Thursday, February 26, 2015


The thing with circles, first and finally, is they have an innate tendency to run into obstacles. To collide with other circles. Squares even. Any number of geometries.
     And the circuits they traverse seldom run true.
     This goes for alliances. Writer's circles. Revolutions.
     Circles are tricky. Often times prickly.
     Stick one with a fork, and nine times out of ten it will collapse, in spite of all defences. Folding in on itself like a punctured lung. It's just a matter of time. Of course, sometimes circles will absorb one another too. Creating even bigger versions of themselves. Swelling like balloons until they rupture without warning.
     Other times simply dissolving.
     Circles are often pleasing to the eye. A polka dot, for example. But when they do burst, inevitably, they are sure to cause a mess. A spot, a zit, a pimple.
     Leaving behind just one more angry infected blister.
     These are the very worst kind of circles. Especially when they gather into a rash. Taking over the face. Uncontrolled. A blitzkrieg. A cancer.
May the circle be unbroken.
     Whoever so wished it was either an optimist or some kind of fool.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015


There is no such fucking thing
as a mystery
mysteries are for halfwit children
A jigsaw puzzle here
a conundrum there
all there is are misplaced nouns
a clouded adjective
the purgatory of a leading left

Monday, February 23, 2015

monk's gift

Out of the mouth of the pious
a working man
the wallet jumped edge straight
a temple, upstanding,
from pocket crease to pavement
impervious to even the shabbiest
rifling stitched corners

Saturday, February 21, 2015

the haircut

The poetry, the racking up of words like so many reds and blacks, was making me sick. Mostly I was pocketing the lower register. Yellows. The occasional brown. And my cheek stung from the double kiss.
     I collected my young son from nursery and decided what I needed most was a haircut. Some judicious barbering.
     On refection, this made miserable sense. The boy was clearly overexcited. Riding a sugar rush straight from a party for three-year-olds, glazed and flushed as a fruit machine wrestling a pay out, one arm cartwheeling as I fought to stuff both into the sleeves of a seemingly undersized coat.
     The frigid late afternoon did little to contain him. I seized his hand in mine and did my best to steer him safely through light traffic. The two of us lurching like drunks.
     We arrived at the barbershop and stepped inside. It could have been worse. Just one customer perched already under the sheet, eyes fixed on the mirror. The scissors did not pause as Anthony turned to acknowledge us. His mouth a tiny downturned slit. Saying nothing.
     I hung both our jackets on the coat stand and sat down to wait. Anthony's client did not look to be a difficult customer. Silently watching the scissors dance an inch above his skull.
     I motioned for Milo to sit beside me. Of course, he went straight to the window and parked himself on the ledge. Pulled an unopened box of crayons from his pocket and proceeded to count them out. It was then, I think, he produced the little carton of milk.
     "Milo. Later"
     He put the straw in his mouth and worked on it.
     "I love you, dad."
     "I love you too."
     Smiling the brittle smile of the indulging parent who has declared it for the eleventh time since noon.
     The barber and his client said nothing. The scissors performed their magic.
     The carton slid to the floor, bleeding milk over laminate.
     At this juncture I expected Anthony to put on a little show and tell him off. Just to establish ownership.
     But. Nothing.
     I got up and walked to the little staff toilet to get something to mop it up. Put the wadded tissue carefully in the bin. The carton too.
     In abject silence I sat back down.
     Nobody met my eyes. Not directly. Not in the mirror. No one. Except my son, grinning and oblivious.
     The door to the shop swung on its hinges. Another customer stepped inside. Still nothing. Not one word. I looked at my watch. An hour had passed. The original customer was almost completely bald. The scissors could not shear any closer.
     "Not too much off around the temples," he said.
     Leaves fell from trees. Winter fell. Anthony quietly snipped away.
     Somewhere a shotgun shell detonated and one more species ebbed its last.
     And Milo slid along the floor behind the chair like a puppy which has soiled itself and can not be scolded.
     Of course, I could just have surrendered and collected our coats. I am not immune to calling it a day. I cracked my knuckles. I sucked on my teeth. I brushed imaginary crumbs from my lapel.
     Anthony fetched a hand held mirror and held it to the back of the client's head. Stirred briskly at his neck with a little grooming tool.
     A sliver of a smile tickled the corner of the customer's mouth.
     The faintest outline of the last of the Mohicans.
     The young man rose and stepped out the chair. Glancing in my direction as he shook out his shirt.
     "Whose next ?"

I make sure my son is not about to kick out the window and climb into the chair. Anthony does not spread the sheet over my shoulders, but flicks behind my ears with his comb.
     "I don't know what you want me to do," he says. "You've been cutting at it yourself."
     "Just do what you can," I say. Thinking, I've been waiting for nearly two hours now and what I need is a haircut, not a lecture.
     "Your hair is bogging," he says. "I can't cut it like that."
     "What ?" I manage.
      His face is curled up like he is sucking on a fart. Without anything more he wheels about and steps out onto the street. I am left sitting there. Two minutes later I am on my feet and a girl enters the shop. Apparently, she is the manageress from the salon next door.
     "Look. What the hell is going on here. All I want is a haircut. I have no idea why Anthony is acting like this, he's cut my hair many times before."
     She doesn't say much. Except that maybe he is just having a bad day. Over her shoulder, I can see my part-time barber babbling into a mobile phone. Through the glass door. Another customer enters, a teenager. There are now three generations or more in the shop. Presently, she leaves without resolving a thing and Anthony bowls back in. Chin first. The shadow of a smirk tucked inside his collar.
     "I can't cut your hair," he goes again.
     "You're shitting me. Just what is your problem ?"
     I am boring down into his atrophied soul through a recently cultivated beard. His teeth are a lot healthier looking than mine, the gums juicy, plump, but he has twenty years or so the jump on me. It's to be expected.
     "Get out of my face, you fat dick," he says. "Walking around my shop like you own it, your damn kid tearing up the place and me with scissors."
     I look down at the counter on my left and see grooming product. Jars and plastic tubs. An open razor.
     "You fuck!"
     The razor is in my hand before I can stop myself. He is looking at me strangely, a fish, and he is wearing what appears to be a scarlet apron. I see french fries gathered at his throat and register that they are in fact fingers.
     He is making peculiar gurgling noises.
     The razor continues to whip back and forth like a windscreen wiper.
     "First off, this is not your shop! You just fucking work here!"
     "Daddy ? Dad ?"
     I am thinking. I am thinking. The fist tugging on my pants leg. The wet tingling on my brow which is not quite sweat, nor tears in the hollows between eye and cheekbone. There is nothing quite like a decent haircut. This side of a shave. The smell of hot towels. Shooting the shit. There is no friend like a good barber. The Turks are the best.
     "Let's get your coat. We're leaving."

Friday, February 20, 2015

the poet

So there he sits
the dunce, the dullard
the toerag
the eternal glowing optimist
cigarette drooling
on unscored paper, what kind
of fool is that ?
This white man deserving
of nothing
but contempt
waiting on a line or two
to drop into his lap
as ash
without the sense of timing even
to call it quits
what kind of truant is that ?

His poems, should he promise any
ought to go unanswered
breakfast for the institutionalized
the terminally sedated
God help us
they replace pistons, rods
with processors
so he may perch steeped in wanking
a bona fide effrontery
what kind of damned idiot is that
where are his credentials ?
who encouraged him in the first
to sit all day hatching piles
while leftovers
stink up the place unattended to
and people come knocking
just to ensure
that he has not done us all a favour

what kind of a waste is that ?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Just when I get to
climbing down out of my ass
I remind myself
that they removed his prostate
Now that is some
powerful fucking Brujería
to pin on his tail

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

in the clinic

They sent me for this Cat-Scan
to see just what the trouble was
why i had been coughing
as regular as a terminal TB case brewing

As I waited my turn
to ride the machine
a nurse gave me a little cup of water
to drink on down

It was far less desperate off the page
this wait, the bag of rags between the knees,
I appeared to be the only patient there
yet to receive
a diagnosis
All the rest bowled over on Chemo
brittle as vases
nodding occasionally like sunflowers
in spite of it all
the cheerless expanse of wall

They sat across from me sipping
as though the simple act of swallowing
was something unfathomable

And the machine
older now like the best of us
chipped around the edges
a fairground jalopy for catatonics,
listing this way
and that

injecting iodine for the simple
ballpoint reason of it

Well, I have squandered less memorable moments
and called it fun

The results
came back
a few weeks sooner than anticipated
The respiratory
scan was miraculously unblemished
but shadows
laboured in orbit

The clinician
made it clear
that this was something far from that
a trip to the moon, the unwritten side

beyond that
it was not his field

I remind myself of this
as I tear the cellophane
on my second pack of cigarettes
of the day
The picture on the reverse
is of a row of irreparably damaged teeth
it appalls me
how one is compelled to pay look on it

Saturday, February 14, 2015

the beard

I decided to sport a beard.
The more it grew the less convinced
I grew. I asked my boy
for some advice.

Shaved, you look like Herman Goering.

Unkempt, a dirty old man.

Could be as close
to a poet as I might hope to get.

Friday, February 13, 2015

pat garrett + billy the kid

When I say
I picked up my son from the subway
I mean I laid in wait
with grocery sacks
halfway between his stop and the house
I am getting old
the wine is not so easy on the joints
never mind the other shit
the food, this and that, the perishables

He took one bag
without my asking, he is a stand up kid
we wound our way
back up the hill at a snail's pace
I don't have it
in me to strike out pigeon chested
not with
a cigarette clamped
between broken teeth, spit feathering

I fumbled the key
and we stepped inside the smokehouse
no meat cured
dishes piled up in tidy stacks
set down those sacks and cracked a bottle

Well, I said.

I poured
two glasses, one small one just to be polite
and while his back
was still turned
while dogs bared fangs and dybbuks rumbled
the hair long,
blond, on his neck like some doomed
Greek god
twilight gathering at the shoulder
sat down to write a poem.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

after siberia

Like Chekhov's mouse
not Kafka's
goes out the bellow
raw and prolonged
To scream with pain, to roar, to marshal help
where no
help is forthcoming
Not from the balcony
but between the stalls

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

my uncle

My uncle
kept house
in the fashion of a serial killer

Rooms full
of valves
in boxes like excised organs

A monkey
puzzle tree
casting shadows on the half landing

soldering irons
laid out
like spoons

After my grandmother
I went from room to room searching
for just one
but never uncovered anything much beyond
those valves

a partially eaten
in a speaker cabinet

A newspaper:

The local
tooled up under Young Bundy
mob handed with hatchets, knives
as old as twenty
as young as twelve
A murder
My uncle
none of it, he dressed like a Ted

sunglasses, hipster goatee

A loner
in all ways
aloof and hunched behind the wheel of his van

A Ford, of course,
unremarkable as bread

a winning ticket

Let's assume I take a pencil
scratch the words "lottery winner"
on a blank piece of paper,
put it in a stamped envelope
with my name and address on it,
mail it to myself.
Will it solve anything ?
For once to go so easy on oneself ?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

apples | oranges | MP3s | M9A1-7s

To expose
the workings of one's bowels in print
offends most people,
the smear of the ordinary
the taint of the awkward.

They would sooner bend and flush
than pause to examine
the fabric of self
to open one's guts with a scalpel
is a squalid affair
better left to the half-crazed imbecile
clogging up the plumbing
in hospital or zoo.

To bare one's flaccid ass in public
derails those senses
sensibly tuned to the finer things in life
for after all,
we all of us have our crosses to endure
it is not as if we need the reminder.

Bukowski said it best

we have come from the alleys
and the bars and the

we don't care how they
write the poem

But just when we got busy celebrating
they unveiled sweeter technologies
than the flame thrower
to punish or seduce
the invective proved all but redundant.

Nobody reads anything any more
Our eyelids are all tattooed and written over.

Monday, February 9, 2015



Tap, tap, tap
the stickmen go
moving over the bric-a-brac of shattered
the gimcracks of a gimp wedding
tap, tap, tap
half erect on sticks as stickmen are
a caravan on stilts
a paucity of drumming
juggling obscenities
the delusion of good timing
snuffling suits as only stickmen will
tap, tap, tap
go the stickmen
dancing on one leg, the fats of narrowed 
knick-knacks from the boc 'he-goat'
stinking up their twills
tap, tap, tap
loitering with intent
those sick stickmen
should we ever sober up we shall snatch away
their crutches,
scatter them like matches where we err
tap, tap, tap
the stuff of bilge and bandages
rudderless, stammering,
the stickmen go.


Her mind is an apartment where good things
spoiled over long summers

Where photographs yellowed
grew brittle so she could scarcely touch them

One memory after another dulling so that
all that is left are negatives.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

flowered up

Liam Maher, Tim Dorney, Joe Maher, Andy Jackson, 
John Tovey, Barry Mooncult

FLOWERED UP: WEEKENDER from "Weekender" 12" 45 Heavenly (HVN 16X) (UK) 1992

Friday, February 6, 2015

to the management | a skinny poem

We rouse in vicious morning
to dress after a suicide,
zippered boots
jeans, t-shirt
pea coat venting, a mosquito
on last night's stubble rash
a stew of causal nuisance
nothing too fancy
disarmingly attired,
hobbled from the first
The Watford Gap
a jockey might advance
to put his nag down gently
fuck off,
fuck off and die
in the fashion of dice,
an equestrian ruse
no tie, colours lashed, bruised
a breakfast of losers
a banquet
a bouquet of serrated roses
no thorns
for John or Jane Doe
Dom Perignon over dawn
twin rum babas
No raincoat
famously truncated
let them come out in the wash
We lean on a rod
of our poor back's devising
we would not have it
any other way, we might sooner
not have it at all
for where we dwell in dreams
of self maiming
there we relentlessly pursue.

Monday, February 2, 2015

granny takes a trip

THE PURPLE GANG: GRANNY TAKES A TRIP from "Granny Takes A Trip" 7" 45 BigT (BIG 101) (UK) 1967