The Podcast Poet

The worst thing about this super slick poet on the podcast
with his good looks and slim physique and 50-dollar hairdo
is not that his poetry is bland and self-content
or that his life is easy or that he is satisfied and perfectly adjusted
or that he is rewarded for not being offensive or bleak
or that he rides so gracefully the waves of the current norms
and still calls himself “a daring explorer”
or that he speaks of Mahler and Hayden
and of being “encouraging”

The worst thing is thinking
that if my wife met him
she would fall in love with him
with his rich voice and no circles under his eyes
he who has made poetry pay
who seems wise
who has admirers and invitations and loads of likes
who dines at nice restaurants
does not drink too much
has an apartment in New York
wears name-brand shirts and sports a lucrative Substack
frolics in his ability to talk about suffering
in a way that makes it attractive
in a way that makes it seem like it’s not really suffering

He looks like a movie star
agreeable as a morning warbler
embodies everything that makes me sick and sorry and angry
this man who holds the world in his hands
with a heart that isn’t black and weary
a man who talks about failure in the abstract
(instead of being a failure and talking about it first-hand)
who feels pride instead of having had his pride
obliterated by a cold reality
a man who knows how to answer questions
who speaks of lavender and horses unironically
instead of lonely chairs and worms and dust and dirt
(and bad dreams which always come true)
a man who has not grown old before his time
a man she hoped I’d be
before she really knew me

Dream with Johnny Depp and Quicksand

Everybody is hungover but me
which is a miracle
Johnny Depp says,
God dammit somebody stole my leather jacket
we can’t waste all day searching for it
we are late for a town council meeting
we are to vote on a new president
we pile into the old jalopy
Johnny drives
I am standing in the back and try to urinate
between the two front seats
but end up pissing on Johnny’s leg
we get to the town council meeting but the guy who is supposedly
the shoe-in hadn’t shown up yet
his sister is there a hot little blonde
she says,
My brother is on the train he’s on his way
but if he doesn’t arrive I’m the next president those are the rules
she stands in front of a cheering crowd
giddy as an orchard thief
I stand behind her feeling her breasts and soft curves like a country road
she takes a comb and flattens my cowlick
I’ll be in my office for a while, she says and leaves
she is the town whore it turns out
and her office is up the hill
I follow her but get tired and have to sit down
then a big gorilla of a Mexican man lumbers toward me
he is my father
he says, You kids were nothing but trouble
I say, That’s tough shit old man
he laughs and says,
I’m gonna get me some
meaning he is going to the whore house to fuck my hot blonde
which tears my heart out
I start running but it is quicksand and I make slow progress
to what I think is some new wonderful place
that will ease my pain
but turns out to be only the same old bed
in the same cold little house
my wife crying beside me in her restless slumber

Old Boats

This is a Mexican fishing village and there are abandoned boats
all over the place
in vacant lots and on the side of the road
in peoples’ yards
old decrepit boats that will never float again
nobody ever fixes them
it’s as if the sea receded very quickly and left them here
they remind me of old lost people
of unrealized dreams and long-ago times
they lay tilted with chipped paint and splintered wood
there is nowhere to take them where they might rest easier
or if there is it would cost too much
sometimes people will burn one in the night to stay warm
or just to watch the flames
the ancient mariner’s varnish bubbling and stinking
the cracking like some mythical monster
snapping bones in his jaws like our dog Chucho with his chicken bones
I walk by two such abandoned boats
every time I walk to the corner store
Chucho stops to piss on them
they were new and shiny once and split
the lazy blue waters of the Sea of Cortez
when there were still plenty of fish in it
long before I ever came here or even heard of this place
the price of shrimp is higher every day
they are smaller and smaller with strange black spots on them
it’s the same all over the world
we wait for some new flood to wash over us
but the water only rises a few centimeters a year
and we just don’t live long enough to fathom history
it’s too cold to swim now in late October
the old boats tossed down and forgotten like the toys
of giant children
people throw garbage into them as they walk by

The Paper Cage

Seneca said he wrote in a journal to calm himself
to put his anxieties in the “cage of the page”
poems are better with quotes from famous people in them
stories are better when grim and full of unfortunate situations
an anger rises in me sometimes
people disgust me
they are smug and sure of themselves
in love with slickness with no soul
I had a dream of 3 tigers
the first tiger was wild
it was ugly and its fur was matted and it had battle scars
people hated it
the second tiger was in a zoo
pacing behind bars
it was fat and well fed and the people liked it better
the third tiger was dead
it was stuffed and set on a platform
children touched its fangs which gleamed like alabaster
and stroked its shag carpet fur
the people liked this one most of all
it gave them no anxiety
unlike these thoughts
which make me bristle
and lean down low here in this paper cage


I’m driving to the grocery store
see a hot slim girl standing on the side of the road
the guy in the truck beside me sees her too
he nearly stops in the road gawking
when the car behind him honks he comes to his senses
he hits the gas so fast a wheelbarrow flies out of his truck bed
and bounces into the car’s windshield
I keep on cruising
the two men in the road argue in my rearview
looks like they will come to blows
the hot slim girl continues to talk on her cellphone
I laugh and am pleased to see such a rare thing
most of the women are round and homely in this town

Dream on the Brink of a Chasm

My uvula grew down to the bottom of my throat
and came out my Adam’s apple
dangled there red and slimy
I touched it but it didn’t like me touching it
I thought,
How am I going to go to work with this thing?
Natalia is still not better
it’s been months and months of sickness
another doctor appointment today
nobody knows what to do
I think of the old settler days when so many people died young
and wonder how you can tell if someone is truly insane
our love is at the brink of a chasm
I reach out to Natalia in my dreams so we can fly together
but she’s never there
in the morning way off to the other side of the bed
looking away

Dream of the Cheaters and the Cheated

I am an Airbnb super-host
and this girl wants to stay in my place for free
she walks closer and smiles and presses her tits against me
Well maybe I can waive the cleaning fee, I tell her
she’s game and we head for the elevator
it’s a high-tech elevator
when we’re inside I press the wrong button
and the thing starts moving at sonic speed
it’s scary at first but after a while we relax and enjoy it
in a few seconds we’re moving through Russia
we see the snowy landscape from the windows
then around the globe the elevator spits us out
right where we started
Let’s take the stairs, I say
it was only 2 floors down
inside the room we’re having sex
her body is white as the Russian snow
I’m not especially attracted to her
and feel guilty because I’m married
I never climax and figure it doesn’t count as cheating
then she kicks me out and I’m back at the elevator
the door keeps opening and closing
too fast for me to get in
and the keypad is impossible to decipher
I see another girl with black curly hair
she’s being bothered by 3 apelike creatures
they’re selling something and don’t take no for an answer
I grab her hand and whisk her away
to a bench where we sit under an awning
it begins to rain and my feet get wet
on a piece of paper she writes her name and phone number
her name is “Anette Mathers”
that’s a strange coincidence, I think,
it must be fate
she stands up and walks away in the rain
I hold the paper in my hand trying to read her phone number
but the numbers float up like mosquitoes
and I know I’ll never see her again
in fact I’ve never been more sure about anything
in my miserable little life

Dream of Two Masters

I was serving two masters
my first master was a young kid
he was in love with his abdominals and his cock
he made me cut his split-ends
when he gave me a break I hopped in a 4 by 4
and took off down the road
my second master was in a big house all alone
trying to renovate it
he was standing in a room with loose slats for floor boards
between the floor cracks there was a deep dark space
from which came a sound like the ocean from a conch shell
he said,
These cracks are hints
dropped from sleep and night
and you are to use them in the light of day
I said,
You know this room is expecting guests this afternoon
he said,
I know, it won’t be ready
I said,
Where’s the rest of the crew?
he looked sad and old
his wisdom hadn’t helped him fight off the monsters
he said, No idea
I said,
Well, I was here this morning but you weren’t
he said,
Let me pay you for your time
he took out his wallet and handed me my driver’s license
I said,
You keep that, it’s the thought that counts
he teared-up and said,
For that I give you your freedom
I said,
That gift I’ll take
I believe he was the better of my two masters
but still I left skid marks in my 4 by 4
to look for a man of wild virtue
who was obedient only to his true self

Dream of Divine and Horrifying Facts

I have a nice piece of land I call my own
just big enough for a shack, two trees and a hammock
I plan to live and die here
then some guy builds a 40-story hotel right in front
after that I go a little wild
the sinews of my heart snap
I give up hope
I travel around town on a flat piece of cardboard like a sled
I lay belly-down and scoot along
but I get too clogged up and caked with dog shit
I have nice boots
so I take them off and go barefoot
like a gray-haired Huck Finn
I go looking for the old quarter
I want a pack of smokes but I don’t have any money
I meet a nice little brown shaggy dog and he follows me for a while
a lot of young hipsters are about
their bare feet shiny and smooth like their faces
mine look like hobbit’s
I come near a lighted doorway where people are gathered
inside there is an auctioneer on a podium
2 giant flags hang on the wall behind him
one is the U.S. flag but backwards like seen in a mirror
the other flag is a map of the whole of creation
in the middle of it is a dark space
which is the common origin of all things
people begin dancing in the dark street
a doctor comes up to me and hands me his card
I slap it away and spit
there is a tap on my shoulder like a raindrop
it is Natalia
she holds my boots and she has shined them
even though they are a mis-matched pair
I take them in my hands and cry
the despair wakes me up before the sun
prone on the hard bed
in my mother-in-law’s house in Hermosillo
next to my dying Natalia
with a pit in my stomach
like a simple declaration of a horrifying fact