Let’s Not

Let’s not be melodramatic
let’s not wear turtlenecks in the sun
or scuff our boots on purpose
let’s not stand at the podium and apologize
for nonexistent stage fright
let’s not flaunt our raccoon eyes
or applaud wildly like soccer moms
at kindergarten graduation
or roar that we are poets roaring or that we have tits
or cunts or balls or dicks
let’s not be sad because it’s cool
or mouth love because it’s an easy road to sainthood
let’s not be delicate because it’s expected
let’s not pretend we’re Indians
or gangsters or beatniks
or are channeling an Egyptian princess
let’s not smoke pot and tag people and gloat
let’s not drop names like women
drop silken kerchiefs
let’s not brag about how much we drank
or read
or scribbled
let’s not quote Becket
or carry “outlaw Bibles”
or romanticize bus stops
or heroin needles
let’s stop saying blood and guts and
let’s stop saying genius and must-read.

Let’s start being honest
about all this
it’s not much
we’re not much
goobers in the sand pile
downers in skinny jeans
latte-slurpers and sushi-chewers
screws loose and heads fat as Thanksgiving turkeys
just look at the way we walk and talk and
make videos
it’s sickening
even our laughter is false and condescending
our little hard-ons
our rhetorical suffering
our tweedle-dumb theories
12 poems about starvation before dinner
9 poems about heart-ache after dinner
cutting our brilliance off in time
for the late show.

Rebels, please, even our preachers have earrings
and tattoos
everybody’s trying to sell their penny-sick souls
everybody’s trying to sell their dimestore doohickies
how can you not throw up perusing
the cherub faces
of the poor prepubescent world-changers
chapbook staplers
pony-tailed haiku poopers
shopping mall roosters with perfect noses
crowing about the hard life
academics writing papers about reviving the male spirit
or the female spirit
with Facebook photos like real estate agents
slapping their own asses
loafers and tenure and diarrhea down their legs
which nobody will mention
between their cult-chants of togetherness
and spurts of roses and lilac
and communal

Where will it end
where can it end
our doggy-whimpers
our parrot inflections
praying for disability or inheritance or grants or awards
or at the very least
writing “you are beautiful” in lipstick on the mirror
believing everything that falls off
the tips of our baby-soft fingers.

A Poem Written After Viewing Several YouTube Videos of Poets Reading Their Precious Works

You don’t have to be old to dislike poets
or to want to send them to an island with starving crocodiles
where they can make all the YouTube videos they want
and tell us in their affected voices
about authenticity.

why did you give us
a pubescence
that lasts 40 years
why did you give us pencilly kids in dorm rooms
talking into me-phones
why did you give us boys who stroke their beards
like they’ve got pussies on their faces
why did you give us girls who say like
and look at us with eyes that don’t think
but only want what they have not earned?
We are not offended, skinny pants
we are bored, we have seen you, like all men have seen
their pee-stained offspring preen and comb
like the painters of pre-Australia must have seen
like the petroglyph carvers of the Sonoran desert must have seen.

The artists seem to be nothing but pretention
and microphones
they do nothing
to sharpen that cutting edge they love to speak of
in a world that worships brats
of all ages
in a world that worships mucousy hipsters
of all ages
in a world that worships anarchists of daddy’s money
and the awe shucks lie of false humility.

Listen to them read their crap, heckle their faces off
tie them up like cows for the slaughter
like the perfect offering to an Aztec god
praise them and praise them while slitting their throats
and hope their blood comes out red not snot-green
like a pheromone warning trail from the ant
who never comes home
before they become

grant recipients and tenure track faculty
teaching and preaching
giving workshops about the importance of character
against a sunset backdrop in Kauai
before they become

wine-sippers and pinky-typers
writing two hours each morning before yoga
Zen practitioners
pedaling their bikes to the coffee shop
before they become

editors of seven different online
zines simultaneously
before they become

resident poets
sitting in chairs in perfectly ordered rooms
writing poems about Geronimo
or talking about Buddhism with great chasmic

pauses between lines


just end it now
I’m begging you.

Facebook Conversation with a Small Press Editor After 22-and-a-Half Cans of Beer

Hello Joe, happy birthday.

Hello Mather, how are you?

Oh, like you care, Joe.

What’s that supposed to mean?

Well, you never say hi to me on Facebook.

Hey, I’m busy. I’m not always on Facebook. Lots of irons in the fire.

Your Facebook light is always green and that means you’re there, right?

Well, kind of. I mean, I’m here but I’m not here. I go in and out.

I see. But I notice that you make comments on other peoples’ threads.

That’s when I’m not busy.

Right, right.

Well, nice talking to you.

Be honest, it wasn’t that nice.

No, it wasn’t.

You know Joe, sometimes I get tired of waiting six or eight months for your mail replies to my submissions. I know that sounds rude.

Well Mather, me and my friend get together and read the submissions, it’s fun for us. We get together at the bar every six months and read them. You know, for fun.

I’m glad it’s fun for you, but it’s no fun waiting. Waiting sucks.

You’re so impatient.

I mean, you never know what will happen tomorrow, and it’s nice to feel that someone appreciates you.

Sorry, but lately we’ve been busy with our chapbook contest.

Oh, your contest?

You know, it’s how we pay the bills.

I’ll bet it’s fun, too.

It is, we have fun with it.

I don’t have any bills myself, my life is all comped.

Well, nice talking to you Mather, hope you take your meds.

Thanks Joe, I appreciate it. Just one more thing.


Take my submission and stick it up your ass.

Well, Mather, that’s no way to talk to an editor.

I’m sick of it, Joe.

Have it your way, Mather, your loss.

Hey Joe, hey Joe.


Happy birthday.

It’s not my birthday.

It’s not?


Shit, then who am I talking to?

I don’t know, Mather, you’re drunk.

Is that why my ears are ringing?

No idea, I’m not a doctor.

You’re not much help to me, are you Joe? If that’s really your real name.

Afraid not. Anybody ever told you you were an asshole, Mather?

A few times.

Well, you should listen to them.

I should, I should. It’s just this thing about people, Joe, I mean, they piss me off.

How so?

Well, you know, they are so quick to be offended, so full of themselves. They think they’re great, but I don’t see the greatness.

You mean, um, like yourself?

Nailed it, Joe.

You know, Mather, I was just flipping through your submission and these are pretty good.


Yeah, I’d like to take one of these, or should I just stick it up my ass?

Hey, well, you know, I was just kidding around.

Sure, Mather. Okay, we’ll take “HONK IF YOU LOVE FREEDOM” for next issue.

You’re all right, Joe.

Usually we get together and read the subs together, my other editor and I, but in this case I’m making an exception.

Sorry to take the fun out of it.

It’s okay. Gotta go now, Mather.

Hey Joe, hey Joe.


Love you.

A Poem for the Last Match

I disturb the copper worms
beneath the buckled sidewalks, worry over lullabies,

look slant-wise
at ugly men with beautiful wives,

pick at the word opposite, wonder
how luck lives with itself, how to light the wick

of the soul, to art or to fart, swivel my head
at the ping-pong of politics, make

do with day-olds, laugh at my gory particulars
and worser parts,

stutter at butter talkers, how
they sound so smooth and knowing, even breaking

wind with a cocky zest, the bringers
of deep-fried zingers, the never-

flustered, the handlers of snot-slick
automobiles, man-tans and cigars, bright

mile-long smiles, the other
lives so I may see and know and smell

their cinnamony wisdom,
but also to bow in deference

to low pants, patchouli-pits, knuckle tattoos, dog-shit
waterfalls, trustafarian fanfare, prefabbed

improv, pecker-grabbers, prenatal scenesters, self-crowned
outlaws, sixth grade nicknames and fixie

bikes. Sometimes the dead appear
healthier than many walking the streets, healthier

than my face in the mirror. I want to

reflect the sun like a belt buckle
on a bronco buster

while my admirers down cups
of soda pop and yellow beer.

I want to be loved
and envied and feared and so much more

like wanting forever, useless
to want, useless to not want, the end

will come and it will
be blank as a cashier’s forehead, no matter

how the bum on the corner
dotes about god with his cardboard sign

or that he calls me a saint
for a buck.

Interview with a Poet

He begs his host and the audience
to be so gracious as to forgive him
because he’s “rather hungover”
from staying up all night reading Nietzsche
and drinking Maker’s Mark
and hasn’t had the fortune
of nipping off to the cappuccino stand yet.

Plus he’s “positively exhausted”
from his two month reading tour
and needs to take a break
and let the
“well fill up.”

A font of incomparable input
we sup it up like burros
in a cultural desert:
he tells us if you don’t want to take the bus
on your reading tour
you can always take the train
or you could fly in an airplane
or drive in a car
and if you want to save money on food
it is best to eat in cheap restaurants
rather than expensive ones
(although occasionally it’s nice to splurge).

He tells us the best way to get “free in your mind”
is to stop worrying about money
and it is assumed the subject of how his bills are paid
is either a matter of mystical serendipity
a rich woman
or a government check each month.

When he’s not cutting poems
“to the bone”
he does fantasy football
supports angry women on social media
buys new headphones
alerts the populace to the presence
of Tom Waits and this strange new music
called the blues
acts as curator of newsboy caps
and guidance counselor
for hipsters.

He tells us his “ironclad character”
was “arduously attained”
and it took him “years of suffering”
to find his “voice”
which is odd because he’s 26
and sounds like every other stoner
who ever rode a pony in the small press parade.

His fourth “full-length” is coming out soon.
He has a “primary publisher” but he writes so “feverishly”
that he is obliged to occasionally “let”
other people publish his work.

He mentions 38 poets by name and then reiterates
how he detests name-dropping
and groups
MFA programs too
well maybe not DETESTS because not ALL groups are bad
a poet needs to have a community
“generalizing is the protectorate of idiots”
and hate is simply not a word
in his vocabulary
suffice it to say he is on
the fence
when it comes to groups and MFA programs
while the evidence is still being tallied.

He reminds us that poetry
is something one must do in isolation
with a pen
or a typewriter
or a computer
or a magic marker
or a stick in the sand
he himself has written poems in the margins
of sky-mall magazines
and on cocktail napkins
which proves a poet will write
because a poet must write,

He advises youngsters to get back to nature
but not the roses and trees and deer and waterfalls
kind of nature
in other words, “write what you don’t know”
except sometimes it is also good to
“write what you know.”

His most recent book opens
with a Whitman quote
and if you don’t know who Whitman is well
then you’re still shitting yellow
in mama’s wam-wam.

He tells us it is best to eventually get down
to prose writing
because the world just doesn’t take poets seriously
due to the fact that civilization has been in decay
since the time of Bukowski
and perhaps even a bit before that.

He says he thinks it is important to
“keep literature dangerous”
and to illustrate this he explains that one of his chapbooks
is bound with birch bark
and stitched with tea-bag strings.

In closing
if you have even “the remotest interest in modern literature”
you will not miss his latest collection
though what it’s called
I can’t for the life of me remember—

something with “blood” in it.

Possibilities Bitten Into the Shoulder of 3AM

Get born, seek mate, repo-dos, grill wings, melt in front
of miss universe

ball your socks, jack-off, don’t weed whack
before 6, act zany

eat neat, look cool, suppose, hop hip
lope, oppose Hitler’s roses, lean the way

the wind blows, support, feel sorry, fart
smartly, caramelize onions

choose paper, nix cook’s special, send
kids loaded wishes, hate hate

talk right, break clean,
shame the wild, mount the tame

want nothing, have everything,
remember Rome, sift sand, sport baseball

caps, screw rice, buy American,
guffaw at sombreros, say it is

what it is, pinch lice, keep shrinks, plug in
water picks, scrub molars, know nice

smiles open doors
to Roarshack kill-floors, don’t duck walk

heart the world, monitor moles
raise pinky, remember mother’s

day, vomit quietly
omit pain, shun shit, shut tombs, pound chest

lock bike, don’t call
collect, shoot straight, take in

a show, lick ice cream, tap glass once
sit in call-centers, taxi cabs, crap factories, white labs

fornicate for money, help people, pull strings
graph blackness, like Einstein’s hair

jot numbers, make jokes, stare discretely, believe
tv, save, retire, wave spatula

get sauced, pretend to be
someone else, snicker, diddle, muddle, doodle

hold on to the holy trinity
of three friends, forget, go quietly

to bed, tread on he who tailspins, fuck
yourself, be forgotten, chew tripe

swallow down the right pipe
make pee pee, don’t think

thinking makes death kinky.

The Self-Crowned Outlaw Poets

Keep poetry dangerous
says the poet with his middle finger
up in the camera
big bad beard
armband tattoo
MFA degree
and job as sensitivity trainer
at Geico.

Keep poetry dangerous
by starting Internet zines
and moderating out the negative comments
or by reviewing the work of your thousand friends
and calling everything
awesome and brilliant.

Keep poetry dangerous
by creating a cartoon character
like Razor Sharps
or Vagabond Vicky.

Keep poetry dangerous
by jumping on every limousine liberal
band wagon that stops at the co-op
by calling the cops on your neighbors
when they’re arguing while you’re trying to
pen your opus
by calling anyone who might disagree with you
a bully.

Keep poetry dangerous
by putting it on a T-shirt and selling it for 25 bucks
by putting it on a bumper sticker
by calling your typewriter a machine gun
by loading it
with crap
by screaming red-faced into the microphone every third
Wednesday at the Netherbrew.

Oh, Lordy, keep poetry dangerous
as kittens are dangerous
to balls of yarn
as Takeru Kobayashi is dangerous
to weenies.

The self-crowned outlaw poets
are only dangerous
to poetry
as they beat it like a piñata
and scramble for the dirty candy.