my friend has two eyes
and a beautiful smile
and cancer in her brain

my friend has a big beating heart
and 34 piercings
and surgical scars down her neck

i swear from the pain when i stub my toes
while people are being eaten by bears
while killer bees rape infants
while the titanic hits iceburg after iceburg

while the oceans boil and whales drink blood
and the rapture knocks earth out of its orbit
i worry about finding a new job
about buying generic zoloft with no insurance because sometimes i'm sad

but at least i have you
thank you for not dying, coming home from work today
it was wonderful, the way you dodged that bus
so graceful! you didn't even seem to notice
you fell in no open manholes
you were not ravaged by wolves or serial rapists
thank you for your continuing survival
you could have plowed your car into your choice of trees or embankments
your fuel tank could have inexplicably burst, giving you shrapnel and burns and slow pain until blank
but instead, you came home, you had dinner and digested it and drew in breath
and so i thank you

someone asked me once why everything I write involves a car crash
it’s because I don’t know anyone who’s died in a car crash
so I haven’t learned to fear them yet

i don't want to witness another friend fighting off cancer
slowly wilting, dropping leaves until they are left a painted mannequin at another memorial
robbed of all the vitality of a human body i should have given more hugs

i don't want to hear more speeches about the dearly departed and their many charms that went so long unnoticed
because despite the sincerity, it all sounds like lies.

let's fall in love with each other and then die

because in 3 hours i will be asleep in my bed
unless my car gets sideswiped on the way home
and if you're driving that killer car
i hope you get out, step into the wreckage, kiss me on the cheek, and say
"i'm glad to finally meet you"

when the comets are coming and they're passing out koolaid
and they ask, do you want yours with or without poison?
don't answer until you're sure, because poison isn't cheap these days,
but life still is.


hey.. so hey, let's make a pact?
if we're both single at 35 and we're still alive but lonely
if we both have a house but we're still homeless
how about then? let's get together then, maybe i can love you then...


and of course i said yes, i'd have been there if you were 80
with your hair on fire and forks in your eyes
i didn't really care, i'm afraid i was just crazy for you

so now i tried to survive for a decade of ice age, and i swore to you
i swore that if next month i fall off a horse and get dragged for miles and my legs shatter
well at least we danced that one time
and if a fighter jet swoops too low in 2010 and sonic booms blow my eardrums clean out
well your voice always made me smile
and if on the 7th year the resistance is infiltrated and they catch me and drag me before the grand council, who demand to know all the deep secrets of our order, well i'll never tell, so if they tear my tongue apart with pincers and hot irons
know that i meant every word i never said to you, and i still do
and if on the eve of the march of the 9th year i am hit by a bus and struck down
know that when they pour me into that box and drop me six feet south, every worm that feeds on me is just going to starve soon after
because suddenly they'll only have a taste for you.
all that i swore.

and if this all sounds too dire now
well okay, i might have been painting in monochrome
but just remember, when the gods dropped a boulder on sissyphus and gave him his uphill burden
they didn't count on erosion. and neither did i
but after 10,000 years and an ice age, even the biggest boulder breaks and will be worn down
so i scooped up the small stone of you and placed it in my pocket for safekeeping
and sometimes you still jangle against my thigh
but at least i could start rolling myself uphill
and when i reached the plateau and slept
i didn't just set up camp, i built a house
and sometimes new houses do become homes

so if i should move across this land and meet a beautiful girl
well -- it won't work, bad timing
but i've got to learn that sometimes people have fresher boulders than i
and those wilting orchids on my mantle wish you a speedy erosion.
and thank you, beautiful eroder
for helping to wear down my boulder
by reminding me that more people are almost perfect
and maybe it's time to give up on the one who used to be.
but giving up is admitting that the filigree of fantasy
that carried me through my internal desert is a fraud
and the visions in my head are not you, they're cherry-picked pictures
of what i wanted and thought you could be while i filled you up with marionettes
who looked like you and spoke like me and thought never at all.
they crowded your form to bloat, bursting out your worn seams
to let words of love spill forth
and fill me up as well.
but if the altar i tried to sacrifice myself on was my own
no matter how many sheep blunder into bushes at the last moment to save me for a time
i'll always remember how willing i was to wield the knife.

so that's 2 crossed off my checklist with boxes unchecked
and ain't that a shame? and ain't it crass to make a list
of everyone i want to kiss, but at least when all my arrows miss
i'll still know where i stand.

you see, once my dad gave me some sad advice
an algorithm for sex, when your game won't suffice
because hearts are glorious, incalculable, but bodies are nice.
so i'm finding a few and i guess i'll abide
and bide my time until more stars align in skies than in her eyes
and for once inevitability will be on my side
and i'll finally find a mannequin i can claim as my own
and make love to myself reflected in her eyes.

and that girl in my bedroom trying on her new shoes won't know i still dream about you
but at least i'll have a beautiful poem to whisper in her ear.
  • Current Music
    Jennifer Lopez - Jenny From the Block - 02 - Jenny From the Block (Bronx remix) (No Rap edit)

love for loathing

i wish that some people were horrible. i wish you were bad and could be blamed. i wish for a pulsating fiend to brutalize with no guilt. i wish for an evil lout, honest and sincere in their malignancy. i would thank them for the unquestionable target as i tore out their throat. thank you!, i would whisper as i crushed their body with stones. thank you for deserving my selfish rage, for being hateful! thank you for your consciously chosen spite! you see: in the course of small events, knives and bile build up in my gut, and i need nothing so much as to puke them into someone's eyes, but everyone is only doing the best they can. there's no just punishment for doing the best you can, chivalry keeps my mouth sealed, nothing escapes - and at night my gut churns.

Later Seasons

Did You think
I'd forgotten? We first
met when the world was
young and beautiful and was
dusted with powdered glass.
How could We speak, when We could not breathe for fear of dust?
Oh, how I wanted to tell You! I long
still to speak! But I have
forgotten - where
Have You gone?

do not trust your instincts

The difference between truth and
is the difference
between nontoxic and delicious
(or, depending on the particular truth,
between toxic and delicious:
perhaps cyanide is irreparably sweet).
There is good reason, in my
for most medicines to taste
so awful.
If truth were beauty,
we would tell no (lies) fantasy,
and drink
only antibiotics.

I hope you do not trust me because
            I choose my words well,
and place them just so,
line breaks.
If that were all you needed-
and here I speak to every last you who listens-
then you would vote only poets as presidents,
and we would find ourselves bombed to shit and back.

The Butterfly At The End Of The World

Because we are so large, we are filled up with emptiness and hollow spaces and even individual molecules of air contain things and between and within those things are other smaller things and between and within those smaller things onward eventually you may find nothing at all.
Furthermore, if you were shrunk down, if all the air was sucked from your lungs and your belly and your chest cavity, and all the space between your skin and muscles and tendons and fibers and organs and bones was collapsed, and all the space between your cells was squeezed out, and all the space between your cell walls and their insides was removed, and all the space between the atoms of your molecules was taken away, and all the space between your electrons and their nucleus was stripped out, onward eventually to nothing at all, then you would still be you, for you have lost nothing of value at all and only empty blankness was removed from among your vessels, and you would be infinitely perfectly singularly small, and if your mind remained, for your mind either is or is not in your physicality and if it is not it has likely fled, then it must now be fast beyond acceleration, for the impulses through which you tell yourself everything including that you wish to tell yourself anything would have to traverse zero space and would therefore do so in zero time and you would think all things before an instant, but of course if there is zero time then there can be zero change and zero impulse and you would not think anything at all throughout any long string of instants.
Furthermore, if everything in the whole big world were collapsed into one tiny speck with all that great black nothing pressing in on it from all sides, crushing us all with the combined weight of all time and all things, we would all be in there making love to each other and ourselves forever in no space, no atoms, a dimensionless dot of pure vacuumless matter crushed into infinity, as every nucleus that made you you and every strand of protein that made him him and every neural connection that made me me came together and fused and became one and we would implosively give birth to ourselves as one new final being which would be nothing and contain all things and would, if it were still able to think, if consciousness can traverse zero space in finite time and thereby be aware, then it would truly achieve a nirvanalike state of nothingness.
And this all is why God did not create us, because God knowing all things knew we could not exist, because we are neither infinite nor paradox, and therefore God chose not to create us, and furthermore not to create Himself, and so He erased Himself backwards through time until the universe, empty of Him and all things He had created or may have someday once might have created, shriveled up upon itself and folded into itself and swallowed itself and became a single point of empty nothing, a dried husk of nothing, like some winter caterpillar's cocoon flaking away in tissuey layers, waiting vainly for the caterpillar to emerge even though there is no caterpillar and there never was, and it will not someday become a butterfly and spring forth from the crumbling dead hulk of its cocoon to flap its wings in the air that is not there because there is not and never was air.
It is a beautiful butterfly, and its wings contain many colors.

[technical admission: okay yes, it would take more than sucking out the emptiness to get down to a single point. shh. prose poems don't need to conform to "physics" or "reality" or "sense" or "quality"]

In 3rd Grade Our Holy Lord Failed Spelling And Possibly Also Arithmetic

I read an article once, in The Onion, about a man who had outlived Jesus. He was quite proud of this, and I think justifiably so: any time one can best Holy God at something seems a strong personal moment. He was speaking at great length (greater than was perhaps needed, to be honest) about his accomplishment, and the significance of having outlived his personal savior.
This man, I will note, admitted right upfront and with admirable honesty that he had for the most part fallen short of the high-water mark set by Jesus. Undoubtedly, he had not resisted his temptations, pale though they must have been beside the ones Jesus was shown by Satan in the desert. Like most of us, I'm sure he had lied, desecrated himself and others, probably all manner of other things not fit for print. But, goddammit, he'd outlived the bastard. (And I mean bastard seriously: to the best of my knowledge, God never did actually enter into holy matrimony with Mary. This is hardly a mark against Him, however; His own laws would seem to forbid it. If two guys can't get hitched, imagine the problems of a person and a deity.)
So this all got me to thinking: if people could outlive Jesus without that much effort -- and hell, I was 29, I was due to accomplish this myself in but a few years -- what else could he be beaten at? Was Jesus a shrewd poker player, or would he fall for every bluff? How would he do at football? or hockey?
I hope you don't think I'm blasphemous, now. Far from it, I still have the utmost respect for my Lord. It seems reasonable, though, to inject a bit of reality into one's worship, does it not? I certainly should hope that God intended us to use the reasoning and wondering facilities which He most graciously provided for us. To that end, I kicked off the covers, cold air be damned. I rolled myself out of bed and knelt down on my knees (I had been lying in bed thinking all this, you see) and I began to pray for wisdom, there in the dark.
"Oh Lord," I spoke. "Do please answer my humble questions, of which I am sure You are already aware in Your infinite capacity for knowledge. Of Your abilities in the body of Christ, what faults did You there possess? Please tell me that I might worship You with understanding." I paused for a moment -- had I forgotten anything? -- and then with an Amen and a quick nod, I got back into bed, snuggled under my warm blanket, and waited for my prayers to be answered.
I have kept a dream journal since I was 17. I don't dream often, but when I do it is always vivid and beautiful. This night I dreamed. I was walking on a long beach on a cloudy night. I was by myself and saw no one around, but I knew in that dream way that I was not alone there. The waves crashed and the sand glittered and the sand was stars. The clouds rolled back to show the man in the moon grinning down at me, wolfishly pleased, as the stars all began to explode. I hid in the ocean, but I knew whoever I had been sharing the beach with was now dead.
I woke with bright sun flooding my eyes and thought I had not escaped my exploding stars. A bloodless moment later, I shook off the dream and sat up. It was a warm day. A long tail of cloud was dragging across the velvety blue sky. The sun winked at me as the cloud slid across it, and shone down through my window in a beautiful perfect beam of light, illuminating a dancing column of joyful dust motes, falling across a white square of paper laying in the middle of my carpet. This was unusual. I bent to retrieve it. It was pure white, with a subtly embossed flower design rippled across it. I turned it over; it was exactly the same except for a message written across the back in swirling ornate script. I had trouble making out the letters at first, trying to follow curls and ornaments that ran into each other across the words. I closed my eyes for a second, held the card up at arm's length, and read:
Dear Brian,
I am not amused by your insolent questions, asshole.
With perfect love,
Your Holy Lord of all Hosts
Well. I'd known my questions were a bit impudent, perhaps cheeky, but this seemed uncalled for. I was mortified to have so upset Him, but I couldn't help grinning all the same. I thought that here the matter would lie. I had asked my foolish question, and God responded more personably than I had any reason to hope for. I felt satisfied, all things considered, despite having seemingly pissed off my Lord something fierce. I did not realize, though, just how much I had incurred His most righteously pugnacious wrath.
I set the postcard down on my dresser, under my glass aleph paperweight, beside the fluted vase of Buddhist monk ashes, a birthday gift from a years ago friend. I had tried meditating on the ashes for a few months, but never got much out of the effort. Most likely, i was simply not doing it right; my mind would always chatter along brightly in the background, keeping me company as I tried to focus. It was so bright outside, the sort of day where it didn't even seem like light was coming from the sun. It was of everything, spilling out, vibrating warmth. This was not a day to act, but I was awake and work had to be done. I decided to bring the postcard with me, to show it off to my colleagues. They will all be jealous: no one else at the bank has ever gotten a postcard from God.
I opened my front door just in time to see the first fireball fall slowly and flatten onto my lawn, rippling up bubbles and plumes of grass and dirt. I shuddered, either by fear or shockwave, and clutched the doorframe. Paint bubbled down hot over my hand. More fire came down; it seemed centered over my house, but some bursts shattered the street and neighboring homes. People rushed out to stare blankly at the scene: hell reversed, sheets of flame coming down over our heads. People were screaming. Across the street, a house collapsed inward as the point of the roof was pierced.
I fell to my knees and shouted hoarsely. "Oh Jesus, I take it all back! Oh please, I won't question, I won't wonder! You are my perfect blanket! Stop this!" My eyes were squeezed shut. I reasoned that as long as I could not see, nothing would happen. I could only keep this up for a few moments though, before the screams and the heat and the shuddering got to me. I slowly peered out into the light, the bright day that had gone red with smoke, and saw an arrow of flame shatter through my car. The windshield burst out, sending shards of glass twinkling across the burning grass; the pleather seats twisted and huddled together in the blistering heat; the gas tank burst and sent one tire through the front of my house, off to my left. Another tire came directly at me, moving faster than I saw it. If I had still been standing, it would have taken off my arm. Instead, kneeling in the doorway of my burning home, a tire shattered my skull. Rubber tread and bone splinter obliterated my mind.

I did not wake up down here so much as become aware of having been down here already for some length of time. I have, I think understandably, a bit of a headache that never really goes away. Hell is nice, all the same. It may be a cliché, but it really is good company down here. Such fascinating people: intrigue, romance, adventure. It's really not that bad at all, no fire and brimstone and eternal torment. That wasn't rumor, precisely, more like outdated. In the early days, so they tell me, it was basically like I had always imagined. The standard tortures: stretched on a rack, burned, stabbed, prodded, bones ground to dust and buried under ice. Demons, beasts, slobbering things with teeth clattering like a misaligned typewriter. Some of the things I have been told are truly horrid; I don't like even to think about them. After the first millennia or so -- I get the feeling no one down here really has a firm grasp on the passing of time -- it all sort of got old. The creatures were bored with being horrific, no one was keeping the fires lit, pitchforks would get dull and racks would rust. It all went to hell, if you'll excuse the pun; things wound down and no one really cared enough to fix it. So now we all are just left down here, hanging about on the huge slabs of splintered rock that this place seems to be built from like a jigsaw. It's pretty crowded now, what with the end of the world and all. We all just showed up one day in a heap, I am told, dazed and blistered.
The demons are still around. I see them sometimes, skipping in shadows, twirling through walls. There is an odd hum that seems to follow them, a toy car with used-up batteries. I suppose there is always the chance that they will come back, decide to resume their duties, but it is not something anyone gives much thought to. We wander about, find ways to amuse ourselves in a desolate wasteland. There are walls, farther out than anyone has ever walked, and what looks like a glass ceiling perpetually hidden by smoky rolling clouds. I had always been told as a child that the worst torture of Hell was the pain of being denied the sight of God. I would call it more of an annoyance than a torment; I am blastedly curious. Despite our being created in His image, I'm sure He's not an old man on a throne. I had always pictured him as some vague ball of light, glowing and spinning and emanating peaceful love. The others I've talked to all wonder, like me, but none of us are scarred by the lack of an answer. Sometimes I consider asking for another postcard, but that seems unwise. There isn't anywhere else He could send us, after all; who knows what would happen. Perhaps He will remake an Earth one of these days, like after the flood, tweak the model and let things all play out again.
I went down to the furnace room once, out of curiosity and boredom. It is clearly not built to be tended by humans, and that is all I can think to say on the subject. Oh, there is one other thing. Spiny cages circle the room, filled with birds and small rodents. All the cage doors face the center of the room, and I can only suppose they were the fuel. The sins of a pigeon are surely beyond me.
On the subject of sin, I have been speaking with some of my fellows. We all discuss our sins, why we were consigned to the pit. They all have such stories. There are murderers, lovers, heretics, revolutionaries. All the great heroes, all the great minds. God, I feel more clearly than ever how boring my life was. How boring I am! Perhaps I would have fit in, up in Heaven, spending all my time eating grapes and singing hymns, or whatever goes on up there. I can see them peeping down at us sometimes, when the clouds blow clear, and they look so stark. I never see God though, just a touch of his brilliance glinting off their halos, casting bent shadows across their faces like windowpanes. I wonder if I should have learned something.
  • Current Music
    lost in pictures - (4/6/2004 10:18:57 AM) - 02 - sex changed