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The Small Plot Beside the Ventriloquist's Grave


The Small Plot Beside the Ventriloquist's Grave

letter from Jonah

I found a shark tooth
and a yearbook
there were fish bones
and some flamingos that they put out in people’s yards

there was a pencil
it was chewed on
I thought about Samson
and tried to pull the fish apart it was useless
I found a boat flare
I waited for the right time
the right time kept from me
I wanted neighbors
I wanted a surf board
I got a dirty magazine
it became boring
the twelfth time around
I wanted television
I got a walkie-talkie
who was obviously
at me                                                                    

on our backs

in our winter clothes
counting the windows
of my father’s house

you ask about the people
who live there now
I say the man, he’s old
the woman, she’s crazy
they’re doing their best to live up to the portraits
crucified to the drywall
the light that bounces off the manicured grass
is light, enough
that the scene could be Rockwellian
could be pornography

I rolodex though the pals who would have now
betrayed me since high school
run their names through a filter of new math
of those that died dumbly,
and those who have since found Jesus Christ and
the equation is even
I don’t even tip the scales
half of me is dead
the other half of me belongs to Jesus

familiar family cars roll up the driveway
with parents
scolding their christened kids
in their holiday sneers
and fiercely parted hair
furious in their accuracies
we are whiskey drunk
and flinch
when the headlights ransack us
the dragnets of their voices
beckon us in
a brother, maybe
hands me a package
with a smirk

I whisper in my wife’s ear that I am somewhere else
up in coney island
there is a painted woman
airbrushing the first coat on a parade float
I am a merman
King Neptune
tossing beads into the sea
skipping bottle tops from the Wonder Wheel
down to the pavement below

last week
a baby boy
we both knew
fell asleep in his crib
and never woke up
and the lines
on our faces
prove we’ve been playing dress-up
with our own daughter
in his tiny sneakers
we’ve been choking down conversations
faking whole holidays
bluffing our hands
you ask
will this year end
you asked that twelve months ago

I pull out the classifieds
in my father’s town
and look up the prices to used motorcycles

negligible creed

the soil is not soft
in my time
I want to create something ugly and something beautiful
and show them to you
and say

is something beautiful

is something ugly

I made them.

click to buy

click to buy


Still Something Rattles

Still Something Rattles

this dumb temple

I am sorry,
that when I put my ninth
into you
that you
break down
is nothing wrong
with the beer

I am sorry,
that when
my hand
touches you
the intent
was for the breast, alone
but the hand
is selfish

I am sorry,
that the heart
last night
there were too many lovely people
some, even
(said the eye)
and now (brain)
your punishment is
they’re throwing plates
at your skull’s dry walls
from the

I am sorry,
that sorrow speaks to you first
first the accident
the sudden mist of blood
then the hands
filled with glass
the hands
and the palm
and the forearm
the chest
fills with glass
then the father
his head
his loss
his boy
his grief
his mouth
at the early wake
speaks his child’s soft bible
of accomplishments
his defeat
but eyes
I am so very
you get it first

I am
that wobble
under the Atlas globe
of a lifetime’s gravity
that we don’t
half/way through
to walk
on our hands
to give you two
a sabbatical
from the cross which is our dome and torso

but mostly
I am sorry,
for the beer
I guess and liver
maybe, kid
you selfish little bastards
you were not made correctly
I can say
beyond a shadow
of a doubt
that the beer,

the yes no

Toledo has a sister city
in Spain
sister people,
sister pains

when someone in Toledo shoots his brother in the street
someone in this Toledo drops a bowl of ice cream

when someone swabs the deck
on a ship in the queen’s fleet
a prison lock
over these parts
falls off its bars

when round the block
the accidental prisoners go correspondingly free
a daughter in Spain runs amok
with her evil little butterfly traps

and just under that mushroom there
the little Toledan
can hear the butterfly screams
whose flutters effectively forecast
its doppelgänger's weather

when One Toledo’s parishioner parishions
Two Toledo’s counterpart assemblyman’s credence
perishes to golf

so phone lines have been set up
across the climates
schedules checked
the scramble to pick up broken lightbulbs
is something to see
in Here, Ohio
when a Spaniard boy falls in love

why just right now
the failing propeller
in the airplane you happen to be falling within
downwards towards the Maumee River
has its own propeller partner
carefully pulling the Spanish you
off the tarmac

and in my dreams, I am dead

in that room
is the woman that I love
more than any other woman
beside her,
the kid we made

in the center of my spine lies a ripchord
that leads back to that room
no matter how far my heart takes me
it’s the antidivorce chord,
the blood chord,
the survival tooth

in my commute
Roman trees look down upon me
as Roman scrapers look down upon them, they
the trees, the high-rises,
hold their Roman clipboards
good Roman
say they

not poor
not rich
not jailed
not for long
not gay
nor straight
has Roman accounts
with many Roman corporations
the teevee,
the gas,
has regular Roman eating habits
eats Roman animals
and Roman plants

the woman,
loved more than anyother,
can detect this heavy atmosphere
on my skin
more often
than on her own

she escapes
her death is a sweeter release
than mine
she thinks,
sometimes says,
isn’t it nice
that one day we get to die

that’s a semi-bad Roman mantra
Rome was created from fear
mainly of death
but also
of Rome, herself
a Rome will get you attitude
is essential to the good Roman
like knowing
how far one lives from the Roman fusion plant
or marking where the exits are in Roman megaplexes
especially, on the rare Roman occasion
when one Roman cracks
and sprays the Roman moviegoers
with domestic Roman

when my commute
is significantly done
an invisible hand pulls my ripchord
which leads to a bed we bought on credit
because everyone needs an expensive bed
to survive Rome

I sleep heavily
sleep, to me is an Atlantic Ocean
and in my dreams
I am dead

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First You Thank the Bicycle

First You Thank the Bicycle

the owl eye and I

because I have become the footpath
and the careful thought
of its architect,

I have also become
the eyes that peer out
tinily between the blades of grass

because I will become the violin bow's stringer,
as the orchestra hits its stride
because this other mind-ness

is how he keeps his hand steady
and the violinist, too
rowing the bow as an oar

to cross the suite in G
because I have become
the basket weaver

for the festival of balloons
I have become the vertigo
she keeps

I am the distance between the floor
of the weaver's bucket
and the mountain peak

possibly the sea bed
or the possibility
because I have always been

a possibility
I am possibly myself
but also the seahorse

and the stirring spoon
and there is a distinct sorrow
that emerges

from having been a stirring spoon
a nostalgia of a certain color
that will never fit

the shoe of adjective
but the spoon will glory
in remembering

being me

as we watched

the day dial up the night
as we fumbled with each other's belts

as we held our pinkies
over the snaked eyelets of the flute

as we took our first row
into the desperate sea

as the sea displaced
an us

as the dragonfly
played a deadly game of tag with the sparrow

as the notes
played Red Rover on a clef

as the Hudson
took headcount of the cameras

as the cameras
took roll of pitch and trouble

as the knife slept in the drawer
and the spoon, spooned another

as the calf told one lie after the next
about the fiddling cat

as the gods played marbles
their opposites, Yahtzee

as the sixes lined up, comically
and the jacks fell like stars

we turned the horizon
with our two fingers

as if to crack a safe

could you tell the chap

dreaming me
that I'd like
a different hat

and the drapes
in the bedroom
could use a river breeze

and we've counted the geese
and we'd like a few more
to capitalize the V

please tell the dreamers that
they left the water running in the bath
and the temperature is funny

and nappers,
we sure could use a few new punchlines
down at this end of the bar

that is, if you're not too busy
fabricating sixth fingers
and annexing our bees

last night I dreamt my author
was sleeping with my wife
after whipping up some cruel new allergies

I dreamt the footage from my mind
was laying in tatters
on the cutting floor in Nod

I dreamt I asked the question
and the dreamer passed the note
and the dreamer dreaming him

asked his dreamer
for a different cap
I dreamt a house of mirrors

where my question bounced around
and from the mirror near the exit
emerged a pair of geese