Elevator Knife Fights
The time I lost myself soul-searching in bathroom mirrors,
I discovered what it means to be alive.
You wrote me the Bible when you said,
”Baby, we’re all sorts of fucked-up.”
Your words hit me the way the cigarette bite
burned my lungs.
The ghost-like smoke, lazily spilled
from my mouth
as the coffee house foreplay led to
dark alley salvation.
My words are Power Ranger Band-Aids.
No matter what Dad said,
I’m positive they heal you faster,
and they look way more badass.
So blanket your wounds in my words,
and peel them off quick if
you think you’re ready.
Because it’s a shotgun double suicide
written on the backs of church pamphlets
while sitting in pews that felt like
elevator knife fights.
But you have got to believe there’s a way
Out of this place.
Like the other guy’s blade
is a butter knife
and I’m made of margarine.
I’m the only one in here.
Waging a predictable war with myself.
Floor after floor,
I aim to cut some sense
into my hands
So I can feel what its like to
shake hands with the devil.
The cameras catch me
in an epileptic two-step,
stabbing with the business ends
of safety scissors, just to
get my point across.
I didn’t want to be a Gentile.
I fought it because
my parents said so.
I am but a whisper,
the way my body floats through life.
My soul is stuck in Ohio, Indiana, and Ireland.
Forgiveness is there.
I didn’t hope to be a Gentile.
I tried to be a follower,
but the hurt in my eyes burned
the bibles I grew up with.
And the hated in my blood
runs out in steel strings and ink pens.
Now, the night skyline traces the trees with a
soft gray blanket of atmosphere.
What’s left of visible clouds
sporadically indent the dark air.
Reminding me that
this may one day pass.
The moon hides behind houses lit by neighbors
living separate lives.
Looking up for fleeting glimpses of falling stars or bombs
I’m stuck convincing myself that I’m invincible
I still drive with my low beams on
as if I’m afraid of what lies ahead of me.
Clutching whatever humanity lies dormant inside.
Eyes wide open.
Not to give them the satisfaction of
hydrating themselves in the event that
people will see me for who I really am.
That was the day my father had better things to do,
and the day I realized
I have his eyes.
And on the 54th floor
those eyes looked back at me
and smiled as they pushed the blade
deeper into the empty spot where his place was.
I didn’t ask to be a Gentile.
But I am.
She Loves This Fuck-up
I cherish and keep rushing thoughts as if they were diaries.
Like I am trying to live my whole life by tomorrow,
hoping for a lifetime of love to fall through my tainted hands.
I want to know what normal feels like
because everyone tells me its great.
To know what a million dollars feels like
because its a manner of speech and momma always told me
to have good manners.
And to be honest.
But my normal is budgeting tattoos and poetry books into my monthly wages.
Along with cannabis, kind words, and duct tape because I know
those are the only things that keep love alive.
Yes, I will be old and covered in ink with holes in my ears and face,
and the only arthritic bone in my body will be my middle finger
because its nice enough to say,
“hey, I love you but you need to grow up.”
I first saw God that night I squeezed the moon like a lime,
but I was ten years early and too poor to buy tequila.
So we put sugar on the rims of mountain dew margaritas
because even now salt doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.
I saw Him again that one northern Ohio winter
that was almost cold enough for me to quit smoking.
Harboring hate like the Titanic and ramming it into
my iceburg heart.
He said to me, “hey, I love you but you need to grow up.”
Then he lit a hurricane.
The rain couldn’t stop me from stealing sidewalk chalk.
I loved the blue powder it left,
like dehydrated raindrops.
I precipitated hopscotch squares too long to travel
and promised at the end that I would find Jesus.
Those long drives home to my clumsy pup and humble saint mother
taught me that there are things worth fighting for.
And things to fight,
like those chalk tears,
creating endless streams of sanctity.
I do this for her
because even when I shout “fuck” in front of church crowds,
she knows I speak with the blunt conviction of love.
And even after discovering the dead bodies of
adolescent rebellion in my room,
she loves this fuck-up.
So thanks for the manners because it drives girls crazy.
And thanks for the truth because it makes my words worth something.
August 11, 2009
“If we were created in God’s image, then when God was a child he smushed fire ants with his fingertips and avoided tough questions.” Buddy Wakefield-“Hurling Crowbirds at Mockingbars (Hope Is Not A Course of Action)
Every time I find a chapbook
In a used bookstore
I get a burning desire to
They are always laden with
The memories and the dreams of
Ink pen warriors.
Someone out in the world
Bold enough to share their most
Intimate secrets with
I imagine a wordsmith
Losing sleep over the perfect
Placement of syllables.
I wonder how many hands
Have passed the little Chaps around
Like fifty page harlots.
The bookstore looks more like
A brothel, going under since the
You can almost see the
Steam billowing from the pages.
And you can sense the desperate
Author trying to eat poetry.
I wonder how Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Felt in 1958, selling his book for one dollar.
As if his words weren’t worth more.
I want to liberate the Russian literature
From the oppressive binds of the
To give back to those from whom
My fathers took so much.
I owe it to them,
The poor little Chaps.
Sent off to die in the