AND THE RIVER BENDS
there is no country

the dawn light sparks outside our window
sparkles over the tattooed fields
over the tattered, twisted bunting of last summer
sparkles in the frost
that glazes over everything in this icy country
everything
except the empty candleholders bolted to my walls and
the striped American flag hanging over the door
and I lay down waiting
watching the stars

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the sun on the sea

the hard glitter of the sun on the sea,
it flattens the frayed horizon
of the long, rolling coastline.
wherever you look,
this land is bathed
in the hot splash of the salty gulf,
bathed in the sweat of that ghostly, writhing body
all hammered sheet grey and shark-toned
in the gloaming.
that hard glitter,
the sun on the sea
it cuts, it melts, it bleeds,
and though it is cold
it sparkles 
like the knife
laid flat
on the edge of my table.

fire

there is fire in the best of it,
the thunder of clear expression
glowing in every word
thumping your chest till it hurts
like a wound that won’t heal
and for a moment you forget
your body is a bone-blood clock
born to die, set to rot
you feel her breathing for the first time
and you’ll remember it:
you’ll remember
the way you were.
it burns
through the morning mist,
it burns
through the clotted ruins of other people’s thinking
it burns
through the cobwebbed dust of other people’s words
and now you know there will be
no more wasted nights
spent dreaming of unsaved riches
no more jealous nights
wondering where she is,
because it burns through everything
there ever was inside you
and the fire sprinkles to ashes
all those surfaces that splatter
and break like ocean foam
when they hit coal-hot
shores of fire.
already the heat of the flame
draws sweat from my face
and i am wet and red in the bonfire
               and it is so early still

empty canvas

when I was figuring it all out,
how to live and where to go,
I used to think people knew what they were talking about,
I used to think what they said was true.
but I was wrong, and so are you.
 
for a long time I thought about
the epicenter of this wasted generation
about the twisted wreck of lives chained together
the deflated opportunities always foundering
above the shifting surface of the grease
but I don’t even care anymore
I just don’t care.

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your luck runs out

whether it was good or bad
your luck runs out
no matter how long the run
one day its gone
 
and some people stay till it comes back
others see its gone and
they go too
they hunger for the next thing
like a gambler seeking the next table
to warm their dice, to drink their drink
always they are going,
going, going
going to the next thing
like a tick traveling the world on the flanks
of horses
 
i’ve watched long enough to know
luck is not attached to a table
its something bigger
it’s a career
you carry it with you all the time
it follows you around the world
from book to book
from girl to girl
and everyone you meet
is not some new resource
to be drunk and dispensed with
no
the luck stays inside you
like a true verse
a great weight
iron cold
your signature on the world
 
 

poetry

I did everything right
I stayed up late I shut out the light
But still it would not come
Still, it would not come.
I did it all like I did before,
I read the books the poems I shut the door,
but still it would not come back to me
still, it would not come.
 
I left the ruins of our home
To go out walking all alone
I smelled the smell of roasting grain
of sizzling meat all lit by flame
but I stayed hungry just to see,
maybe it would come back to me,
maybe it would come.
But even on an empty stomach
still it would not come.

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careful

for a long time
I used to write down
every word that passed through me
 
but now I am older
I am careful
I put down less
every word counts
 
if it seems to you
I don’t say much
it isn’t because I don’t care
it’s because it counts
 
it took a long time to learn
but now I know:
words are like breaths
you only have so many to give or to take
until one day your heart just stops

London Fields

silent as a cathedral and
smooth-swept in the great yellowing fog
London fields is handsomely wardrobed 
in billowing mist tonight.
It yellows the air
and rings the fat oak trees
bulging beside the path
spaced cleanly
like a long colonnade rusted with life.
the road, the columns, the fog – the whole thing
is so goddamn holy
you can really taste the light
you can really taste it
and you know how good it could be for you
all that light
if you could just be good.

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the worst thing

the worst thing that ever happened to me
was five foot nine with dyed blond hair
and a nearly perfect figure
an accent
and rich relatives

but man
she was fucking crazy
she was like an earthquake
shoved tight into blue jeans
I mean
she ripped down everything
ruined every single thing I liked
made me doubt
myself and my ability
my humanity and my future

but just like an earthquake ruins the old town
and the old timers always talk about
how things were
the city usually gets rebuilt anyways
and its bigger and better
and people forget all about
the way things were
they just don’t give a fuck anymore
because now they got a whole new town
and that’s
the way it was
for me too

so now I’m free,
all re-made,
and I just wanted to say
thank you
thank you
thank you
for being
the worst thing

better than this

there are pieces of me
that are better than this
pieces i find
when sifting through my pulpy shadowed parts:
hard glittering morsels
in the mottled guts of this human cave.
there are pieces
shaped perfect as pomegranate seeds
suspended in gluey cavities -
truths, knifey, Bach-like,
stringed with bloody birth slime  -
i mean
pieces of real promise
just waiting to be scooped out,
and carved up
like meat
 
there are pieces of me
that are better,
better than this disfigured
brain
all cobwebbed and
gauzy again,
reeling
in the wobbly morning.
there are pieces of me that know
you glow better when you’re alone
and that it is a far better thing
to put more in
than you take.
 
there are pieces that always know
what is the right thing to do.
but those pieces are not the pieces
that bring me back to you