Poems from…


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The night Karen Olsen had a Pixie Stik laced with a mind-altering substance,
we were out at the Basement Bar celebrating the breakup of her marriage
to her high school honey and her new job dispatching police to needful places
in our small city.

We were in the rest room when it hit her full on and she said the lights had
all gone out but were coming back on again. She cried out to me, saying
she couldn’t find her way out of the damn stall, they had sealed the door shut
and where was I.

She couldn’t let me in, so I crawled under while she sobbed “You came to save me.
Please save me.” She said her hair and her skin were turning more colors
than there were in a Crayola box. “The big box” she said, “with 76 colors
and the sharpener. You know?”

We got out of there and sat in my car in the parking lot until it got light.
She said she had seen everything—the past, the future—and it was bigger
and hotter than could be imagined. She said things didn’t look good.
Two years later, her ex-husband found her

curled up next to a garbage bin in the back of his auto parts store.
Her mother said she had been wandering in and out of the house for days
looking for Che Guevara, wanting to tell him “the story of the Bible.”
Her dispatcher job

had come undone months before when she advised a cop that his partner
was trying to kill him with “death rays and small pox biological warfare.”
She had written numerous letters to NPR, warning them that the
United States Government

was disguised as the pest control service and was spraying a bacteria
that would make their staff mentally handicapped. In a word, “stupid.”
When I visited her at the hospital, she reminded me of that night
at the Basement Bar,

said all things had been opened to her at that time and she hoped
we could do it again. She asked if that night had opened my mind as well.
I said goodbye and kissed her sweaty cheek, told her I would come back
and bring cookies.

I said Blessings, Baby Girl and went home. The television shone into
my living room, a hot, multi-colored mess, and the figures on the screen
jumped and ran and mouthed their “Ohhhhhs” and chuckles. The oracles
nodded their heads

and scratched their chins and narrowed their eyes. The nightmare of the Pixie Stick
and Karen’s question scared me beyond knowing. Karen’s psyche was expanding,
her boundaries had become elastic, their edges stretched between unseen fingers.
There was no telling where it might stop.


Some of us go to bed with faith in the fragile promise
that tomorrow’s sun will bring us fine, strong possibilities.

Those of us who watch the Discovery Channel know that the sun has
given up being any good to our sorry selves. Oh sure, it promised

to stay with us for the long run, but it’s regretting that promise now,
wants to burn out, go to sleep, forget we’re here. Meanwhile,

it’s in a full-on rage, making drought and threatening a “grid shut-down”
that is sure to put an end to everything. Here a flare, there a flare, and

before we can say eee-eye-eee-eye-oh, earth is done. Certainly you’ve had
your suspicions about this, haven’t you? Not our fault…we did the best we could

then prayed for amnesia, an almost perfect incomprehension.
Don’t want too much our mothers said. Hope for the best they said.

Well, between you and me and Jesus, my bets were on the sun.
I hoped my ass off for the best. Now, all bets are off.


It is just this poem
maybe this one and the next
that keeps me from the
darkness of finality;
a near-perfect solution

Ah! How easily
I cast off righteous anger
and put a cripple,
Acquiescence, in its place;
a near perfect solution

All through the morning
I shepherded tears from throat
to chest and there they will stay
clearing the dank heart’s high weeds;
a near perfect solution.

On October 17, 1814 in the parish of St. Giles, London, England, at the Meux and Company Brewery on Tottenham Court Road, a huge vat containing over 135,000 imperial gallons (610,000 L of beer ruptured, causing other vats in the same building to succumb in a domino effect. As a result, more than 323,000 imperial gallons (1,470,000 L) of beer burst out and gushed into the streets. The wave of beer destroyed two homes and crumbled the wall of the Tavistock Arms Pub…Eight people drowned in the flood or died from injuries.                        Courtesy of Wikipedia, 8 September 2012

When it’s over,
you have to decide
what to be afraid of.
change guises and colors.
You will no longer see them
like dust motes in sunlight.
You can choose,
find what your trepidation
is hungry for.

Does it want beginnings? The squirmings of despair? Rash acts to save the world?

After so many years,
the nearly bare branches
of Lonely call out
for your attention,
so do the wet streets
turned to obsidian in the dark.
Another choice…
how tender and sweet
the way terror’s road diminishes
and ends at the cul de sac

where you line up your small bottles of life—waiting and waiting.


Waking in the morning, after dreams
in which I wept over a dwarf-child,
I tried to touch the mountain outside
my window. Sand blasted, alive

like the moon is alive no words
to set it apart from other raised
places. Here, now, I try to touch the
mountain again and,

it twists away.

My hand on its stalk, which could snap at
any time, backs into nowhere.
Think of the worst thing that could happen.
The mountain wouldn’t care.


In the smog, Gardenias bloom with courage.
Their petal-tips turn brown at first light or
touch—perfumed cigarettes with filter tips.
They’re a sign that all is as usual in
Los Angeles. Precious soup-stain city!
You’re always pushing to create one more
experience inside me before I
run out of room. I’ve broken minutes in
half like butter cookies, recounting the
stories you’ve told me just to stay alive and
acknowledged, (if only in my own mind).
Though madness slides by me like a cat at
my ankles, I can still say what I mean.
You’ve done me lasting good, Los Angeles.
At your altar, the beauty queens and the
black sheep become a pile of burning leaves.
I thought I was my father’s good, staunch girl,
but, I’ve come to know that I am Mother’s
mad child: wasted—waiting for the promised
day, the promised land, the usual miracles.


In the scratchy grass, I slept until the sun
burned my forehead and thumped my eyelids.

I dreamed that sugar skulls lined up on vendors’ countertops
for Dia de los Muertos, winked at me, stuck out their red jelly tongues.

Stones held the light underwater, only allowed it to surface
when evening came calling for it.

Minute life—spiders, small beetles—marooned,
dog paddled on the water’s surface (so to speak),

waited for a lazy bit of bark or clump of grass
to allow board and passage.

In the scratchy grass, I woke and saw that the clouds were
gray and nasty—a promulgation I could not ignore.

The end of the world was at hand—my hand.
The dead were rising and it was time to choose sides.

Paper leaves found me, whirled ‘round and rested finally
as the land grew dark and unpromising.

I rose to go home (home being the safety of the city,
the fallen angels, the concrete stars I adored).

I rose and, full of warnings, said goodbye to the creek,
what would be left of the creek after the world ended.



These poems are from the book WHERE IT GOES. You can purchase a SIGNED copy of the book directly from me by going to:
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