The Poet Dies (Day 30, 2016)

Today is the last day of National Poetry Writing Month.

The Poet Dies

At estate sales,
life is reduced to 
plain brown boxes and
black garbage bags,
years of impulse buys
and unasked-for gifts
you can piece together to 
find a fun-house version of the dead,
and I thank God that no historians
will ever care
to rummage through my past,
drawing misguided conclusions
that I cooked rice or
juiced my vegetables
and then wondering why I died 
of heart failure at 46 
just when my blogged poems
were really setting the world on fire.
No one will say What a tragedy!
The world needed his keen insights or
buy items I never used on eBay 
for thousands because they were found
in the same house with my corpse.
Instead, my things will
be packed and donated
to Goodwill 
or tossed into dumpsters
where indifferent rats
will shrug and wonder why
anyone bothers with poetry.

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for the kids (Day 29, 2016)

The 29th day of National Poetry Month.

for the kids

My poems are for the kids,
the ones who seem sweet but are really
rotten little motherfuckers
on the inside, the ones who
go to church and say please and
thank you and call every adult
Miss so-and-so or Mister whomever
but who swear like longshoremen
when the adults aren’t around,
the kids who know 37 different words
for breasts because they think
about titties as much as Eskimos 
think about snow.  Those kids
don’t like poetry
because to them poems are all 
blooming flowers and singing birds
or wrist-slashing emo bullshit.
No one has ever told them that 
poets get blunted on funny homegrown
and fuck doggystyle on dirty sheets
until they see the face of God and then
collapse back into reality, 
that they spill words on the page 
trying to recreate what it felt like
spilling their seed on that mattress
and that when it all goes well–
when the words string together
just the right fucking way
it feels almost as good as
that sweat-soaked trembling climax.
I want kids to read my poetry and say
Oh shit the way I did when I found
Charles Bukowski 
and I want them to 
write impure hymns,
desecrate the holy,
turn sacred cows into burger,
drag Emily Dickinsin out of her house
and take her to a strip club so
she can learn how to make it rain.
I want them to spray graffiti
on everything beautiful 
until art is as debased as life,
until our dreams and our fears mingle,
until no one would dare
call those kids innocent ever again.

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Tell a Story Backwards (Day 28, 2016)

Three days of National Poetry Writing Month left.

Tell a Story Backwards

Start with the happy ending–
where the hero kisses his love interest
in front of the burning building
from which he has rescued her,
after eliminating the villain
who had brought her there
bound, gagged, and bruised
in his nondescript white van
while the hero chased leads in the library 
cross-checking newspaper articles
on bombings and robberies
the villain has committed for years
going all the way back to the attack
on the cruise ship
that killed our hero’s wife and daughter
in the very first scene.

Start with triumph and
finish with despair
so the tale you tell
better mirrors Life
which begins as a miracle
and ends with complete annihilation,
a journey from smiles to tears
comprised of plodding exposition
(and not nearly enough nudity)
dragged on far past the point of tedium.

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Hysteria (Day 27, 2016)

Day 27 of National Poetry Writing Month.  Today I’m writing in response to Julie Ayers’ poem of the day, which is an allusion to The Yellow Wallpaper.


As much as I wish 
it were otherwise,
my wife is not at all well.
She spends her days in bed
spewing bile about the wallpaper,
bemoaning the yellow she chose
to hide walls she had painted
years before, when she dreamed
of children we never had,
covering white plaster with
lordly castles and dragon-slaying knights
beneath robin’s egg skies
garnished with rainbow,
back when she could see
worlds beyond her barren

Her brother and I
attend to her needs,
spooning warm soup
between her chapped lips
and bathing her with 
cool, damp cloths
as she shivers and sighs,
her skin the color of the wallpaper
she won’t stop cursing, 
skin she digs into with 
yellowed nails
as if she would peel it all away.

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I’m with Her (Day 26, 2016)

National Poetry Writing Month will be over soon.

I’m with Her

Not because our minds are one
or because she is overdue
and I don’t worry about electability
but because each big dream must
be built of a hundred million details
and most dreamers get bored of those–
and so do I, to be honest–
but the world requires people who pay attention
to the hum-drum specifics
and while one person can’t manage everything
a good executive understands what, exactly,
she’s asking her subordinates to do
and doesn’t demand the impossible
because that leads to resentments
that sabotage good intentions
so while I admire her opponent
and support his general worldview
I don’t trust him to carry it it out
and you can call me a Sellout
but I prefer to say Pragmatist
because the last eight years
proved to me that politics is a war
where you bleed for every inch 
of progress, and that change comes
so slowly you don’t realize until
much later the full gravity of
the transformation.  I want
the left to challenge her,
encourage her,
defend her,
fill her with boldness
so we can move forward
one confident step at a time.

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The Current State of Education (Day 25, 2016)

Day 25 of NaPoWriMo.

The Current State of Education

students test on computers
1200 kids logging on
to show the state
that learning has occurred
in a school built 60 years ago
and never properly converted
to the technological standards
of 2005
and nothing goes as planned
some machines don’t work
the procedure is unclear
even the administrators can’t explain
how things work 
and worse:
they’ll be taking these tests
every day 
for the rest 
of the 
so real learning
will occur only by
when good teachers
crawl out from under 
all of this bullshit
long enough to
actually do their
real jobs
so tell me again
about how it’s unions
destroying education

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Blister in the Sun (Day 24, 2016)

On this 24th day of National Poetry Writing Month, I’ve have been tasked by Julie Ayers with writing a poem with this specific title.

Blister in the Sun

He took her to dinner
at her favorite restaurant–
the hole-in-the-wall sushi joint–
and sat across from her,
weeping his confession,
explaining that he had never meant
to hurt her, especially
with her sister and
everyone felt terrible, 
he told her,
but in time he hoped she
would learn to love her new niece/
step-daughter because this was 
not the child’s fault and
at that point, she lost focus
and his words smeared into noise
which she tried to drown out 
by concentrating on
the restaurant’s mood music
which was difficult at first but
when the song changed
she locked onto the rhythm and
the guitar riff provoked
an involuntary response 
causing her to
clapclap clapclap
as she smiled without meaning to.

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