Idle Chatter

On the patio
recent grads
talk disappointing
jobs. The guy
explains he would
have been a firefighter
but for
the car accidents.
90 percent of the job
is car accidents
,
he says, triage,
when he finds
the word.
He’s thought about
explaining this before
but never found
the opportunity
until now.
He shifts the topic,
to customer service.
He works in a hotel,
like me,
and now we’re brothers,
this man I’ve
never met
and judge through pen –
idle dreamers,
talkers.
He is my past
and I am his future.

Day’s End

Another empty shift bagged
and I’m eighty dollars richer,
a day poorer, and still in debt.
This is the way of the world
and despite my efforts and experience
I’ve yet to find a better way.

I’m churning butter
on a spinning earth
that has no taste for butter.

I’m building low tide
sandcastles on a beach
made out of sugar and salt.

When tomorrow morning comes
I’ll wake up like I have
every morning before and live
another day full of a meaning
that doesn’t mean much to anyone
else just like everyone else.

Streetlight Asheville

Rain. The homeless man
in an orange beanie
follows another man
to the gas station
across the glossed street,
asks for money. The man
presumably says no, rubs
the homeless man’s beanie,
heads inside. The homeless,
resigned and ignored, plops
his pack next to a trash can
and sits, the night an empty
comfort until the other man
walks out, six pack in hand,
and gives it to the incredulous
hobo, shakes his hand,
wishes him well –
gifts him a night
washed in drunken oblivion
instead of damp shivered sobriety.

Portrait

The ends of his nights
strike against his will
and though he sees himself
as a powerful, lonely
dike against the rising seas
he is still powerless
against an insolent clock
that insists on bringing
morning after empty morning.

This is who he is. Not a dike
but a buoy, a barameter
drifting in a sea
that doesn’t give a damn
what he thinks.

And so go his days,
aimless swells building
into a nothingness
crashing against the dike
he thinks he is, breaking,
building again the next day,
breaking, building, breaking.

Salvo

To the new streets
of foggy mountain
foreign nowhere,
the same as the familiar
ones I’ve left before.

To this plastic heart
lost in the back-alley
storefronts of places
I’ve already been
to somewhere else.

To the muddy
Appalachian Spring,
washed orange in the filth
of the lives I’ve left
behind, the earth stained
brown, and I am again
washed anew.

First Fish

The first fish I caught
on my new pole
was tiny and I killed it
by ripping a hook
through its tiny mouth.
I pulled a piece of flesh
with the barb and
ripped its mouth damn
near off, gill stripped
red to the wayside.
It sat there,
a gaping rainbow,
until I put it belly
back in, where it sank
and washed downstream
with the rest of the shit
I don’t need.

Work

The good poem
is a false movement
in the corners of
our eyes, a predator
our predator eyes
can’t quite detect.

It is a voice
that won’t stop talking
when we’re trying
to focus on what
we think
is the truth.

It is a star
we’ll never see
and as soon as
it’s written it’s
gone someplace else.

Free III

I

Walk chest up chicken hawk
step strut like we’ve got
a fighting chance at sanity
and success. This is
your morning weapon.
The mind is a wandering bitch,
but fear is a bottomless pit.

II

Cut the beast down
from both legs. Hack it
with fury slow and sharp
and it will fall faster
than you could have imagined.
Cut it down with derision
bordering on joy and you will
be rewarded with strength
and clarity beyond current limits.
Hack. You can give up
or you can grow.

Free II

You are free.
You are free to move
about your universe.
You may go anywhere
you choose. Your bounds
are limited only
to your own limitations.
You may now let a feeling
of complete detachment
fluctuate through you
in alternating waves
of euphoria and terror.
You are free to work,
to play, to attain
the heights of sloth
or enlightenment.
You are free to burn
an ego stuffing
your iron into the fire
or you are free
to masturbate yourself
into oblivion. You
are a sparkled grain
of salt. You are
strange, sharp, and strong.
There really is no one
with potential quite
like yours, and
only you can fuck it up.

Free

My blood will not change
and I cannot change.
I cannot change my hands,
my feet; I can only mutilate
them. I cannot change
my lungs, my liver;
I can only destroy them.
I cannot change the cells,
the nerves firing off
chemicals like little Husseins
in my head. I cannot
control them. I can
only medicate them,
mutilate them, trick them.
I cannot change who
I am. I am
the handcuffed embodiment
of free will.