Friday, July 27, 2007

Jack the Elbow

Jack the Elbow is a big man, in stature and in girth. He can eat more flapjacks at one time than anyone on the planet earth. His beard has its own space station; his blue ox is named Jesus. His body is a temple he's defiled many times. Ladies love him, come from miles around just to smell his ink. His poems are undeniably the work of genius, said a kindergarten class taught by William Gass. If he was a tree, he would be a mighty Redwood with the heart of a weeping willow. Men also love him, he's secure in his sexuality, he lets them kiss him and that's all. Children read his collectible cards, his publishing credits on the back, along with choice editors' opinions. Lemons grow sweet when he's around; onions stop making everyone cry. He bought the world a Coke which caused acid reflux disease. He's a danger to the environment; one day the world will be drowned in rejection slips. In the Bible he is known as Daniel, in Greek myth as Pan, and the Pacific Islanders called him "He-Who-Can-Eat-Thousands-of-Coconuts-Without-Throwing-Up." His new book is being published in heaven, along with "Howl" and "Chicken Soup for the Poets' Soul." His biography is being written as we speak.

Let Us In

The door refuses to open. Unless it's delivered a new knob it'll continue to stick itself to the frame. We send in negotiators who promise only thin people will try to enter and offer new paint and lacquer as rewards. Through megaphones we yell that we have to get inside or the gypsies will steal our children, angels won't give us their wings, babies will rule over adults, tentacles will grab our bodies, the national debt will continue to go up through the roof. The door explains that our home is just an illusion. The house is made of death row dreams, the windows show only executioners. If we look through our cage we'll see the poetry we've scattered into the world being injected with poison. No, no, no, we moan. If we push our shoulder against it hard enough the new lives will eliminate the old. The door asks for reinforcements, the sofas and tables line up behind it, the floor and ceiling merge, obstructions turn everything we know into a massive stone. We have no sword to pull out of it.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Mysteries shatter on the kitchen floor. We had carried them carefully from the stove, popping hot gossip burning through our mitts, improbable fantasies bubbling in the murky broth. Our nerves shook our fingers, dropped the steaming bowls of secrets. They splash into each other. Nothing we have can clean them. Your unknown conspiracy for murder collides with my long lost son in the Tropics. They mingle together, web strands sticking together so even light can't penetrate them. We beg them to open up, give us their pearls, spit out their secrets. They whisper their regrets; they would destroy us if we knew. A fresh grave in the Bahamas cradles a body, my only child grown up to fill it.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Sony Reader -- Need More Poetry E-Books

I just bought a new Sony reader, and it's actually working out nicely. It's not any harder to read that screen than a book. I also have the new Chuck Klosterman book, which is pretty good. Unfortunately, there aren't really any contemporary poetry e-books available for purchase. I think this is the direction where people are going, and it wouldn't hurt for some publishers (like Graywolf or University of Pittsburgh Press) to consider selling e-books. Just a suggestion.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Tripping into the house, I banged my head on the oven, then the refrigerator, then the chandelier, then the ocean. I wondered why an ocean was in my dining room, taking up way too much space. The squids and sharks poked their heads or tentacles from the water, saw me, and attempted to eat me. I ran toward the living room, where a jungle had popped up, spreading out into the backyard. Pythons and tigers spotted me right away and slithered and stalked toward my shaking body. That's when a great idea burst in my head. I stepped out of my skin and looked for the stairway to heaven. A bunch of people stood below it, as if waiting for someone to show them the way. They said, "I wonder if we're supposed to go up there. It's not polite to go somewhere uninvited." Heavy metal music played when I ascended the stairs, everyone below me shaking their heads, thinking I was a goner. How wrong. St. Peter slapped me on the back, showed me the globe I'd be running. A little more administration work than I was used to, setting this side against the other, popping souls in and out, but I'd manage. I peeked down and saw that the paramedics in my house had failed. The person they'd tried to help was unresponsive, lifeless, gone.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Heart

I don't let my heart in the house enough. Last I heard it was flopping around in the backyard, spilling blood all over the roses and dandelions. I can't have a major organ deteriorating like that when I have the power to place it on my canvas, surrounded by cherubs and chocolate valentines. A dealer might come and buy the whole thing, relieving me of a body part that's been nothing but trouble, only slightly less dangerous than the mischievous turtle bouncing between my legs. An attack on the heart would be worst. Gangsters could block its ventricles with lead. Cops might mistake it for an armed assailant and beat it with a stick till it stomped pumping in defenseless blood. I'd have to move to another house, cold and drafty, that I won't be able to complain about. My neighbors and I would be the quietest watch you've ever seen; people could leave flowers and offerings on our lawn, and we'd be unable to get up to take them inside with us. Someone could even steal our bodies, twitter with our innards, find out how we lost and bought our final real estate.

Friday, July 06, 2007


A picture won't do it this time. We need the real flesh, clothed in velvet, eating cheese on a cracker on top of the Empire State Building. We want saliva delivered to us by a clueless 14-year-old on his first exploratory kissing mission. A chicken with its head cut off reading the dictionary. Stomachs mouthing the words to the Fat Albert theme song with their belly buttons. Geniuses stymied in an experiment to cure baldness in chihuahuas. A dismal song performed by a down-and-out school marching band that was unable to raise enough money for its trip to the Rose Bowl Parade. A school bus exploding from the methane build-up from Jason and Dylan lighting farts in the back. All of this is required to do true justice to the filthy habit we can't stop -- existence. The doctors tell us we can't quit, and the advertising on TV makes it seem like so much fun.