Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category


Posted: October 3, 2010 in Poetry
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monkeys press distorted faces

against stained glass windows

itchy vibrations climb from linoleum

and squirt like lizards’ tongues

across the unborn thighs of the twenty-first century

empty bottles everywhere: the drugstore is closed

pull the binds! turn up the music!

choke the screaming night with 100 watts

capitalize the T in technology

until it turns into a cross

nail my existence to it

like a faded ticket to the latest crucifixion

call it predestination or divine will

watch the hero piss in the dusty crossroads

village idiots fight to float their boats

around shrinking islands of logic

suicidal cowboys are eager to pull nuclear strings

let the loaded dice roll down the parabolic edge

saviors wait for high noon in the hollywood hills

reading sanskrit translations of playboy

mechanical students bounce out of school

crawl apelike into melancholy shopping malls

mad poets throw stones at the moon

nobody sees the ones that hit

through the veil of falling objects



Posted: October 3, 2010 in Poetry
Tags: ,

the compass is broken

routines of daily life are glaciers

drifting between birth and death

cosmic riddles twinkle like chrome

in the broken eyes of night

dreams hide their invisible weapons

wizards prowl day-glo painted streets

they are fossils passing out pamphlets made from jello

lost pirates blazing on a frozen globe


the reveries of a fleeting moment!

vacations from associations!

vacations from anything useful!

don’t look back….

an extinct bird cries alone on the shore

fix your attention on accidents

your life is an eternal myth

you are as legendary as you imagine

waitress clearing tables

dishwasher humming top 40 hits

taxi waiting at curb

someone left italian sunglasses

between empty bowls of olives: no tip

it would be nice to get involved

in a tragic situation

someplace dangerous like a bathroom

plenty of running water

white ceramic reflections

effect the brain subliminally

they would fit in any pocket

Q: how much LSD does it take to kill an elephant?

A: in 1962 a male elephant died

after being injected with 300,000 micrograms

simple as riding bicycles

her wet rag moving closer

wiping tables clean for new players

Q: is it ever too late?

A: young goatherds in kirghiz work all year

for enough opium to last one winter

last night six teenagers

set fire to my apartment

sunglasses are incidental

expendable accessories

could it be the rain?

the corners of her eyes?

it would be nice to play it safe

make a living pushing buttons

she’s lighting a cigarette

too much bad coffee: five cups

no place better to spend time or money

dishwasher improvising blues

Q: most burglaries are committed:

a) on moonless nights

b) by average citizens on the job

c) inside the temple of boredom

doors open to wet roadnoise

two teenagers empty into chairs

loosen tops to all salt ’n pepper shakers

waitress asks what they want

they want it all right now: two cokes to go

nothing strange in public places

T or F: if every cafe in america was stacked one atop the other

there would be no need for a space program

teenagers snatch sunglasses from the next table

and walk out like they own the whole damn city

waitress smiles at a bad joke

dollar on the table: keep the change


Posted: October 3, 2010 in Poetry
Tags: , , ,

A modern, interpretive adaptation of Rimbaud’s “Le Bateau Ivre”

I am drifting on a deep green river, under a turtle-shell sky, in the bittersweet, mid-summer nightfall. I can still see the men on the shore, their naked bodies painted red, white and blue and nailed to the dock’s tall black timbers by patriots. My guide ropes were slashed from the same timbers, leaving me to drift alone in this river, at the mercy of the world around me.

It is easy to lose interest in my career when there are no ropes to contain me. No need for a full load of lumber from British Columbia, tennis shoes from Indonesia, or wang-dangs from doodle dandy. No need for concern with the feelings of a strange crew. They are unbearable to me now. My cargo is freedom. My crew consists of my many selves.

No men to pull me with puppet strings, it is easy to forget about the lumber, shoes, ropes, red-white-and-blue bodies — it is easy to forget about the other boats, easy to drift from day to day, through scorching sunshine, heaving weather, waves lashing my sides and tongue-bathing my deck. I drift with tides, a recreational vessel on my way to an exclusive oceanfront destination.

Seasons pass. Winter wraps its harsh, bony hands around my belly and makes me feel like a child who is choked by fear for the first time. I run like soft ice cream from a Vegas high-rise fire and never look back. I run across waves like a steroid-charged  Olympian until I am declared champion of the sea and awarded a well-earned asterisk — I am one with every molecule of water covering two-thirds of the planet. I break with every wave and pull myself together to break again and again. I do not fight the waves: I howl along with flutes they carved from the penis bones of great white whales.

I am a courageous cork bobbing on the crests of 30-foot waves, rolling into their valleys, exploring their caverns and spinning in their foaming glory holes. I am a showgirl’s champagne cork popped at a presidential ball, rolling down the drain and into a churning graveyard, where the ocean’s dead roll over and over, tumbling until their souls are polished, producing the unmistakable sound that is heard in every conch shell that has ever been held to an ear.

Ten days since I’ve seen or smelled land or any other vessels. No strangers’ eyes to wonder why I am alone. Wind and rain play ancient lullabies on my hard skin and I cannot resist waking the voices inside me.

Given the choice of eating a lemon or not eating a lemon, many children will eat the lemon. Life is not always sweet. The ocean water that filled my wooden body was neither sweet nor lemony. It tasted like a metallic blend of nautical devices, middle-aged waste from cruise ships, decomposing underwater vegetation, and battalions of raw sea monkeys in a salty soup of green eternity. The water filled the inside of my shell, burst several ribs, loosed my rudder and anchor, and vomited in my face until I was stained by a green martini that was all juice and no olive. Drink me. I am available.

I drift as the sea drifts, as the waves lead one another to the shore, every seventh wave a bit larger, stronger, more intense than the others, as if it possesses a mathematical consciousness capable of qualitative judgements. That’s absurd! A wave’s numerological capacity has no more to do with qualitative judgements than the words marching across this page have to do with their grand finale. I argue with myself and win every time. I am drifting through a liquid poem destined for an artificial paradise that waits somewhere in the constellations and mirrors that are scattered across the inner surface of an overturned bowl, defended by slingshots and a team of attorneys appointed by Pluto and patented by Disney. I look into the eyes of drowned men passing by, floating to the next attraction.

Teams of drunken monkeys paint the sky with shotguns and live tuna, scarabs stuff balls of shit into their pockets and crawl across the sky, the orchestra builds to a mad crescendo, flurries of strings, free beer and bonfires, dancing nymphs taking flight, the full horn section blows the doors down, throws more gasoline on the fire, and the red whiskey sun rises over battlefields and boardrooms. Bring the curtain down, take me down with it, take me over, take me, take me now.

The night sky shattered into ten thousand puzzle pieces divided by sharp lines made entirely of white light. It disappeared and reformed with a new puzzle every few seconds, all night long. Water tornadoes climbed from waves like turbo-charged clouds of dancing saviors, twirling and shimmying across the water. It was an average storm.

Dawn launched a million doves. They were the size of boys and girls with big, graceful wings carrying them over an innocent new horizon. It was real and I watched them for an entire day. I watched solar and lunar eclipses without protection, stood atop skyscrapers and felt earthquakes roll the earth’s skin like a cheap carpet, and chased hurricanes up and down Bourbon Street. I saw waves fall like King Louie and Napoleon, like Nixon and Wall Street, I witnessed waves crashing like the Roman Empire and Constantinople — I closed my eyes and still viewed the imminent descent and inescapable suffering of all sentient beings. It was much luckier than anyone ever imagined.

Deep green dreams of snowy nights and slow kisses from my Aunt Bernice. The sea is a fickle partner and everybody needs to dance. Fluid dreams dissolve in primary pools on the floor. Neon melodies dripping from play-doh candlesticks, clouds of flavored incense passing like thoughtful expressions in a dying hawk’s eyes. I can learn to dance alone.

I am riding with gangs of waves crashing the shoreline’s party, invading cold sentinel boulders that protrude from the surf like petrified fingers of giants buried long ago. I ride the waves for months and appreciate the individual character of every mound of moving water — the personality that began as an embryonic swell just beneath the surface, crested in a glorious, transparent azure curl that peaks in a foaming cloud and leaves a sticky corpse on the beach, its soul rushing back to the deep to be born again.

I ram and butt and slam against states of commonwealth and consciousness. I penetrate fields of exotic flowers and look into eyes dressed in human skins. I see the under side of the rainbow — the hard and cold side that continues beneath the ground, a semi-circle of blind melancholy below to balance the technicolor symphony above. I’m going deeper, somewhere under the rainbow.

Secrets unfold in swamps of rotting serpents and fermenting foliage, biblical secrets foretold by apocryphal prophets, alchemical dramas portrayed by voodoo minstrels, absurd axioms transforming flesh to slime one molecule at a time. Boiling water in the center of calm, green scum, the singular stench of aging fluids from bodies unknown — Rasta queen’s torso, jaw of redneck ass, raw blood and urine from supreme ghetto philosopher poets — I am marinating in fundamental secrets and fecal stew from a 6 billion anonymous donors.

Beetles consume a poodle’s corpse, suns devour glaciers, waves are gilded by the moon and waxed by western winds, Embers fall from tortured heavens to adorn the fractured hulks of ships mopping the ocean floor with stringy remnants of masts and sails, devoured like small perfumed dogs falling from miniature trees into eternal darkness.

If I could show the children the fishes darting inside the wave; if I could teach them to throw their cargo over the side and sing without ropes, we could drift together with the emerald eels singing and flashing like sleek meteors in the moonless night, large fish covering harmonic overtones while little fish keep a steady beat. Rose petals lilted down from a flying bouquet, a gentle breeze lifted me from the water like a virgin bride and returned me to my dream of children and fishes that sing.

The ocean is my benevolent keeper. I offer my life to freedom, and it is taken without a blink. I give myself to the river of consciousness that binds all men and women and beasts and trees and mountains and oceans and I am swallowed like a gulp of stale air. I cast my soul to the sober universe and now I have a soggy, intoxicated soul. The ocean takes me and rocks me and whispers sweet nothings in my ear. The ocean tells me I’m beautiful and it will always love me and it brings me invisible flowers with long green stems. I worship every drop of water.

My body ravaged, turned into battered boards strung together by rusty metal ribs, I rolled on my side and become a floating island. The green-eyed birds gather on me, squealing and pecking at each other like politicians, depositing piles of stinking dung that grow into a huge mound atop my broken body. The birds drift with me, building nests of dung, raising families that created more dung, until the mound stood more than one mile high above the rolling waves. I drifted for months, tangled in fishing nets, fading further from existence — a mile-high bird shit memorial to disembodied intention.

Swirling high over the waves, a winged boat hurled through the violet sky and above the birds and clouds by a nameless hurricane, whirling apex with moon and stars, I am falling, falling, falling a mile underwater to deep green invisibility. I am a boat submerged. Misplaced refugee. Unfit vessel at rope’s end. Drunk with ocean lust and disorderly as a double-shot of tequila with a Vicodin kicker…I don’t know if I am awake or dreaming. Am I still a boat?

I am free and I am soaring through sweet green haze, piercing the phosphorescent sky and returning to my private depths with impossible promises, secret handshakes and pearls of great price — all soap for my soul, food for my transparent dog, sandwich spread for poets who work for advertising agencies, fungus dredged from the cleavage of the sun god’s toes, the crystal clear mucus that hangs like vertical spider webs from mint green clouds.

I have no compass, no sense of direction. My mind is spinning dizzy, trapped on an underwater carousel with a revolving assortment of electric circus animals — hippos adorned with colored lights, camels with neon flashing humps, laser-eyed owls, taser-tongued snakes covering the floor, fireworks fill the atmosphere, marching bands strike up a rousing rendition of Peggy Lee’s “Is that all there Is?” and pygmy chimps walk the gangplank with their lovers, holding hands, kissing, and ready for the fall.

I am shivering beneath the faraway cries of gods and monsters. They are roaring and moaning and screwing and beating each other miles away but it sounds like they are next door in the bathroom, under the toilet seat, ready to emerge and turn my world inside out. I beg the keepers of green tranquility to protect me. I want to go to heaven one more time.

Stars are islands scattered across insane ceilings in twisted buildings designed by a stoned cabalist. I am an island traveler, drifting away from every shore, away from every memory, an old doper boat following stars scattered across the stoned ocean, away from every reason for me to be. Where is my reservoir of inspiration? My desire for adventure? I am exiled and exhausted. I wait for gangs of green-eyed birds to carry me away.

The suns, moons, oceans and my many selves remain. They are sick of my whining. Dawn is dirty laundry corrupted by endless variations of disgusting aromatic ingredients. Twilight is a swarm of tiny needles poking through the darkness and penetrating my fingertips, foreskin and the bottoms of my metaphorical feet. I try to think about something that will provide a nanosecond of comfort — I imagine Love and red-hot skewers stab my heart, dry it in the sun, and feed it to hyenas before I can blow a kiss. I believe I am over-cooked. Stick me with a fork and bring out the spicy dipping sauce. I’m ready to go. Eat me on the way out.

I cannot bear the slavery of fundamentalism, the endless battles of greed and patriotism. I can no longer endure the stupidity of the majority, lowest common political denominators, and money always winning over reason, over compassion, over common everyday decency, Money is neither hope nor freedom. Money is ropes and cargo. Money is schedules and obligations. Money is the god and country that paints men and nails them to trees.

Where will I rest? Where will my ashes sink and become the protein of worms and nests of tiny animals? If I must rest someplace, I want to be at least the size of a finger, preferably a middle finger, just a modest scrap of wood that is conveniently located near an accidental pond. It would be nice if the pond was large enough to attract a small child who could kneel beside the puddle and find the scrap of wood. I would like to spend eternity there, in the mud.

After the rain, a boy launches a tiny boat across a small rainwater puddle. I am drifting under a turtle-shell sky, in the bittersweet mid-summer nightfall, unaware as he examines my existence with innocence and awe.

Toss 3 coins

and watch them fall.

It’s the twenty-third hexagram.

The broken house of po.

Harbinger of things splitting apart.

Undermined by darkness.

Be prepared for takeoff on runway 23.

Listen for urgent code twenty-threes

from all radio wave rangers.

Feel the earth’s axis tilt at twenty-three degrees

tropics of cancer and capricorn at twenty-three degrees

recite the twenty-three propositions of Euclid

visualize twenty-three pairs of DNA chromosomes

in every human cell

2,300 grateful dead concerts

the human soul weighs precisely 23 grams

Harpo Marx: born on November twenty-third

Star Trek: twenty-third century

there are twenty-three ways to skin a rat

it takes twenty-three minutes for a good guy

to sink in Hollywood quicksand

the longest recorded orgasm

lasted twenty-three seconds

the shortest was 2.3 seconds

both records were simultaneous

and resulted in spontaneous combustion.

It takes twenty-three seconds for the embers to cool

twenty-three seconds and twenty-three skidoos

twenty-three seconds and twenty-three skidoos.


Posted: September 30, 2010 in Poetry
Tags: ,

The First Lady of Cool

was my eleventh cousin

twelve times removed

from simple realities

she preferred

three-headed catpeople

to television or marriage

she was a mover

in closed circles

elephant riders

and unknown poets

she covered her walls

with empty frames

thought out loud

about psychotic equations

and fixed her flavored lipstick

in an antique mirror

she found while diving

in the president’s Jacuzzi

I am blessed with a penis for every occasion.

I have a tiny, pitiful, shriveled penis

for circumstances that require low self-esteem.

I have a small, stout, happy penis

that is either exhausted from great sex

or relaxing at a public urinal.

I have a sleek circumcised penis

that fits neatly into mainstream expectations.

I have a penis that has never scared anyone

as far as I know.

The rest of my body and my entire nervous system

is attached to a long, firm, slightly curved penis

that is strong and noble and benevolent.

I am controlled by a penis

that will settle for nothing less than world domination.

I have a penis that refers to itself in the third person

and insists it is a direct descendant of the sun.

I possess a penis for every meal.

Lazy breakfast penis.

Watchful lunch penis.

Hungry dinner penis.

Bite-size snack penis.

Prowling midnight penis.

I possess a penis for every phase of the moon

every astrological bus stop and cabalistic correspondence.

I possess a magic penis that takes me to other worlds.

I am blessed with a penis for every occasion.

My penis is a born-again nuclear maniac.

My penis is a self-absorbed jerk.

My penis is an undercover CIA agent.

My penis works for the illuminati.

My penis is mayor of a small town outside Detroit.

My penis is responsible for Obamacare.

My penis does not vote but if it did it would be Republican.

It does not believe in democracy, or socialism

or communism, or even surrealism.

My penis spits out the entire population of China

every time it laughs.

And it laughs about twice a week since 1973

but who’s counting.

My penis is not obsessed with sex.

It is obsessed with paradise.

My penis enters paradise with caution.

Every paradise is a revelation of

its own mysterious, shivering light

every paradise is the first paradise

my penis never takes paradise for granted

my penis is obsessed with paradise.

My penis has many names

and it is flattered with the attention.

My penis is also a dick, cock, pocket rocket

Lil’ red rooster, big Johnson, sir likes-to-lancelot

breeder unit, wang daddy, astral cannon

peppermint poker, buckaroo, one-eyed snake,

mister Rodgers, donut holder, tube steak

bone flute, clawless hamster, pookie bait

repopulator, Picasso’s lunchbox, grateful Jake

lickin’ stick, George Bush junior and senior

lightning rod, magic bone, prowlin pole

Washington’s monument and the Pope’s nose.

My penis is as holy as creation.

My penis is as profane as any middle finger

or the invasion of Baghdad

it is the secret identity of JFK’s killer

it is jazz and rock ‘n’ roll

it is gangsta rap, hip hop and hootchie cootchie

it is as primitive as the first desire

it wears a zoot suit and a black beret

it is eternal damnation

it is the ultimate resurrection

and it has a mind that is like

ten million hungry rockets

sleek, circumcised rockets

small, stout, happy rockets

tiny, pitiful, shriveled rockets.

I am blessed with a penis for every occasion.

(First published in City Lights Review: Ends and Beginnings. Edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, 1994.)


Writing poetry is like a disease with no cure.

You let it run its course

and one day the fever breaks.

I’ve had the fever for twenty years.

I wrote hordes of wild, passionate poems.

I wrote square poems for square editors.

Radical poems for the revolution that does not exist.

Poems that begged for wine and music.

This is my last poem.

No American has written a decent poem

In twenty years and I’m tired of trying.

Poetry readings are boring. Real boring.

I’ve read flocks of my poems at poetry readings.

Jazzy poems. Shocking surreal poems. Boring poems.

The New Yorker prints shitty poems.

Poetry journals are filled with shitty poems.

I’ve written lots of shitty poems

And this is my last one.

My magnum crappus. Grand finale. Final exit.

Exodus el poetus. Exile from poetic bondage.

Ode to the ultimate farewell.

My last poetic words. My last words on poetry.

My omega of poetry. My dirge of poetry.

My eschatology of poetry. My poetic coffin.

My shovel of dirt on poetry’s grave.

This is my last poem and I feel better already.

Poetry sucks.

Most poets are O.K

Until they take themselves too seriously.

Then they turn into thirsty insects.

Poetry sucks poets dry. Really dry.

Anyone have a glass of water?  Cold beer?

Leave the bottle, because this is my last poem.

I’m tired of chasing verbs

through fields of bloodthirsty images.

No more swimming in swamps of syllabic scum.

No thanks.

This is my last encounter of the poetic kind.

I’m sick of hunting for metaphors

in the oozing stench

of bottom-feeding human perversions.

Poetry loves perversion and vice-versa.

Poetry is perversion and this is my last one.

The final arrow in my poetic quiver.

My swan poem.  My poetic nightfall.

Finito del poeto.  Endsville.

Total poetic Zeroland.

I’m tired of getting high and trying to have visions.

I’m really tired of trying to remember visions

and write them down.

I’m not going to write them down any more.

I’m as serious as cancer: this is my last poem.

Poetry has no value in America.

Everyone in America writes a poem in the fourth grade

and gets a license to practice poetry

and knows just how valuable poetry really is

in the fourth grade they know

they really know everyone is a poet in America.

In Russia poetry readings

are performed in soccer stadiums.

100,000 comrades moved all at once

by a few good poets.

That’s real value.  Who needs the Marines.

I would consider moving to Russia

but this is my last poem and I will remain in America

where life is easy

where tattooed teenage rock stars with fake names

get paid millions of dollars to masturbate and scream

songs they don’t even write

songs written twenty years ago, before they were born

while magnificent, visionary poets

go homeless and hungry and in jail.

Even the president is a poet in America.

Every judge is a poet in America.

Every cop is a poet in America.

Every dog is a poet in America.

Imagine this: everyone in America sells real estate.

We have marvelous stadiums

in which to hold poetry readings

while realtors go homeless and hungry and in jail.

Imagine this: everyone in America has an eyeball

next to his asshole so he can clearly see

all the shit he puts out

so he can clearly see his poetic output.

This is my last poem and I’m sorry

but I have to say these things.

Even this, my bottom poetic dollar

has no value in America.

This 12-gauge shotgun to my poetic head.

This 12-inch curved dagger

to the fair-skinned throat of poetry.

A lethal injection of viral torture.

A shy kiss from a blue ring octopus.

A gentle push over a jagged cliff.

A terminal dose of instant karma.

This has got to be my last poem.

Once I believed my poems proved my existence.

Once I believed my poems were immortal.

But all my poems combined have no value in America.

No value in the free world.

No value unless accompanied by sex or money.

Yet this is it.

The Great White Light growing closer in the distance.

The poetic glow fading away

as if from the eyes of a dying monkey.

Once I believed my poems made a difference.

I believed that writing poems

made the world a better place for everybody.

Now I believe there are too many poems in America.

There’s women’s poetry

and gay poetry and black poetry.

There’s Afro-American lesbian Christian poetry.

Hispanic poetry, Croatian poetry.

The poetry of Viet Nam vets.

the poetry of Vietnamese refugees

of Nicaraguan refugees

of psychedelic refugees

the surreal poetry of the American dream

the homeless poetry of a two-bedroom dumpster

the bankrupt poetry of global economies

the nuclear poetry of propulsion and trajectories

the melting fission poem of ground zero

the inevitable poem of lost continents

the poem that is spoken only at death

the only poem that counts.


Why did I start writing poems?

Why does anyone write poetry?

I believe poems choose someone to write them.

I believe poems choose someone to give them form

just like this poem chose me

to give it a place on this paper

to give it a voice in this room.

I believe that in the beginning there really was the Word

and when the Word sought beauty

the first poem was created

and it was a perfect poem

that reached deep into your soul

every phrase so clear and sublime

that just one line made you weep

reading the whole poem could blind the strongest men

or rejuvenate the weak of heart.

It was a powerful poem that created

every amoebic alliteration

every allegorical allegation

every juvenile juxtaposition

every synaptic simile

every monad of hyperbole

every molecular rhyme

every gang of cells

making goo-goo eyes in the plasmic night.

The perfect poem moved entire hemispheres

shifted the earth’s axis

altered the orbits of galaxies

and inspired the first true love and madness.

Every poem that has called man to action

every poem that has stirred a generation

incited a riot and started a revolution

every poem that has actually reached out

and changed the course of history

every great poem is part of the perfect poem

every Song of Myself and Season in Hell

every Howl and Coney Island of the Mind

all of William Blake’s poems

are born of that first perfect poem.

And all poets, whether they know it or not

search for the perfect poem

and want to caress it and hold it down

and call it their own.

I have stalked the perfect poem many times.

Yes, I saw it once.

It came to me like a seizure

and just a few words made me dizzy.

It is the Holy Grail of poems

the Emerald Tablets of poems

the Great Pyramid of poems

the Philosopher’s Stone of poems

the ancient Cabala of poems

the Skull and Roses of poems

its truth and necessity crushed me

like the weight of the solar system.

I reached for a pen and paper.

I wanted to cage the magic words

but they escaped me like smoke

from an open window.

I never saw them again.

I hunt the almighty poem no more.

My quest for the great mover has expired.

But I do believe the perfect poem will be found

or maybe another piece of it will appear

and we’ll know it when we hear it.

Yes, everyone in America will know the perfect poem

as if it was a rock star.

I hope nobody is waiting for my next poem

because it does not exist.

But all my poems are better than this one.

Take my word for it.

This is my last poem and that’s all that matters.

Does it matter if the kamikaze

performs an exquisite final descent?

Does it matter if the paisley parachute almost opens?

The spitting cobra misses your eyes before it strikes?

Does it matter if a legal overdose is unintended?

Imagine this: a friendly missile

traveling at the speed of light

lands right on top of your head.

You never heard it coming.

You never saw the flash.

Does it matter if a mushroom cloud is not symmetrical?

Some things just run their course.

Close up shop.  Cease and desist.  Hang up the fiddle.

I grab the ragged curtain of poetry with my teeth

and pull it through the floor.

I burst the elite bubble of poetry with my dick

and set the whole played out mess to rest

a soft, satiny pillow smothering poetry’s sweet face.

It’s easier than you think to write your last poem.

It’s not like writing Revelations

or the knock-out poem of eternal blackness

and unconditional love.

It’s not like being part of anything cool

like the Beat Generation.

Nothing at all like that.

And it’s definitely not like jumping headfirst

off the top of the Mark Anthony Hotel

or drinking two quarts of whiskey a day

at your mom’s house.

It’s just my last poem.

The butt, the tail, the crack of doom

fait accompli, hosta la vista, baby, adios.

A simple sionara of pennies shining on my poetry’s eyes.

A little something for the ferryman: keep the change.

When Robert Frost was twenty years old

he proclaimed he would become a real poet

by the time he was thirty

or he would find another profession.

I heard that story when I was seventeen

and it sounded very noble.

I am thirty-seven years old now

and it sounds like public relations.

Either way, the poetic journey is more sweet than cruel.

And because I believe poetry is a good investment

in one’s soul

and because this is the sunset of my forevering

and because I have no choice

I will always see poetry

in the wrinkles of my bed sheets.

I will seek unspeakable adventures

I may even chance upon the perfect poem

but I will never write another poem.

I take a very deep breath

and consider the death of a close friend.

The incredible loss and suffering we must endure.

The fear and loathing.

I am lucky I am only losing my last poem.

I take a very deep breath and remember Allen Ginsberg.

“Listen to the silence between your breaths,”

he said, “that is the source of pure poetry.”

I sit very still and listen to the silence

between my breaths.  I listen for a long time

and hear only silence

as if nothing really does add up to nothing

and that’s really all there is.

It is time to rest a while and shut up.

I close my eyes, cut the cord

and watch my last poem take its final, quiet breath

as all the poems I’ve ever written flash before my eyes.


Cutting the cord that feeds your last poem

is like slashing your wrists.

If you cut in the wrong direction

if you miss the artery

if you misjudge the geometry of death

you will not ring the silver bell.

You will not send your victim to sleep with the angels.

You will not let her go.

Poetry is like a woman who won’t go away

like a woman who sends me to the moon.

Poetry is like a woman who is horribly good

like a dark, spooky woman

a soft-spoken, strong woman

a vivacious, voluptuous woman

who knows the ultimate secret

a vicious vampire woman

who is on close personal terms with pain

a  woman who knows how to dance the lambada

a woman who knows how to fake it

a woman who doesn’t know what she wants

a woman who knows how to get it anyway.

Poetry is like a woman who wants to see me bleed.

A heroic woman, a generic woman

an exotic woman, an erotic woman.

She is every poets sweetheart

she is every poets whore.

She opens her arms, spreads her legs

and wiggles her toes.

She double flips off the high-wire

and lands in a bed of soft wet kisses.

Locker room incense burns the air.

The deep pulse of heavy breathing

rises from her soul: the soul of poetry.

I cannot kill this poem.

I cannot harm the gentle bird that wakes me.

I cannot will this poem to die.

I cannot click my heels and make it go away.

This poem is like the Elvis who keeps showing up.

I can only abandon this poem

like my first car

like immortal childhood friends.

I can only abandon this poem like old skin.

I buy my last poem a one-way ticket to Graceland.

I take it to the bus station.

I watch it fade away into the blue sequin sunset.

I imagine my last poem

kicking and screaming in the back seat

its sad face pressed to the window.

Maybe I should have sent it to Las Vegas.

I watch to make sure it doesn’t come back

And feel my last poem in the silence all around me.

No blame. No regrets.

Gratitude and happiness in every direction.


Losing my last poem is more like losing a finger

than like losing an appendix.

Losing my last poem makes me queasy.

The nausea of happiness

is the first symptom of creative madness.

Disaster is an energy source.

Hallucinations bloom under stress.

Painters knew this and to prove it they cut off their ears

and every painter started their own schools of painting.

Painting has been fifty years ahead of poetry ever since.

I started my own school of poetry

and tried to catch up with all those painters

and I found out the photographers

had already shot the cans out from under the painters.

I am the only student in my school of poetry.

Painters and photographers are welcome to attend.

My school of poetry will close forever

when I abandon this poem once and for all.

Who is this “I” that writes this poem?

Whose voice do I really hear

when I close my eyes and listen?

When I close my eyes and try to find

the next lines of this poem

when I try to find the perfect ending for this poem

when I try to find the words

that say everything that must be said

the beautiful words that will make you shiver.

Where does this poetic voice come from?

Oral hallucinations come from the right side of the brain

but how’d they get there?  I don’t know.

Imagine this: the poetic voice inside my head is a recording.

All the poems I ever wrote were prerecorded

and I just listen to them inside my head

and believe they belong to me.

Maybe this poem will not end with a bang.

Maybe it will end with a


Imagine this: the poetic voice inside my head

Is the voice of God

Spoken long ago and received by my brain

Like my brain is a cheap radio

and God is a heavenly DJ

and His show ricochets around the universe

and lands inside somebody’s head purely by chance.

Maybe the poetic voice inside my head is recorded by God.

Maybe poets only transcribe God’s message machine.

Maybe the poetic voice inside my head

is not recorded by God.

Maybe it is recorded by regular angels.

Maybe bad guys regularly hijack the poetic airwaves.

Imagine this: insects are really the best poets.

Their antennas tune in to primo airwaves.

Cockroach poetry must be really intense.

Imagine the frantic poems of their colonies.

The magnificent love poems ants write for their queen

the rich, sweet poetry of the hive

the humble, melancholy poem of the praying mantis

the unquenchable, high-voltage poem of the cicada

graceful midnight poems of fireflies

annoying little mosquito poems

gorgeous poems of corpse-eating blowflies.

My last poem is like a centipede

crossing a busy street

and every car just misses it by a breath

until finally it gets to the other side

and a boy on a bicycle squishes its rear end

and it is just able to drag itself to a safe haven

when a hubcap flies off the last Yugo in America

and lands right over of my centipede

like a rusty mausoleum

like a roadside memorial

like a requiem for what might have been

like a rhapsody for the next world.


My name is J.T. Gillett

and I just want to know why I’m really here.

My name is J.T. Gillett

and there are lots of people out there

telling me I’m here for different reasons.

They tell me I’m somebody I don’t always know.

They tell me I’m somebody I don’t always like

but sometimes I don’t know or like my own poems.

My name is J.T. Gillett

and I just want to know why I am writing this poem

when invisible viruses

have declared war on my species

when slate-wiping viruses

are spreading in the jungle

when entire tribes are wiped out by viruses

that make you bleed to death through your eyes

when these viruses are one day away via air express

when millions of viruses fit on the head of a pin

like Manhattan at rush hour

everybody shopping for a gracious host.

Bill Burroughs says language is a virus from outer space.

I just want to know why I’m writing about viruses

when I could be watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island

or reading Mondo 2000.

I just want to know why I am writing my last poem

when there is so much beginning to do.

So many do-do birds swallowed by extinction.

Every day so many absolute fade aways

creation is precious, every moment so complete

endless moments in every minute

all dying

all sentient beings

all dying

all things (including those that don’t exist)

all dying

Ashland dying

Oregon dying

San Francisco dying

redwoods dying

Pacific ocean dying

good clean air dying

ozone dying

Grateful Dead gone

I’m dying

you’re dying

this poem is slowly dying

rock ‘n roll says it’s not dying

but I’d double-check the pulse.

There are so many ways to prove I am alive

so many ways to use my body

these hands, ears, tongue and eyes

there are so many ways

to feel the music

and fall from the window

there are so many ways

for my last poem to hit the ground.

I can almost hear its final word

A whisper reflected upward

From an empty sidewalk.

I can almost hear its final echo

Just after it hits the concrete.


How should I spend my last poem?

Should I aim my last poem at some heavenly bulls-eye?

Should I try to save a rain forest?

Or is my last poem an aimless assassin

Stalking a nonexistent enemy

My drive-by shooting poem

Taking lazy pot-shots at random targets.

My armed and dangerous kamikaze poem

my kamikaze poem that never misses.

My kamikaze poem can’t go down alone.

My kamikaze poem wants to settle some scores.

My kamikaze poems knows this is its last blast

And it wants its money’s worth

It wants somebody big to get what’s coming

It wants to lay the smoking guns on the broken table

it wants to put some ex-presidents in jail

it wants Nixon to pay for the Kent State massacre

it wants Reagan to dig up some mass graves

in the jungles of El Salvador

it wants George Bush to share a cell with Manuel Noriega

it wants Dan Quayle to share a cell with Charles Manson

it wants Obama on Fox News 24/7

it wants to dig up J. Edgar Hoover live on CNN

while the latest famous newspeople

read and endless list of atrocities.

We are harasses by cops

every time we look in the rear view mirror

every time we park our car on a city street

every time they hide behind bushes with radar guns

we are harassed by cops.

We are harassed by a defense industry

That wants to kill us all.

Harassed by governments that want to watch

every move we make

we are harassed by maniacs

who want to put bombs in space.

We are harassed by an IRS that wants to take our money

To create more devices to kill us from greater distances.

By governments that know what’s best for you and me.

By governments that want us to buy more TVs

So we can watch it all go down from safe, digital distance.

Bagdhad bombed after dark so we can enjoy fireworks

But we can’t see the maimed babies

We can’t see the innocent bodies piled high in the streets.

We are harassed by governments

that want us to buy more hamburgers

and more booze and more guns.

Our government keeps ghettos full of crack and smack

throws everybody else in jail for smoking pot.

Jails are filled with pot smokers and victimless criminals.

These are political prisoners, these are political prisoners

There are more political prisoners in America

Than in any other country in the world.

There are more people in American jails

than in Russian jails.

There are more people per capita in jail in America

than in any other country in the world.

They are building more jails all the time.

Prisons are already a commercial enterprise in America.

There are more cases of mistaken identity than ever before.

You could be next. Your sons and daughters. Or mine.

This is my last poem and I want to spend it on freedom.

Not freedom in the theoretical or absolute sense.

Not any Platonic ideal or categorical imperative.

Not even constitutional freedom (ha ha ha).

I would like to spend my last freedom

doing exactly what I am doing.

That’s the freedom I want to buy with my last poem.

The freedom I can feel in every pore of my body.

It’s not much.

Just buying a little time.

A temporary state of grace.

My last poetic wad blown without reservation

blazed with total disregard for rules and regulations

total disregard for friendly suggestions

total disregard for the possibility of publication

my last poem dancing with total abandon until it drops.


My last poem may be the humble beginning

of a manic explosion of last poems

all diving headfirst into oblivion

a slithering orgy of last poems

thrusting themselves out of this world

waking up out of their bodies.

­Yes, yes, I invite all poets to join me

and let your last poems bloom.

Let there be last poems about sitting on the couch

eating tofu hot dogs

watching intelligent cheerleader movies

betting on metaphysical football games

running for mayor of unknown cities

and plotting sweet revolutions.

Imagine this: vast gardens of last poems

veining around skyscrapers

like whirling Babels of last poems

colossal brambles of last poems

taking over the White House.

Armies of young republicans

cutting down forests of last poems

but the last poems strip them naked

and slap their white asses.

They try to poison their roots

but they just slap harder

and grow back stronger.

Glorious hallelujahs of last poems.

Platoons of last poems

marching in tight formation.

Wild bands of last poems

running crazy in every direction.

Last poems taking over TV stations.

Last poem trading cards available everywhere.

Multi-national alliances of last poems.

Coalitions of last poem cartels.

Interstellar conspiracies of last poems.

Last poems coming back from the dead.

Yes, yes, I invite all poets to join me

and write their last poems!

Even if you’ve never written a poem before!

(don’t hesitate, start right now!)

It’s never too late to write your last poem.

May all poems be last poems

may last poems gush forth

may last poems never end

may streets overflow with last poems!

Last poems will bury police cars.

Last poems will eat the rich and rewrite history.

Last poems will make the world a better place.

They will accurately forecast

the consequences of hear and now.

They will always tell the truth.

They will bring heaven to earth

just like in the old days

when we believed the world

was going to end very soon

and poetry would live forever.

To be continued.