Note: Written in June/July 2010, in what was apparently a haze of disgust for my childhood house. It sat on a hill in a cul-de-sac. This was repulsive to me at age 19, home from college for the summer and unemployed, no car, spending too much time there anyway. My parents sold that house late last year and moved out. Unsurprisingly, I miss it. But what is surprising is that I remember feeling so much disdain for the place when I wrote this poem, and yet, I don’t hear it in the language now. It sounds like an ode to me.

When I had only known how to breathe
for nine years, we shuffled into our new
baroque suburban quarters, the empty
spaces filled with end tables and wooden
dressers. Nautically striped couches were
ordered, and they placed two beds in my
room — one for me, one for my shadow.

At night, the sun would lie down in a
blinking blaze of pink and peach fluff
just beyond the evergreens, and I felt
close to nature. The outward illusion
of bobbing pine arms comforted me
years later. The moon would hang
its frosty head just out of reach, and

The lights would carry our pointy
dwelling into the evening air, blaring
out the matching grey windows like
headlights on a rusty country road.
My eyes reflecting high beams from
the house, a stalking, pointy-shouldered
vulture out for a cleanup job.

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Rotund father near the water
Chucking round pebbles,
Pray for us.

Night owl video lurking, blessed tubes
Rhythms find me the holy fat man
Whose turns of phrase rival psalms
But denser, packed like rifles.

Took a wife in Montana, same name who hunted
Aliens in desolate space. Stooped on porches,
Drank rivers and fished bourbon,
Stood down cancer and lost
But it’s about the fight anyway.

Empty drumkit at back of set,
Housing cocktail napkin melodies,
Please hear our prayer.

Some parallels: the ghost under rocks
Calling from below, or beyond rather,
Pals in the woods, the metered geniuses
Could’ve used a beer together
Some dim haunt, Missoula.

Cracked-spine poetry books
Unplugged organs collecting dust
Both house lit candles, despite the risk.
It’s what we can do for prayer.

Woke up with a vision, or sugar memory
Careening on the highway
I slump down in your seat
Under cathedral blue skies
Cresting seventy in no real rush
That sounds like heaven to me

I dream it’s 2013, I float north

Back here in some bad element
Smearing past the coroner bars
Pretending that I’m airborne
Looking down over the howls
Of city shakedowns, bloodspread in
The lower forty-eight
Lost in some wild music where
God becomes the vowels

I dream it’s 2013, I float north

Typically the six is flush
With worries overcrowding
Any peace, but here I’ve switched
So that the eight is jagged rust
And six is sun poking out from clouds
And me, drunk on words, utterly bewitched

I dream it’s 2013, I float north

In my gruff Brooklyn neighborhood where no
one smiles, cold streets that run north and south
are named after upstate cities. Schenectady
just east of me. Utica further out.
Rochester and Buffalo not close
enough for comfort when I walk brisk to
the laundromat or for a cheapo sandwich.
Thinking of Utica, though, not just a meme
or a plot point on a zany sitcom,
but a city. A real one, borne of elms
and handshakes. Once shared a hotel room with my father
there, watching my brother play hockey at
the rink where they filmed a movie once. He got
food poisoning. We left after a day.
But I remember Utica. No reason.

Note: Written in July 2017.

One is not too late, I declare, palming
the mason jar. When did they start using these
in Queens? No matter. A big day ahead,
traversing Hudson for brain music.
Friday night seems shiny until it’s dull
past twelve and you’re in Sunnyside again,
reaching for how it was five years ago
when you were thin, young, and poor, rice a meal
and ten-buck sushi so infrequently
it tasted like heaven. Brooklyn now is
a betrayal but convenient. You can’t do Queens
because old memory lives only there
in the mind of the new one. So settle
for Kings, trends, and rent hikes. Let memory ruin
and keep a pocket free if it returns.

Note: Written July 1, 2015

Stark beast of grey and blue and black, hello!
It’s been some time, old friend, how spin your wheels?
And how revs your engine when, now, we must go
to creep down interstates as the road squeals
below, like a newborn inside a crib?
The feel of hard leather, the sound of rattling,
and the driver’s mighty puns that crack a rib
inside the riders (no they don’t) — a smattering
of familiarities I wish weren’t so familiar.
I’ve enough buses for a lifetime
at this point: more vehicles than 25 years
of age. No more again would be a nice crime.
Greyhound, you dog! Please let me have some sleep,
for 8 a.m. departures make me weep.

Two bridges at dusk, one decorated, storied,
named such to quake you through the labyrinth
steel in middle city. Buildings choke
you, uneasy truce in mind, queasy
like airplane businessmen. Can’t see the postcard
scene from this view, just fragments. Use
imagination, but what fears lie there.
The other, a tiny footpath over an inlet,
not regal, no luxe touch in moniker.
But ah, the views! The jigsaw puzzle finished
glowing from underneath, like Liz sings. Sky
down, this is your money shot (forgive
the crass). Soon into grid neighborhoods
away. But don’t forget what you’ve seen here.

Received your letter, sun-drenched load
that it was. Pier at night, fog-dense
and empty, sounds neat. Same with bar
antics when the hockey guys clinched it.

One question though: What was that zany
peacock detail from the graveyard?
You zagged round Ramones headstones, palms,
old glamour bones and floral heights…

And then, a groundskeeper and fowl
chase? Where handy Juan threw down a rake
to impede the pesky bird’s path?
Will need more specifics in next note.

This taco stand right on the ocean
sounds lovely, and — actually one more
question re: the peacock thing.
Well, two, really: How did it begin?

Did Juan provoke this magnificent
clumsy bastard? And, yes this is
three, but how long did it last?
You see my curiosity is stirred.

Write soon about L.A. again.
Do share your favorite spots, but more
color where it matters (the bird).
Sleep well. I will, knowing this tale.

Shame I can’t just paste a photo here
of the wonderful fire engine just rode past.
Candy-apple red so pure it smiled
as it pulled by, a laboratory of steel
gizmos rippling in the wind along
its rib, rear plump with folded hoses like
ropy muscles built into a bicep.
On a clear spring day of primary colors, this
brawny truck was the bold red S of Superman
against his broad chest of the open sky.
The hot rod was a poem. Better than mine.

Another poem about my dad racing
past semi trucks on New York interstates,
another vision of his mother laid up,
this time for good — laid down, really. Soon, I’ll visit
and kneel. Give and get some hugs, that one tune goes.

Procure the checklist now. Wizard of Oz,
a must. I Love Lucy, Jackie Gleason,
all four hours of Gone With the Wind,
non-negotiable. Write that down.

I knew the phone number by heart. Why didn’t
I use it more? Afraid to talk to weird uncles,
the one caffeine sludge-goo addiction ravaged,
the other an ex-con. Afraid my path
has led too far away from roots on Seneca.

Me to me, in mirror: Look where you are,
packing a weekend suitcase, flight out at nine,
to genuflect and shed water. You sent
an Easter card, sure. She liked it, reports said.
Sign yourself. Place hand on father’s shoulder.