for May, 2009

May 22, 2009


Wish for a surprise
Wish that California will not fall into the sea
Wish for roller skates
Wish that you were president, or queen
Wish for a dream in which Cary Grant calls you beautiful
Wish for the extinction of mosquitos and roaches
Wish for perfect pitch
Wish your teapot’s whistle was sweeter
Wish for a job as a magician’s assistant
Wish for something that is not yet possible
Wish you were an umbrella, to shelter your lover from rain

May 19, 2009

i already forgot your name

i already forgot your name

May 14, 2009

I found you an abandoned house

I found you an abandoned house

May 12, 2009


I’m waiting for a letter that never comes. I think about how in my mother’s childhood, the mail came twice a day. A doubling of both possibility and longing. I’m waiting for something that might be, or something will never come to pass. I’m on the porch of a graceful house. There is a sofa, it is my waiting seat. I sit here in the waning hours of an afternoon, feet up on the railing, shoulders sunk deep into the pillowy back of the couch. Watching the hours and the people pass, waiting, waiting for what comes next, waiting for the mailman, who always comes. He wears government-issue Bermuda shorts and pink plastic mirrored sunglasses. He is cheerful and repentant for a hard-lived life, the effects of which are etched into the pockmarks on his cheeks.

He had a name but it has been forgotten, along with the sender of the letter that never arrived.

May 12, 2009


Dear ______, Lisbon is strange and small and full of ruins. I can see now why Saramago’s blank cities come out the way they do, such a city would have to replicate itself and double back to become a place you could get lost in, a place of anonymity. Instead there are rococco elevators to take you to the hilltops, where the spines of a gothic cathedral, ruined in the 1755 earthquake, have been left arching into the empty sky.

May 10, 2009


I read in your journal about all the men who weren’t me.

I knew something was wrong when you pretended not to remember her.

When I showed you the hotel receipt, you told me it always says two people.

I watched you through the window while I told him I wanted his cock.

I said I never fucked her in our bed, but I did.

I thought about him when I was fucking you.

I fucked her an hour before I met you for lunch.

I told him your secrets.

I talked to her at night after you were asleep.

I fell in love with him right under your nose.

Everybody but you knew about it.

I only figured it out after you were dead.

May 8, 2009

scars + marks

Unpublished list-poem gathered from Bertillon cards for Least Wanted: A Century of American Mugshots.

Rt. Lit fing. off at tip. Scar upper left cheek. Fingers blistered. Bullet cic 14 below elbow jnt frt. Scar from horse bite at end of nose. Left arm tattoo name Jean. Birthmark right stomach. No. 10 shoes. Tattoo of an anchor right arm. Pimples on face. Tattooed all over both arms and body, large mans head on brest with reath of thorns across forehead. Right ring finger amputated at 3rd joint. Wears glasses. Limps on lt leg. Lower incs very irreg. “LOVE” on scroll across heart with arrow behind the heart. Bulbous nose. Bites fingernails.

May 4, 2009

fragment from an unfinished, as-yet untitled short story

What happened to him happened at the bus station, of all places. It was a clear bright Saturday and he was going to bet on some horses at the track upstate. He was late getting started and arrived at the station with just a few minutes to spare before the bus was due to leave. The line for tickets was long and slow, and he could see the girl at the counter was inefficient, smiling slowly at people as she counted their change twice to make sure. He shifted his weight and snorted loudly a few times. The man ahead of him turned and gave him a skeptical look. He stepped out of line toward the ticket window and shouted, “Look, I’ve got a bus to catch, can’t you speed it up, or get some help or something?”

The girl was quite pretty, he saw now that he was closer. Blond hair fell in curls around her bright eyes. He was undeterred. “You could do all this faster, people are in a hurry. I’m going to miss my bus on account of how slow you are.”

“Just a moment,” she said to the old woman whose hands quivered over her changepurse. The girl’s smile faded as she turned to look Heck in the eye. “What’s the matter with you?”

“I’ve got a schedule and nobody else is in a hurry, or they’d be angry too, and you’re just moseying along there, making small talk and you ought to be more professional about the whole thing.” His voice grew a little louder with every word he spoke. People began to stare. A driver smoking outside the station door leaned in to see what the commotion was.

The girl shook her head, her brows tilted in disbelief. She leaned over the counter, putting her face as close to him as her body could reach. “Come here,” she said and waited for him to step toward her. He plucked a ten-dollar bill from his pocket to pay for the ticket he expected her to shove at him. But when he stopped a foot shy of the counter, she only shook her head again and asked, “Doesn’t anybody love you?”

May 3, 2009

names + crimes

Unpublished list-poem gathered from Bertillon cards for Least Wanted: A Century of American Mugshots.

Wm Flood, dead. Earnest Scurlock, wanted for robbery and will run. Chas. Sattler, gangster, slain. Michael F. Gorman, has numerous women friends. Edward Tippins, user of tobacco. Archie Ross Jones, arrested for snatching watch in Savoy Bar, claimed it was given to him by owner—both drunk. Perry Lee, a close mouthed Negro who is probably committing burglaries. Ellery Augustus Stroup, found one Morris Westman in bed with his wife, went to sons bedroom took a knife and cut both parties. Earl Ulysses Wookey, voluntarily gave himself up after an argument with his wife. Nieves Medina, a floating Mexican. Herbert Jerry Fulbright, he has caused St. Paul lots of “trouble.” Sterling Stiles, is confirmed dope fiend, hangs around fast women. Lazaro Randa, always carries a knife and threatens people. Wisdom McGill, shot Julius Jones Langley. Mabel Johnson, usually wears slacks. Harry Salzman, likes to live big. Ken Burroughs Beown, when in trouble contacts Grandmother.