All Poets Are Failed Musicians or Dancers

1. The Circus

I watched a bear get fed up
with riding his bicycle,
drink a clown's fifth of gin
for courage,
maul a young boy's popcorn
and an old man's face.

He turned to the crowd,
muzzle soaked with blood,
and explained how he had wanted
to be a musician.
All of it was in tents.

2. The Whaling Party

I was invited to a whaling party
and I came with Narwhal and Greenpeace members
in tow.

The Greenpeacers were in charge of the music,
which was a poor choice because all they wanted
was Phish.

Narwhal took everybody's keys and made sure
there were enough sober people to act as

I was in charge of the ship-to-whale missile:
Something I never thought I would have to use.
A pod

of people in a station wagon drove by,
blasting music so loud that everyone stopped

3. A Pity Get-Together

You must
be wondering why I have called you few here.
Why there is only enough punch for one man

my size and thirst. Why all I have to eat is
a salt lick, a log of cheese, and a sausage

the size
of a small whale. I'm going to read a poem
about how the arc of my life has not peaked.

I would
like it very much if you all applauded
when I am finished- even if you didn't

like it-
because I wanted to be a musician
and this seemed to be the next natural step.

4. Trendsetter

I cracked the spines
of my old journals,
looking for answers,
then marked each page
with a number
noting my mood
in relation
to a sense of place
and diction employed
to express how
sad I was at
night when I wrote.

6: Ate popcorn,
4: A party,
4: A party,
2: A car crash.

It slopes downward,
which leads me to think
I am on the cusp
of an upswing.
Maybe I'll write
a poem about
a happy person
who is a dancer;
whose dream is to
write a poem.

5. Traffic Jam

I arrived on the scene too late.
Six cars lay
in a heap
of smoldering loss.
Everything was soaked in blood
and I wished I had been
a doctor.

One mustard-yellow station wagon
caught my eye.
I whispered through a crack
in the windshield that no
one was watching
and they could all get up.
Then I turned on their radio
and started to dance.


Bonsai Tree

I bought a bonsai tree three weeks ago because someone told me they had to be kept small. Since then I have been feeding him raw eggs every morning to the sound of the Rocky theme and giving him small motivational speeches like, "You are a tree. A great big tree in a forest of mere people" and, "I have seen the future and you are huge". One day he asked to be called "Tiger". I thought it was because of the song, but really it was so he could sign his farewell letter:

This is just to say
I can feel every
cubic foot of pressure
in the sky.
Also, I have taken the car.



I Have Crying Spells

I have spells to make a grown man cry.
I have spells of entanglement.
I have spells to give +8 to my critical chance with women.
I have spells for love that I choose not to use.
I have spells to incinerate a man's flesh while leaving his insides unsettled.
I have spells of drunken inspiration.
I have spells of productive denial.
I have spells of nervous laughter.
I have spells to telephone my mother Collect.
I have spells to microwave a frozen pizza.
I have spells to feed my cat exactly what he wants.
I have spells of fear.
I have spells of enthusiasm.
I have spells to fill me with holy fire.
I have spells to fill me with the holy ghost.
I have spells to smite demons, but not to befriend them after it's over.

They Are Not To See

I took up wearing glasses
to imitate my literary heroes.

I started using crutches
to go to the store.

I got an appendectomy
for the scar.

To justify the crutches
I amputated my leg.

To justify my appendectomy
I moaned in pain.

I moaned in pain
to imitate my literary heroes.

Note To William Carlos Williams

It wasn't enough to violate my ice box. No, you had the audacity, the flamboyant spitefulness to dig through my entire pint of Loaded Cookie Dough ice cream and pick out every gooey bit of cookie dough. Everyone knows that the vanilla ice cream is just filler. Everyone knows Loaded Cookie Dough is for those people that fantasize about eating an entire tube of unbaked cookie, but lack either the guts or the uncouth nature to attempt such a thing, but you sir.

You are a different breed entirely. You would gladly inhale a log of cookie dough if it were mine. The hot fudge on this sundae? A poem:
"I'm sorry I ate all
of your cookie dough.
Yum yum yum yum yum."

I will eat everything you own.
I will destroy your lucky mug.
I will spit on your meat.
I will unwrap and rewrap your bananas.
I will poke holes in all your cans of soup.
I will crumble all of your Pop Tarts.
I will pour salt in all of your breakfast cereal.
I will unplug your refrigerator.
I will fucking end you
so help me God.


Florence Herman


My Friend's House

As I stood on the precipice of a
conversation I really didn't want
to watch I thought back to my boyhood when
there was this film of something similar

to what my friend had borrowed the day that
I played a part in a situation-
al comedy that lasted only four
hours each episode due to errors

in the whole cavernous system in which
all our words seemed to reverberate the
love that dare not speak its name; I'm talking
about teeth shut up in a box of our

fears, which are too numbered to be counted
by amateurs like myself or my friend.

John Milton Soars

John Milton soars over the earth weeping
salty unadulterated joy, which
turns into white letters on black paper:
writing a poem about his exploits

while engaged in them, but he does not stop.
Now John is higher than God's favorite
bow-tailed kite, than Jesus' golden locks.
His tears reach the tomb of Christ as well as

major air currents in the midwestern
United States during the depression,
as well as the hearts and minds of millions
in his home town of Hell, Los Angeles;

but he knows, deep in his swollen humors,
that they are only tears and only words.

And Here I Thought I Was Being Congenial

I was once born with a hole in my heart,
(Actually my atrial septum)
but no matter how I tried I could not
fill the hole with material things like

an umbrella or surgical stitching.
I was slumped at a bar when I saw her
scouring an old medical journal
featuring my congenital defect.

She smelled of neutral hues, sterile hallways;
of dinner by candle-light and fucking.
Her pager started to buzz, so I stood;
when I approached my feet were arrhythmic

and I murmured my symptoms like a poem.
She told me it only made my heart grow.