Posts Tagged ‘Sensitive Poet v.s. Former Professional Asshole’

hmmmm… what’s he scribbling over there?

20 Aug





one should stay away from small and fragile things

they break far too simply

this holds true

for cellphones

matchstick houses

the willpower of sparrows in Eastern European apocrypha

gameshow contestants who just quit their 9 – 5

and especially, capricious Jewish-American princesses from the Upper West Side of Manhattan

who all look like a seventies Mia Farrow

with flowers in their hands, stuck as a lovely intruder in a Dory Previn song,

standing taut at troubled doors

a twilit, dark-haired contrast

to the endless highways of country songs

an internal explosion seen by the manner of their lips and brows

supernova blood I noticed in them, in her

the basis of all comparison like the self-fancying original she is

a bistered soul for every eye, shining, numinous

like keys forever out of reach

each a casuistic promise of heart and hearth

embrace like the opening hanging note

sweeping, escaping stunned from the orchestra

but, you know, it’s like what John Prine wrote in ’71:

sweet songs

never last too long

on broken radios


lidocaine for the soul

20 Jul





and I woke up by her side again

and it was a miracle that stuck

a manifesto waiting to burn through my stomach

my body perihelion before her

two weeks and a solo performance

warm, inviting, it soused me whole again

as such, contained, we’d walk past the libraries – where the lies are buried

past the creaky oblivion of daily routine, all of you with your self-eclipsing retinue

past the leaning mugs of hoary scholars and the weary roguishness of lively buskers

(of whom I was a patron saint)

and we would rest on the rusting grass of Washington Square Park

turning puce like my eyes at the end of an acid trip

her head on my stomach

tender, pillowed out just for her comfort

and because a late night Checkers opened on my block

five dollars for two American bacon melts

make this impoverished lush feel nearly patriotic

1,200 shitty calories and a pocketful of beer money

and now that we’re older, things aren’t but seem much simpler

the deadlines are more pressing but much easier ignored

and we lie here because we’re both good at conjuring excuses

phantom pains and real eccentricities preventing us from coming in to work

it would be much more difficult and honest

to call in and say,

            “hey man, I just want to spend some time with her

            before we both go mad again –

            we’re both prolific with the whimsy of the twitching caprice”

and dawn, as always, travels here in shifts

punches in his time-card groggily each time

and I’ve traveled the New York trains before sunlight here myself

            it’s a straining subjection to sprightly, varicolored marauders and

            not enough strong coffee and            

            too many slurred, exotic words

            and, goddammit, I haven’t taken amphetamines in at least eight years

I understand his consternation, in other words

but then I manage waking up with her

and his efforts seem worthwhile

to cover us in light

or whatever lambency the drapes allow

a few rays to bury in her hair

she thus, so still, reminds me of when I was brightness

of breakfast time some years ago, of when I used to

eat raspberries and brown sugar blurring mauve beauty in a bowl

with a spoon impatient

in a little hand

foreordained to write these parallels

so sweetly while the time still lasts



08 Apr



failed metamorphosis (from paper-weight to paper-weight)


“We’re lost, but we’re making good time!”

– Yogi Berra


to be quite honest,

a majority of my writing

is much the same –

it hits along the same tropes,

chronicling the same lies and exits,

the same conversational gambits,

the same pruriency and prescience,

the recollections sorrowfully unforgotten

matted melodies along the same detours

I’ve ridden through before

over and over again in the same bad-beat melancholy

always at the same pace

the mileometer on the dash says we’ve passed either a century

or a couple of happy hounds, a hundred miles each

they whine and spit bloody when the wind coils and clings

around the soul and starts to sing –

them too, the songs –

I’ve repeated them before as well,

a bar tab and a bottle will inevitably sync into the scene  

a cigarette or something else that burns

some sweet betrayal bewitching, the best there ever was

it was just a fit of good luck

maybe a fix

(my daddy used to be a bookie and was highly proficient at these things)

green eyes

a Catholic inside a jukebox

she took me to the cab

she took me in the cab

and I tipped the driver well

he had endured

and drove silently pretending

to follow the cricket match broadcast on the radio

I couldn’t take her panties off all the way,

but that’s another story for another time –

my point is, my dear shiny empty people –

it all repeats, and will again

and I with it

some New York skin

just getting old and tired and new and old again

there was an accident along the drive

two people died, the third labeled critical

I don’t know where they were buried

or what happened to the faulty miracle

or what they were talking about

            listening to right before…

my hands were calm


they moved her torso over me

circular motion, revolutions

I came before we made is past Morningside

I felt condemned to all this permanence

but we were home

her home, but still

we had arrived

I tipped the driver through his opened window

well over twenty percent, I do believe

lies and exits, yeah, it’s true

again, again, it seems

green eyes

blue eyes

gray eyes

what were they when they were forever

or singular

or final

I want to get there


but it seems doubtful that I will

ignorance ain’t bliss

it is a willful murder

my old, cold kingdom for a fucking toothpick

and a way to do it

            to write it virginal, exposed

yet I repeat again

there’s no escape

it is the same

all same

green eyes and curly hair

ruffled by a long cab ride back to the river


Cigarette Burns (Part III)

03 Apr



“And for this imperfect immortality, what prices have been paid? How many livers, lungs, and veins? Shredded, polluted, shot? How many children deserted, family secrets betrayed, sordid trysts laid out for strangers to see? How many wives and husbands shoved to the side? How many ovens scorched with our hair? Gun barrels slid between our lips? Bathtubs slowly reddened by our blood and twisting rivers that drowned us? How many flawed pages burned in disgust and reduced to ashes? How many flawless moments observed from just a slight distance so that, later, we might reduce them to words? All with an unspoken prayer that these hard-won truths might outlast the brief years of our lies.”

                                                                                                  –    Kristopher Jansma


cigarette burn 03


it was written on her body

on her skin the city dreamt

a geography of delusional, cursory delight

a map where borders shed their dresses and no longer offered their consent

I ask her

– why are the ballet slippers hiding in the closet?

her branch drips off the arm of the divan

like it was a new season all of a sudden

and perhaps it was

(I don’t remember these prisons being free)

she answers

that they’re simply

waiting for Anaïs

I kissed her

and she was still cold

I said

– the book is nearly done

and I feel that it all was merely just a hash dream

standing on a train platform

only she and my phantom audience knows what I mean

marriage and a little Vera

born wet, we both wake up alone

but because, as a writer, I still read

for fear of being dubbed a hypocrite

I know all too well that

it was already

written on her body

and now I have nothing left to do

but have another glass of wine

in the midnight of lost children



Hidden Miracles and a Lonely Dusk

09 Feb



The Writer Grows Frustrated and Decides to Have a Cigarette on the Balcony Despite the Cold February Night


released by the past

before it was my time

before I was quite ready

careful not to

drop ashes in your whiskey glass,

she said

each step must be a cautious one

because, like Jean, you are much too sweet to live;

you break far too easily

to not be deemed obsolete

The cigarette helps, the writer thinks

and the soft, remaining magic

of the oncoming morn over a poor neighborhood:

all of it unseen by the pulpy softcover on her bureau

because my magic is something different

because she walks naked for no one there right now

at least no one that I know


the missing audience I write for,

Her –

the one with the capital ‘H’

and many, many masks

that she does not seem fit to hide from any


newfangled bloom

23 Dec





a new muse –

because boyhood fancy’s obsolete

and meritocracy is one obstinate and judgmental bitch –

she pales my night

through a new canvas on my wall

the oil paints still wet

(a slate and peach number, a long arm along a lyre)

the morning routine changes too

tomato juice for tea

more Morrison, less Morrissey

a metamorphosis in the biography

a fresh original to passive-aggressively silent me

on Sundays we play midnight checkers and the lottery

and generously act like louts

she, a souse of spectral twilight

myself, a sparkle of what was

regaining strength through part-time sybaritism and virgin myths

(they all look like their dead sisters)

created, rumored,

                            made stoned and simple

now I’ve regained the upper-case and out-of-place

waking up with cold calamari in a vodka sauce –

leftover from last evening’s boardwalk stroll

through wobbly, creaking slats and lampposts with just a little luck

then, to ease into the work

I’ll pour some scotch, the good stuff from the Highlands

a fist lessened of a finger

a spliff of the exotic stuff in gangling rice paper

a documentary about giraffes

an Americanism or two to waste another hour 

and then, and only then

do I sit down and rub my eyes

looking wearily at the blank page created by antipathy

then write four rhyming lines

smile and take a sip

the drink is well deserved

another productive day and back to bed

she’ll have a cigarette for me

dressed like an effigy

mint chocolate-chip ice cream

all savory indelicacy with a purely amatory strategy

the embodiment of my phlogiston theory

all flash and flame with no breath necessary

as such, I do not breathe

instead I compromise and ruthlessly compare

because there were only three women in my life

who’ve kept me nervous and ecstatic

immaterial of geography or situation

each moment a salvation and a sacrifice of form

cucumber cool disrobed into infantile sincerity:

the lead-off was a teenage pop-song crush

brief, but of fundamental impact

the second was a blissful curse

an addiction, my inceptive connection to the world

the third was the separation of time

an impossibility, an intellectual craving, a sessional gift

the haughty and the tender in a soft sweater over tanned skin

and now this knacker of old ships takes the reins

because I need someone else to steer me

(already an icarian proposition deftly lost)

she is the fourth to be

a brand new ceremony of evaporation

a combination where sweat and souls are same

I love the merry godlessness of it

and the sanity forgotten in the taste

capers and white wine –  

my new muse

with oceans on her lips


The Merits of Madness (Part I)

02 Dec



addendum abstractions in bookings (part I)


“Why must one always quote St. Augustine to me?”

- John Shade


I’m not losing my mind

my mind is losing itself

amongst the young wolves

hairy, Turkish and progressive

and these are just jailed lines

mere fingerprints

a soft reflection, a soft abstraction

for the girl that buys me Maker’s Mark

(you already knew I enjoy bourbon)

condoms and a footlong sub before I wake up;

for the young black lyricist

who offed himself on Christmas Eve in Brooklyn

a year ago

because he thought he was Baphomet

not nineteen

scarce, smugly forgetting the dullness of immortality;

for the manic lover I once had like faith

that I still yearn for

like a disorienting vibration or a tired diary

always an old photograph I keep

in the credenza drawer second from the top.

I’m not losing my mind

my mind is losing me

explicit, drug trade, pure powder

my friends still remind me

of the bodies they left behind them

super max with the sleepers

yet another murder, just like me

an ex-wife, a heroin addiction

the truth seeps out

until I have nothing left to write.

Still lonely, still romantic

still misguided and meaningless

still a big-dicked Russian

still know all my English

from Family Matters and Saved By the Bell

still feeling guilty for jerking off to Foxworth

still lost, still sacred


finding only fictional characters to relate to

still handcuffs when I’m in the better neighborhoods

still the professor buying eight viles on eighteenth

still the blue-eyed puffies on eleventh  

still and steal and steel

a new day like a pawnshop

a razor on the calendar.

This ragged divine will sing synesthetic and senescent

sold as cornerstore miracles

as a plaintive Southern spiritual

a beggar turned prisoner turned grand inquisitor

finally a visitor that I can sink my teeth into

talk about his day

the bric-a-brac of the latest Dow index

routine, solipsistic, involuntary sex

with a brief, apoplectic climax

his daily workout regiment on the newest incarnation of the Bowflex

but, I’ll change the topic and the tone of the conversation

by recounting

a story from a very stormy week ago

of prayers on a rooftop in Fort Greene

hands painted in bathwater and aurora

like an infant’s seraphic drool

and this was the day joyously beginning

with a serenade of wet paper between gracile fingers  

and the wind creeping in under the sleeves of her robe

shifting between murine burrows and emerald caverns

and at last there hangs a pause

we wait for an animal translation

he lights a cigarette

in a gesture that resembles a rimjob at a funeral

while we sit silently as liner notes

while I remember her perfume

that has long ago become an unfinished short story

not a full volume or even a novella

a short piece of prose

with unfixed grammar

underwritten characters

underdeveloped plot lines

a bowl of tangerines on the supper table

the manner of it still sleeps inside each nostril

a trick that’s survived the big reveal

an intimate afterglow icebound in timelessness.

My cystic raconteur checks his various marginalia

and formulates a response  

(Like the twentieth: Ke2; Na6 – forces a mate in three; immortality)

he says that I’m not living right

prioritizing the wrong things

sentimentalizing fabulist illusions, paramnesia 

no magic left marooned

the construction workers outside play some CCR

building overtime and twenty years for a broken purlieus

just another place to overstay your welcome

it sounds like “Fortunate Son”

but I always preferred “Someday Never Comes” like some father I never knew

who reared me as a forfeit, as you see me today

a funny rerun of a long-cancelled sitcom

pointlessly loving, unasked

and then he pours a drink to stabilize my hand

it shakes when not enough

and memory never is

and so my tongue loosens

and suddenly I’m all pronouncements

another prophetic drunk waiting for a judge:

“knowledge is assertion”

this is how kids begin their careers as assholes

first, some nugatory information

that they feel the need to relay

ad nauseum to their parents

and the myriad frustrated, frittering strangers

with hangovers that overhear around them –

you’ve found yourself as one before,

be honest –

so every reference

is your adult bit of trivia

that you can use

to one-up somebody else

make someone weaker

pretend intellectual superiority

like a Snapple cap

that knows the mystery to its own bullshit.


let’s use the newfound paradoxes


to show us something else

illumination, possibly?

Beethoven and Goethe walking from the Teplitz spa;

Charlotte Brontë’s sweet words to Arthur Bell nine months after marriage with a belly full;

Issa, Hedwig, Captain Beefheart, Che Smith, Aristophanes,

that kid that reads his verses on the A train, laconic during rush hour,

shit, we can go fiction or do it straight

there are plenty anecdotes for all

that reveal antebellum life

as it is and will be

at the nucleus of its meaning

some new spiritual aviation, gin-soaked and garish

and allowed

and important


beating against eternity

like a pulsar pulled out as a giant’s heart

a gut full of a lover’s poison

a recognition that you can’t quite decode

and this dance is the same as a twitch


I am aloof like a cloud in trousers

another maniacal mayak lost in a sea of ephemeral history

I’m the long definition

the long con

my writing, though it seems like an easy decision

readymade for an easy critique

unlike what you may believe, it does not strive for the esoteric

but rather for a unifying piece of our shared universality

the empty space that defines us  

that deserves us, unique to each  

every reference a potential partner

waiting from across the ballroom

for those that might have skipped Baudelaire on their way to Bukowski

(or vice-versa – drunk, I can search out the inside of my cheek for either)  

between smoke breaks in the bathroom

looking for Venus or some bluebird

and while we wait and hunt

we have to pass the time somehow

and so  

we each gotta dance with the ones that brung us…  





16 Nov





love is the light on

the genius of the family

the acrid kneaded in the sweet

the coffee and the surrender I wrote about before

gods falling from the skies

mediocre chinese take-out at 4:37 in the afternoon

on the dot

evening slippers and an urgency sustained

a familiar face and ashes on the ground

a long train ride masking a clandestine destination, that’s it

as a good and practical an example as any


love is the light off

always in potential

always a new moon to replace the old

always same and different simultaneously

it is as it becomes

the dangerous, topsy-turvied melody of a gypsy accordion along a wisp of smoke

the grotto underneath the waterfall

mixing blood and champagne to create the reflection of the near-hidden empyrean


it is one star

that one over there

you see it

and the light comes on


my poetic version of pulp

01 Sep



we caught the next race. she bet hers, I bet mine. we both lost.


her presence

crowned me with new life

along my skin, not touching

like the opening bassoon line

of a baroque concerto


despite the ink having dried

on its creation

so many centuries ago


and now

I’m getting drunk

on the airglow intimacy of her

despite the fact

that she knows full well

that I drink too much


a soft obsession held in a damping palm

the early race at the race track


it was always


but the payout was


worth it

and now her legs

compose a lemniscate

around my chest

barely humming its fragile music



it stalls the weight of time

the horses all hastily leave their gates

a wave of coarse black hair blanketing their past

they sputter out at different paces

we smile humbly

fondling tickets insecurely

and then I notice that her coat is off

a strap of slate-colored lingerie hangs off a shoulder

the left one like a new enslavement

or a sweet tooth realized

and then a shiver of the autumn wind

makes the small hairs of her arms


as the allegro molto of RV 497

quiets Vivaldi for a brief pause


by just a nose


grapes and smoke

21 Aug



Emerita rathbunae


there’s no crackerjack literature coming

and I’ve spilled beer on my typewriter

once again, and once again

the poet sighs and wonders why

you always describe me with the letter “g”

both adjectives and nouns (and verbs sometimes, as well)

gloomy, grumpy, great

gelding, gilded, groaning slightly

siren speak to me again

or have those shipwrecks lead your head astray

kept you distracted, reading lesser writers

a beached, tumescent paperback in hand

coarsened by salt air and sleeplessness

and as you turn the pages to find the avidly burlesque

sand slips off the paper like a teddy after a complimentary third date

and all of a sudden you realize

that the little fellow is holding on tightly to your leg

agog along the only deific path

smoothed over not by years

but by shitty gendered-colored razors bought cheap at local drug stores

and though you see that he weighs heavy

the product is always worth the baggage

and there’s surely plenty whimsy

to fill two hospice beds some decades long from now

along the coast of some new supralittoral European burghal

keeping their burghers tidy

politely colliding skulls together like an amiable greeting 

but, thankfully

I won’t be around then and neither will be any worthwhile words

the new ones will only dress up like pretty chirography

and wait to be kissed by handsome hands

adorned by silver and white gold

hiding tanlines and affections

and yet the little fellow

despite knowing

he holds on tight

to wait for it all to come to pass

while I feverishly lend books out spiting hope

to slow the clichéd ebbing roll

while the next lines of the next piece

that I was writing thanklessly

get washed away by beer

spilled on my typewriter

damned to have another daughter coming



Jack Tsoy Tumult

Morose Pontifications and Other Poetic Ramblings