Wednesday, September 29, 2021






—after Rosebud Ben-Oni



grace is a vigilante 

  on the lam 

a cooked goose

  left unplucked

if I say how high will you 

  twist your garrote 

fall’s fangs are spry 

  but antiseptic like

a serial killer 

  with a conscience

a dutiful dexter 

  going about the business 

of eradication 

  last week on the phone

a friend was sharing 

  conspiracy theories

when the moon 

  dropped into the lake 

its splash sank 

  the whole town

though I’m still here 

  choking on dead fish

Monday, September 27, 2021






I should 

know better 

since one of 

us is lying 

or vying

and the other’s 

chasing goats 

in a world

coated with 

prickly remorse 

that feels like 

random shrapnel 

I’ve never 

watched myself 

get slaughtered

so decadently 

or decisively 

credits rolling 

without a proper 

blooper reel 

that sad soul 

in the last row

of the theater 

eating popcorn 

that’s been 

pissed on

he has no idea

how profoundly 

he’s been played

but these are 

foul times you say

you seem to 

say a lot of things 

that sound 


to you your voice 

must sound so 


if only to yourself 

while you sit

there on your

smug throne 

watching the blood 

and venom drip 

through your toes

in a pollack splatter

as if you’ve 

accomplished something

so much grander

than the murder

of a thing that 

could have been

Friday, September 24, 2021



A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing 



She looked inside the well of me, way down into the gray, gulley of my throat, and said, You know, a girl is a half-formed thing.


She said, Even from way up here, I can smell the sins of your uncles and cousins.  They’re still hideous, but they taste like stale cinnamon, once spiced and threatening, neutered now by age, but not forgotten.


She said, I could read your palm, it would be easier, right, but this is more interesting, don’t you think?  I mean, look at how your tonsil bell wobbles, so nervous to have me this close.


Chuckling, she ran a jagged fingernail down the length of my jugular and tapped out some kind of code, piercing tufts of skin.


She said, You used to dream big.  You used to notice cloud shapes and the way a sprig of lavender can cleanse any pallet, if its freshly picked.  She said, You used to laugh a whole lot more.


She shifted a bit, owning my eyes now--instead of the endless cavern that is my mouth--clamping them inside a crescent wrench.


She said, A girl is a half-formed thing because she’s just learning whom to trust, which isn’t at all easy, since many of the monsters scream gibberish while their claws are busy shredding skin and snapping bones.


When I tried to reply, she slammed my jaw shut like a well-oiled dresser drawer.


She said, Listen to me.  She said, A girl is a half-formed thing, but I’m counting on you to find the other half, deliver it to me whole, and explain how one piece fits into the other, and why they even should.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021







R.I.P James “Fred” Mayhew, 9/19/21



Yo, Fred!


I miss you. I miss your smile and those boyish, Nick Nolte (circa “North Dallas Forty”) good looks. 


I’ve thought of you quite a few times in the last couple of months and meant to write, but then, stupid time came and went, and well, as so often is the case, it ended up that I was the stupid one, not time. 


So, I tried, but I can't recall a single day I’ve ever seen you angry, not even when Doc Sot stiffed us out of 200 bones in VIVA at The Golden Steer. Not when those “hags” walked in on you “doing your business.” Not when said “hags” evidentially stole your watch. In my mind, you're tied with Lersey as “The Happiest Guy I Know.” (But then, this is coming from the person your wife deemed as "The Most Wasted Guy I've Ever Seen." So, yeah, take it for what it's worth.)


It's been a thrill and honor to know you. Heck, it was even nice having your kid (and friends) stay at my place in Blahview that time, and have all the sirens (EMT’s and cops aplenty) twirling in the driveway at 2am. (Got to keep those "Track Mansion Yuppies” on their toes, right?)


I've also really appreciated your random, intermittent missives via email over the years. They always came out of the blue, and they always made me chuckle and smile, sometimes to the point I’d spit out my beverage all over the keyboard.


What I’m trying to say is you are One of the good ones—One of the What-you-see-is-What-you-get ones: authentic, unique and absolutely golden, carrying so much straight-up, jacked-up joy that you’re impossible not to love.


I love you, Fred. I do.


You used to end your notes to me with, "Brothers for Life." To me, it always felt as if you really meant it, like meant it all the way from the bottom of your toes. So, that's what you and I will always be. (Me, and hundreds of others.) “Brothers for Life.” I hope you know that.


I also hope Tommy gets to read this to you. I’m sending you all the love I have, and, either way, I know you’ll be able to feel it, this exclusive, one-of-a-kind place you hold in my heart.


Yours Truly,


“Lenny the K”


“2 Bone Lenny” 

Monday, September 20, 2021



The Doomed Romantic, or An Evening with Dennis Cooper



       Looking out the window, hoping to see a pink moon among the shelves of roaming cloud cover, the doomed romantic sits listening to Nick Drake. 

       There are millions of thought fragments, like bits of beach sand, running through the doomed romantic’s bony skull, but none are sticky enough.

       His dog yawns nervously, like a misplaced secret. Even the books, stacked up like dead soldiers, wear leery and skeptical expressions, a brazen betrayal of the inanimate. 

       Nick’s fragile vocal delivery warbles as it meets the largest window, shimmying against the pane, not willing to abandon its desperate sojourn. The sound waves, ingenious as they are, make themselves into their own meek battering rams, but it’s no use, and eventually the music drops dead of exhaustion.

       The doomed romantic thinks there’s enough juice left in him to light a small lamp, so he plugs his fingers into a socket, feeling them sizzle in a kind of charred ecstasy. When the entire block goes black, the doomed romantic feels a nudge because he knows this is the last outage he’ll ever witness. 

       The lamp’s weak scrim of light is all that remains, and so the doomed romantic decodes a love poem written on the underside of his forearm. It takes him the rest of the night, the rest of his life, but once he has the solved mystery committed to memory, he unplugs himself and closes his eyes to sleep.

Friday, September 17, 2021




…Much of the time, I feel like I’m about as dumb as I look. 

And trust me, I know all about the importance of self-talk.


…For me, allergies are like a Slip-N-Slide that starts and never ends.

Asthma, on the other hand, is simply the end. 


…It’s just one of those nights, or mornings, where everything bumps up against everything else, like all those marooned shopping carts, strung around the lot, that no one needs anymore.


…If time really is elastic, toss me a box cutter, please.


…It’s been a long time since I’ve been here, yet it feels both familiar and disquieting.


…I can pretty much make every toddler I see smile back at me. Like yesterday, at lunch, this nearly one-year-old couldn’t stop grinning my way.

Toddlers and babies are on my side. 

So at least there’s that.


…When I was young, there was a period where I was sort of obsessed with vampires. “Dark Shadows” was the show that started it. 

I remember being alone a lot at the time then, being very confused about everything---adolescence, my life, my family, who I was—and up on the craggy hill, a long ways from our “house,” I’d hurl rock after rock, screaming into the void.

Since then, I don’t recall having screamed once.


…Dreams are so bizarre, right? Some of them can really fuck you up, if you think about them too much.


…Dreams were another obsession of mine. In college, I read up about dreams, Freud included, and I kept a notebook by my bedside where, upon waking, I’d document every detail I could remember about each dream. I’d actually try to wake myself up several times a night simply for the purposes of logging dream material.

Such a silly boy, right? 

But back then I thought dreams where magical. Or a portent.

Now, most of the dreams I remember are like a slow-motion slur, out of reach, something I can see but can’t grasp.

And their meaning? It still doesn’t make any sense.


…Almost every day, for a few minutes, I forget how old I am, and I’ll think I’m so much younger than the years I’m wearing. 

It’s always a little bit jolting, but not necessarily in a bad way.


…I’ve been coming here, every M, W, Friday, for a long time now. Maybe I’m wrong, but this place feels like the one friend who will never betray me.


…It’s a little too easy to doubt that you’re a good person. 

Sometimes those cracks look a lot wider than they are.


…As nonsensical as it is, some parts of pop culture are sacred to me. Hence, I’m very nervous about the upcoming film version of Dear Evan Hansen, as well as The Soprano’s prequel, and even the Dexter re-working.

Nobody needs another Godfather, Part 3, that’s for sure.  


…I’m at 72 books so far this year. There’s no way I won’t hit 100. Last year I stopped reading in February. As in, I didn't read a solitary book from February to the end of December 2020.

Because I wasn’t reading, and because I was mostly lost during that time, I actually put puzzles together in order to stay sane. Puzzles? What? 

That seems like lunacy to me now. 

But that’s who I was then, just trying to swim through the gloom by any means necessary.


…It’s going to be a long day, but isn’t that a good thing? 

Aren’t I so lucky?

Aren’t you?  

Wednesday, September 15, 2021



                            Six Minutes and Twelve Seconds


       He said, I’m older, so you’ll listen.

       He was older by six minutes and twelve seconds, my twin, but he meant it different now.

       I want you to see this, he said. You need to. But once I toss, you get your glimpse, and then you run like buckshot. Got it?


       Everything I knew at age nine stood before me, our haunted trailer home with its hollow, faulty bones. The living room smelled like a perfume bottle spilling out gasoline, the empty can still in my brother’s left hand. 

       On the squat sofa was a mass of blankets, or something else, I couldn’t tell—but I was sure about the massive blood stain that seemed to resemble a foreign country.

       The match sounded like a sharp back scratch with a gasp behind it, something I was acquainted with. 

       I watched the flame butterfly-stagger and float before landing in the tawny liquid river on the floor, igniting every linoleum square below it.

       Now, he said. 

       Now, he said again, as urgent as panic itself, yet entirely controlled.


       Miles later we sat under a maple. Even at night, with a lingering breeze, fall pinched off leaves every twenty seconds or so. One landed on my eyelid like a crusty kiss, making me shiver.  

       It wasn’t supposed to end like this, my brother said. It wasn’t supposed to be this way at all.

       I know, I said, hating how stupid and limited my words sounded.

       They’ll come soon. They’ll find us.

       I scooted across a root that bulged out of the damp ground and forced myself into a nest in my brother’s shoulder, trying desperately not to weep.

       You did the right thing, I said, though I wasn’t sure what right meant.

       He kissed me on the crown of my head like I’d seen the pope do on TV. It felt as if it would have been okay to die after that, but then he said, I’m sorry I wasn’t there to stop him.

       By my foot was a broken beer bottle, a large chunk of amber glass hooded above the dirt. When I reached for it, my brother grabbed my wrist and squeezed.

       This might be the end of us, for a while, but it isn’t the end of you, he said. You know that, right?

       And when he released his grip, it felt as if his hand was still on mine, measuring my pulse, tapping a message there, one I would need years to decode, and still haven’t entirely.  

Monday, September 13, 2021






we learn the gospels 

without phonics 

just lips & limbs 

& ligaments 

loose as water 

a luminescent stream 

strapped in heat

your skin crying 

Sanctuary over 

and over again

while the swallows 

outside our window applaud 

with wings tapping 

their own cryptic concerto 

only we can hear

our lungs sewn together 

with a double 

thread of purple 

sailor’s lucky knot 

a hat trick to be had

sub bass just below 

the throbbing ventricle 

as I reach over the pillow 

and paint a sonnet 

on your tongue

signing with fingers 

and thumbs 

across your vertebrae 

that I need you

that I love you 

pleading for another 

sunlit song 

begging you to stay

right where we are

Friday, September 10, 2021






The blue notes 

play shadows 

across our skin 

a game of studied 

chess for the 

patient type 

of which I am one 

you say 

I love the way 

you touch me 

you say 

what took you 

so damn long 

you say 

oh god please 

touch me again 

and again 

and again

in between words 

the air shifts 


consuming the rest 

of the room 

its lungs 

and flesh 

and bones 

so that this space 

is ours alone 

time tamed 

tension suspended 

nothing remaining 

but the sound of

each authentic gasp 


Wednesday, September 8, 2021




…Hey, Wednesday, is it you?

I think so.

I miss you.

But I’m getting here late.

I wrote some new pieces, but they need a bit of shoe polish, so maybe I’ll post them on Friday or Monday. 

Until then, here are some things I like for the middle of the week when the sun is feeling cocky and winking at you…


“When I had my kids and was with them, attending to them, you know, I’ll admit I’d sometimes think, ‘But I could be writing a song right now, instead. Something classic.’ And then I’d think to myself that songs—the really great ones—they last forever, man, they’ll be there for all time.’ Yet at the same moment, right then, I also thought, ‘My kids, you know, they won’t be here forever. There’s only so much time I get with them before they’re gone, or I am.’ And so, I thought, ‘To hell with writing songs right now, great or not. These are my kids. Mine. My kids. And they’re right here. Right now.” Bruce Springsteen, Renegades: Born in the U.S.A. 


“I don’t remember the film. But I remember the feelings.” Amour


“Love is not an exclusive relationship with another person; love is the quality that arises when we are in contact with our inner being, with our authentic self, with the meditative quality within, with the inner silence and emptiness. This inner emptiness is experienced by others and is expressed on the outside as love. This love is not addressed to a specific person; it is a presence and quality that surrounds a person like a fragrance.”  Swami Dhyan Giten


“I have pasts inside of me that I did not bury properly.” Ijeoma Umebinyuo


“Forgiveness is just another name for freedom.” Byron Katie


"I have never been very chronological or linear in my thought process. And in my way of working I listen and follow, and the form gathers, and I go from there. I revise continually as I write. I work ahead, far ahead if I am inspired. Then I return and untangle the mess and find a pattern and keep going, then circle back when I return, sort of like weaving, or sketching then filling out the image, or in the case of story writing, the narrative. Still, I am aware of rhythm. There is rhythm and timing, and the best storytellers have rhythm. And rhythmically I prefer to swing!" Joy Harjo


"All my life I have lived and behaved very much like the sandpiper just running down the edges of different countries and continents, looking for something.” Elizabeth Bishop


“He cared way too much about everything.” Morgan Neville, on Anthony Bourdain


“A writer needs only two things: a fascination with words and a fascination with nearly everything else.” D.A. Powell


“My music is the spiritual expression of what I am — my faith, my knowledge, my being...When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you help humanity free itself from its hang-ups... I want to speak to their souls.” John Coltrane


“They may call me a sinner, but I am at peace with myself.” Brigitte Bardot


“Without promotion, something terrible happens: nothing.” P.T. Barnum


"I have squandered my resistance

For a pocketful of mumbles

Such are promises

All lies and jest

Still, a man hears what he wants to hear

And disregards the rest"

   The Boxer, Paul Simon


“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.” Mark Twain


“You need only be a scarecrow for poems to land on.” Muriel Rukeyser


“Somewhere under the hurricane a sea turtle rows through silence.” Alicia Suskin Ostriker


“And it’s beautiful. Maybe too beautiful. Maybe, sometimes, we miss the flaws more than we think we should.” Nancy Stohlman


“I have done nothing all summer but wait for myself to be myself again.” Georgia O’Keeffe

Monday, September 6, 2021




Man you look


Without that face


It’s like the floor


With no warning

A trap door 

Flung open

You with your 


On the remote

But I guess 

Even Saturn 

Ate his own son

Once he felt 


Call me naïve

Or evil or


You will

Seems like you’ll

Do it either way

So have fun

And use a 

Sharp blade

Afterward I’ll 

Let you know 

How much blood 

You’ve drawn

I’ll smear 

The message 

On a mirror 

So you can see 

How triumphant

It looks on you