We All Know The Drill By Now

Your misery and my misery
buy each other drinks in a dark bar

your misery has big caterpillar eyebrows
that probably weren’t so caterpillar
before they were drunkenly shaved off in college

my misery has long skinny legs
and a face that looks like a fruit bat
and a jaguar leaned in for a kiss and got
caught up in some splicing machine

your misery seems not to notice though

Your misery drinks dark and thick
and eats chunks of rare steak with just his hands –
just his hands that look like George Clooney’s hands,
if he’d been a mechanic and not charismatic at all

he thinks about what he wouldn’t do for some good
old-fashioned A1 sauce

My misery is three drinks in – gin and elderflower
clogging up her veins – and she fiddles with
the cheap diamond necklace that she bought herself
when her last ex got married

it catches the little light in the place
and throws rainbows into the bartender’s eyes
but he just keeps shaking drinks
and she just shakes her head

A brown tear rolls down your misery’s face
and plops into his drink, blends right in

he reaches for the kerchief in his tattered coat pocket
but my misery catches his hand
her bat tongue swipes the next whiskey tear
and she hates whiskey but she swallows it

they’re both shocked by the touch –
misery to misery

they pay cash, one at a time, for each other’s drinks
and stumble out the door together
without touching, without pulling the oceans of their eyes
up off the sidewalk to say goodbye

Down the street I tell you I’ll call you
and thanks for the good time and I pull the wild mop
of sex curls off the nape of my neck

and your misery slinks up and grabs your ankles
and my misery slinks up and grabs my ankles
and all four of us pretend it isn’t happening
but we all know the drill by now

Advertisements

Graveyard of Champions

There are curvy women with big hats
and fake tits
and scarves that keep falling off
and they keep bending over
to pick them up, rubbing their asses
in the faces
of the young local boys monkeying around on park benches

these women are wrapped over the arms of
pussy-hungry men
in featherweight shirts and fedoras
The buldge of their fat wallets and high cholesterol
almost hides how turned on they are
by everyone else’s prettier wife

the thoroughbreds keep collapsing on the third bend
and the boys rope their ankles and spit into the dirt
and drag the corpses from the track

maybe they are turned into the glue
on the women’s Berkeley hats
or their husbands’ spectator shoes

maybe their ghosts nose up against their owners’ shoulders
and lip at their flower lapel pins; prance and snort
while watching their surviving competitors heave
and crumple in the waves of heat and human cheering

maybe they wish to chomp the fat asses of the men
who parade into the stables
to ooh and ahh and talk numbers –
all the numbers that they’ll bet and lose and win
all the numbers that they’ll pass between rotund bank accounts

I’d like to get my hands on one of those bank accounts
and vomit into it, like a circular trash can,
and then hand it back
I’d stare them in the face while their plastic wives wave their gloved
hands in the air and faint
like bloated, cud-chewing goats

I wish the horses would transform, go pegasus and simply
take flight as they ran
I’d love to see the faces as they
hurled their jockeys into the grandstand

count the heart attacks and screams
as so many thousands of dollars took flight
and became their own creatures

They’d probably be shot down
dragged by their dusty hooves into a pile
by the third bend
and burned

there are no tombstones in this graveyard
and the only prayers are for the living

C & C Landscaping

A cowboy and a construction worker
are crouched over some desert landscaping plant
in the rocks between the parking lot and the sidewalk

The cowboy hands the construction worker
a measuring device,
long and metal, and the worker nods

He sets to measuring, turning the tan
of the back of his neck sunward

The cowboy touches his hat, as
cowboys do, and they grimace at one another

They quit crouching and sit right down
on the round fist-sized rocks
and shake their heads at the plant

Cars go by and by

A cyclist with a
dog in a pull-along carriage goes past

A retired hooker who still wears
stilettos and booty shorts to the bank
staggers by

Cars go by and by

No one else is concerned
about the plant

The construction worker wipes
sweat from his upper lip and the cowboy
gets to his feet in one smooth motion

disappears, reappears
with a shovel

they take turns –
tan arms rising and falling,
flannel arms rising and falling

When they are done, they toss bits of
hacked-apart plant
at each other’s chests
and blow steam from their nostrils

They look down
at the bare ground of their finished work
and lock eyes when they firmly shake hands

The cowboy has cold beer on his mind
and the construction worker has cold beer on his mind
but they don’t say anything

and walk off in opposite directions

Nature Doesn’t Want Me Up This Early

Somebody’s chihuahua and somebody’s
bloody-mary-morning pterodactyl-sounding girlfriend
are screaming at each other down the street.
It barks, she screeches
I scratch just above the crease of my armpit
where a mosquito bit me
after I vacuumed it off the bathroom wall and accidentally
let it free when emptying the dirt into the trash

It’s that kind of 6:15-in-the-slow-summer-morning
where the sun paints everything golden
almost to mock us here on the east side

the peeling paint on the garage glows gold
the last petal on the neighbor’s 2ft
dried-to-death sunflower stuntling glows gold and falls

the goddamn chihuahua
and that hungover dinosaur-throated lady – their cursed
soundwaves are even coated in gold

I’d rather be sleeping

But I’m draped against the porch railing, filing my nails
and blinking like an unprepared mole rat in the growing sunlight
because this lady – too many fences down to know who,
too many cheap drinks last night to care who hears her now –
is having it out with some barking rat
and I’m too damn curious to dream through it

Maybe it shit on the floor right where her feet fall
when she stumbles still-drunk out of bed
and she found out the hard way

Maybe it smoked all of her Pall Malls with its poker buddies
after she passed out on the couch

Maybe they were both italian lovers in a past life and now
they find it comforting to scream
and hurl pots and pans at one another
but don’t understand why

Some squirrel shakes a tree branch and a bunch of chatter
at me and a mosquito –
probably the armpit biter’s cousin or hired heavy –
flies up my robe and chomps me on the ass

Nature doesn’t want me up this early

Maybe I have it backwards
Maybe the dog is the one who was mad first

Maybe she told the dog that she’d stuff it into the blender
and make a proper dog smoothie out of it
if he peed in her work shoes again
but he has bladder issues and if she would quit
fucking his owner at where’s-the-cocaine-gone o’clock
maybe one of them would notice and get him
the proper medical attention

Maybe he’s in love with her because she has the first pair
of ankles that he hasn’t wanted to gnaw on
and it makes him feel refined
and he just wants her attention through the fence

Maybe he wants to make his own breakfast for once,
Tony never used to put peas in his kibble and now she’s around
and it’s all “vegetables” this and “heathy shit” that

I file my pinkie nails into points
and jab them through a golden sunbeam at the squirrel
“go referee,” I tell it
and slink inside to make tea.

Praying Mantis Ladies

You make me understand why praying mantis ladies
eat their sexual partners
when they’re done. It’s a lot less
dramatic this way.

Praying mantis ladies don’t get
relentless bitchy text messages
from their partner’s crazed ex
while they’re sipping chai tea at their desk at work.

Praying mantis ladies don’t
daydream about punching each other
in their cock-sucking mouths.

Praying mantis ladies don’t wonder
if he smells so good because he just got done
fucking someone else and is trying to cover it up – he’d have
no head, he wouldn’t smell good
or move much or be useful at all, really.

I was never jealous before I met you.

I keep buying myself flowers every time I start
thinking about wrapping my fist into your ex’s hair
and spitting into her angry eyes. The house
is filling up. The flowers are spilling out
onto the porch.

When the blonde girl at the coat check
compliments your tattoos, I think
about how praying mantis ladies
never have to bite their tongues and look
at their chipped nails and fake
crimson-lipped smiles at some poor girl
shivering in the draft and taking strangers’
coats.

I resist the urge to
push up your shirt sleeves and take
a big lick of your inked skin – stick
my tongue out at the coat girl
so that she can see the colors there, so that
she can see that I taste you
and she’s not allowed to.

Instead, I look at you.

I want to squeeze your face and curl
into your hot, strong arms – have you break through
the waves of wicked words on the tip of my
tongue, calm the jealous animal
rolling its shoulders just under my skin.

All it takes is a smile.
All it takes is your fingers wrapped into mine while we
laugh our way down the cold midnight sidewalks
and I am suddenly tamed, suddenly
put back together somehow.

But when we’re done fucking and I press
my palms into yours against the pillows like some
kind of post-coital prayer, I think about
the taste of your neck – consider for a moment
devouring you the way this jealousy is devouring me.

And I think about how smart the
praying mantis ladies are…how much easier
it would be.

Charred Onions

This is the scent
of charred onions.
This is the reason
you hate me.
I cannot cook.
I cannot speak “properly” in front of strangers—
I go off on tangents about
feeling the universe in other people’s knees
and watching sky reflections in the eyes of laughing children.
This is the scent
of your humiliation
wrapped around my finger in a gold band.
You
do not
love me
anymore.

This is the reason
you loved me:

You caught me picking pinecones from gas station gutters
asked me what my middle name was
because you only went by your middle name
I told you that the universe sounded a lot like your voice
when it spoke to me.
You bought me cigarettes and I emptied my pockets of glitter and confusion
while crouched on your couch in that new apartment.
I brushed my teeth with my pinkie and the toothpaste you left
uncapped beside the sink…
I wanted to be good for you; you liked that.

I wore scarves and silk underwear, danced while
doing the dishes piled high in your sink.
You tried to get me to sit with you, to snuggle in
but I had too much energy.
The candles in your eyes began to light.

We ate chocolates and sent postcards like we were both
on vacation three blocks from each other’s hot bed.
You danced me into fountains and drank whiskey while I sipped wine.
We thought the stars had aligned our souls, somehow,
because we both looked so good burning naked in the bathtub.
I babbled about palms shapes and life lines, you
let me trace your fingers and laughed.
As long as you had laughter, you could keep the crazy girl
judging calluses on your knuckles.

But then
the laughter
stopped.

I burned onions because I forgot they were cooking
when the scent of the sky was too much to stand still under.
I mismatched your socks when I folded your laundry
because it reminded me of being carefree, because it brought me joy.
You told me to knock it off—I was ruining your reputation.
I wanted to wear ballgowns to your company parties
but I had to grow up and slip into sexy black cocktail dresses
and trip around in high-heeled shoes.
You got sick of holding my elbow and told your co-workers that I
was a drunk—alcoholism is more adult than a little clumsiness.

This is the scent
of charred onions.
This is what I do now when I cook dinner—
I burn your onions.

I never promised to be good at cooking.
I never promised to be perfect at walking in stilettos.
I never promised to be your maid, your mother, your missing link to total control.
I never promised to be
sane
And I’m not
And I won’t
apologize
for it.
I never promised to
try so hard
but I did and I do every day.

This is the scent of charred onions
because I dropped my mind in the gutter that day and never got it back
because the ring on your finger keeps burning your onions

This
is the reason
you hate me.

Dear Johnny Depp

Your mother is gone. You cannot
bring her back. You cannot
press your lips to her cheek, inhale
the heady and overwhelming smell
of ultimate comfort that clings
to her neck; you cannot

ask her if she still has that bin
of plastic dinosaurs you loved as a kid –
you need them to help with a character, you
would tell her – “A gentle, sane character,
I promise,” you would tell her –
“Mama just…” “Please –“ you would tell her.
But you cannot.

You have been so many people
for so many screens and stories –
none of them can bring her back
but you try them on just to see, just
to be sure you’ve tried everything.

The lines help you think faster, try harder,
cling tighter. Your sister touches your knee
at the funeral and a tsunami
launches itself against the inside of your ribs
but it won’t come out – “How do I
just make it disappear,” you ask you red eyes
in the mirror, you ask the bottom
of the bottle, you ask the photograph
of your pretty wife – taken when she still smiled
at you.

You hurl it at the wall, rip
the photo from glass shards, lay out
all of the white you have left – cover
her smile and her big lace dress and
her lip where they meet yours
and you snort it all up
as if you could pull her out of the picture,
out of your life, as if you
could go back in time and erase her and keep your
mother closer, alive

and your sister calls you and you ignore it
and sink back into the cow-hide couch
and wonder how human hide reacts
with time and dirt and embalming fluid and
how long until even her teeth are gone –

“Can I keep them, the way she kept mine until they
all fell out and she had to let go
of the boy and welcome the man
I was becoming? Maybe
if I can keep one tooth per year, after I’ve collected
them all I will be able to let go of her, finally.”

You wake up in the night and find
your wife sleeping on the couch, you take
a fistful of her hair
because she is not your mother, because
the hot sting of cocaine
in the back of your throat screams failure, because
there are no more empty bottles of
whiskey to smash against the walls
and she finally tells the press.

Dear Jonny Depp,
the characters you’ve worn are wearing
you down; your once brilliant
star is falling, shooting, snorting, boozing
to burnout.
“This is not the way,” she would tell you if she could.
But she can’t
so you carry on and we’re left to wonder –
for how long?