Stand In/Out

in

you can build a house
out of years of white lies
and some sad author’s hopes
but you can never build a home.

what was dulcet tastes like rust
and what can only be frustration.
i resent your summer teeth
and curse your winter lungs.

bask in your coterie of loneliness,
and your short-list resume
of some half-assed ribaldic publication.
go climb inside your assumptions,
maybe pack a bowl for your martyrdom.

you’ll do fine, not everyone sees through you.
cold, worn, and pale like the glass
you cradled gentler than you ever did me.

out

cashed the meager pay on harrowed path
towards a liquor store named after a saint,
at least irony’s not always lost on me.

the walk home is lighter with empty pockets.
smokes, drinks, and endless Lifetime films
hey man, you’ve really done well for yourself.
and all the books strewn about the sty
have started to collect dust on cherished covers,
and when did it all suddenly turn
into an endless thread of things that could have been?

each night it runs ad nauseam like a film on a reel.
full of cheap drinks and loads of shit,
it’s all about the laughs and blanket statements
to girls with that “i just want to be fucked” stare.

yet when the sun throws up across the horizon
and light cakes the streets of brunswick town,
the needle’s moved to the start of that same record
which for years now has been wearing thin.

i sing along to ballads of what is and what could have been.

Metro

the precipitation slowly turned
a city’s imperfections
into translucent trampolines.
umbrellas, rain, and neon lights
glimmered onerously:
a bazaar of evaporating dreams.

and in the end it all condensed
between the crooked legs
of the noxious downtown hookers
and the litigious dentistry
of the loathsome fall-down drunks.

somehow amidst all this,
Demeter sat alone
in some worn-down after-hours bar,
nursing an aged wine that the bartender
had bemusedly dusted off a shelf.

just as the rain subsided,
her loneliness transpired
and evolved into an Olympic rage.
so she scoffed at collective misfortune
and stood up to leave,
only to be groped by a man
with hands of sandpaper and piano-key teeth

Billy

at first he broke your heart,
but soon moved on to better things.
the windows to your apartment,
the vases your mother had given you,
that bookshelf you had lovingly assembled

just like the diagram had said.
and you would cry & moan,
chew on stolen pills
because you weren’t sure what hurt you most,
the memory of that broken heart
or the splinters from the shelf.

Young Shields

this town can only smile at night
lit up on pills, bottles, and tavern bars
black tar seeping through each seam
we young shields spend eternities
trying so hard to be found
that we eventually lose ourselves
like the first crooked whiskers grown
we hold on to love too long
the fear of forlornness, the guillotine overhead

but let’s lose our minds to ignore fate
each night amidst the angled design kids
and the broiled cadets of jersey shore
contorted legs kicking to show verve
tongues hopelessly dripping formaldehyde
young shields, we are transparent, reflecting
some sort of desperate discotheque hope.
an endless barrage of what-could’ve-beens,
don’t-ask-don’t-tell refills, and angry quips

we never forget when we’ve been scorned,
just tally up the points for self-defense
young shields break, crying like aeolian harps
blood steeped to tepid, sharp-tongues eroded
always stark at every single rave
trying so hard to look anything but our age
and when these killer parties get too literal,
it’s time to kick the jams, and leave the scene.

Stars

the numbers slowly coalesced
and ignited in our throats
with the warmth of fresh blood.
we were discussing which stars above
were most likely dead.
“look how sadly that one shines”
you said, “it’s surely gone by now.”
but in space nothing dies,
it just gets cold and ceases to produce.
i am not exactly sure how that
actually differs from dying.

i sold my shoes that night
and tore my clothing down to my feathers.
“don’t you wish we were
somewhere across that harbor?”
oh, i could not have wanted
anything less than that.
light from the past streaked
wrinkles across my skin.
somewhere in the cosmic future,
the bets were laid on our passing.
spectral emissions as our only legacy.

Kapparot

ai ai, ai ai
how your blood did stain the rationed petals
of my average sized soviet heart

golden arrows turned to lead
which when removed exposed
the rotten state of all my innards

ai ai, ai ai
i once laughed and said we’re different
like how a child swears to not become his parents

like the hammer mark on a bullet shot
but time will always defeat idealism
i’ve become my father’s son and you, the desert’s sand

within the markets of dusty el fayoum
where angry faces all are cloaked in linen cloth
and there is hurried pacing to acerbic gusts of oud

and there i watch the man unsheathe his dirk
stroke the blade and then his sabulous beard
at the expense of the neck of an emaciated hartebeest

the waxed blood, it sears across the careless ground
and forms an encaustic image of us with apathetic roman eyes,
portraits to be lost amongst the pharaohs’ tombs

enticed by the scent, a great bittern rises from his bed of reed
and how the mire drum beats upon the land
ai ai, ai ai

This Reminder

it came in the form of a tourist shirt
you had lent me long ago.
after you sauntered around the room
shirtless, scissors in hand

throwing my hair about the floor,
which vibrated to your father’s guitar,
a slightly mis-scaled portrait
of clara bow staring from the wall.

my shirt was stained with split ends
and you gave me the one you
had just taken off. “greetings from the tube”
though i don’t think you’d ever gone

to london, or even outside the state.
it made your culture seem
even more pristine, and made your hair
smell even more like apricots.

it hurts to say, i was afraid of you, so much
more adult than i at the same age,
a pastor’s daughter bubbling sexuality
upon a nervous jewish boy.

i rode the dollar bus home that day,
my neck itchy, my mouth with remnants of orthodontic
kisses. the mexican families beside
me gayly speaking in foreign tongues.

and now, in your shirt which barely fits,
the geometrical diagram of the subway
as blurry as my memory of your face,
i can’t help but bare my straightened teeth.

“Et, tu buteo?”

“et, tu buteo?”
he quivered
naked in front
of the clothed mirror
obsidian shell
inlaid with chunks of pome

his eyes fervent –
hyenas laughing carcasses
across their teeth
atop the semen stained
shengena peak.
phosphorous on their tongues.

the mind dissolved –
blood in the ocean
heating the hurricane.

and the buzzard wondered
when he’d dream
of something other than death.

Bones

“do you ever dream of me?”
she teased, her pearly whites tracing fading skin.
”i wish, but i only dream in numbers,
a consequence of my tangential brain.”

she turned her eyelids into lead
as she gave me 32 gin-stained tattoos.
i curled my toes as she drank the marrow
hungrily from my lazy bones.

now my skin refuses to fit me,
epidermal jeans on an old man’s ass.
i shake like a charm when i roam the streets,
my hollow bones quivering,
ticker tape pouring out of my skull.

the dental records on my chest,
merely sinusoidal reminders of the past.

Dirge

alone and drunk on a chesterfield
in a new brunswick apartment.
just me and the dog,
and i think he hates me too,
watching some god-awful movie on bukowski,
that drunken asshole.

the laugh of the cigarette butt tickles
my nostrils as i build ashtray monuments
soaring towards the water-damaged baldachin
only to be snubbed
by the bitterness of gut-rot whiskey.

i force the pure-bred mongrel
into an an awkward embrace,
but then he runs away
and shits on the other available upholstery,
i’m certain he’s an asshole too.