Just a note to say you can find me here for now:



Catch the Cat

Here's what happened
In the front of the market
Saturday suburban sprawl
Setting up bowling pins
For kids to knock down

But we've been around
Since the day before yesterday
And the night before that
The girl in the cowboy hat can't sing
But she brings in the bucks and her cat is named Catch
All holy modes await
For the starlet and her fate
She daydreams
She's coming down a maritime aisle in a white long dress
But it's not her wedding day
The guy she loves is far away
Up and at the peak of a sham mountain
While his girl and Catch the cat sleep peacefully
On a bed made of tooth and nail
As the harbor ships set sail for pirate ports

That's what happened in the peace of the evening
Another Saturday, another 'I know you know I know"
That's all good and just
But the guy regards the rust
As time slip slip slipping
Into the future, far from the flaws and pinned-down hair
The fractures and the beauty stare
As Catch the cat says "he'll be back"
Or, more accurately, purrs and falls asleep
In the clutch crossed heart of a sweet sweat dream

February 4, 2009


Signal Hill Sunday Morning

I haven't been here before
Haven't found a reason to come all this way

This far south and west of Cherry
This far east and north of 7th
Not until this morning
I felt like maybe
I was in a hurry
Had to find the nearest location
Not necessarily the best one
Just the one that I could get to as soon as possible
So I could stroll the aisles for 100 minutes
Pretending to be in a hurry
No need to worry
The effects will wear off
Around the time I need to unwind
Alone in the dark morning cloud of my second and so far best of my Long Beach apartments

I start in present tense
I move to past or more like present looking back
Then the past tense looking forward to a present that's now past
As I write this
Goddamn poem
To justify the picture you see
It was a Sunday morning, the last day of the first month
Of the second decade of the 21st century
There's a Target on E. 33rd, Signal Hill
They're remodeling
There's an oil well just down the street and around the corner
Meaning there's a derrick just down the street and around the corner
Meaning there's a pumpjack.... a nodding donkey... a thirsty bird
Just down the street and around the corner

Slow fade:
I kept the receipt
Actually there were two 'cause I bought electronics too
I kept the receipts
Spent $188 and now I think I spend way too much
I'm returning the gizmo and the high-end toothbrush
I'm keeping the toothpaste and high fiber bars
I never did get the green Brita pitcher
And that's what I went there for
In the first place

Fast fade:
I kept the receipt
Two, not one
I kept the receipts



My PJ Harvey Problem

I’m trying to explain
my begrudging hatred
of PJ Harvey
I’m investigating deeply
whether my trouble with her
has something to do
with gender, with youth
and what if it does?
how do I work through that?
after all, I know some brilliant people
who find her to be a genius
what am I missing?
what do I lack?

but maybe rather then it being my fault
perhaps Polly Jean is to blame
perhaps her songs are lacking
some semblance of listenability
because her sensibilities
are built upon
the ravenous curtailing of certain emotions, followed by
the ravenous dispensing of selected other emotions
i.e., her songs (except C’mon Billy) suck
whatever the reason, consider the investigation

November 20, 1997

(note: Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea made this "problem" disappear) 


Devil Got My Woman #2*

Among the dropped papers
In the long night of demons

In the short drive from moment to next

A girl, with her hand, in the salad bowl

Recalls the name of the man

In the vision she had

Before she stopped having visions

She shudders because

It’s clear to her now

That the man’s name

Is on both sides of one page in the pile

No picture

No mention of no children

Just his name twice, once in bold 

She keeps her hair pins
And her earrings
And her feathers
And her beads
In the bowl
She doesn’t use it for salad 

The named man was famous in his small city
For a song about kissing cousins
A charmed man and a charmless woman
Their doomed love, their devout air
Rumors tossed to sea overboard
Grown children skipping through forests
Where snow falls instead of leaves
The charmed man forgot their kisses
Deflected her love like a moonbeam off a Toyota
But the charmless woman never forgot anything
Except forgetting
So she jumped off the bridge
Near where the poet jumped and died
24 years earlier, a year before she was born
The charmed man, her third cousin
Read at her funeral
Like he was the smartest kid at a small town poetry reading
Rhyming “stop the bleeding”
With “5 a.m. feeding”
Then he turned her life into a song
About the deadly perils of doing wrong
It had a melody like a flock of geese  

The woman with the salad bowl
Finds the page and files it away
She walks outside for air
And for the opposite of air
She presses shuffle
That song, like a beast of a love gone north for the spring
Plays first
She practically skips down Wilshire Boulevard as she hears:  

“This river’s not like
That river, I like
Both rivers until
One takes my true love away” 

She slows to a walk
Because practically skipping makes no sense
For a song like that
Notwithstanding facts like

“I like his voice”
“She had a choice”

In glorious noise there’s often the absence of nowhere
The opposite of light deflected
Off the dirtiest greenest dirt-green

Lake of the Isles gosling

Spring, 2006
*title courtesy of bluesman Skip James, as cited in Ghost World


M * D = Y

It's one of those days
Where if you multiply the month by the day
You get the year

Just like 9.10.90
My great lost birthday
The one I can't remember
It came around and then left town
I was a hotel guest in my own hometown
I had an eight-month stint and they let me down
Sent me back to California with my eyes averted
Way past closing time in the 909, sweet friend of mine
Where'd you find the time?

Just like 1.9.09
It didn't seem like a harbinger
I didn't look like a dead ringer
For the tall blank scepter in the church hall hell-light
Good thing I'm not
Good thing I'm special and a doctor
Good thing I'm good
Good thing I'm stylish and a doctor
Yeah, 1.9.09
She told me I could come back
With or without the laptop
She told me I was funny
I was funny because of the laptop

But that anniversary has past
Just like 8.12.96
I boarded the plane at LAX
Leaving town forever
Said I was never coming back
Said I was never even thinking about coming back
I soared all the way to Boston
Rented a car with two cats in it
Hated my new home inside of a minute
Hey Amherst - it's not your fault
I had unfinished business in two other time zones
I've since learned... that unfinished business can be left alone
There's always a new land ahead around every corner
With faucets and fixtures and squirrels and sweethearts
There's no need to write the story myself
Just let it be

I'll stay silent on the math 
Just arbitrary numbers
Means nothing now, meant nothing then
Might mean nothing on the 5th of February
Then comes 5.2.10 and 10.1.10 and two more times next year



Unincorporated East Los Angeles #5

The 6th day of the second decade of the 21st century
Feels like 1972 to me
Just pick a house - any house - at random
Like the one where...

Sly Stone says to the encyclopedia salesman at the door
"Only need K through O. Got everything else.
Ain't buying the rest of the alphabet
Nothing's changed since '68 anyway"
The salesman can smell the royalty checks and stands down
But Sly knows the music's not infinite
Which means the money's not infinite
He doesn't live here
He's just visiting
Staying with some lady
She's missing K-L
She's missing M
She's missing N-O

Sly's new girl is picking up her only son, her only child
From the new elementary school up by ELAC
He's in 1st grade
Doesn't know Sly Stone from Sky Saxon
And believes what his dad says about his mom
More than he believes his mom
"The guy your mother's dating ain't no rock star
He just looks like one
He's got that crazy hippie vibe
His name's Victor
Just got done with doing time
Sits around all day
Writes manifestos
Hides them in the middle pages of mid-alphabet encyclopedias
His name's not Sylvester or Sly or Sky or Sy or Spy vs. Spy
It's Victor"

Mom takes the kid up north
Car breaks down halfway up
She sells some gold for a Gremlin

Sly - not Victor - gets tired of waiting
In a neighborhood that isn't his
He packed up his three suitcases
Takes a cab to a train to another train to Oakland
Forgets his medication
Forgets to re-tape the pages he tore out about Papua New Guinea

When he finally gives up on finding her, that runaway, that run-fast-and-far-away mother
It had been seven days
Six mail days and the letter came
In penmanship that never needs lined paper
She wrote:
"Thank you for
Giving me a moment to think
Letting me be a threat
To no one but
I belong to no one

Sly wondered how she knew to send it to his house
He looks at the postmark
San Luis Obispo
So she sent it on her way back down
So she took he coastal route
What she said on her way back down
She belongs to no one
She belongs to her only son

At the Grammys, in the dead spot between
Best New and Best Old
The session musicians sneak out back and the subject
Always come back to Sly and if he's okay or if he's Sly, high and goodbye
Between bourbon coughs, the bassist from the Valley shakes his head slightly
And the drummer from Covina says "maybe it's time to intervene"

The mom and her son heard he'd be here but he's home
300+ miles away, but they stay for the end of it anyway
The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face wins it all

Back home she picked up that half-piece of paper where Sly wrote the note
She wondered why he couldn't use a full sheet and what he meant when he wrote
"Come into my kitchen, there's fire and water in here"