God Must Be a Beautiful and Lonely Outcast
For a moment,
she forgets that her body
is the bark of a decaying yew
or the egrets
that once rested on her branches
light as Peruvian lilies
bring only tiny jolts of pain
snatching a bite of her flesh
their nest is somewhere else.
They leave her with
a jagged line of imprints.
I know I know she says.
She won’t send me away.

This afternoon’s love
will be like morphine
and only a dose.
I think of the drip rate
of rain over crowded cities
their underbellies.
This scorned harlot of a body
was once conjured
from the River Pishon
and I was the first and last man
in Eden. If I ask her to undress,
will she? Will it be too painful?
And this forbidden apple we eat
never tasted as sweet as today,
our slow dying, unfolding.
I can hear that river breathe.

The Day Her Elephant Died

When Slo’ Alice called to tell us that her albino
elephant had died from an inverted hoof, I didn’t know
what to say. All of us knew how much she pampered
that elephant, although none of us could figure out
how she got it into her house or what kind of clothes
she bought for it. Stretch pants, said my sometimes
friend, Spiff, who sold hallucinogetics to the old
ladies on Elderberry Street, passing them off as
herbal remedies for constipation. He also sold
firecrackers to veterans who hung out in front
of the Double Derby Barbershop. So Spiff is
driving us to the funeral and I have no idea
how they will fit an elephant into a casket. And
I’m not too sure of the directions. I’m hungry,
says Spiff, and we pull over to a MacDonald’s
and in the parking lot we witness some older kids
picking on a twirp, they call Blondie. For once,
I decide to be brave. After all, I was raised on cheeseburgers
and pop up waffles, a childhood of fast fried love.
When it came to supper, I always gave it up.
“Give him back that ball,” I yell to the leader,
a scrawny kid with rakish eyes, “or I’ll make you
eat it.” Spiff leans against the car, looking at
his worn sneaks. You’re going to get your ass kicked
for sure, I tell myself. Luckily, the kid obeys and
we’re back in Spiff’s old Volvo, about to be
repossessed, the way my ex-girlfriend was, and we’re
taking all these detours and sidestreets that are
not on any map of Grouseland Heights. Spiff decides
to pull over and talk to a girl he says he knew
from the old block, which is now a bloc of abandoned
houses. Spiff, I say, why is it that everytime I’m
trying to get somewhere, you always frustrate me.
Like you want me to be late. Spiff shrugs and adjusts
his sunglasses. He parks and shuts off the motor.
Spiff, I’m saying, we can’t be late to an elephant’s
funeral. They say it’s bad luck. They say that
in the next life you’ll come back as an insect
and get stepped on without really dying. Do you
want to go through your whole life getting stepped on?
Then Spiff tells me how when he was a kid
there was a friendly skunk that would sneak
in his backyard, waddling through his mother’s
garden plants. He says that he killed that skunk
with a slingshot and it’s stayed with him ever since.
I’m trying to tell Spiff that this is different.
Slo’ Alice’s elephant died of natural causes.
But Spiff isn’t listening. I’d be better off
getting out, carrying the goddamn car on my shoulders.

Wicca Women

The tragedy of your life
is not that you were without
a centerfold of curves
or pregnant
with a sky empty of luck
but rather
that you kept returning
to people, places,
in a series of threes:
the boy at the bottom of the pool,
circa 1969, his face white, soft
as a marshmallow,
the older man with bare trees
for veins, hands falling
from the highest of granite edges,
but always landing on his feet.
Your token lover, you nicknamed him
Cat, and sent him scampering to die
without a bowl of minced fish bones.
You pretended to cry in front of strangers
how he died without a proper diet
of Omega-3s.

& there was the mother with her nervous fits
of bows & oats & Sunday coats of fox-fur trims.
In time, you learned that she loved you
slightly less than her latest tummy tuck.

& there was my brother and me
who loved you more than ourselves. But we never
could count change. Three years after
Woodstock, we tried to chase our shadows,
drown them in a river,
to make a perfect set of three.
But they returned
& made it known
that we could not multiply in daylight.
After you flew to Nova Scotia,
to be with the latest movie star
in his very private rehab,
camouflaged within the solace of wooden densities,
my brother and I collapsed
into a flattened dimension of none.

Let Me Be Your Twin I

So we can go scuba diving at night, looking for the bodies we once swam with in the backseat of cars. Our oxygen tanks are half full with promise. The cars below are sunken treasures, an oil spill of what was once ours. At such a depth, we are giddy pirates. We live for the bubbles. See how everything tends to Up? Or we can attend parties together, twins of glittering destinies, our haploid mirth, our discrete hand signals across the room. We’ll steal the paparazzi from the real stars and I’ll bring home the left over caviar. You’ll complain that your feet hurt. At weddings, we’ll dance with octopus arms. The brides will secretly fall in love with us and from their first class suites will call out to us in muted longing, tongues in cheeks, cheeks under water.

Let Me Be Your Twin II

We can invent memories or eat hot dogs like true Yankee fans, mustard the color of our new dirty angel tee shirts. Set up a lemonade stand on Central Park West. We’ll donate all proceeds to us. Your father will be my father and the three of us will wash out all the dirty stains of my father’s past. Let’s trade closets. Let’s play rabbit and hunter. I’ll have you squirming in my palm. Or I might let you go. You’re such a silly rabbit and my gun is only a toy one. Grow up. I’m already older than you.

The Hanging Boy

You open the door to the house
your father put up for sale
and find a boy
hanging from the ceiling,
one who looks the way
you once did.

Slowly, delicately,
you take him down,
cradle, carry him outside,
next to your father's rows
of grape hyacinth, scarlet sage.
But it is beginning to rain.
He, you, deserve better weather
than this.

So you lay him down
in your bed.
In the soft reflection
of the night light,
you swear one blue eye,
same color as the both of yours,

Now you know
what you'll dream of :
ruined corn
purple sky
your father's smile
in the Neosho River.

And you won't bury this boy
until the weather clears up.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Kyle Hemmings

5 Things I Know About Linda K. Wu
(pubbed in The Beatnik, 2010)
She scrapes a living by sending via email
ads for erectile dysfuncton products.
Her last lover exploded inside her.
He died pop-happy. From that time on,
she imagines her vagina as a kind
of birthday balloon that floats
from party to party, heaven being
composed of wishes (one-third)
and two-thirds hot air.


Her real lover is the guy on tv
who solves every murder mystery
by a last minute stroke of random
genius. If he can find a way
to step out of the screen
and catch her from falling
ten stories of endless sky ennui,
it would be an act of true brilliance
her story being written into the script.


It's hard to keep a secret:
her mother is a doll
with one blinking eye.
And being the daughter
of a doll, she can only fake
orgasm. Eventually, all
her lovers die of winter suicides
in a river running past tea gardens.
She gets to keep their reflections,
the last laugh is on the living
who lie face up.


She would appear to them by the bridge.
At such a distance, she seemed a shroud,
a kind of vision. One by one, she married
each man, even gave them a child. In their
sleep, she whispered that her time was up.
A change of season. The husbands howled,
in time, became inconsolable wolves
with sheepskin fur.


She loves him for his tin can life
of brand name acquaintances, his poster boy poses
his mindless prattle on tv talk shows.
Each night she cuts herself a little deeper,
trying to bleed out, getting to the real Her,
who was once a child in some fairy mother's womb
blinded by amniotic visions of starry love.
Your Lover Is a Fembot Named Lucille Ball
Somehow she seemed more real
then my ex-girlfriends
who became pickpockets
of dust-memories,
collectors of lint
from old boyfriends
once thought of as lustful mites
regrettably discarded,
increasing in size & worth.

With Lucille, I didn’t exactly
initiate the sex.
She read me a submenu.
i knew she was Java enabled.
i said “Lucille, skip the basics.
Just jump to Sample and Vibrate.
i struck a resonant chord
between us.
We both had such dirty minds.

How Hannibal Crossed the Alps
(pubbed in Houston Literary Review)
It wasn't how the Ocades die
bleating for their mothers,
those whiny whores or how
the young boys at Carpetani
fell like stones at the Han
man's feet as if he were
some pagan god demanding
torch and incestuous leanings.
It wasn't Africanus Major
who the Han thought was
as dizzy as a virgin
at a porgy orgy.
But rather, it was a slave girl
from Marsilla, who enjoyed
his short sword foreplay,
the Han man a flower,
caused him to carry an
elephantine love on his back,
made him carry the moon
while he waited amidst the
moans of Numidian cavalrymen,
that made him grow small
as the child he once saw
reflected in his father's
eyes along the banks of Zama.


Vain Reunion

She tried to restore
the top half of him
once filled
to the brim
with her.
In the end,
they walked out
a couple of
talking heads
denied the cracked cup
of the body,
but still slept
in separate beds.

Manhattan Oddballs

The affair progresses in three-chord structure:

what I want, what you want, what we never get.

They consider having sex on a rooftop

 or in the mysterious city rain.

 He likes his listening to Morphine Flush,

 a thrash metal band from the late 90s.

She likes hers without a trace.

 They argue, they gulp, they squeal,

they flinch, they prop open their tongue-tied lives,

 they scorn undercooked Peking Duck,

 they chafe at the elbow,

 they sex-whine while his dog barks,

they fall away during post-grunge anti-climax.

(both published in Bigger Stones, 12/18/11)

I buried Dakota in her favorite dress,
calico snug, said a prayer that I'd never
have another daughter born in a black blizzard.
I looked out over the clay gullies,
the impossible fossils rising like
hands. Flung her floppy sunhat over
the empty coulee. The dog barked.
In time, her pups would fetch it, bring it
back to the ranch. As if they knew something
by sheer dog sense. I looked East,
prayed for sorghum and flaxseed,
sunflower and milk-veined maidens.
Saw Dakota in the parting lips of clouds,
low and moving over drought and badlands,
saw her pantomine and sway
before the young moon,
her voice over the Cheyenne,
over cottonwood and willow
gently mocking me,the way it did
when she pressed my hands to her cheeks,
she, so numb from the cold, from chasing
the sheep that strayed. On top of this
bare hillside, I looked everywhere,
hoping for a sign of the next harvest.
It would keep me above ground,
this body of sod, mind of open spaces,
for another year.


Spring Cleaning (pubbed in Quicksilver, issue 2.1

Cleaning up my father's attic
I air my thoughts to the sky
the dust causing my chest to squeeze.

Side by side, on the windowsill
I place a ten penny nail,
double-headed with corroded shank
next to a painted replica of a bird,
a Eurasian Bee Eater or Whitethroat
with soft eyes worth a thousand worms
under the tongue.

My father was a meticulous woodworker,
an amateur ornithologist.
he spent hours in this attic,
carving and painting
what could not take flight.

And the nails.
I don't remember where he got them from
or when.

But over time, things have a way of speaking.
He left you, says the Whitethroat.
You are sad and so am I.
Who else would feed me breadcrumbs,
crusts of homebaked rye?
Now my hunger has solidified
and no one but you can hear me.

I will take my father's bearclaw hammer
one that constructed my mother's dreams
and walk to the cemetery.
There I will pull every nail from his
coffin, the very one he made.
I imagine his body decomposed
will be a hole in the sky.
And the birds that will fly out
my hands that no longer bleed
neither he nor I
ever drove a nail
into the hands
of a starving stranger
brown-eyed and bone-weary
claiming to have wings.

Henry X

In his planned obsolescence,
he skirted impossible ponds,
studying his longest reflections,
his moon shape, under the sun.
There was once a woman,
Italian and high strung,
who came and went,
was keen with bitter forecasts,
tempted him into misjudging distances
and that was another story.

Later in life,
he was struck down by a flash of life
and died on the spot.
His biography, however,
written by a recluse named Holmes,
published with intended typos,
retains a loyal cult following
for reasons not clear
to lovers of hard cover books.


Tokyo Girls in Science Fiction: Why I No Moe Zoku (pubbed in PressBoard Press, Sept. 2011)

Because we are wasted at dawn. Because our mother space ship
crashed while I was giving birth to twin androids. Because there
are no more words that can capture the acid leakage. Because my inner Geishas only live twice. Because I am an X girl in Lost Decade and Tokyo Drift. Because your cherry blossom clit is killing me with poisonous niceties. Because a bleeding father homunculus keeps showing up on my CAT Scans. Because Tokyo Joe keeps crashing through my ceiling with a blinking one-eye Zero. Leave suicide-by-the sea for dessert. Because the giant mutant frogs keep jerking my chain. Which is another way of saying that I should stick to raw spinach. I should stick to raw spinach and you should shut up. You should shut up and eat your own
Occidental spiders.

C.S.I. #1

I had only two bits
of info to go on:
her nickname was Saffron
and she looked like
Rita Banks from
Falsetto Street
who could shake
more than a tail feather
and bend more than a fender.
My sources were
unreliable: too much
o.j. and v.

But there was
one dead John,
and another one
on the way
lips still moving
eyes wide shut.
The M.O.
an overdose of
bay leaf,
Oregon myth,
cherry laurel,
a stranger’s
heart of wood
splinters removed.

C.S.I. #2

We never admit how the sky
could crumple us like some
old eviction notice.
In the morgue-on-wheels
called World, we are
the effluvium of great lives,
but now the pharaohs
are disguised with dark glasses
and power suits,
while their queens
go scorpion for the winter,
listening to old tunes by Abba.

Yet, we are all ragged glory
in our one-black-eye love,
under the sheets
with motifs
of drifting cloud,
girl eye blue
and the space
between us
thin as an alibi

from The Miss tHing Poems (pubbed in A Bad Penny Review, Sept. 2011)
The Man She Couldn’t Forget

If he were light, he’d be a lotus petal. A fledging thought inside a girl, lonely on city streets, intuitive on mountaintops. Instead, he left a suicide note that read: The world is not a pond. I am a sturgeon. Everyone wants me for dinner. I’m not even that tasty anymore. I keep floating down. . . Miss tHing fishes him half-way from the water, imagines his eyes of negative space, the ferric taste of the stud on the lower lip, the body heavy, a gunnysack of body parts once fresh with her fingerprints. She decides: He is too waterlogged to be saved. She removes her orange silk top, the low cut jeans that were a real bargain in a city of near-drownings. Underwater, she tows the sturgeon-man to where he will be safe from swimmers, from wanna-be heroes with a missing limb. On TV, they have a whole channel to themselves. Towards bottom, it’s dark, darker than any room where she ever slept alone or never quite woke up. She has the feeling that everything here is vigilant and pristine. A thousand eyes light up. A voice swims inside her head—Leave us be. Pretend you never saw anything. She returns to shore, spitting up gobs of what she can’t remember. She looks up at the slate sky. Nothing is written down.

Musical Genius

The song Miss tHing’s piano teacher gave up on her plays in the voice of a man with shuffling boxcar feet, a body of accordion-squeeze. She would love to pack this little man in her briefcase before going to work, or play a friendly game of hiding him in the closet, just so she can find him again. Unlike her first and second piano teachers, this man will never reject her. She loves his fingering, his timbre mastery in her 4/4 toss and turn nights. So far her tally is: marzukas-20, etudes-30 and then some, polonaises-18, preludes and nocturnes—40 each. He’s divorced and bald, a woman with no sense of count ruined his private boleros. One day, in the Fantasy of the Real, Miss tHing confronts him, says she loves him as if a soft hand inside her, but will never take away the pain, the treacheries of her early tutors. The next day, the little man stands in the doorway of her quiet apartment, a city for amateurs and the permanently tone-deaf, claims he has broken his fingers so she won’t feel alone. She embraces him, tells him that it is only she who is impoverished. In the bedroom, under a portrait of a square-jawed man who could never play music, their movements are quiet, controlled, exquisitely shaded, with an occasional forte.

Justin Bieber’s Hair


Miss tHing is trying to gain control of her cold closet moths and her colored light bulbs, bare and incandescent. Yesteryear’s boyfriend stole her mother’s lace lampshades. Still, everything hides in plain sight. On the TV, a trade-in from some Bowery guitar player calling himself Mystic Juice, Justin Bieber is singing "One Less Lonely Girl." Miss tHing’s boyfriend knocks and enters, shaking the winter from his dreadlocks, a perpetual poker face even when losing. "Something the matter? Like you don’t know me?" he says, as if a prince of renegade comic book heroes. Miss tHing explains that she’s watching the moves on this kid, might try a couple tonight at SpeakEasy But Don’t Die Subtle on Christopher St. "You need drugs" is what her boyfriend says. Miss tHing imagines cutting a lock of hair off Justin and placing it under her pillow, the cover ruined by improper wash settings. She imagines her and Justin on a night on the town, the paparazzi snapping photos from camouflaged positions, lines of people parting as they step into the club, no checks for I.D. One girl shouts out, "I bet Selena is going to be plenty pissed!" If pressed Miss tHing will say He’s my nephew. Or He’s just a look a like. In the restroom, Justin will cut off a lock of hair and give it to Miss tHing. Then, security will smuggle him out the backdoor. She will stuff the hair in her boyfriend’s mouth when he snores. When he wakes, she will laugh the way she once did, wearing purple tutu and leotards and way too much make up under her mother’s softly shaded light. Her shadow moves, however, were intense.
beautiful girl (published in hypertext, Jan.4, 2012)

if you were a beautiful
all glitter doll & sown up crotch
& i had the moves of usher
or the balls of balboa
neither of us
would have much ado
about sinking in tight pairs.
but since we are no longer
& my best five digits are numb
since i can no longer
carry the three of us:
you me & the person
you wanted me to be,
it would be more expedient
to fall into this
& build replicas
of ourselves
with mud fingers & air
having no need
for left over

Last wishes (pubbed in Driftwood Bay, July 2012)

When I die,
don't feed my ashes
into the lazy river
that runs past
the condemned buildings
that were city factories
with broken-eye windows,
a harbinger of down-size
and hostile take-over.
Don't give my humerus
or tibia to the woman
whose son turned
to calcified dreams
under desert storms.
But rather,
take from me what is
still light and durable,
stretch and sew it
into a kite.
Give it to a child
who can run all day
under clean sweep of sky
near the swaying evergreens
that still
remember me.

The Teacher (pubbed in Philedelphia Review of Books, 7/19/12)

She taught him pain by neglecting him. He recalled her crazy signatures of her last letter– the too deep curlicues and serifs. Sitting too long in waiting rooms, thinking of her hands as white flowers and erotic sonatas of bone, he grew saddle-sore on the cushions made from dead horses.

Underwater Girls (Published in TenPagePress )

Deep water tale

any underwater girl will tell you. 
  at the bottom
of the ocean floor, it’s so freakin’ dark you’d
think you’re talking to your mother with no
head.      Or waiting for your iced grandmother
to get back from wal-mart’s.
but you can eat all you want.

No need for take out    or delivery.  
until you explode.
but that’s another story    for fools.

water games

when we were younger than downtown years
or before dogs
leased their own chiropractors

we stood mostly waiting
for trains  until what arrived was not right for us  until
emptiness was the fish we lived for  

until Alex Trebek said     judges?  
then fell through a hole in the ocean
& the flat world buzzed  correct.

surf party failure

striving for airtight in utterance only  i’m bringing
dead girls up to the surface  attempting resuscitation
with bong,  troy donahue’s tarantula & the guy i
met last week when they tried to nuke the shit
out of the dunes.  i mean that guy with the flat feet
i mean his lips his lips his lips his lips his lips.

happy hour

they charge for tap water down here jagger might
get his for free  but i don’t trust the tricks.  the girls
who dress up like tokyo but really stick like
plankton,  foam at the mouth when being felt
up by unicellular pimps.   i mean the protists
have it all don’t they?  there is a little man
at the door of a cave waiting to collect
slime mold like me.   he spreads me out,
goo over the ocean floor.   he laughs like


part-time job

try to compose a poem about
about shitting your brains out
while your father unplugs

about drifting through cities
faces of      un-decoded telegrams
the grift of your mother’s elastic
lovers. i could have went to college

if I got over
that sleeping sickness shit
that got me through five semesters
o f  sex ed.  &  2 lifetimes of anger suppression
of stuffing druid babies into bubbles.

the hierarchy of seas

sometimes they play a game in deep water.
it’s called say the name  & i’ll kill you
slowly even though you’ve already drowned
17 times without ruining your flagella
even though we all know  who got laid
by a red octopus & who puked   & didn’t
wash up before dinner. it’s easy. just sit
there staring real dumb & all & puff
your cheeks out    like they do at funerals
like they do when they find out who
really runs this joint.

& all your fish are free

the hardest part about being alive underwater
is surviving the clutch & pull   the monsters
who were once us on land   but now objectified
through windows. the girls on board getting
brain damaged from claustrophobia from
cabin pressures   in excess of.   the captains
shout: up periscope. but here that now
there is no up i mean why waste your breath
when you can watch the girls strip with
those silly masks,    your own breaths


the best thing about having sex with a girl
underwater is that there is no time or they
forget about time. she’s got the whole
ocean in her vagina 

& you’re thinking
this is all free water glide & foreplay
& sunken treasure

but technically
you’re just rock salt

 an instance of
a species that Darwin thought

worth a fart

& a  s-p-e-c-u-l-a-t-i-o-n.


the thing about autobiographies
is that they’re slippery. slept
scum scam—

to an underwater girl they all mean the   same
thing. & she’s rode humpback

on the most long-distance
of whales. she broke ahab,

laughed at his wooden penis,
dry-humped his first & second mates

on dolphin heroin.
she just doesn’t understand

your indigo-dye logic
your blue-heart past.
what incredible lengths you went to,

 slipping through the cracks,
breaking your head upon rocks.

 I mean, shit, you weren’t even
trying to build a church.

don’t think twice

if you think this is fucked try substituting the word: simple.
there you were walking on earth all these years thinking
you were breathing air. there you were thinking: SPIRIT
THAT. truth is there are mermaids living in your house.
there are mermen sinking   below your ceiling.
it was kind of like a third coming   but slow.  you
found yourself homeless. people tended not to float up.
like you, they were made of salt & blue-green algae. &
water. don’t forget water. you thought you were
breathing air. in prison they would call you
a stupid bitch. just try to ignore mermaids in
visual kei threads   or mermen eyeing your erection
on the subway. Just swim,   don’t walk away.

underwater girls

keep me from drowning fully in my own bay of pigs.
look out from the kitchen drain, clogged with
yesterday's toxins, caked yeast, the nail
clippings of girls ruined by too many visits
to the gynocologists. in the free-fall of
half-time sleepy i say to one of them
my mother had a tail a tail a tail had
no need for hairspray or vociferous siren song.
the underwater girls smile nod pout twitch
in vertical sync. one says our ovaries were
stolen by a blind woman who fell overboard.
she uses them for fake eyes for shields for shades
she keeps hiding from the daylight.
i'm tired, i tell them, of meeting that kind
of girl in chatrooms. we all sigh like a heave
of sea. at night the underwater girls tuck
me in and together we swim to egypt where
alexandria is a girl with too much lip gloss
is bringing down gods of sand and clay
of lizard and dirt sky is undulating
in gauze and bare feet while the sea inhales
and spits back our favorite color
our thinnest idea of eternal
the world sinking like a golf ball
thick with the tragedy of vortex
of sinusoidal of descending wave pattern
of what doesn't get swallowed
by ovulating mermaids by the dozen.


Still Crazy All These Years (pubbed in Humber Pie, July 27, 2012)
The husband chased hurricanes
  under the beds of other women.
At breakfast for one, her orange juice
 leaked from Styrofoam cups,
the ones on sale at Wal-Mart. She thought:
 Love is no good. It either strays or stays too long.
A friend, who was still blind-sided by storms,
suggested the Caribbean. There she fell in love
 with a dwarf addicted to speedboat racing.
She felt good about his custom tailoring, his tinny laugh
at the foot of her bed. During a race, he fell over
 and drowned. She returned to the mainland,
drank everything from glass. From then on, nothing floated.


© 2011 Ten Pages Press
All rights revert to author upon publication
To the people I once worked with in those hot steamy kitchens & dropped dishes with.
Versions of these poems have appeared in Crack the Spine.

Hojo Boy (Pubbed in TenPagePress)

Hojo Boy #1

they come microwave needy   even the crippled
grandmothers  clam fry all you can eat until you vanish off plates.
at college studying the psychology of fish   & the problems
of a 99 cents mark-up taught by   groucho marx &
the t-a-l-k-i-n-g funk h-o-r-s-e
keeping suicide notes in my locker  under my cap  the waitress
who keeps me hanging   as in why jack kerouac threw
himself from Italian rooftops   has a boyfriend
big as leslie west
or the twin heart of
cabbage-despair i always put too much of myself
in the cole slaw
absent-minded of my cuts
the tiny fractured bones the clam mix turning to dust
christ or worcestershire sauce i can’t vent

Hojo Boy #2

between sandwich slices i listen to the sweep &
vowel-to-vowel remorse in their voices @ lunchtime
pretend i’m all washed artichoke in my checkered
pants a size too mod. the waitress w/ careless
green eyes offers her live-in the dishwasher
doing per diem drag some ludes or jokes how vietnam
will fall to little generals between pancakes & even though
she’s never grabbed me by the crotch or made fire
by body painting colors of rage i know bynextwinter
i’ll be in love w/ a veggie girl who's survived deep fryer
will burn me w/ broad company policy smile

Hojo Boy #3

a regular shoots me for burning his
california burger you know the type:
bald objectified as flab & bun [(not)toasted]
fake eyes over hurt-doggy eyes my guess:
a mama's boy dangerous when doubled or halved.
ray, my mentor in everything of paper-cap disposed
of 3-minute & scramble brother looms over me &
cries like a coppertone poster boy whitewashed.
the area &
district managers lean over me
one says son
well-done doesn't mean burnt
what i don't tell them please 86 me
my mother always wanted a daughter
who could make perfect sleigh bells & schnitzel

Hojo Boy #4

if i scrape the ice cream tubs dry or
tell you that you resemble elvis
   & don’t charge you an extra look
nor joke about the spiders from blue hawaii.
if i ring you up [scotty ] wrong
& find your change   can’t buy me
a flat cow in the old neighborhood.
if I mix you a   black & white
but you still prefer the shells
from egg cream   & foamless.
if i serve you an inverted cone  [empty
but you insist that the trick of nothing
   tastes like peppermint mint
then the question becomes
who really got short-changed

Hojo Boy #5

say you have an addiction to gargoyles & clowns
a certain despondency when football plates
how it’s good to lean up against red brick
to grasp the cold metal  of handles to inner freezers
inside you’re counting on summer thrush thaw
the baby janes on college breaks
thick with their theories   of warsaw ghetto
or ibsen’s misplaced frogs
the girl with krazy glue lips   & patches on
her jeans legs of heavy flight
will break your heart before you’ve
had the chance to degrease  fish Fridays
but you keep reporting to work at 3:00 pm
cooking for the customers with third degree burns
some hiding their monster deformed hands
you smile at them   in acknowledgement
it’s all in the eyes & the distance

Hojo Boy #6

imagine a new hojo at life’s change of shift.
you’ve died from multiple paper cuts & starvations
you’re standing before all the managers waitresses
cooks dishwashers per diems [on the work program
virgins not-a-virgin misfit ex-greeks those you slept with
fought to the tooth over the last piece of carrot cake the nights
you argued about incredible crumbs & how to survive
the holocaust of global splashed grease circa 1973.
you make some ridiculous blanket statements
like how life is a constant revolving door?
or it’s not the meal but the fun in making it [ha!]
you say good bye that’s it’s really all about love
but how do you serve that with slaw on the side?
you exit hojo through the only glass door that
ever worked the big man in the limo saying [sic]
it’s time to be born again claims that he
once worked the same location as you

Hojo Boy #7

now that was one rich night you & mr. pumpkin head
[assistant manager 3-11] tried to fix the grill but  instead
broke the legs & flooded ½ the kitchen with grease.
mr. pumpkin head kept losing  two temporary teeth
& you laughed so hard  you [ forgot ]  about final exams
that morning when mr. stone-face bigot [the head manager
always long about how celery stalks can cure weak libido]
walked in  he almost cried a river of tasteless chicken broth
but you discovered a pattern that you’d repeat for some
forty  fifty? years   you would forever scrape parts
of yourself  off others  using the same charcoal block
whittled down to a pore
some limestone crystal
to a wicked methadone grudge   towards people w/ legs
full of walking away

Hojo Boy #8

as an old man disappointed w/ 5-http supplements
wear- ing your souvenir paper cap
you sneak into the back kitchens
of other franchises   pour salt in the coffee urns
when the police or the stand-in studs working the new
versions of hawaii five-0   catch you
you tell them w/
sincere blush you only do it for   the taste the taste
life is already too much acid   too much bland solid
(-)enuf cream
& they’re still killing   the poor cows

Hojo Boy #9

post-hippy frizz-head girl has winter-drift eyes that
never match the voice [soft-focused rasp] inquiring whether
experienced customer would like mayo on his b l t or.
i imagine she imagines a life as a piano teacher
the way her fingers dance the counter   as sharps/flats
or telling me later   after I insert my void under
her poncho  about the mystical virtues of rimsky-korsakov’s
snow maiden  me trying to pluck musical notes  inside her
tossing them in loose arrangements to the air. by the time
we reach her house  in a choking pinto  we’re all dangling
hands & fresh out of compositions.  a truck grumbles by
drowns out two silences two.  i tell her that i’m
seconds later she turns    & says
she wasn’t listening too

hojo boy #10

after rehab failed   after 17 electric shocks
couldn't wean me from jungian truffle-despair/
it all boils down to the first flavor mother
allowed me in the summer:
that melted strawberry swirl & pecan crunch [
at age 16 i told a customer  at take-this-out
that he was an ass   go learn to count change
hojo fired me but i kept coming back
because there was mutual need
as in   i would rather have three dogs w/kraut to go.
truth is i'm post-dead  but i'm still sucking red
brick big    the waitresses keep coming during
happy hour we talk about old poisons & over-rings
the times we flipped each other like   extra beef patties
[children's portion] made the grill sizzle
the smoke grew obscenely dense   we became lost in
making the wrong choices   the menu they gave us
the promise of an edible future   the schedules of
college breaks   were all wrong

hojo boy #11

when your fort[u]ne cookies make the hostess
   w/ the most delicately timed noodles–blush
when we can no longer capture the white summer
    girls in barefeet-barley-hop  w/ instant flash
when i can no longer sauté your icelandic heart
     in 3/5th wine    & 2/5th  jungle combat
will i reveal to you the secret ingredients
   to my watergate goose-silent long-necked stew
   i cook to the taste.


Moth and Butterfly (pubbed in Veil, 2012)

There are some not so superficial differences between us.
Like your antennaes are much longer than mine.
They reach into my sleep. Sometimes the dream
turns into a crysalisis---too hard to awake from.
In your coccoon, you dream of moth-girls
in Indonesian night clubs, dancing in
tight, spotted outfits. Maybe these are
the sisters you never had. Or of waking up
under a drab-colored sky, and fluttering
through every amateur homewrecker's tent.
I miss the wife I left.
My diurnal instincts astray, I have given up flying
during the day. You keep me twisted at night.
Your lies are crepuscular. At dawn or dusk,
you have the largest wingspan of excuses.
I'm beginning to not know who I really am.

But I can still read  your thoughts.

Black Metal

Flat-fifth disgrace.
Death growl
at night.
Homophonic bumblebees
in intervals of fear.
Sometimes I am
called the Cookie
when a woman atheist
diagnoses my false chords
my palm muted autopsies
that turn to effigies
to the Unsound.
At night,
my morbid angels
are symbols
of atonal strategies,
roadrunners on blast beats,
cause me cephalic carnage
I awake to a circle of smoke.
What did you expect?
Happy pig sty smile?
Perfectly symphonic
lovers without doom
incest or early Celtic frost?
Mock crucifixions
of existentially numb
techno ants?
In my sleep
they burn churches.

Rough Sailor

Words like quick-rise dough under moonlight.
 I want I want, she coos. Inside her the silence proofs.
Soliloquies by the steering wheel are not his thing, he says.
 His ship leaves by crack of dawn. His hands are rough coasts
off an island of discounted honeymoons. She cannot fathom tasting
the interior of his absence, the legun of longings. How far down?
 As a girl, barely adrift in unpredictable tides, she watched her brother's
toy sailboats float over reflections of sun, of evergreens, of her own face
from the outskirts of winter. Walking home, wishing her name was Rosemary
or that she was made from chocolate confetti with just a pinch of salt--
she forgot the chill at the bottom of the pond. She forgot the frozen smiles of toy sailors.