The New Artists

They want to live as long
as they’re protected,
they want to be outlaws
and rebels
without giving up pensions
or pools.

They want danger without

sex without mess

without risk.

No wonder when they leave us
we don’t even notice.


There are a lot of depressed people out there
especially among the artists
that’s fine I guess
but I wonder what the reason is
because a reason is rarely given
maybe it’s just cool to be depressed
maybe it’s just the way of our age
it seems the most educated are the most depressed
maybe to be really depressed you must first know it’s an option
a god given right
you must read all about it
it’s hard to stomach people who are depressed
for no other reason than their nose is cold
or they were bullied
or they’re bored
or their parents weren’t perfect
or they didn’t get a raise
or they saw some asshole on the bus
but that’s fine
it’s not my place to say these people really aren’t
there is no yardstick
for depression
it’s just that sometimes I’d like to see
someone stand up and laugh
instead of taking a pill
or Christmas-ribboning themselves
to a cross
heroes are what we need
but I’m no hero god knows
I’m no one to talk
I get depressed too sometimes
and I bitch about stupid things
but that’s fine
everything is fine
just don’t call it beautiful
that’s not fine.

As I Am

I look out the window
onto a landscape of lost prayers

I have never read the Bible but I trust
that the men of long ago were as I am

and wanted something solid
but these days God is not enough

too much science
too many years of scraping the earth with a toothbrush

too many repetitions and music and death
we know now

that men invent what they need and cling to it
and even the sun is finite

men are monkeys with pencils
long ties

thumbs that they use to roll
cigarettes and say cool

and even if we learn to hop
from planet to planet one step

ahead of the collapsing universe
we will never really know ourselves

because our brains were fused
in a moment of fire

that will not return
even in death.

School Yard

Araceli wiggles
out of the

lets her dress
slip upside down
on the monkey bars

and rolls ass
over teakettle
at my feet.
I spin her
on the go-around
watch her curve
like rum down
the curly slide.

On the teeter totter
I pin her
to the sky

but she
only smiles
down at

as her shoes
like fly balls
in the deep

Cross-Country Road Trip

Each area of the country had its own brand
of roadkill.
In Illinois it was possums and
As we went into the Ozarks we saw a
ton of skunks and also many
poor little turtles.
In Oklahoma we saw a lot of rabbits
and in Texas it was armadillos, that armor no
match for the masochistic
Over in New Mexico and Arizona
there were a lot of lizards and snakes
who just couldn’t resist the night ether coming
off the asphalt.
By the time we got to California and the Mojave Desert
we were feeling like roadkill ourselves,
could easily imagine lying down
and never getting up, or getting creamed
by some motorist obsessed
with his cell phone.
But we made it
to the beach in the valley, and we ran
down to the water and slipped our Illinois toes
into that wet dream.
We smiled and thought we had
arrived somewhere,
thought we had discovered something
new and different.
But in the morning when the tide
went out
there was a crooked line
of dead fish
stinking all the way
to Canada.

Gabby at the Golden Nugget

She’s poured
into a blue sundress

with small white flowers.

All the old birds
on the wire turn

toward the vision:
in front

two feral orbs
of folklore

and in back
the gibbous trembling

beneath the cotton saxifrage.
She teases out love

in free sample smiles
and never stays

long enough
to get old.

Tucson Solitude

is the un-cool luck of
the heat-beat.

Monsoon claustrophobia
stuffs wet rags down our throats
while the night becomes
our spit-on respite.

Television weathermen
are strung up at noon, radios

Every drugged-up drama queen
throws a tantrum for dignity
and a glorious life
without struggle.

The sun shimmers
like orange marmalade

and even the music

My Dad’s First and Last Apartment

I remember when my dad split with my mom
for the final time.
He got an apartment in
in an old run-down Victorian house.
He was on the second floor and had great big
vertical windows
and a view of a couple of different
I was 12 and I went to visit him
in his new apartment
and I thought it was
the greatest thing.
I was happy for him,
not that I didn’t love
my mother,
but he had this great
apartment in town
and he seemed
Growing up we had always lived in the boonies
in some trailer or
barn or dilapidated house out
in the middle of
My dad’s new apartment had hardly any furniture,
no knick-knacks,
one piece of soap
in the john
and nothing in the refrigerator but
beer and hot dogs.
He also had a shelf full of books.
They were the same books he’d had
all the years before
but for some reason they seemed
and I began
to read them.
I really thought we were experiencing
I felt I was in some Saroyan
or Carver story
and I pictured my dad sitting by
one of those windows
with his old typewriter
(he was a writer before he got married)
writing about his life
with mom and maybe
writing about the time before that
which I knew hardly anything about.
And I was thinking he’d have
a few girlfriends—
the girls at my school always said he was
and write about those
and basically live a loose and
easy life.
I was proud of my dad,
he finally made a
he had warded off

But 3 months later
he met a woman at the Save-a-Lot
and married her and
moved into her
double-wide trailer
in the desolate river bottoms over by
Kingston Mines.

For years afterwards I always looked up at his old
apartment window
whenever I drove by
until I got my hick ass out
of Illinois
and learned how hard it is to find
a place to simply live
and be happy.