Poems

Poems

October Song #3

October rises on the breath of summer’s ghosts,Pumpkin Doughnut
walks the midway of a county fair named purgatory,
drinks the last of my gin, making room
on the bar for cider and resignation.

Let’s make this holiday holy:
a baby pumpkin king, a messiah
with arms stretched into bat wings,
wise witches and skeleton saints.

Let’s talk about painted leaves and how
they crunch under our boots and tennis shoes.

Let’s talk about how we hate corporate coffeehouses,
then steal away to take pumpkin spice communion alone.

Let’s breathe the cinnamon breaths of October
until our lungs are full of ash and hope
for the ghosts of another season.

Gin-gle Bells under a Neon Star: My New Holiday Mini-Collection

IMG_5684As Christmas lights blossomed around the city and classic holiday songs conquered satellites and airwaves much too soon, it occurred to me that many of my poems include references to Christmas imagery and ideas. That revelation birthed an idea: a small holiday collection of my poems. At first, the plan was to just gather a few pieces on my blog. Then I thought, “Maybe audio versions.” That lead to experimenting with accompanying sound and music. After a few days of recording and editing on my phone and netbook, I had this:

Gin-gle Bells under a Neon Star

I had a lot of fun putting this together. I hope you enjoy.

Happy Holidays!

Chance

Minnie Riperton

pangaea

Autumn hits like a shower
of jagged stained glass
leaves on my yesterday
skin as I worship
in the temple of cocktails
that should all be named Sunday,
because that’s how they taste.

She tasted like Saturday
between midnight
and three, but that’s a summer
as gone as the droning
tube amp riffs of E-minor
drives between life
flight chopper kisses
and curbside indecision.

This season both kills
and lifts me with its betta
fish pageants, Rat Patrol
League of Hipster Justice,
and echoes of the eight minute
thirty-seven second version
of “Susie Q” escaping a tap
room as a harvest moon
reflects the sepia
luminescence
of all my bad
choices.

Save me, Minnie Riperton. I’ll kiss
your petals. I’ll pretend it’s 1970
when the horns raise the chorus
to a weary midtown night. Save
me as if I can be saved and baptize
me in a tall pour of Japanese whisky,
because that tastes like tomorrow.

Coco Teaches Me Korean and Chinese

 

two_boots

At midnight, we walk
the happy, drunken ether
where “don’t you want to go
down like some junkie cosmonaut”
is the most beautiful poetry
and the blue strobe lights
of a parking lot cabbie
arrest make a perverse
carnival.

Thank God for 3:30
AM pizza joints.

Thank Buddha
for friends who talk
over the alcohol din
of cowboy boots
and hot pants.

Thank Ganesh
for milkshakes
with rum
and Kahlua.

Thank Coco
for teaching me
Korean and Chinese
as she digs an oiled knee
into my back.

Mannaseo bangap
samnida. Xie xie.
Would you like
some water?

 

Katie, Who Finishes her Name with a Tumbled Heart

beer

One,
flat seven,
four,
one.

The progression always draws me in,
even if it’s a neo-country number
that’ll leave me empty with lyrics
I’ll forget as soon as Katie, who
finishes her name with a tumbled
heart, serves me my last beer
and orange slice.

Happy birthday; it’s Reunification Day,
it’s the eve of the anniversary of my father
getting one boot shined in a village
called Phu Hoa Dong, where 45 years
later I smelled rain between incense breaths.

So, yo, chai yo, kanpai and na zdravi
with my orange slice to the night behind
the wall of televisions over my head
on the way to the “Stand 2 Pee.”

“The wings are good.” That’s what
they always say about places with
midriff and hot pants wait staff.
Actually, the wings are good
and Katie with the sideways heart
is nice, even when I order
the girl-sized beer.

I wonder if she
notices the movements
of the songs she hears every shift.

One, five, four, one—that’s a change
that floats me over river scenes
and lands me in firefly fields.
“Come on Down to my Boat” was
one from Every Mother’s Son, the same
year I became a mother’s son.

Let’s make a movie with a soundtrack
of nothing but songs that move the same.
We’ll watch the faces of the leaving audience
after the last scene, a lingering shot of a sad,
drunken orange slice who always falls
for flat sevens and tumbled hearts.

Mark Sandman Collapses on Stage or the Transfiguration of the New Cupid

Valentine’s shots all around. Pair off; the drinks
are pink and pretty and so were you in the blue
glow of emergency phone boxes lined up
like a carnival midway waiting for me to lose
everything for one double-sax bass slide
moment next to you.

We could’ve danced
in that parking lot like we
should’ve danced at the Terrace
Theater back in ’94 as Sandman
leaned into his bullet mic, transmitting
electric whiskey sapphire truth into
the streets of Austin.

The room was hot for March,
but nothing like Palestrina in ’99.
We might have danced there, too,
until we heard the two-string Premiere hit the stage,
shaking loose our near kiss with a rumble
as we looked up to see his feedback departure.

But we would never dance in this room
where the piano chords have an urgency,
like crying. “Where are you going? Where
are you going?”

The bass walks
the backwards walk of running
toward someone leaving,
someone gone long enough
to be a sepia thought.

The Korean sushi chef smiles
as I give a thumbs up. The sashimi is good
but the bass could lose a string or two.

Kissing Long in the Cake House

Last night, I dreamed of sex with you
again, the same as I have for years; not
as often as the collapsed and tangled bridge
dreams, but enough that I remember.

We were at someone’s house, decorated
like a birthday cake; upstairs room on a fondant
bed, a mirror hanging over where I saw the us
we were, the us we’ve never been.

The most we’ve ever touched in waking,
sober moments was across dinner, your
fingers pressed into mine. “Feel how cold
my hands are,” you had said.

The only time your hair has fallen
over your eyes for me
was outside the Turkish restaurant; you
were the color in a gray scene,
leaning against your car as a prodigal
wind from a distant hurricane
nearly took you from me.

I can’t recall the chill of your palms;
I’ve lost the parking lot conversation.
But the way we kissed long in the cake
house leaves me as thirsty at waking
as the first hour of a day-long hangover.

And the lingering ache is there, always
in 6/8 and fading as slowly as a tattooed
reflection of tequila strangers at another
table, salty lips and eyes crossed from faces
as close as yours was to mine in a frosting
white room.

I’ll feel how beautiful
you were for days.

In every dream, there’s at least one tender
moment. I suppose that’s some kind
of Valentine; not as red and bright
as a drugstore aisle, but with a candle
lamp’s flicker of sugar, pain and commerce.