Domestic Violence

What an end.
She’s stopped talking.
She’s no longer responding.
I don’t understand. I want
To be understanding.

Be polite, I say, keep quiet.
Pretend nothing’s happened.
Don’t make an ass of yourself.
Pretend to be an English gentleman.

But it’s odd to be dropped,
I’ve got to admit, or am I being shunned?
No discussion, no explaining.
Just a forceful ending, entirely one-sided.

Shunning is stunning;
It’s an aggressive act, an assertion.
An imposition, a commanding position.
“Just shut up and go.”
Kiss your wife good-bye and don’t look back.

I feel the boot on my neck.
Thank you. It’s harsh but direct.
She steps harder and shouts, “Shut up.
—not another sound out of you.
You’re as good as dead.”

I lie smiling. Not so happy. Glad to be out of it.
The act explains so much. It’s over between us.
“I hate you, you’re nothing,” she says,
That’s what’s tough. She’s had enough.

Shunning is an act of cunning.
It’s brutal and, above all, cold.
Get up and go, without a word.
What a send-off.
It’s a lot tougher than “fuck off.”

But there was something there.
We’d been friends, not lovers. Not strangers.
Not neighbors. Fourty years. I could have spoken at the podium,
teaching good relations. I loved her.

Hold on. Not so fast. It was never so, she says.
That’s a misinterpretation; it’s not true.
That foot comes down again on my neck and presses harder.
Don’t bother explaining. It’s a figment of your imagination.
You’re out, abandoned.

I must have done something,
Something very wrong to be ignored. I
Said something or did something, I’m not sure.
According to her, it’s entirely my fault.
Wouldn’t you want to talk it over?

Shunning is not withdrawing.
It is not an act of defense.
It is an attack. It is offensive.
She expects me to disappear.

But we were friends, there had been kisses. Like
Sister and brother, united and connected.
I knew her parents, knew her brother.
Her mother was once my best friend.

My friend had always been so rational;
Some even find her somewhat masculine.
But this new stance reveals something feminine.
Shunning is quite hysterical.
She gets this from her father.

She was gracious, thoughtful and attentive.
This harshness is quite new.
Now she’s very rigid, even frigid.
This assertion of power seems suddenly tonic:
Bracing, pompous, even gleeful.

What a cunt. This is no friend of mine.
I’d never cut her off just like that.
Her mother wouldn’t have allowed it.
There is an idea behind this act,
perhaps another person, a manipulation.

Must I now be turned into a stranger?
Is there another at work in this effort?
Has she been seduced by some diabolical fool?
Why this need to make me into the Other?
I’ll get to the bottom of this.

Our friendship was tied to another.
There was little else holding us together.
We came to each other through her mother.
My God! I think I understand what may have happened.
Now that her mother’s dead, daughter desires to see the end.

She’d done. She wants closure.
I’ve been nothing but demanding.
She has in so many ways been obliging.
She must have wondered when it would stop.

It’s a miracle she was as helpful as she has been.
I regret not showing better judgment.
It’s best to go quietly. We’ll clear the air another time.

It has been a pleasure knowing her.
I respect her desire to cease communication.

I won’t write again.

Depths of Disaffection

Are churches meant as cold storage?
Nothing more than closets for Christian artifacts,
bins for Renaissance rubbish?
A filing cabinet for foolishness, a site for buried knights,
retarded kings and perverse priests,
with postcards: two for a dollar.

What an end to human charity.

To be closed off and boarded up like an old
vaudeville house, like theatres on the Keith/Albee circuit,
silent movie houses of the soul,
demonstrations of human folly
and a little devil worship, like L.A.’s Ambassador Hotel,
where Robert Kennedy bled to death,
right next to the Coconut Grove.

Nothing more than mommy dearest,
episodes of human anguish, dramatizations
of belief and superstition; a house full of Halloween
masks, a closet of soiled kimono, a toilet with no plumbing.


The gargoyles are watching.
Those naughty faces stare from the belfry.
They stick their stone tongues out and wave
at people passing below. Some are pissing
on those who shuffle along the pavement.

They rain greetings on passers-by,
cursing our indifference.
Look up and gaze into the faces of
the angels and the devils;
their grimaces and tight smiles greet us.
Go in or cross the street, quickly.
Get out of the way of the golden showers.

Why else place monsters on God’s sacred palace?
Scowling goblins, volcanic midgets, smug angels
growl or grimace and spit right into our faces,
reminding us on the way our paths are blocked.
We’ll never get away. The end awaits.
Death is true. Look forward to it,
face it, or live one’s life in a permanent state of dread.

Buddy Buddy

It’s not normal to like people.
Do you think FDR had pals? Stalin? The Medici?
After mom and dad there’s nothing.
Who do you think wishes you well?
As Philip Roth explains, no one makes time for anyone without sex.

You love the one who lets you pat her rear.
The others are waiting to rob you.
You can pretend, we all do.
Go ahead: tell yourself they love you.
Family is divine because it involves money.

He’s your best friend, yeah, yeah.
He loves you as your father did, for sure. Yeah, right.
She’s your wife’s best friend and you like her, too. Of course.
If she is not sucking you, she’s worthless.
How’s that for soul searching?

Goodbye is better than lies, that’s what I am saying.
I wonder why we gather in the first place.
We eat and drink and waste words.
Breaking bread, spilling wine…
We squabble when the bill arrives. What is friendship?

Roth gets it right…if there is no fucking, there’s no commitment.
No guy would trade time with her for a time with him.
She’s the vital visit because it ends in bed.
Friendship is a passing emotion, an association.
It’s an arrangement of convenience; it offers nothing.

Like sponging a sticky table, the leftovers; not enough for a meal.
This and that, all gone but a chip on the pheasant glass—
A remnant, a crack, hate to throw the thing away.
Can’t bring myself to do away with him.
He’s my best friend.

That stain on the coffee table.
I should have been more careful.
I should have used a coaster;
Hate to see the love drain away.
The scar disappears or remains on the surface.

Home Sweet Home

Good bye, Bill.
Oh, Bill, Bill, do I feel sorry for you.
I remember so well being served gin by you.
When I look at your gut I feel ill.

But, Bill, the real reason I feel sorry
for you is that when I see you I think of myself.
I fear your stoop and gigantic gut is me in the future.

Your still in the sink, hissing; you made orders of fresh juniper
berries and barbecue chips. Bathtub alcohol at $25 a pint.
You passed out thimbles. “Have a taste. I take checks.”

Bill: you taught me to be on time. “Be out front at 8 or forget it.”
Yes, you made me hustle. I’d never been spoken to like that
in all my life. Whoever thought of leaving a friend behind?

Bill, you are a shit. You aren’t good for much. You brag about
your guns and your hatred of women. All you like is Asian pussy.
Are you attracted somehow to their indifference?

When I think of rednecks like you climbing all over those little girls,
I wonder how God could abandon our planet. Something about you
embodies our miserable condition.

Bill, Bill, Bill: you talk of a plot to overthrow the President.
Just what you have in mind I can’t say. You must have fantasies of making
things right, just like a little boy. You advised me to buy a gun.

You are famous for smuggling pork from Manama into Saudi at the
Al Khobar causeway. I watched you stuff your tool compartment with the
leanest chops and spare ribs. It’s a miracle you were not caught.

How you love to serve straight gin and grilled bacon, English-style,
cut wide but thinner than an American pork chop. You didn’t give a shit
about Islam.

Bill, the Vietnam vet. This is where you picked up your world view.
This is where you developed a taste for Asian women. This was when
you swore off American good-will. This is where you departed the human

Good bye, Bill.

Post-Partum Depression

There’s been no birth but I am suffering from post-partum depression.
Do you know the feeling? Something’s been taken away.
I am a passéiste; I do not have my eye on the next thing.

In the garden, the Delphiniums are in flower.
We’ll do everything together; we’ll change the world.
We’ll abolish all private property except my house.

I said in my last poem that everyone should eat popcorn, but that’s not
because I like it. I just like the sound of my voice. My fantasy is to live
in a Faulkner novel but that doesn’t mean I refuse to wear underpants.

I wanna get me an emotional-support peacock and move into Flannery
O’Connor’s old house. They prefer moist, cool summers and do not fare well
in hot, dry weather. One does still hear dreadful stories.

The greatest birthday present I ever got was a potted tomato plant from
Armstrong’s on Azusa. It cost $.79. There is nothing on this earth
as delicious as a cherry snow cone.

Who takes advice from a poet? Tamara is soaking. Robin betrayed me.
Now hear this: I don’t think women should be allowed to vote. How’s
that for a blast from the past?

I saw my first film by Truffaut in the Mission; got my first piece of ass on
Craigslist. I’ve been trying to sell the same radio play for 25 years.
I’d prefer to live in Arcadia and drive an Audi.

The plants also dislike sudden winds or rain. Except for the dwarf perennials,
most delphiniums need staking. This is why we can’t have nice things.
Who’s afraid of red, white, and blue?

Heavens to Murgatroyd, that’s about it. This is our common tale of woe. Some
thrive in the present, others not. It all comes down to the Tootsie Roll.
Things will never get better as long as we think FDR was a nice guy.