. That won't stop me crying
over you.

Random Thoughts While Waiting for the Birth of Isabella [Part I]


there are so many scratches on the hardwood floor
and i look to them for patterns, words, a script of some kind—
a scripture, even, written by the soles leather loafers—
to lead me to a guiding light. the telephone remains silent
so much so that i think i'll need to do some yoga soon
just to hear the creaking in my bones, breaking this silence
and the white noise from the television. my sister lies in bed
while i sit in a vinyl rocking chair that creaks so painfully;
at this point i would rather have the silent. my sister flips through
the channels: ball player from the White Sox setting an RBI record:
i might go for a record sometime, somehow, somewhat.
i wonder why i always think in threes: trinities, Catholics,
Jack White, even—red, white, and black—threes are nothing to me
because i live my life in fours. i want to live my life in fours:
me, my wife, two kids. four. everything takes four.
i have yet to see a doctor here, only nurses and thousands of photos
and terrible paintings of babies, mothers, something reminding my sister
of what she has to do: pick flowers with her children by a stream
or hold her newborn and grin. i think of you, how this was almost you
and how i for some reason feel it in me: i am pregnant with my own guilt
while you were pregnant with reality. i shouldn't speak of this.
i wonder what poem i will read to Isabella first—i have to do something
so that she is not born in the white noise i was born into.
what will be her lullaby? her brother loved "Electrolite," but she is not
a farewell to the Twentieth Century: in reality i won't see her that much
because i will go away, which in this town is the equivalent of death.
so i have to make a memory for her. "Trapeze Swinger." begins with
Please remember me. i just want her to remember me because i'll be practically dead
to her after today.

SONNET: Messiah

you alone i will seek when the pine needles fall
off the Christmas trees where angels work their worship songs;
when we hear the effervescent shrieking call
of Christ the Babe; when the Magi come, making up their throngs.

you alone i will seek when the Child puts mud on the eyes
of the Blind Man allowing him to see; when the mustard seeds
become a moral for my namesake; when the flies
strip off of Lazarus who lives; when He's baptized by the reeds.

you alone i will seek when Pilot shakes his fists
and Judas places thorny crowns upon His head;
when we see the spearhead stigmata from his wrists;
when the news runs through Galilee that Christ is dead.

you alone i will seek when His death leads me in despair—
my dear own Messiah with your darkly hair.

She is Naked

today the road is open, unadorned,
covered with pebbles and dust:
i see the green lushness around me
that cattle and horses feed upon.
the farmer's children run about the yard
in their summertime dance, the rhythms haunt me
treading asphalt with the wind gusts
pounding my haggard face. up all night
and it'll be three more days before i can have another cigarette—
i want so badly to be one of those people outside
the hospital doors, people glaring at me
but then i tell them i'm waiting for a baby
and they say it's okay, but to just quit before
we bring the baby home—but it's not my baby
so i suppose all is okay. she will come in naked
and hungry, angry having to hear
all of those dreadful stories of her father
who left the room before the contractions ever began.
she will look like me, as she looks like my sister
who wails and does not take pain—she could be mine,
she might as well be mine.

Son House

on some stint 10,000
remains stuck in my head
from Death Letter, something of
the like: the start of a poem
that someone wrote for me
90 years ago.

if i could break through time
i wonder if i would go back
91 years ago
and claim one as mine
that is not mine: if i
could handle being a Southerner
for 90 years,
10,000 if i'm unluckly stuck
in this Purgatory
(which would not exist to me
as a South Baptist Bluesman).


Viva! Viva!
they are rambunctious, they are;
a single collective comprised of torches
and moonlight in their eyes and unwashed hair.
they've got their bread crumbs,
they're weeping children and somehow
we get a musical.

Paine and Wollstonecraft get a sentiment
that dammit we all just got excited!

SONNET: Ifs and Ares

when the ifs become ares, Aries will become Taurus;
the sun will set over Arizona for the last time;
Juno’s thighs will open up and Hercules will emerge
like she wanted to and he will be stronger.
the twenty-four-hour day becomes three days longer;
the electric wind does more than singe and surge;
pentameter will give way and sonnets will remain unrhymed
and all of of the dactyls and spondees will become glorious.

when the ifs become ares, love will become a game of chess
where every move is tested with the brain and fingers;
the moon will slip and fall from the night sky down to Earth;
the ocean will ignite from an oil spill into a roaring hearth
as the smell of slick dead birds upon the breeze lingers:
when ifs become ares, i will finally wave to the peasants’ crests.


on my way home i saw a sign
for “Mastering Meditation”

(i tried meditation once
but found far more interesting things going on
on television than in my head)

and it made me think that i might go
to India and find myself—

not just find myself, but fucking find myself
(it sounds more rebellious, more fiery,
more spontaneous that way).

i’ve been told that i would fit in well
there, as so many come up to me
as a brother, a friend, a nice Indian boy
for their daughters, and i don’t have the heart
to remind them of my last name.

i will go (fucking go) and ignore this study book
on my top shelf: i will go, shave my head
to keep the bugs out of my hair
and simply wander: i will carry my bowl
for rice, shit in outhouses,

bust up a sweatshop and save a village—
a vigilante with a buzzed head
while the parents speak to me in Hindi
to rearrange the marriages for their daughters
but i tell them all i want is a little rice
and maybe some real curry that someone told me
i should try once.

i will finally meditate by the Ganges
and raft on a floating corpse
so that i can laugh (fucking laugh)
in the face of death.

SONNET: there is not truth: there are only birds

there is not truth: there are only birds
who nestle in the thick branches and leaves
while the sunlight twists and the breezes heave—
there are no keen inklings in our words;
if marble daffodils haunt me in my sleep
the swirling clouds shift until they wrap
themselves around the falsehood's immense trap.
there are no wells of christ where i shall creep
and where my mother becomes a dire seam
that holds it all as one below the mind
as mortars churn and pestles grind
the sweeten the air and add turmeric to my dreams

there is no nothing: no chaos no knows
no way to count the vines of drooping willows

SONNET: the spiral steps across our bouncing kiss

the spiral steps across our bouncing kiss
but tensions seeks the torsion as their bliss—
the motions house the swagger in your hips.
in lightning storms, our hands are thick with blood
which heightens fires, burning with the flood
of rigor, odes to sweet despair from lips
that settle near the sights of moisture sour
as time's collection relates the stream of hours:
i stammer, moan, and let my voice bleed out.
the empty threats of deepened seams with bones
as bloodflow settles, as my finger groans
my weary eyes shall lay their sights which shout
through humid air, through thund'rous pouring rain
before our deathly cry, as our fingers strain


song—folk/indie/acoustic—key of ???

sunset and the moon is rising
on the plains
we slept and dreamed of a time,
a summer in Spain
the hands on the walls and now
the stars are our friends
we sat and said to ourselves
never again

but we're here, we're gone, we're back again
like stories whose middle outweighs the end
the words are long and we don't know
what they mean
now we're alive, now we're dead, like the Old Man said:
"We're all just here, we're all just waiting for bed"
as the starlight above us grows,
it is obscene

the way the willows say is stunning
i'm hypnotized
the eyes are melting, the score remains
both synchronized
the roots are spinning, the stems and leaves dry out
in July's wake
the air's alive, it's underneath
the tempers for our sake

but we're up, we're down, we're inside out
like breezes blowing us about
the streets are long and we won't know
when they're mean
and we're high and we're low and drunk again
like the stories we tell with no end
as the starlight above us grows,
it's obscene

SONNET: Mankind

when mankind breathes
his final breath
and i can see his
unmoving chest,
i will not weep:

i will lay my hands
upon him, close his
eyes, and await him
in Heaven—if there is such
mankind will know
only then what
if anything
his Heaven will be
for him.

Nonsensical Poem

aloof, now, my blood begins flowing
like rainwater toward the drain:
listen as the concrete get drenched and
i am washed away in June floods:
so this is what July looks like when
one eye is closed—
now i see what all the fuss was about.

i find pillows in the cemetery three blocks away.

sounds, motions, i stay for it all:
to hear the patter of sunlight
in the air, to hear every single ray
light up the specks of dust floating
like tiny fire flies;

like the stars above which form
opaque patters in the sky,
vicious monsters await,

yesterday's champagne looks so good
on the kitchen counter:
under the blanket i can see that you turned on the desk lamp.

TERZA RIMA: You Never Know

you never know the sanctions brought upon
your motives—lightning tearing up the sky—
until the lilies, soft and bright, are gone;

the way their petals dance about your eyes;
the way their crisply stems do snap between
your teeth when they sink in before they die

of robbing lushness, violet and green
when buds no longer rest within your hands.
the depth of roots peel apart as seem-

ing night becomes our blanket of demands
across our county lines and in our beds
where we pick off the leftover hair strands.

awake we lie, i do not rest my head
for on these sanctions, i feel like i'm dead.


scribbles, letters, heart and soul:
nature skipping all its beats and handing me my broken heart whole.


when the roof shingles shatter
after baking all day in the summer sun
the wind rustles over the pieces
and flops them on the ground;

this is summer, this is the spirit
in which my nephews entered,
cursing god and mother alike for the brutal heat
and torrential rains

Isabella, come to me
on Friday: the rain is supposed to stop
and the heat is to subside—
cool me off like the juice of the sweet pomegranate
that you are.

Unsettling, This Friday

my coffee spoon sits dry beside a dwindling cup
and there's a hint of that distinct Camel smoke
because it salvages the lungs from that Malboro:
the air is moist, the sky violet through the window
of this place, the silent trickling of the pitpat in the streets
where my leather shoes itch to tread—
trade this coffee in for a stemmed glass and some gin,
trade the Camel for one fuller, trade my old beat-up
plastic lighter for one silver, flipped and engraved
with something better. my sleeves are rolled up,
meaning it is my time to put down the spoon and pick up
the night, move my eyes so that widen, drink in
the stars above me, the world below me and all the blackness
in-between. that gin sounds better and better with each gaze
and every inhalation of my now-dying Camel keeps me still;
i can't move from this chair, from this dampness surrounding
my weary head, it's all chilling, it makes me sweat
until my sleeves are too much for me: this Camel is a fire
within me, one easily extinguished with a night's rest
in my bed instead of on the clacking concrete.

Where You Think You Ought to Be

a song—folk/acoustic/indie—key of ???

there's a hint of Austi on my breath, a shadow deep below my bed
that haunts the images of children we remember, cold and dead
we named them with labels from our past, our mothers and fathers,
before they've ever swam to life they're treading the waters

it's all enough to see the world around you and around me
it's hard enough to be where you think you ought to be

when the nighttime comes to life, the moon distills our tired eyes
there's pureness inside our teeth, something soft that we despise
there's cattails above our garden walls, the kind i chewed when i was young
like if i had a banjo or a harp; something soothing i could strum

it's all enough to see the world around you and around me
it's hard enough to be where you think you ought to be

Naked in November

a song—indie—key of G

i've got a prayer inside of me
it's malicious, it's sublime
it's untethered, it's falling free
it has no reason and no rhyme
the sky is offensive, it's full of green
like the hills we frolicked on
the flowers are fragrant, they're pungent and mean
the petals are sweet, the thorns are strong

now i had a feeling (i had a feeling)
that the waves broke us apart
now who knows who's stealing (who knows who's stealing)
the firmness in my arms
and i know the centuries will bloom
with grey matter and despair
wilting away (wilting away)
the lilacs in your hair

the seasons are gone, summer's the worst
the heat is far too much to bear
it was our only, was our first
this humidity's unfair
there's no one to notice what's gone wrong
when i woke up feeling ill
there's no one to stop our autumn song
from falling off the window sill

now i had a feeling (i had a feeling)
that the waves broke us apart
now who knows who's stealing (who knows who's stealing)
the firmness in my arms
and i know the centuries will bloom
with grey matter and despair
wilting away (wilting away)
the lilacs in your hair

still you can steal away
when you find me all alone
when i think or hear your name
i hear my dial tone

now i had a feeling (i had a feeling)
that the waves broke us apart
now who knows who's stealing (who knows who's stealing)
the firmness in my arms
and i know the centuries will bloom
with grey matter and despair
wilting away (wilting away)
the lilacs in your hair

Lessons in Death Taught by a Black Lab

he looked confused:
my sister told him that Sasha was in Heaven now,
as if he would know what that was—
he was two: i at seventeen had noidea.
all i knew was she was in a box in our garage
next to my father's motor oil and socket wrenches
because the ground was too firm
to dig a hole. i hope i never die
in winter so i don't have to sit on my father's workbench
next to a draining pan and screwdrivers
(neither of which i could ever use)
and i hope by the time i die
i knew where my dog at age seventeen was—
and i hope that by the time i die
my nowsixyearold nephew will know
that his uncle has gone nowhere (as long as it's not
in a box beside a clawhammer and a crowbar).

No Good with Numbers

when twenty becomes old
and three becomes five as my parents age
years in six like their son in twenty-one did
i wonder if three five and six will be enough
to make their uncle something less:
minus one (still inutero) times two
will make me up to twenty-five
when the ticks of seventy-two are enough
to make me want the twenty-one i had
for point.eight

The Whitest Pines

a song—indie—key of ???

fallen breeze, the hands of time
the smell of coconut and lime
smells better than nothing
reversal lingers in tail
on your fingers white and frail
you don't wear shoe strings

i've got a secret
i've got a secret
i've got a secret finally
i've got a reason
i've got a reason
i've got a reason for you to weep
it's my turn

lake shores, Fourth of July
Dr. Pepper chilled in ice
i won't forget
riverside, your feet submerged
your ears absorb the birds
can i regress?
September, across the street
the stomping of your feet
away from me
a wedding dress, the whitest pines
brushed up in our minds
i thought i was free...

i've got a secret
i've got a secret
i've got a secret finally
i've got a reason
i've got a reason
i've got a reason for you to weep
it's my turn
to make you squirm
like you do to me

it's my turn
to make you squirm
like you do to me

i've got a secret
i've got a secret
i've got a secret finally
i've got a reason
i've got a reason
i've got a reason for you to weep


America with you i feel
the hard-up, hard-press from the iron
around us all: the pinkness above us
and the thieving hands from

below; the forrest green to the west
and the bitter sip of fancy teas
to the east when we'd much rather have
coffee with no frills thankyouverymuch.

American with you i feel
the love you instilled up me and my
grandmother as she sang your praises
through her accent

and when she died you thanked her
by giving her a dime for her pinebox
even though it took fiftythousand dimes
to put her in your free soil.

America with you i feel
like i am in the hands of God
when God's voice booms and opens
paradise up for us

but instead of caring for the land
we eat the Fruit over and over
and let the beasts die only i cannot hear
the voice of God over the television set.

America with you i feel
the pride that i with my skin color
can reap the land of milk and honey
for all its worth

only after i read the lands of those
who have had their fill of milk and honey
and i get the milk that's gone sour and
the honey that's crystalized.

America with you i feel
that i don't know you anymore.

July Poem

it's been three days since my mind
has been able to wrap itself
around a stunning verse, a verse
of cringing mortals or even a verse
that is a verse.

June was sifted through
and only a handful of gems come through—
May had prospects like the 49ers but again
my frontal lobe works faster than my hands.