A Wandering Prophet Has no Place to Lay His Head

Hey, Burton, long time no Cy
you say, already pawing through the fridge
like a racoon, barking at your own joke.
Who left the pie in the window, scratched
hobo-codes on my door, Sucker Here,
Good Cooking. Spare key under a begonia
by the backdoor, oldest trick in the book.
Flash of teeth like ivory Scrabble tiles:
Nothing here but leftovers, let's
go buy me a pizza. Vita: Knox Piasma,
twentysomething, brokenbraked train,
dandruffed charmer, leaping from
boxcar to boxcar like so many sofas.
Knox the friend-crash, Knox the vagabond-prince,
holding court over burgers, cardboard
crown like a crooked beret on your head.
Hey Cy, let's do a renga you decree

through a crawful of my fries:

the runaways and geese
hitchiking their way down south:
it must be winter

pigeon, now that's good eating,
ya throw in some wild turnips

old friends, like old fish
and leftovers, start to stink
after a few days

well-travelled is well-seasoned:
dust of six states on my feet

shit which reminds me
I need to use your shower
you say, which is fine
by me until you add I need to wash my socks,
those fuckers by at the Washateria charge too much.

So You've Noticed

how nic-nerves and
nosleep bleach the brain
til every detail crackles
underfoot like kindling,
flatlight dry leaves and

goddam that broom
in the grip of the mexican
girl scraping louder and
louder until it’s the sound
of the scalpel sweeping

the yellow from your bones,
you the man with midnight
pinkeye steel bucket station
fluorescing unevenly
as an old movie

where everyone smokes
and seedy blondeshells divebomb
across the screen like comets
before rocketing back to their
stockinged dayjobs and

hotshit your eyes open
for 40 consecutive nights
the seconds sizzling
drops on the hot-tin
burner the crackling cherry

in the lips of the cinquenera,
red as the shell-plastic chairs,
spare a smoke?
sleep is cheap but insomnia’s
free, if you know how to ask.

(Another one from "The Greyhound Sessions." I wrote this one weeks later-- ironically, every bit as sleep-deprived as I was during the trip itself.)

The Lineup

so maybe we’re the ones standing
toe to heel in florescent hell.
maybe the joke’s on us, maybe
(step right up have your tickets ready)
we’re loving every minute of it.

grayslacked janitor shoeing off
the few milling like cows
around the tiles he’s mopping, watch it
he says this shit’ll eat right through
your soles, it turns gum to powder.

boarding for gate 9 to houston
will begin at 2 ayem.
are we standing here for a reason,
are we standing here
because we have to stand somewhere?

texas-dusted teenager
neurotically flips his zippo
open against his jeaned thigh,
one-two, one-two, sparks
spackling denim like neurons.

buddy gave me this before
they shipped ‘m out to yugoslav
he says, shocked by eye contact.
his smog-close mouth exhausts
a hot dry wind, fire in a far-off town.

minutes settling like ash
on the shoes and shoulders of the dead,
waiting with their pennies. charon guns the engines
and gums a toothpick. are we any lovelier,
the gray sifting into our hair too—

This one from my unfinished series "The Greyhound Sessions" about this long-assed bus trip to see my sis. Man oh sh!t, I am never bussing crosscountry again. It's like land of the friggin lost.


Through Jack

I love Leigh's new work, and for those of you who haven't seen more of the Diane poems, they're just splendiforous, n'est pas (spelling)? I wrote a new one too about Jack Graham from UNO. Well, not about him, but he's in there.


Jack naturally led the movement from color to color.
Jack had himself to blame, so I say and so you say.
Jack says hollow trunks hold the fevered acorns.
How about philosophy? "When Sartre came on the scene,"
paintings in the window of an Indian Gallery
big wampum he done said, cat's wild for his bread,
Mr Bones: there but for the grace of that rare old bird
the begonias have blossomed like the thick tips of your breasts,
you whose heart I was born to hassle, that movie
Jack saw with the skull-scattered painting

A cold house
the skyscraper branch
bears no fruit
fruit being symbolic for my new children
real holy laughter! Jack! Through the river!
Don't expect me to know your Kerouac breakfast
lunch dinner, my Jack is a terrific Jack, 61,
fair hair, confined to the bed, raises his hand each christmas
O that this too too solid Jack Jack raced his wheelchair
remember dear Autolycus, to thine own Jack be Jack
leaf, folded in paper, the note's ink paints the brown vein
whose amazed citizens stare heroin dumb in the basement
feeling their cold hearts, O love me Apollo! Bring in thy sum-pump!
laying flat half of downtown New York is Jack's bilious whale-skin tongue.
Purple, a new phrase, a color for the civilized age.
And done.



I wait under a tree for you, Diane,
red hands. Washing dishes
for the hour we were supposed to spend together.
Here is my navy blouse, here
is my kiss, here is the extra key.

Mother Night

I have seen her walking in and out
and down, she has chuckled
up the stair and I have seen her
on the roof in nightgowns, like my mother.
Once, she opened her mouth. Out ran
molasses, slowing my hands
from squeezing her eyes dead shut.

Pigeons go Home

Standing on the roofs of
any number of Volkswagons, we fold
ourselves like fishwrappings into paper
planes or origami cranes or children's
newspaper boats, hoping to fly or float
over a bayoufull of projects. Here,
take my wings, I no longer care
what happens, they're slick with tar
anyway. Black water, brother
river, take this feather,
and another, and