Monthly Archives: August 2012

Watering Plants With Fire

Sometimes you think you’re the only one

who knows

the truth

to something

and you could be right

you could be that truth’s only light

but you shine like the stars in the day time

if nobody else sees how bright

like the cure for cancer growing in an undiscovered cave somewhere


how still America must have stood

before Asians tramped across the ice of the Bering Sea

and warmed her with their humanity

The Mayans learned to tell time

The Mayans learned to slash and burn

to find that crops grow better after the land has been burnt

flames taught the tribe how to cultivate life from destruction

best I can do is bleed a few lines about it

on paper made from the pulp of trees

now the pressure’s on you, My Favorite Reader

to give meaning to poetry

written on somebody else’s history

your eyes give rise

to any yeast growing from these seeds

asking you to do my job for me

is the greatest favor a writer can ask of his reader

knowing that you know what I mean

when I write of watering plants with fire.

Playing Hide and Seek with 20,000,000 People (and I’m It)

The world’s largest city is like History

it depends on your text book

if you Wikipedia it you’ll get Tokyo in at number one with over thirty-two million people

but that’s forgetting the Calculus of Calcutta has at least twenty million in homeless alone

but they don’t calculate the ones without the homes

though you can’t miss them

they are everywhere in the city

you can’t walk down a sidewalk at night without stepping on people sleeping

the sidewalks of Calcutta are filled from head to foot with the sleeping and the dead

millions and millions

uncounted and uncared for

and there is only so much money in my pocket

even all the love in my heart

cannot pay the pain away

there’s just too much suffering for one man to right

especially if he’s trying to write it off in rupees

so I write this up to offer up this prayer

that we can see that our facts are so often fiction

so, who’s to say what’s the world’s biggest city?

I am and it’s Dubai

I define big by buildings, skyscrapers, especially

if we’re talking what city has the most people

then I don’t know

though, I’ve been to Calcutta, I didn’t get a chance to count

people are hard to count, they keep moving around

and even at night while sleeping

there are simply too many bodies to count before dawn

maybe twenty million of them or more

I hate to think that I’m rounding down.

The Heart, Stomach and Other Organs of Love

They say the way to a man’s heart goes through his stomach

not this man, not this stomach

I’m picky in love, but not such a picky eater

I’ll eat just about anything for dinner

dog, yak, rabbit, live octopus, beating snake’s heart

I’ve tasted them all

doesn’t mean I loved them all

I didn’t even like any of them

but, if someone is kind enough to serve me food

I am kind enough to eat it

who am I to judge another’s diet

til I’ve tried it

holy cow, I eat cow for christsake

eating dog to some is like eating a pet or part of the family

but, dining on a cow to a Hindu is like dieting on their deity

like walking into the church, taking Jesus down from the cross and biting into him like the

Easter Bunny

ears first

(or, are you a feet first kind of person?)

really, either way, I don’t judge

I’m a cow-eater and dog-eater and a beating snakeheart-eater

I got nothing on no one

like I said, I’ll accept anything

except love

this goes beyond the stomach or church

it doesn’t even begin in the bowels beneath the temple walls

it starts in the soul where true love calls

and when was the last time I ate soul food?

How often have dishes that looked bad turned out to be delicious?

How often have kisses that tasted nutritious turned out to be high in sodium?

Still, we must eat to live

and we must love to live

hate like fasting will wither us away

love like laughing will keep the witch with the poisoned apple at bay

and even when we die

love’s spell will outlast us all

as poems, carved stones and children

all proof that love was here

even if she is casting about elsewhere.

Bobby Paddycakes: Blind Underwear Model

Rob had been born blind so he had no idea that he had also been born ugly. Rob had been born one ugly baby and had grown into one ugly man.

But, Rob had been lied to his whole life. His parents always had told him he was the most beautiful baby in the world and who was he to argue with his parents?

His parents were rich and loved their baby Bobby so very very much. They felt terrible that he had been born blind, with his mother feeling extra guilty for all the extra wine coolers she had drunk all throughout the pregnancy. Barbara Paddycakes knew that drinking during pregnancy was dangerous for the fetus, still, she never considered wine coolers as drinking. Tequila was drinking. Vodka was drinking. Wine coolers are for lounging by the pool. Wine coolers are not drinking, Barbara laughed, patting her enormous stomach set at six months.

Now, Barbara, at her most regretful three a.m. guilt trips tips the bottle to her lips and knows, wine coolers are drinking; she has a blind two year old son to prove it.

So, she spent oodles of money to make up for treating her body like Spring Break the entire six and a half months she had been pregnant. She spent all this money on her son, Bobby. She wanted him to have the carefree life she never had.

First and foremost, she set forth instilling an overwhelming sense of confidence in her Bobby. No matter what mistake he would make, his mother would gush over his greatness.

“Way to put the cat in the dishwasher! Good boy! Just next time, don’t turn it on,” was the strictest tone Barbara ever took with her boy.

Rob Paddycakes parents paid handsomely to actors to fawn over their boy’s faux beauty.

“What a good looking young man!” one actor was paid $500 to say.

Another was paid $650 to walk by and say, “You must be so popular with all the girls!”

Rob wasn’t, but, he always blamed his blindness, not his beauty. He truly believed he was the most gorgeous man alive. So, it made sense for him to audition to be spokesmodel for Calvin Klein.

The brains behind Calvin Klein’s marketing team saw great potential in Rob. They knew they lived in a time when sick is cool, and irony reigns, so why not go with the blindest, ugliest spokesmodel they can find, trusting the public to get the joke. And just like that, they hired Rob, who went by the name, Bobby Paddycakes.

Bobby Paddycakes was a huge hit. Putting Rob in their underwear in various beefcake poses, having him flex his non existent muscles while about to step off the runway, or, a gangplank, people ate it up. Underwear sales went up. Bobby Paddycakes became a celebrity.

Of course, nobody had the heart to tell Rob that his celebrity was an ironic one. He believed that people found him good looking. He dated women who told him they were models, too. He believed them.

Nobody called him ugly to his face until he had a particularly bad breakup with Gretal Burchhousen, who, wanting to hurt him as much as he hurt her, told him, “And you are the ugliest male model ever and your fame will be all gone in one year, tops.”

Rob didn’t take her words seriously, dismissing them as the the ranting of a heartbroken woman.

But, when he heard it again from his next ex girlfriend, Candice, he wondered if there could be any truth to their accusations of his ugliness. So, he asked his best friend, Doug.

“Am I ugly?”

“I wouldn’t kiss you,” his best friend replied.

“Seriously. Tell me true. Is my ad campaign ironic? Am I ugly?”

“Who am I to judge another guy’s-”

“Just tell me, Doug! Am I ugly?”

“Physically, maybe, but not-”

“I’m ugly? What really? How’d that happen?”

“Blame your parents, I guess. ”

“They told me I was beautiful.”

“They lied.”

“And all those people! All those people who told me I was so good looking! What happened?”

“They lied, too.”

“Why would so many people lie to me like that? Why would Calvin Klein pay me so much money to be ugly?”

“It’s a very funny campaign. You should see it.”

“I can’t, I’m blind.”

“I meant, if you could see it, you’d understand why it’s so popular. It’s very funny.”

“They’re laughing at me!”

“What do you care? You’re rich.”

“I sold my soul!”

“No, just your ugly mug. Your soul’s fine.”

“So, I’m funny looking?”

“You’re hysterical. You should see yourself. In one you’re getting ready to go skydiving, but you strap your parachute on upside down, while talking about the importance of safety.”

“But, I look ugly in them?”

“Sorry, dude. But, that’s what makes them- you so funny. If you were good looking it wouldn’t work. Cause you’re so confident with your appearance and you do all the model like poses, but, you’re about to do something really dumb, it’s great.”

“They’re laughing at me.”

“Dude, you’re rich and famous, laugh back. You’re fine.”

“I’m ugly.”

“Beauty comes from within.”

“I’m ugly there, too. All I care about are my looks, my looks have been all I’ve cared about my entire life, and now it turns out, I’m ugly.”

“You’re lucky you’re ugly. It’s your ugliness that’s made you famous. Look at you now. Your ugliness has made you rich. Before you were just ugly and no one cared about you, and you had no options. Now, you’ve got all this, this house, cars, women, dude, you got it all, and it’s all because you are ugly. You should be thankful you are so very ugly.”

But, Rob didn’t see it that way and blamed his parents and even his great grandparents for giving him ugly genes.

He went back to work modeling, though, he had lost the strut and the swagger which killed the comedy. His next two ads bombed and Rob was replaced with a talking rabbit as Calvin Klein’s next spokesmodel.

Off Baseball

I lost my baseball game last Saturday

it was a playoff game

we’re one and done in these playoffs

cause I couldn’t hold a three run lead

and I know baseball is a team sport

win as a team

lose as a team

but the pitcher alone takes the W or L

and had I done my job

we would have beat The Cubs

this is the same team that cut me to start the season

I wanted to show them what they missed

I wanted to prove that living well is the best revenge

and living well means throwing strikes right past The Cubs

but I couldn’t hit the strike zone

and my failure gives them the game

I had my heart set on winning

I practiced so hard between games

I felt so confident

and still I sucked

and the loss struck me

like a gut shot

then today as I was walking from the baseball field

where I take my students to play every week

I bump into a player from The Cubs and his daughter

we stop, smile at each other and I congratulate him on the game

then I tell his daughter

“Your daddy beat me in a baseball game!”

and the little girl’s smile almost took the pain away.

The Marriage of Heaven and What the Hell

What’s the one thing you don’t know that you most want to know

and what if you knew it

how would it change my life

not much I bet

how do I know

I don’t know

but I’d bet against me altering my lifestyle

over any such answer

1 + 2 = 3

we know

yet, how has that stopped us from fantasizing a fourth primary color

we watch tragedies

even though we know how they turn out

we are tragedies

even though we still turn out for weddings

hoping they end in death not divorce

cause really you’ve only got two options

and the romantic enters the marriage

hoping to be separated on such a technicality as

till death do thee part

like the poet enters the poem

hoping the poem will enter him.

Jackie Robinson Shows Yuri Gagarin How To Steal Home

You can tell a lot about a person by who they choose as their hero

I have many:

my Mom, my Dad, Jackie Robinson, Lenny Bruce, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela

Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, Rosa Parks, Yuri Gagarin

what impresses me most about Yuri Gagarin isn’t that he is the first man into space

is that four men died before he got his shot

he knew that man to space had an 0 for 4 survival rating

and still he got on his space suit

got into his spaceship

and said:

Let’s go!

And how much did the weight of gravity weigh on him

pushing him to defy such arbitrary laws

and how much did the sense of freeing humanity from its pull

propel him to shoot hellbent into the upper echelons of the atmosphere

and how much of it was ego

to be the first to leave the stratosphere and come back and talk about it

I’m not judging

simply asking

Yuri Gagarin’s legacy goes beyond the stars

right to the core of who we are

and what we wish we’d be.

Journey To The Center Of Gravity

Every where is the center of the universe

every man is Mr. Universe

even though we’re told to share

and to get over ourselves

we’ve scaled Mt. Everest

we’ve landed on Mars

yet not got to the bottom of the sea

we look up not in for our problems and our solutions

like drinking beer on a Saturday night

words bubbling up

like foam at the back of my tongue

I’m happy I’ve made myself so dumb

sure, I can write, but don’t ask me to make you toast

probably burn the whole town down

I toast the enlightenment of my stupidity

who knows what bunk waits to be debunked

who knows what grows at the bottom of the sea

I pour more liquid inside me

with every bottle drunk

and every thought thunk

I find myself chasing this computer cursor across this computer screen

and I’ve almost got it, it’s just one letter away

it just jumped lines

I jumped too

I’m the drunk falling softly from the horse

I’m ready to do some spelunking, I’m ready to change course

I’m ready to fall into any crevasse, crawl into any cave

I’m ready to save and to be saved

we’ll get to the bottom of this eventually

why not now?

I don’t know

you tell me.

Scratching Diamonds

Diamonds can only be scratched by other diamonds

if diamonds are a girl’s best friend

why does my exgirlfriend hate baseball?

It’s played on a diamond

I thought my heart was a diamond

until she crushed it to chalk

but like lemons made into lemonade

I turn chalk into words on the blackboard

sweetened by the history of your eyes

sparkling like sugar on your lips

I see sweetening

slaking my summer thirst

though I sip from an empty glass

sitting here


imaging you reading this

you’re beautiful

diamonds got nothing on you

diamonds wear you

you don’t wear diamonds

and you’re why I don’t put a diamond on my girlfriend’s finger

cause I’m married to you

my reader.

You Can’t Teach Drowning

Playing in the park with my niece

she’s two and a half and the cutest kid you’ve ever seen

and she’s not into the swings

she’s into climbing

and though she’s a bit young to be climbing things as high as a basketball net

I stand beneath her supporting her by the diaper

letting her climb as far as I can reach

the kid is fearless

she’ll jump right into any body of water if you’ll let her

she’s two, she can’t swim

she doesn’t care, that doesn’t stop her

in fact, she gets mad when you try to stop her

from jumping feet first into the deep end

without a single swimming lesson

she’s not even a pollywog, no where near a tadpole

but that doesn’t stop her

she trusts all the elements are on her side

and I don’t want to take this from her

but, I can’t let her just jump into the pool

if I was standing in the pool, I’d let her jump

but overdressed as I am for swimming

I don’t

instead holding my niece by her right wrist

stopping her from jumping in

and she fights me

“Let go! Let go!” she shouts

struggling to be free

so she can leap into the pool

and discover she can’t swim

I want to spare her this lesson

save her from ever understanding drowning

yet I know she needs to know

but not today.

I scoop her up

and carry her to get ice cream.