Posts Tagged ‘poem’

The problem with dreaming

August 13, 2011

Sitting next to my brandy snifter,
I wonder why I have no silk pajamas.
A cigar would be the exclamation
point in the quintessential image
of western decadence.
Where’s the fireplace?
Or my condo on the beach?
I’ll just have to wish
away my modern problems or
settle for the friends couch
in the Midwest. A cat
snuggles on my knee, drooped
over like a panther napping
on a tree limb after its
kill of dry kibble.

Portrait of a Bath

August 2, 2011

In a cool bathtub in

a cabin on Deer Lake,

I lay submerged, mostly,

with only my knees and face

above my lips over

the surface. Such a place

is unique in that it is

optimal for considering yourself

as you relate to the world.

Every breath buoyances my

body up, letting my lips taste

the air once more, before

the exhale, and I hear my body

working over the the muted

sounds of the stereo.

I reach down to scratch

a bug bite on my back

and my penis breaks

the surface. I realize then

that I had actually forgotten

about it for a time, so surprised

was I to see it.

The lake outside is the natural object

I seem to be trying to replicate,

the tub just a forged installation

piece designed so that

you too can enjoy the

perks of a quiet submersion

in the lake, but without

all the hassles and messy clean up.

The water is warmer than the lake.

There are no bugs. I have

my choice of music as loud

as I’d like. And the possibility

of a fish swimming by mistaking

my forgotten penis for a worm

are virtually nil.

I obviously feel bad for

neglecting my penis, if only

for a few moments.

It won’t be forgotten again.

A Paradox

July 31, 2011

The phrase “unique kink in

how I think” won’t leave my head.

Perhaps that means something

I haven’t yet thought of or

it is itself the end result.

While I consider how individual

my life truly is, whether or not

my space in existence has been

occupied before and whether or not

that’s a bad thing, a dog

is chasing flies near me.

I’m sure I don’t need to explain

what the dog is thinking. There’s

a paradox between us, despite

the fact that I too swat flies.

Last Night

March 13, 2011

Where are the friends I’ve seen, drunkenly fucking

to the place we commonly

refer to as regret?

Are they staying up past an inflicted curfew,

only to fall asleep on neighbor’s couches

before they’re able to become

one with themselves?

 

It happened to me, watching art films,

forgetting to masturbate.

The next mornings always come.

Coffee, a simple breakfast, trying

hard to not spill on yesterday’s clothes.

I read a biography of someone I admire

who has seen worse than I have.

 

These are things that happen to me

when left alone, where I attempt to

part my thoughts with a comb so

I look good for pseudo-hipsters

aiming for a pure democracy.

It’s apparent I’ve been influenced.

How about you?

How about your parents?

What is the driver of your machine?

When you figure it out, process your databanks

with this in mind and cry, yes cry,

 

at how little of yours is yours, and

you’ll soon forget that it was you

who invented forgetting to masturbate.

There is no obscene trash;

it’s all been recycled.

 

And maybe, by the time you finish your coffee

in your clothes that smell of sleep

& missed opportunities & sleep,

you’ll remember that the night before

was never just yours,

and you’ll take solace in this notion.

Then forget any of this ever happened so

you can ask yourself again the next day,

perpetual novelty for the mind to boost

an intellectual ego gifted to make

the same mistake gloriously, just

to feel a little life every now & again.

Gas Station Employment

March 13, 2011

At a Super America convenience store

in South Minneapolis, 2007, nighttime

thugs & hustlers with modest aliases during the day

shot junk in bathrooms and brawled

by the coffee and donuts that shift workers

bought prior to morning.

 

Call 911; a routine that blurs eyes

behind bullet-proof glass,

hiding money in case the brawlers need a fix.

“You got somethin’ ‘gainst niggas?”

cause I was some hick honky

glowing in the night.

This was the curriculum for my

urban education.

 

It wasn’t all trouble, though.

Subtle requests to join clandestine three-somes

& purchasing handmade crafts

from Mexican immigrants who speak

enough English to find bathrooms

and peddle their goods.

 

It was a corporate oasis in the midst

of those making it anyway they know how.

Criminals on both sides, we would

lean against the cigarette racks, sitting

on milk crates & drinking coffee

hoping for the sun to peek out

from St. Paul.

 

Am I better acquainted with the man

who threatens me after I caught him

stealing energy drinks, or

with the faceless name who signs my pitiful paycheck?

The name, which I forgot,

fired my ass for drinking the coffee without paying.

I’m a thief in the night.

Fear me, as Super America does.

Who Wears the Jacket

March 1, 2011

I’m the only one in my head right now so

I’m comfortable enough to go to sleep.

The jacket is draped along the bed

unworn by me or another. The lights

are off. Save one. It’s keeping me comfortable.

The books on the shelf are unread as

in they’re not being read. Does it speak back?

Do they possess the tell-tail signs of

having given their knowledge away?

Am I alone in my head? The voices

of a thousand poets tinker at synapses

making me question my reasonableness

in myself.

I saw a painting by Jasper Johns

and I questioned my patriotism.

I am not my only voice

so I will not sleep well. I suppose

the jacket had a previous owner.

Short comings

February 7, 2011

I usually prefer when people

stop crying for me when

they’ve witnessed my shortcomings.

Really, it just makes me feel worse. That pity.

Makes me worry about myself. We

don’t want this. I function

much better when I take myself

out of my own equation.

Myself + 1 = 1, lest we muddle math

with personality.

Though I wonder if perhaps, just this

once, I’m wrong.

Can humanity be quantified?

Can humans be qualified?

Are these even questions

we’re allowed to ask?

That time I was caught

kicking my dog while

chocking my kitten

by the neighbor, I

cursed the neighbor out.

“Why don’t you mind your

own damn business?”

I yelled as a knowingly

convicted man would.

I have to ask… I have to…

but what is the measure of

my humanity at that point?

I might have an answer

to that question, but I’ll

take it to the grave.

This truth will go with

the dead flowers, whether

it belongs there or not.

Thoughts of a Sentimental Man

January 31, 2011

There’s a cat in the other room

scratching furiously at the door,

obviously looking for someone to

converse with.

If I were a sentimental man,

I’d use this locked-up cat

as an analogy for my heart,

trapped & desperate  to get out.

This melodramatic scene

at best would get me laid

if I told it to the right girl

in just the right situation,

waxing sentimental poetic

under a full moon.

This poor girl. Falling for

such cheap tricks from

a sexual predator.

The analogy could then

be used to describe her,

trapped in guilt

for allowing herself to

be so easily taken advantage of.

The cat in the other room

is quiet now. Obviously

at peace with the loneliness and guilt.

My Political Life

September 12, 2010

I called upon the Democrats.

I called upon the Republicans.

I called upon the Greens and the Independents.

I called upon the fuckin’ Tea Party.

I called upon Americans who wave a flag out of habit.

I called upon men and women so I would seem more inclusive.

I called upon the corrupt, who ate their own souls.

I called upon the corrupt, who tried to buy my neighbors soul for dessert, and got a good deal.

I called upon blacks and Hispanics whose culture I co-opted without credit, but ignored this fact and wondered why they didn’t respect me.

I didn’t call upon the Native Americans.

I called upon Democrats and their followers who couldn’t recognize righteousness.

I called upon Republicans and their followers who manufactured and sold righteousness in easy to store containers.

I called upon those whose righteousness judged me.

I called upon the hypocrite who actually lives in all of us (so don’t pretend).

I called upon liberals, conservatives, and whatever you call people in the center, and I forgot what the definitions of each were.

I called upon the gay and straight, and waited.

I called upon the Christian and Muslim who secretly wanted to kill each other who then just came right out and said it because it was never actually a secret.

I called upon those who complain about life’s inequities with a passion.

I called upon life’s inequities.

I called upon those who wish for change.

I called upon the ones who pretend to see change in the same box they’ve always lived in.

I called upon the Asians whom we deny are a superpower, then denied their influence.

I called upon the socialists and communists, who are evil, but I called them anyway.

I called upon the fascists who no longer use that name.

I called upon the system that perpetuates itself.

I called upon the system that we hope to change but don’t understand.

I called upon the system that won’t change.

I called upon myself, but ignored the call.

I called upon myself and hung up, thinking it was a prank.

I called upon the Independents again and laughed at the strange name.

I called upon the angry, then got exhausted.

I called upon the exhausted, then got angry.

I called upon those who call to battle and left a message.

I called upon the rest of the religious, who called back the next day wondering if I had accepted Jesus Christ, Mohammad, Buddha, Shiva, Lord Xenu, or whoever as my personal savior and completely ignored what I had asked.

I called upon deaf ears and finally got an appropriate response.

Where Have All the Artists Gone?

May 14, 2010

I read an essay the other day that posed the question “Why aren’t more poets politically involved?” So I said, “Yeah, why aren’t they?”

This reminded me of a time back in 2004 when I was still a student at the University of Minnesota and I went to a reading by Robert Bly, who shortly thereafter was named Poet Laureate of Minnesota. Bly has a long history of political engagement, most notably as a conscientious objector to the war in Vietnam (to note it lightly). Between poems, he was quick to wonder out loud to the audience the same question as the essay I mentioned.

Where are the poets writing grand verse in opposition to the war? During the 1960s, you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting at least one! (Paraphrased, not actually what he said.)

And you know, he was right. First of all, he was there during the ‘60s, so he certainly knew well enough what was going on. But today, there’s an awful lot of silence. There has been for most of the years the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been going on.

And of course, it’s not just poets. It’s artists of all mediums and genres. And whereas there has certainly been dissent against the war, not nearly to the scale that was seen against Vietnam.

I see this as a problem, and not just because I’m not for the wars. Have we become so complacent with the world we’ve developed around ourselves that we can’t see beyond our noses to what’s happening in our name both at home and abroad? I see this as more than just dissent. I see it as conscious involvement in something greater than one’s self. And that goes for whether you’re for or against the wars; whether or not you feel they’re just.

So my point is basically this: There seems to be fewer people nowadays who stand up and make their case for a cause they feel is worthy by using art.

I see two reasons for this.

One: Poetry and other forms of art have slowly taken a back seat to other forms of media that are far more accessible in the modern age of telecommunications.

And two: It only ‘seems’ that there’s silence.

I know for a fact there is no shortage of artists in this country who take notice of various political action by our government and compose pieces appropriate to their outrage. But unless you’re part of one of these inner art circles, you’re not very likely to hear about it (see reason ‘one’ above). But that doesn’t mean that Bly or the author of the essay I read yesterday are completely wrong with their assertions that there’s a lack of political involvement amongst artists today. For better or for worse, the art culture evolves to represent the modern culture. As it turns out, the ‘60s were a time of heavy popular political involvement, therefore it was represented in the art scene. Today, it’s less so.

But there has been a resurgence.

Over the last few national elections, there have been record numbers of people, especially youth, who are making it to the polls to cast their vote. The same modern means of telecommunication that has been squashing art forms in the national popularity contest has created a new informed population, and many don’t like what they’ve seen. If the numbers at the voting booths are any indication of political involvement, then there are plenty of people who want to stand up and make a case for their cause.

So what’s the problem? Did I just refute the original argument?

Not really. The point still stands that there’s not much political poetry out there that gets any attention out of specific circles. As a poet and writer, I’m a bit saddened by this. I have read a number of fantastic contemporary poems having to do with modern political issues (the wars, etc…), but people don’t take them as accessible, so they get drowned out in the flood of information we all get daily.

Maybe it’s for the best. Maybe not. Either way, it’s the evolution of things. Maybe I’ll just go watch a movie instead.