Con Artist

Nocturnal love,
she’s showing me
her full
and later everything else
until morning,
then it’s as good as
a sweater to charity,
gone and gone.
I want it back;
not the body, the blood sucked away.

You came on like Normandy
and left like Saigon;
I could fire this machine into the night
and not reach a single soul;
just more history between the world
fighting for and against love and losing;
the grassy line of soldiers awaiting,
the sky ablaze raining earth and metal,
and the bar still filled with deader lives.

I was a sentence
and you are a chapter;
what matters now is the book
half-read on the coffee table
as I breathe for the sake of remembering
and lovers look at the sky silently comforted
by the destruction of time
and their own gut-punching ways
because love that lasts is not the love
that gets you through the night.

The Eiffel Tower still a background,
photographs taken as a contract
by people who simply need more time,
the pyramids have gift shops
and glaciers
melt onto a land of ideas
and conflicts forgotten
again and again
while the sea remains a great careless machine
of sex and death.

– Oakland, CA

Taken in Oakland, CA

At Bay

Awake. Fight the need
to check the phone;
the disappointment of being
right about being alone
will only push it further.
Keep it on silent.
Regardless the heart sinks
into its blood still pumping for a reason
you ache to find.
The moon moves along its arc
in the sky; pilots light the night
carrying passengers
anywhere but here.
Lives drive by,
gliding along sounding almost like
waves crashing to the land.
You park here to sleep
but can’t remember the last dark
you didn’t see
dissolve into another soulless day.
You’re removed from her alter now
like the sinner you’ve always been;
think of those who broke away before, bored
of the way you consume time
as it gathers behind the happy and sad alike.
So push further.
There are no more seasons
or evenings, only sections of time:
labor and rest, heat and freeze.
And this constant cycle
through the stages of grieving.
You yearn to turn off, but I know
you’ll keep waiting on the change you need.
Remember family dinners, talk
of the deaths people hoped to die.
Everyone wanted an endless sleep.
Soon you will mourn these days
having passed away too,
and it will keep you up like phantasms
of love and reunion
and the dread of their improbability.
People have to leave
and you want to be the god to make them.
Is your god watching you cry now,
you seeing their pictures
without you in them
smiling – no.
The irony of living is we shouldn’t be alive,
making sleep all the more a prize for the damned.

– Oakland, CA

Taken in Oakland, CA

Taken in Oakland, CA


Rain leaking through the ceiling,
hitting the metal sink and clinking
as a hammer forging steel.
Dark thoughts in a dark room: pacing,
blowing smoke in circles around the square
perimeter—pitch black.
Drops gong like a church tower
echoing through empty cobblestone.
The rope is ready, hands gripping it like a pull-up bar.
Drips fall to the sound of a prison cell rattling,
patting the surface in perfect seconds.
Kick the stool; you are lost and cursed,
the curtains closing
to the pitch black. Close your eyes and see the back
yard of your childhood home, the downpour luring slugs
and you killed them in your raincoat
with a shake from the salt container.
Mom said it was coming down too hard.
No one calls now; there’s nowhere to go.

– Oakland, CA

IMG_1019 (1)

Taken in San Leandro, CA


Two bodies eclipse suburban lights,
the December night biting fingers left bare.
Our moon is fixed in the finderscope
like a cell under microscope,
the infinite of both directions
explained to me years after.
Sublime white, tunneled eye,
it pierces the dark like a keyhole beam,
a pale rod through the void.
Give me chromosomes, then give me space;
place me at the farthest reach of your gravity.

Grown, the sunset now a gut twist to watch
like a lover leaving in a cab.
Will I miss this too, like you after someone new-
I float through it,
abiding the law that says
I’ll stay the same if left alone.
The boy and father still looking up
at their abandoned universe, searching.

– Oakland, CA


Taken in Oakland, CA


A tidal bore rolls west toward
the docks fingering eastward,
the bay lolling in full sight from this landing
as you point it out to me,
tickled by the solitary wave.
I stay to watch it crash
but it goes under, melting
into the careless flow.
You are behind me now with arms around,
rocking me to your silent song
as the sun sinks into the horizon.
At night I picture the ships
and feel the loneliness of thinking
about life passing. I want to be an older version,
younger and still the boy version of her —
my first and only, the guilt tide ripping me
through the rest.
It was the wayside inn – the decision to abandon,
and now looking back for a signal;
but there is only the dark distance
between here and what I miss(ed),
and a silence, like sound without a wave
to move through.

– Oakland, CA

Taken in San Francisco, CA


Have I fought it lately: never say no.
I can’t quit the lady; she lies
at my side and asks why
I need her; she knows—
the ennui is on me like lice gnawing
a yawning mind; just hang me from the awning:
a tawdry line on offing my sorry life—
So there’s another pest for the red death,
and the rest you already know:
the ether, the hell of nothing,
nothing cutting like the coke rock crumbling,
and the copulating not cutting it either.
And hell I thought these would beat her,
but they only pile on.
A user as useful as Giles in the Crucible,
just more weight on something hard to kill.

– Cincinnati, OH


Taken in Amsterdam


Carousel, around and down—
get shuffled out; I’m the only constant.
The song sounds like a constant shrug
and the visual: the sunny field we called the commons,
the dotted trees hunched in the ominous gusts.
August motel room:
cartoons playing on silent for days
while I smoke trees until my mind is quiet.
In my dreams it runs like a faucet; awake I’m exhausted—
I lost it when I tossed you aside; you thought I ran
but I stayed behind, even now still as you found me.

– Oakland, CA


Taken in Oakland, CA