Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Forbidden Chairs and Tables of the Piazza San Marco

In Venice, in the Piazza San Marco, you are firmly not allowed to sit on the chairs and tables set out there. Even if you are ordering a cappuccino or mocha, you are not allowed to sit in the chairs and tables associated with that cafe. No, no, it is impossible! Impossible! Please do not ask why. After getting your drinks, you review phalanxes of empty tables and chairs. They are roped into sections for each cafe by braided thin steel cables coated in plastic. Mysterious and remote -- empty of all butts -- conceptual art under wheeling clouds of pigeons. (BTW - a mocha is a drink you give a little kid, and civilized people drink a cappuccino in the morning, not in the afternoon, you stupid American.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Night Sashay

San Francisco
Depressed & pissed off
I watch a man who lives
In an apartment next door
Straighten things out
In his living room

It is dusk
Night falling hard
Like a ton of bricks

The man moves about
Doing things
Picking up rearranging
Magazines and paperweights

Objects I cannot see
Yet it is easy to imagine
What he does the way
His shoulders move

I can make out what
He is wearing

A sweater
Blue jeans
He is bald

I am surprised
When I see his head bobbing
Very low next to the side
Of the back of the couch

His forehead almost
Disappears past the ledge of
The window

The he straightens up
Looking at some odd thing
He found back there

He continues to busy

The window becomes

Light is falling
Falling falling dying
Just like my emotions
Seem to be smoothing out

Indifference soaking
Into my eyes
My mind
My body
My soul

And as this happens
He looks out and sees me
Sitting across the way


He walks out of the room
With a few things
In his hands

A minute later he comes back
Hands empty
Maybe he threw the shit
Away who knows

He stands there
And he looks at me
And I look at him

He moves over
To one side of the window
And as the drapes close
Bit by bit

I imagine how
They must go






Monday, October 16, 2006

Trying to Find Out Why Steve Brodie Jumped

When I was about 8 years old, my parents decided to get my sister and I a set of the World Encyclopedia...these were the quaint days before people used thing called "The Internet" to look up stuff. My parents had to put an order in for it, it cost a buttload of cash, and it was to arrive at Christmas. I must say, it was a big deal to get a set of the World Encyclopedia, we were all very excited. So my dad asked me, "Son, when we get the World Encyclopedia, what will be the first thing you look up?" He was probably thinking I'd look up something about Geology, History, or Astronomy. But I said, quick as a flash, "I'm going to look up why Steve Brodie jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge!!" "Who?" asked my father. I then explained to my dad that there was this Bugs Bunny cartoon where Steve Brodie jumps off the Brooklyn Bridge...but I knew that in real life no rabbit drove him crazy. So I was going to find out the REAL reason why Steve Brodie jumped off the bridge. By that time my pa had lost interest in the answer to his question. And when the Encyclopedia arrived, I found there was no reference to Steve Brodie. I wondered about it, and then one day when I happened to see that cartoon again on TV, I realized something. Then I thought f*** Bugs Bunny. F***ing cartoons.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

An Austrian Christmas Story

Early, I know, but after seeing the damn Christmas decorations & merchandise going up at the local hardware conglomerate last weekend, this came to mind. So have a Merry Christmas, extra, extra early!


In Austria, for Christmas, the hotel puts on a Christmas Eve bonfire and sing-along for the kiddies. After some songs, Santa shows up with presents, and our daughter gets a few nice little toys. Hot chocolate and cider for all. Very cute. Then I look close at the red paper bag the gifts came in, and I see that there's a sticker on the bag of a big leering Devil. He has a small child over his knee, the kid's pants are down, and the Devil is getting ready to paddle the crap outta the kid with a birch S&M switch. The kid looks terrified, tears spilling out of his eyes, and the Devil looks like he'd gonna bust a nut because he's so happy. Next to the Devil are chains and a wicker basket, to carry the beaten child to the flames of everlasting damnation. Then our daughter asks, "What are you looking at, Dad?" I say, "When you're bad in Austria, you don't get a lump of coal. No, you get beaten by the Devil and you get sent to Hell." I show her the sticker, and after a pause, she says "Oh."


After we get back to the hotel, I want to snag the Devil sticker to show everybody in the States -- but when we aren't looking, my daughter shreds it into tiny bits. "Oh!" says June. "You didn't like that did you?" "The Hell won't get me!" says Phoebe. "Why do you say that?" I ask. "Because if I'm bad, and I go there, the Hell won't be there!" "Where will he be?" I enquire. "He'll be out SHOPPING! Shopping for STICKS to smack BAD KIDS WITH!!" Phoebe yells, jumping up & down triumphantly. So, case closed. And I hope when I get sent to Hell, the Devil happens to be out at the Mall, replenishing his Infernal Devices. Or better yet, the day someone is damned, Hell just breaks down and can't be repaired. Just be extra good in Austria, don't forget that.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Estranged friends

Estranged friends
I miss you so
I’ll always miss you
Though things seem bent broken
Stretched all out
Beyond recognition or feeling

Here is something in us that loves
This way
Loves completely and entirely without effort
Naturally for ever and ever
Inexhaustible radiant complete
But it still hurts

(Poem Written on the Side/ Of an Old Envelope)

dedicated to Jennifer, who told me

A flock
Of birds
Few past
My window
And I could only
Watch them
For a few seconds
But they fluttered
In my head all
A ghost flock
Of birds

A friend of mine
Sad she
(as a child)
Harbored a
Pigeon in her
Ear for
Almost 3 years*

She says
At the time
She thought all
People harbored
Birds in
Their ears

This is true
And also untrue

* My friend told me when she was about 3 years old she was walking down the street with her mother on a sunny windy day, and she was startled to see a white pigeon fly by close past her ear. When she turned, she couldn’t see where it went. So she concluded that when she cupped her hand to her ear, this soft noise she head was not the ocean, it was the pigeon now nesting in her ear…

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

My Odyssey


One time I followed this
Beautiful young woman to
Her house from the N Judah line
To see where she lived

I wondered if she had a boyfriend
As I watched her in the twilight
Switching on the lights in
The apartment

I watched in the dark
From across the street
Through the slits
Of the venation blinds and I wondered
What the hell I was doing

She closed the blinds

A television spouted
Blue light in another room
And I walked home


Last night
(two weeks later)
I got very drunk and I started
Knocking the carefully arranged
Bottles that I had
Supposedly meticulously set
To be out of my way

I picked up all the bottles
And I put them under my bed
And put on my coat and scarf

I took a bottle with me


Outside it was silent and cold

I walked along
And I decided to go to her house

Once there I amused myself
By drinking the beer
In the shadows of trees and cars
Looking up at the dark windows
Where I had seen her

I knew I was drunk
And it was cold
Very cold out there in the street

I was surprised how cold and quite
It was

Everything was so contained
And I stood there in the night
And I wondered what I was doing
What the hell was I up to
I was acting like a fucking nut

I found myself opening the
Waist-high gate that was on the
Side of her building

As I entered the slot-like
Side yard I felt as if my head was
Bobbing independently of my shoulders

I looked up
And I could see
A few stars and the cold
Seemed to fall away


For some reason
I felt very amused
With myself

I was now very amused
Just standing down there
Doing nothing in someone
Else’s backyard in the dead
Of night quite drunk
Off my gourd

I nudged the cement
Retaining wall with my
Toe and I figured out
Which back porch was hers

I was that she had wrapped
Several of her plants
To keep off the chilly air

The cellar was locked

I pissed on the cement wall
And then staggering home

While I was unlocking
The gate to my house
A cop car passed me going
Up the street