Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bitch...Just Joshing!

Just rode the L train with a gaggle of NY teenagers, all of whom seemed cooler and more fully-realized than I've ever felt in my life. One of them asked what "joshing" means. Another said "that's what you say when you're kidding; like, "bitch... just joshing!"" Then two of the guys demonstrated it. One said "bitch...just joshing," and then the two of them hugged.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Times Square burned daylight down
onto the avenue long after
the sunset's leftovers disappeared.

I moved from tavern to tavern
talking about girls and commas,
commas and girls.

My companion for the evening
was a tough guy from Cleveland,
and when a particular bouncer
decided he'd have enough of us,
my friend showed me the truth
behind his short stories.

We were the terrors of the Square
until his honey called, and the night
was over.

Back home, I am trying to tell
my story to a word processor,
but I picked up some faint scent
of yours in my hair, and now
my tired brain thinks only of you.

Friday, November 12, 2010


The Tarmac sighed at JFK, relieved of the weight
of another jet plane, and we were off: the air so deep blue
I was sure we were astronauts in space.

We splashed down in the wet streets of London;
the fog found us in a fine embrace, and the damp air masked
the sweat of my hands. The world was quickly getting older.

In Paris I blinked and you were gone; it was a mystery.
Unfortunately, so was my French. But I found you
at the Louvre, and I helped pitch your tent
so you could stay as long as you liked. And you did.

Horus and Anubis awaited us in Egypt,
but an Anatolian tide drifted us East across the Mediterranean,
where we got sidetracked while swimming with the Cypriots.

We sheepishly snuck through the Suez,
and the crocodiles of the Nile clapped their jaws together
in recognition of your beauty.

Up through the former Republics we pushed,
from Copts to gypsies and Cossacks to Jews,
then you donned a burkha (and I did too!)
and we were anonymous sisters
as we snuck through the cradle of civilization.

We bumped toward the Orient on elephant-back in India,
shedding clothing as the subcontinent became increasingly tropical.

Then Angkor Wat, where our eyes widened,
and our tongues forked,
and you said "we're Western no more"
in a language we'd never heard,
but that we both somehow understood.

Hong Kong was all catamarans and baccarat
with my brother's fiancée's family.
Also: the sun reflected off the waters of the Pearl River Delta
and onto your naked feet.

South America was a blur unequalled;
suffice to say that Bogota will never be the same.

We smuggled ourselves across the border
in the back of a snowbird's motor home;
we both had changed beyond the recognition
of our US Customs Dept.

Our ancestral homeland the Gulf Coast would not forget us,
from mom and dad to the snakes and possums and pelicans,
but no one was as happy and as proud to see us
as our own private Brooklyn apartments.
Let's meet again next Tuesday to hatch our plan
to do it all over once more.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Courtney & the Candy Corn Oblivion

When her neighbors left a bag
of candy corn on her doorknob
with a note that said "give thanks,"
she wondered if the sentence lacked
an object; it certainly could use a "please."

She made up her mind to give thanks
to her neighbors when she next saw them.
But through the afternoon, her mind's imagination
skipped ahead of her -- would her thanks
require more thanks? She didn't
really know her neighbors.

Soon her mind's home was bursting
with candy corn; when she opened
her door it spilled on to the lawn;
it filled her car trunk -- no room
left for her golf clubs.

Now she eyes her neighbors suspiciously;
she likes the idea of candy corn
way more than she likes candy corn
anyway; one bag will do, thank you.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


The Eastern Long Island
Pipes and Drums Corps
will tell you: Respect Cyril.

On Highway 27 in August,
we could almost hear Cyril
(or was it the wind?) saying
"respect the sarrronnng."

But while we disrespected ourselves
with some BBCs that afternoon
it occurred to me:

the flotsam of summer life
out from the City
could only disrespect Cyril
in the way that the tide
disrespects the shoreline
or the waves
disrespect the sea:

sooner or later summer's done
and Cyril says "see ya later"
to the respectful
and the disrespectful alike.

And, after four point
six five BBCs,
when we were sure
no one else could see,
the magic eight ball
atop his cane
winked knowingly.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Our friend Matt Longabucco is rocking his way through this awesome project where he writes poems about movies. Every movie showing at the Pavilion this year. It's fun to read about the movies I've seen. It's fun to read about the movies I haven't seen.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

for GP-F


When the piracy is done,
we find ourselves at rest,
and none of the low moral condition
of our profession applies to our play.

Oh my Sheik, your orders are my command,
and when our ransacking is done,
the end of this island is our deck,
and a longneck is my sword.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Unlike the Shafer Hall you know and love, the other Shafer Hall stays within himself. Where I so rarely can be found.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Poem #3 to Accompany Stills from the Film Semi-Tough


First it reminded us: with it we shall not reckon.

Then it made us think everything would be OK.

Then it made us feel impossibly awesome.

Then we were 100% sure that what turned out to be the floor of our
taxi was the roof.

Then the great hordes found a way to jive, if only for a few seconds.

We thought for a moment about a herd of moose in response to a cavalry.

Then it told us good night.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Poem #2 to Accompany Stills from the Film Semi-Tough


Just when we had nearly forgotten
what we were looking for of course
was when we found it; we found it
in the pits of our knees and elbows;
it was in the misshapen snarl of our noses
as we sniffed for it.

Now that we have it, we can begin
to wonder what we will do with it;
like youth we will probably waste it;
like instinct or passion or fear
we may feel we have not used it
but have been used by it.

In our high & low search for it
came the most tangible benefits of it:
the stretching of our bones;
the tug of gravity on our bellies.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Poem #1 to Accompany Stills from the Film Semi-Tough


What to do when
the marquis is full
of names you have forgotten
or never even remembered?

When the sunlight
of celebrity has you squinting,
thank your dentist --
he has taught you
so many things.

But is there a gift
or a retort finer
than a smile?

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Confident uncertainty
so slowly became confusion;
I don't think we noticed
even while we lengthily
and even eloquently mentioned
it in our poems and songs.

Now our pride is all we have
to keep us going, our finely-tuned
interests in ourselves and each other.

The starlight shines most brightly
inside the club; out underneath
the bridge, the night keeps getting darker.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

On 77 South, my brother-in-law
and I navigated from town to town
through the Rio Grande Valley.
The girls in the back with the baby
sang along from Willie Nelson song
to Willie Nelson song, and I wondered
why at night we never stay up
thinking about the things we do right.

But when the sun went down
the back seat went to sleep,
and the front seat did the singing.
By the time we hit Highway 100,
I was thinking about a redhead
from Hereford who I once knew
and wondering what we'd be today.

Tomorrow we'll go fishing;
I'll make invisible homes till sunrise.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Rachael exhaled into a big round symbol
of rebirth, and when our egg skips
across the green grass of the park,
and when evening falls like candy,
and when the blood veins
in our drunken faces start to pop
like cascarones, Spring begins
and our later-ons and remember-whens
become right now.

You were the luckiest
dirty green floor
on Easter Sunday
in the world
when she walked by
on Sunday. Sunday
checked in white
and green, wooden
heels clicking, and
(where is my head?)
at the top of the stairs:
one last party, and

Sunday, April 04, 2010

My Love Is Like The Springtime

My love is like a freight train baby.
Ride it so slow.

My love is like a brick wall baby.
Come bang yourself up against it.

My love is like the subway baby.
It don't always run the way it should.

My love is like the springtime baby.
Red flowers poppin' up all over the place.

My love is like the export soda crackers baby.
100% vegetable oil.

My love is like a three-hundred pound heavyweight boxer baby.

It's gettin' all up inside your face.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

She asked me if I'd been to war.
"Yes my little drink of water."
I lied -- or told a riddle. My name
is Robertson Robertson, Brigadier
General. She asked me would I
like a drink. "Yes my little drink
of water. I lied before. I've never
been to war." She asked me
if my name is Robertson. "Yes
my little drink of water." Do you
like whiskey. "Yes my little drink
of water." I'm tried and tired
she said, I'm trying to close.
Will you please order already?
"Yes my little drink of water."

Friday, March 05, 2010

Two Important Items of Poetry Administration

This cool new poetry press is kicking off their line with two of my favorite poets in the world. I just pre-ordered both titles at a reduced price. So should you!

Also, check out this profile of your favorite poet on Open Letters!

Friday, February 26, 2010


Some folks across the street decided
at 1:30 AM to scream bloody murder.

Since then I have contemplated
the nature (qualified)
and the extent (limited)
of my love for my fellow man.

It is fuck-all snowing outside.
Here are some pictures. But
I guess if you are reading this,
you have already seen it.

I happily look forward to tonight
when I will see you again.
If I should fall asleep, please
prop me up with a broom handle,
a glass of tequila in my hand.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


hour by hour
the cold dawn rises

the sky gray and white
as the inside of a wedding tent

the wind passes over the sill --
a face in the crowd mistaken for familiar

and we lack nothing
but good health and inspiration

myopic as well-fed pets
pale as a lady's arm outstretched in supplication

Friday, January 22, 2010


Mullet tweaked and frosted
in the whitewashed fluorescence
of a midnight parking lot:
what mysterious reptile skin
makes your boots
in your cowboy fantasy?

Count the clinks of your spurs.
Waiting for the bus, you absently
make your finger bleed.

On the way home, you sneer
at your reflection in the window.
You will sleep, but your restless
cowboy fantasy will not:
lassos made of sheets.

Friday, January 01, 2010


since Charlie left for Austin. Three buzzards sit on top of a billboard advertising social services for pregnant teens. Tires skid on the gravel of a highway crossover as a snowbird jacknifes his recreational rig. A state trooper pings his radar off the hood of my car, but nothing moves quickly in Agua Dulce. Sarita and Ricardo and Alice huddle around Agua Dulce, each comfort as small as the towns themselves. Mesquite and prickly pear abuse geometry from the ground up then spread maddeningly in every direction. A concrete cistern breaks the coastal plain. A green sign makes the salty grass look more brown. Next rest stop 60 miles. Away, Charlie doesn't bother telling people where he's from. He doesn't say Agua Dulce or even Alice or "the shallow valley called Rio Grande." He just says "down South."