Thursday, December 23, 2010

For Mike Bryan, and the community he left behind him.

Karyn had asked that i post what i sent her to read at Mike's service:

I am truly sorry I cannot be with you today. Mike deserves to be celebrated the way you are, right now, coming together as a community, strengthening your connections to one another. That's kind of what Mike does. I remember, when it was my honor to be editor for the Portsmouth Free Press, titling one of Mike's articles “let's raise some hell” over his objections. His preferred title was “let's start a dialog”, a title that seemed to me hopelessly...Rotarian, but that now, with a little more time and wisdom on my side, I see the truth and necessity of. Mike's music, writing, activism, were always directed at making the world around him a better place and I am proud to say that Mike was my friend. I will remember him for his humor, and for his commitment and passion. A discussion with Mike could be an almost physical thing, ranging from room to room, from revolutionary politics to the absurd and back again, and Mike always laughing, always arguing with a kind of bemused, straight man look on his face, while he suggested the most outrageous Swiftian proposals ( the invasion of Appalachia was just one among many). Mike really cared about people, and his constant, tireless commitment to Habitat, to the peace movement,to Appalachia, to the local musical and artistic community were more than just political or aesthetic poses, they were an outgrowth of a genuine compassion and commitment to improving the world around him, and a kind of damnable bullheadedness when he was sure he was right, regardless of how the world swayed. I think I will miss that bullheadedness most of all. Mike could be relied on to be Mike, no matter what, and he kept us all honest. Mike was so incredibly prolific, always writing, always organizing, always making music and planning the next project, always running,always active, I don' t think it ever crossed my mind that that voice could fall silent, or that Mike would not be here for me to come home to some day, and talk and talk and talk. I will miss him more than I ever had the chance to tell him, and I miss the community that Mike has left behind him, the many people whose lives he touched, building houses, collecting food for the hungry, telling truth to power and singing his heart out, even if we kept turning the smoke machine on, just to give him a hard time. So many of us, those in this room and scattered around the country carry a piece of Mike with us, a memory of “di-aspora”, of marching in the snow together,of “Pudge Parchisi”twisting the night away, of a joke in the middle of chaos and cacophony, of a good talk. Mike leaves this world a more connected, better place than he found it, and I know with absolute certainty that the only way he would tolerate all of us saying nice things about him was if it was directed towards that greater goal, of continuing the struggle he so gladly took on himself again and again, to fight for the rights of people who cannot speak for themselves, to speak the truth no matter what, and to be some shadow of the good and gentle and committed man that he was. The world needs more men like Mike Bryan, committed to doing what is right as they see it in their corner of the world, of following their own vision, no matter where they find themselves. We can only do the best we can. He has left us each other, and a million jobs that still need doing and the only way I know to honor that kind of love and friendship and commitment is by doing what he would have wanted us to, to mourn him, to laugh with his friends about him and then to put our shoulders back to the wheel to making the world a little more like it seemed so clear to Mike it should be, to make it a place with more homes, and less hunger, more dialog and less hell raising, a few more twist songs and a lot more truth.

Mike, I miss you. I'm sorry we did not talk more in the last few years. I'm sorry I never convinced you to run for governor. I'm sorry I never properly thanked you for the work that you did. I'm sorry we had to lose you to tell you how much we love you, and miss you, and to realize the size of the hole you left in the world. Thanks for being my friend, and for letting me work alongside you for a while in your struggle. Thanks for singing and reading and organizing. Thanks for the houses and the soup kitchens and the Retros and every other project you had your hands in. Thanks for the stories, and the songs, and the dent you knocked in the world. Thanks for everything.

Friday, November 5, 2010


he talks with his hands, and moves in exaggerated dances when he gets excited, so that every conversation is a kind of performance, in whihc what he said, and the way that he would have acted are blurred together into a sort of spastic onrush, an endless torrent of imagined violence. he has a wooden baseball bat with "nazi tool" written on it in sharpie, and a fondness for pain pills that started with purloining his mother's sleeping pills, her antidepressants and pain medication, we'd drink on my roof, forties from scraped change, robbed wishing wells, car drink cups growing warm in our hands, listening to the coke dealer fight with his girlfriend downstairs, the fake dawn of the city glowing yellow against the clouds. he is filled with boundless energy, and so he likes to get high a lot, to soften the edges, the hostility from being the small kid, the kid with delicate features, the white kid with the curly hair, the dark complection. we call him rosanne rosannadanna when we want to fuck with him. from the way ti sticks out on the sides of his head like a cleopatra wig.
He likes megadeth, Exodus, Metallica, and Nuclear Assault, so i show him DRI and the Misfits. he wears a ratty old "peace sells but who'se buying" backpatch on an icewashed denim jacket that smells like bongwater. the walls of his room are covered in pages torn from circus and hit parader, he's got a spindly pot plant, probably male, growing in his closet under a fluorescent light.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

chapter 6

And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. 2And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. 3And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 4And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. 5And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. 6And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. 7And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 8And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. 9And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. 12And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; 13And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 14And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 16And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:
17For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

Monday, November 1, 2010

waiting for the end of the world

there's always a fire, and you and the three gathered around it, a pinjoint going round, warm beer and creedence and the river. the catfish jump and fall into the water, the coal barges roll past with foghorns and spotlights, down on the muddy bank on the Kentucky side, and the shitty town lit up like a poor kid's Christmas, long bars of light across the black water. they found the old copper axes not far from here, the sunrise sights up along roads plowed over the tops of mounds and the mud and gravel beech is littered with bone beads, the flooded fields behind you littered with pottery shards, sometimes the plows turn up skulls, or lead shot.
you are waiting, waiting for the Russians to drop the bomb, for the war to come that will swallow the boys trying to fish, for the bottom to drop out. you are waiting for a blue fog of crushed pills and heroin and coke that will make the pin joint, the fifth of Beam, the Keystone light in cans seem innocent as milk.
someone is always fucking somebody Else's girl, someone is always hustling someone out of a few bucks on a bag of dirt weed, there is always a reason for someone to be looking for someone else, for shifting alliances, and bullshit drama, for fights over who is controlling the stereo in the car that runs, doors open, radio blaring out over the foghorns and the river, headlights in the fog.

this is the era of spraypainted pentagrams and shoplifted black candles and misformed prayers to a destroying angel who will not deign to come, it is the season of denim, of gutteral screams and invocation and apocolypse, and the four horsemen arguing over speedmetal and Creedence and Hank Williams and Danzig and Venom and the girls just want to dance under the big ass moon, and tonight , at least everyone is content to wait, for the world to hang on the edge of the black river, that line between never and always that feels like dying, and you never know there is a place for nostalgia for this waiting, this anteroom to your life, the fish dropping liquid int he dark, the taste of cheap beer, the sound of your friends laughing, and you are all dying, sick with smokestacks and yellow fog, sick with hopelessness and the hunger for anything outside the damned bowl of these hills that girdle round the horizon and the hollers and the pigshit and garages with poached deer hanging and going to school with pigshit on your boots, with stealing pills and smoking shake and waiting for the black curve in the road that will be the one where you finally shake the hills off for good, where you finally will shoot out onto the plain towards the city, over the rim of the world like a ship on the ocean, like a coal barge on a black river hurtling towards a light that might be a fire, you are staring into, the speedy blotter acid spinning behind your eyes like a kids toy, you pupils eerie and big and the stars all pouring in, or houses in the fields beside the road, the lights of something spinning around your head, and you wait, and a ball of fire rises in the east, and it's done.

Friday, April 30, 2010

the most butt-kickingest story in the history of the world

World War: 1
(Toy Version)
by: Holden Vance

Once upon a time, there were Army Men, Cowboys and Indians. They were all at one base having a party with beer, music, and all kinds of other party things. And out in outer space there were two medium sized meteors then, they obsorbed into one huge, giant, humungous meteor and then, It crashed! By the base

Cpt Rex: Wow! Is it a earthquick? Everyone let's go investagate. What the? ZOMBIES!
Zombie People! Zom Zom Zombie bugs!?!!? Oh No. Zombie Dinosaurs! Everyone fire all you got! Throw all your gernades and smoke gernades

Bug Cpt: All Flyers take one bug or dinosaur and everyone else ATTACK!

Cpt Rex: And Remember men shoot them either in the head or in the heart

All: ok, yaaaahhhhh!
Everyone get to a log. Oh yeah, turn on all the traps. Get all those zombies slaughtered!
Oh no that praying mantas just bit one of our men. Get that mantas slaughtered and get that man wounded. Aw Man,they killed half of our men. Wait! Gray leader take out those zombies this instint!

Gray Ldr: Ok
Gray leader checking in. Gray two checking in. Gray three checking in. Gray four checking in. Gray five checking in.Gray six checking in. BOOOOOOOM!!

crrrrrrraghhh! ZrzzzrrrrZZZZZZZ!zr!

Gray Ldr: Ok, all done.

Cpt Rex: Get into groups of six to check it out

All: Yes Sir! Come on lets go check it out. Ok theres ten more zombies left. I don't know how they survived that big constroction. Ok their coming get ready to fire lads! Ok their close enough men. FIRE!..........ok wait for the dust to clear.

All:yeahh thats what you get zombies. Oh my god that was the hardest war we ever had

And then they all had another party and they all lived happily ever after

the most butt-kickingest story in the history of the world

World War: 1
(Toy Version)
by: Holden Vance

Once upon a time, there were Army Men, Cowboys and Indians. They were all at one base having a party with beer, music, and all kinds of other party things. And out in outer space there were two medium sized meteors then, they obsorbed into one huge, giant, humungous meteor and then, It crashed! By the base

Cpt Rex: Wow! Is it a earthquick? Everyone let's go investagate. What the? ZOMBIES!
Zombie People! Zom Zom Zombie bugs!?!!? Oh No. Zombie Dinosaurs! Everyone fire all you got! Throw all your gernades and smoke gernades

Bug Cpt: All Flyers take one bug or dinosaur and everyone else ATTACK!

Cpt Rex: And Remember men shoot them either in the head or in the heart

All: ok, yaaaahhhhh!
Everyone get to a log. Oh yeah, turn on all the traps. Get all those zombies slaughtered!
Oh no that praying mantas just bit one of our men. Get that mantas slaughtered and get that man wounded. Aw Man,they killed half of our men. Wait! Gray leader take out those zombies this instint!

Gray Ldr: Ok
Gray leader checking in. Gray two checking in. Gray three checking in. Gray four checking in. Gray five checking in.Gray six checking in. BOOOOOOOM!!

crrrrrrraghhh! ZrzzzrrrrZZZZZZZ!2r!

Gray Ldr: Ok, all done.

Cpt Rex: Get into groups of six to check it out

All: Yes Sir! Come on lets go check it out. Ok theres ten more zombies left. I don't know how they survived that big constroction. Ok their coming get ready to fire lads! Ok their close enough men. FIRE!..........ok wait for the dust to clear.

All:yeahh thats what you get zombies. Oh my god that was the hardest war we ever had

And then they all had another party and they all lived happily ever after


Walpurgis 5

Rachel, I have come through
a world of winters on my belly
and found myself reborn, an old man
and you are joy and spring and life

Our babies crawl on the rug
on this first day of a new spring
and every day, the sleeping house
awakes to a new world,
crawling from a grave of sleep

I have left so many conflagrations behind me
a trail of burned down houses
at my heels,
a closet of ghosts in my shadow

can you take me, broken as I am,
a bent stalk turning my head to your light
a scarecrow of rags burning bright in your fire?
Will you come with me, out of winter
into the sun?

Come home, come home
the tree is full of flowers


Walpurgis 4

The bells ring.
The cockerel screams
the morning rises on wet grass
and ashheap, on discarded flowers

you are the light that comes
the mass for the saint
you are the first flower
of spring

let the earth cast off its cold,
let summer come again
and I will be the sun
and the scarecrow
and the berries in the hedge,
I will be the dust swept behind the door,
gladden me with wine, with fresh water

I am the briar in the churchyard,
jack of the green,
toadstools in the deep wood

I am the last sheaf of barleycorn,
and you are scythe's bright blade

you are birdsong in the thicket,
you are fresh clean water,
and the moon
and the moon
and the moon


Walpurgis 3

when the villagers come, and leap through the fire
follow my song
when the stone is wet with blood and wine,
I would take you in the shadow under it

in the hills, the dead kings sleep
and I would take you down into the hill
where our revels do not cease,

in the grey land, the shadow land
the dead eat beans and ashes of glory
come down my winding stair
I will hang the ribs of the earth with marshlights
I will garland my table with pomegranites

I will show you bones in the brugh,
the broken house, the angels of the middle air
eve's nameless children

I will wrap you in moth wings,
in the owl's cry, get you with a mandrake
hedgeapples and briar, the crossroads and the doorway
this land without salt or iron
yours on a throne of sorrow


Walpurgis 2

You are queen of the flowering dark
Life come crawling from the mud,
Supplication of satellites
Lily in the graveyard, flight of doves
You are the skin’s book,
Your hair the night, thick with threnody,
The dance of farmwives in the mountain

I am the black, the gravepit
The bonepile and ash, the knifeblade
I am the black goat and cockerel
I am blood in the furrow,
Shadow on the mountain,
I am terror, and slaughter of lambs
The winter’s teeth


Walpurgis 1.


Build fires of the winter’s dead,
Old doors, unloved books
Unsent letters, linen closet of ghosts

Let the may queen come out of the dark
Let her don funeral lilies, her pale warm
Her bones, her flowers

Green tendrils snaking from cold mud
Flowering bulbs, alien
Shout down the wolf

A man, standing on a mountaintop
In the right light, throws his shadow
On the clouds, a colossus

Let him drape crown himself in horns,
Still I know him, let them dance back to back
In the dark, still I know them
Bring your black book, devil,
Your stained turnips, your black wine

Turn the world over and burn it down,
All the rotted scraps of history
In an atomic singularity, a bonfire of yesterdays
Still I know you, cold may morning sun,
Lonely shepherd, scarecrow on a stick
Crown of black winged birds,

Here is a dish of milk in the hedgerow
Here is a twist of salt in your pocket
Here is iron and bright silver
A rhyme against the dark,
A prayer for spring


for the transplanted poets calling Chicago “home”

I understand, the taste of all that blue collar
makes you want to sing
makes you see yourself
in the heart of the broad-shouldered, meatpacking city
a city of cheap beer and losing baseball teams
and you think
“i can be the voice of this”

the way every Brooklyn newcomer
spits out subways and brick and Coney Island
like they built the place themselves
but I know something you do not.
Your city is a grave

I know the way the fat and jolly polacks
call you “nigger” when your back is turned
I know the way the catholic schoolkids call you “dyke”
you think “i am in the northernmost city of the blues”
you do not hear the talkradio venom
dripping like ballpark mustard
all over your dream of a new and historyless new york

you do not know how many fiefdoms you walk across
a tourist, Disciples and Counts and Kings
White Aryan Resistance,C.A.S.H.
a forest of upside down tridents
and six pointed stars,swastikas
the way Cabrini Green festered
like a rotten tooth, the rats at water tower place
the hollow winter echo of holy name cathedral

your mouth is full of pizza, and Old style
you don't know the way
the streets you walk on end,
in cornfields in shithole towns,
in the hellfire belch of indiana
I-80's ruined artery in a diseased heart

in the south, past the quaint
where they used to make pianos
and bury mobsters, down a gravel road
are the roots I cut, a burned down house
a handful of dead, ashes

you may have them

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


ghost houses of my memory rise
fungal fire of dead lights
burning in cracked window's eyes

rain on paper wasp nests,flies
acid bile of whispered fights
ghost houses of my memory rise

the kicked in television screen cries
through a flip-book of nights
burning in cracked window's eyes

crumbled chimneys scrape the skies
can dead dogs bite?
The ghost houses of my memories rise

here stand all our swallowed lies
with none to see the sight
burning in cracked window's eyes

puppetshow of endless reprise
walls of wasps in frozen flight
ghost houses of my memories rise
burning in a broken window's eyes

Monday, April 26, 2010


I dream of a sumptuous hell,
an endless department store
of downward escalators,
of peacock feathers
a hell of silk and fur

leatherbound copies of
unpublished books,
hand carved faces
of nameless deities,
the mall of the forgotten

doors in storefronts
in all the cities of the world
announce moving sales, fire sales
an open throat that enters only downward
a pitcher-plant of masonry
and airconditioning, of light and inoffensive music

false exits, dusty windows
where flies die, beating their confused heads
against the glass, buzzing in prayer
the stairs leading ever down

Sunday, April 25, 2010



Yard sale Sunday!

Inverness-shire, IV63 6TU
Scotland, UK

Many Great Items! Come Early!

1 Rand Mcnally map of The United Kingdom and Ireland, slightly waterlogged.
3 mismatched boat oars.
One fishing net, repaired
1 “scotland is for lovers” tee shirt, size medium
men and women's clothing, varios styles and eras
1 picnic basket
1 gingham checked tablecloth
Contributors copy of Time Life Mysteries of the Unexplained book set, unopened
2 rowboats, repaired
National geographic magazines 1888- to present
1 toy submarine
17 leica cameras
7 commemorative keychains
18 pentax k100 cameras, 7 with lenscaps
10 rolls of unshot kodak 35MM film
2 video cameras w/ waterproof housings
1 english to japanese phrasebook
1 autographed bigfoot photograph
17 metric tons of fish

Thursday, April 22, 2010


There is a hidden constellation in the banknotes
that keeps them safe from photocopiers,
from the peasants dream of wealth,
that neverending horn, saltgrinder in the bottom of the sea
the tablecloth of the devil’s sooty brother
your suite at the plaza, your Paris apartment

We burn our bills in the furnace
The blue flame of the hours, of blood, ash
tally marks on a slate of days
a sweet for the baby
a dress, a house
warmth and light, measured hours
my life, wrapped in a bouquet of bills,
An idol of clock arms and cutoff dates
An endless succession of numbers and spreadsheets
Of recipes and things to be nailed, one to the other

On an altar, surrounded by the perfume
Of the archangel, by the glittering skull
By the saints and rabbits
Is the hour of the morning
When you are mine alone,
When I am in the house we carry between us
Like a tortoise shell,
The littlest ones asleep, unknowing
When we are only who and what we are
And the dead world breathes
the smallest leaves pull their shoulders up through the dirt

In this hour is paradise
In this hour are all scales balanced,
And you

The people of the world look for heaven
for the ancestors, they burn ghost money
engraved with the Jade Emperor, the bank of Hell
burn paper-mache Rolls Royces and televisions
repaying debts, they give coins to the boatman
flowers for the dead, fruit for the god

Here is this unsteady light we have shored between us
against the hungry, the empty, the lonely
that squats at the end of the streetlights,
shored against the crocodile teeth
of the sky

here is our sleeping boy’s head, filled with sugar sharks
with fish in cages,
all these porcelain lambs, these rabbits
this sweetness in the face of the dark
and you

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Before you were born

Your small hoofbeats ran circles in your mother
And I had not known love could eat the world
Your two hearts so small, thundering
the world so bright and sharp

A drowned man sang with a broken voice
you came, in a blue panic
A knotted rope around your neck

Your aunt held your mother’s hand
And I stood, overwhelmed with joy and terror and
a kicked hornets nest of doctors

Your tongue was out to taste the air
They told us, gravely
Of your beautiful pony markings

Under lights, at first she could not hold you
So I told you to her, like a story
Your hands so strong, the wet pooled still
In your eyes, each song of your breath
Till they consented to give you
To that wonderful world that you had left,
The sweet home and hive that is your mother

From you I learned to demand sweetness for her
Learned the terror of your loss before your first breath
Learned howshe has broken herself
Again and again, to bring such wonder to the world

You six, who are one, who are my heart
Have taught me what it is to be a man
What a life is, what price hangs from it
how quickly I would lay mine down
for one more breath of yours

Saturday, April 17, 2010


The abess kicked the abram cove
down the steps into the street
he was a gentlemen of four outs
in love with a fireship, a round heeled wench
who taught at the floating school

he was beat all hollow
arsy varsey in the dust
the article yelled out the window
that he’s best angle for farthings
ere he returned

his brains were in his ballocks
and he beat Banaghan
to the admiral of the blue
thre was a fellow, slow dying of barrel fever
as sold him a pair of barking irons

when the bats flew out
he went for his chick-a-biddy
thinking for to play the blanket hornpipe
but he was born under a threepenny blanket
and bottle headed

the bran faced brat
was bread and butter fashion
with a black fly when he burst in
the old fellow lept up
to lay cane upon abel

but ere he had his cauliflower on
abram lay his chitterlings out for washing
in come the cock,
and laid him in irons
and in the morrow
they set him to climb three trees with a ladder

the trull wore weeds for a week

Friday, April 16, 2010


"didn’t i tell you” you say
“the last time i was on this road
i saw an armored car
on it’s side," with a smoking hole blown
in the back

you say “ i rolled down the windows”
hoping some money blew in"
i think of a flock of dollars
of a beard of bees
of a swarm of angry twenties
lifting the car, and you, away to paris
your body ascending on a cloud of engravings
a million birthday cards, gutted
our stiained matress made green in a sudden spring

the mole on your left buttock
is a lightswitch that i am never sure
is connected to a live circuit
till the bulbs glow
and i picture you glowing now
with a light to shame the moon

would you pull me from the shipwreck?
take me along, a bad tempered lapdog,
an uncouth butler for your summerhome
an aging cabana boy?

would you buy yourself a new body
to drape in diamonds? a house and title?
rolled english lawns and turrets?
a cloud of ink to vanish into
like a squid on a reef?

i would collect what you left behind,
the name, the hunger, the cloud, the numberless parts
transfigured by your millions
come in the night and burgle the rest,
jewelthief of your mole, your skin, your rags

you are a horde of jewels
a heist, a mobsters jewelbox of joys
i am already the richest thief
transfigured by sudden and miraculous wealth

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Of the coming of the companions of God to Ireland
taken from divers annals

In 673 there was a comet, and a star of great brightness
Seen in the months of September and October
In the year of our lord 690
It rained blood in Leinster.
Butter in the churn turned to flesh and blood
A wolf spoke with a human voice
The sea between Ireland and Scotland froze solid
And there was travel across the ice

In the year of our lord 721
in the monastery of Clonmacnoise
While the monks were at prayer
A ship was seen,
Her sails filled with wind
Sailing above the round tower,
In the upper air, where the fallen angels
Throng thick as fish

And a great iron anchor was heavd over her side
And dragged in the dust of the street
And into the church, till it stuck fast under the altar

and the chronicle tells us
that the monks were sore afraid
when a sailor swam down the rope
to pull it free, and they saw him drowning
in the goodly air, and rushed then to his aid
to pull the anchor free, and the ship sailed on
with no word of human language shared

In 734 there was the appearance of a dragon
“both huge and ugly to behold
And a great thunder heard after him in the firmament”

in 743 an awful marvelous sign was seen in the stars
in 745 in the night a terrible and wonderous sign appeared
amongst the stars

in 759 three showers fell in Crich-Muireadhaigh in Inishowen.
First pure silver of an unknown working
Then a shower of wheat, and last a shower of honey
Of a fair and rich flavour.
In 760 fire came from Heaven
and slew men in Dearthach Aedhain
In 765 “a terrible and wonderful prodigy
appeared among the stars”

and in 805, the Ceile De,
the clients and companions of god
came over the sea with dry feet, without a vessel
and a scroll was given them to preach
out of heaven and carried up again when the sermon
was finished

this year, cakes and bread bled when cut
and the birds spoke with human voices

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


You’re green, boy, so I’ll tell you
Cain killed Abel on the first Monday in April
So we don’t leave harbor while the blood’s still wet
No women on deck, lest she’s carved of pine
And has her tits out, to shame the sea to calm
Keep your whoring for port
This tub’s your woman now

You’re running from something, sure as salt
Anyone who’d go to sea without a reason
Would go to hell for a holiday

Jonah, put your right foot first, and never trust the left
Lest you want it to buckle under you
Put a silver coin under the mast
Pour wine on the deck
Stay clear of the captain when he’s drunk
Hammer in a stolen piece of wood
And she’ll go faster, if she’s got a reason to run

Never throw a stone in the sea
No plants in the wheelhouse or she’ll seek bottom
Don’t you never whistle
It calls the wind and the rain up with it
Don’t bring flowers or you’ll give em to the dead
Priests and redheads are bad luck
but a black cat will bring you home
it’s backwards here, someways

Never kill a gull, even when he steals
They are sailor boys washed over the side
And you can hear em screaming, of a time
It’s lucky if a petrol shits on you
Don’t cut your hair or nails till we make port
they are for the dead queen
Down in the dirt
Never wear a dead man’s clothes
Don’t fix a flag on the deck,
lest you want us to wrap you in it

if you go over the side, every day after is borrowed
and she’ll take you when she’s ready

There’s a fish out here big enough to house a man
There are whole cities on the bottom
And the churchbells ring in the storm
But if you hear em, you’re bound for the locker
Same as saint’s fire round your head

Watch the rats and leave when they do
Stow everything tight, and mind your business
Leave the duck-fucker in the kitchen
Or he’ll take a taste of young one like you
Never say the curly tailed fellow’s name

After fifty years, if you go
You’ll go to fiddlers green


once they praised the queen of heaven
with epithets, tower of ivory,house of gold
so I would name you, gnawed-on end of all my days
bone and gristle kingdom
ship of my nights aground
island of sleep
my portable hills

queen of the skin's book,
laughing hellmouth, still pool
my starless dark, my velvet house
my effulgence of giant's fruit
my walled garden, mother of
these glass dolls, beloved

you are a heaven with lamentation
a multitude of flowers in iron
orchard of books, feast-table of my bed
you are my library mouse, my tea-cake
my honeyed knifeblade
song in the throat of thousands
artificer of jewels, handmaid of hammers
unscaled siren of this tangled water

they collapse around you,
the tiny wingless things,
their faces sticky with my heart
their tiny hands in your hair

in the garden, small plants wrapped against the cold
this three part song of your sleep, and you,
pearl and rose in the jewelbox bed,
you sovereign nation
you, song of my life and dying
you are my first and last light
my thread of dream, my first book of color,
my birdsong in the dark's tree
my named and nameless garden, my heaven's fruit
my phosphor, my quintessence
my ever burning bone's pyre, my limestone water
my joy, my life,my home, my love

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Poem for Sam Cheuk

2:00 PM
me: you are a filthy canadian
a ham eater
a goddamned frenchy
you are round eye butter-people
you are a sack full of mackerel
in the backseat of a 72 charger,
parked in an abandoned lot and pissed on by bums
you are the tapeworm in the guts of the educational system
your fleas have fleas
2:19 PM your breath is like a rancid anchovy cunt
your eyeballs are swollen with festering cum and rat milk
that hat looks like you took it off a dead wino
2:20 PM your teeth are blisters
you have an asshole in your throat,and fuck it with a rotten cucumber
2:21 PM your mother's pussy is like a pot pie filled with snuff spit
you are a soupeater, a gargler of cheese
2:22 PM your fingers are fat little sausages, and you jack off obese sea otters
2:23 PM your dad puts white pee in your front butt
your dad pisses in your mom's ears
your dad eats raw bologna slices out of a dog's pussy
2:24 PM you put garlic bulbs up your mothers asshole and sparklers in her ears
her tits are like leathery pancakes
2:27 PM your dog is a lousy fuck
me: your back pussy is dry and flavorless
your sweaty hands squeeze the lethargic asscheecks
of manatees, you eat spaghetti off the tittybar’s floor
you strain dead flies from tepid beer through your teeth
and chew the wings.
You are are a maggot-fucker
You are balls deep in a rotten cantaloupe
You re balls deep in roadkill
You are balls deep in a headless chicken
you needledicked bugfucking son of a horsecunt



First, she swallowed her words
But they whispered
she ate her fingernails sharp
to skin it
And a crucifix, on a chain
But he pawed her open
She swallowed her tongue
ate a rope of hair, to climb out
It coiled a question through her
magnets and padlocks
To hold her to the bed
But still he came
So she ate a box of nails
And a hammer, and pinewood plank
built a house to live in
But he crawled inside her like a tapeworm
And lived in her drainpipes
in a nest of unsaid things
So she ate a box of candles and a book of matches
But he blew them out, and came in the dark
So she ate a string of lightbulbs
Just to be safe
But she opened her mouth,
And it was dark still
So she ate the streetlight, and the sun, and the stars
And the planets, ate airplanes and jackolanterns
Till there was only the black
And he was the black, so she ate that too
switchblade motoroil thick and greasy
brittle as a mirror back
broken combs and crowfeathers
iron and tires and asphalt
till there was nothing left
then she ate the nothing

Friday, April 9, 2010


After a painting of Circe

How they come, to the house in the wood
to be devoured, the green boys
fresh from ships.

They elbow one another

Outside the house, the wolves and lions
roll on their backs for their bellies to be scratched

Hers is the sweet-house, the gingersnap house
Baba Yaga’s cottage on chicken legs
and the boys enter in to be eaten.
so eager to throw their bones amidst her furs

She is Theda Bara. She is Barbara Stanwyck.
She is Rita Hayworth, the tutor of boys.

What does it matter, that she weeps when
the cup falls clattering to the stone
and the boys run off, squealing

There was a man, once
who had snowdrops in his teeth
who drank her wine, and stayed
but he is gone, and the sea is dark

The boys come, one after the other
To become something other than they are

There was a girl once
bound in marriage to the muddy dark
To the gravepits and the furrows
to the shadow's house

How she ate one seed of sweetness at his table
and could not leave,
How they brought her flowers and pigs
to lure her from her dark,
Sent heroes and boys like weasels down after
a rabbit in her hole,
when she wrapped herself in burial cloth
and refused the sun

Still they sing and sing for her
And call her bondage spring

When the broken men became her priests
they cut themselves with the sickle
they bled for the moon,
who comes to the crossroads
three headed and blind,
stands in doorways,
brings a black dog, and a torch with her.
when the moon has turned away her face,
when the moon’s house stand’s outside the child’s window,
It’s door open as a mouth

Here is blood, and honey
Cold mother, be kind

Thursday, April 8, 2010


When I was thirteen we were parentless
and you were our general, by dint
of being oldest, by
the scar from a broken bottle
that crossed your chest
by the time you had already done.
There were never any adults
save the occasional ex-con
with pin joints, or pills
cases of old Milwaukee
Kessler whiskey, Marlboro reds
bonfires, Dramamine
shitty blue unicorn acid.
parties that ripped the doors off the house

How we climbed on rooftops
breaking into the abandoned movie theatre
rooting through boxes of old bulbs and porno posters
behind the molding screen, looking for something worth stealing
how we crawled on our bellies through the air ducts
of it’s disused heating system, under the streets

Appetite for Destruction
The feral army of the street kids,
The homes of the homeless, Silverball Arcade
basements and empty houses
A tower of bottles
A silver airstream trailer on a gravel driveway
clearings in the woods, a wood-paneled downstairs apartment

I was lieutenant, skinny and with a wise-ass mouth
kept mostly unbloodied because of your
kickboxing, and your crazy grin
when shit started to go down

I remember

How you sat beside me
with that crazy grin the night I put a pistol to my head
and leaned your head against mine
and told me if I was going you were coming with me

How you stole that car, crossing state lines to see me
singing "midnight rambler" till they took you down in Terra Haute

How you cracked the window of the county jail
you’d drop string with the nailclippers attached
I’d clip a cellophane of joints, or cheap speed
you’d reel it in
How you kept ashes in a jar, and told them they were the spirit “OVOMBO”
Till they transferred you to the asylum

How you knotted those bedsheets together
climbed from the windows of the county
before they transferred you to the state pen
How you made the national news for it,
they could not believe you had done it

A general no more, our king in exile
and I was there
The night they took you back

We had a ride set to smuggle you out to the country
We were behind the middle school, drinking beer
the lights flashed
the cruisers swarmed, and I ran
through the woods, by the melon farm
jumped a stone bench into a leaf pile
that turned out to be a goldfish pond
and found myself, suddenly, unbelievably drowning
walked to the house that used to be mine
dripping wet with fish in my pockets
and you were gone

I did not hear from you again, until today
You call me brother, tell me you remember
you are happy, with your babies
your straight job
the home you finally found

A weight I did not know I carried
is lighter than it's been in years

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


After John 8:44

The devil and his angels speak
a mouthful of flies,
a bloated roadside body
naked in the foxglove
small bones in the crawlspace,
slow poison in the tea

they laugh when the old woman falls down the stairs
when the egg sours in the nest
when the house burns bright
on an empty road, no bucket brigade in sight

their tongues are razors in feathers
their teeth are stones in honey
their throats are uncovered wells
their hands are ours,

there’s a undiscovered boxcar, on a siding
that is their church today,
tomorrow, the house that is too still,
the newspapers piling up outside the door
tonight, a swarm of beds their altars
and the hissing command of their prayers
will be whispered urgently
into a thousand ears
and war and war and war and profit and mystery

tonight we will raise an abomination of towers
to scrape at the belly of heaven,
the railyard bible flickering
heart diamond cudgel shovel
in an electric sleepless city in the wasteI
tonight we will listen to the buzzing of flies
in a thousand blue boxes,
satellites that spin above
the tired old dusty earth

tonight doom will be augured
in a flight of birds, in haruspices
tomorrow the tornado hits the trailer park,
the father’s heart gives out
the city walls break before the flood
the fire comes, cleaning nothing

this jeweled crown of America,
this maze of merciless cities and highway
this drowned kingdom

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


The mine is black mouth,
And she has fed all her boys to it
In the hollow of the hills

The mine is an upside down church
And her boys have come back
With a blueblack mark no water can erase

Her boys have come back
In boxes in their Sunday clothes
Then gone back down again

The mine is a family reunion
The bloodline pools just below the earth
In the cold and the dark

It is hellmouth, and her green eyed devil
come up from it
Every Sunday, to spit, to sing
And fill her belly full of children

Till he went down to stay
To wait on Jesus
Coming in the middle of the air

Church of god
With signs following

The mine is more bitter than strychnine
Dark as a dungeon
And the coal cars crawl like rattlesnakes
Through the topless hills

They will burn his bones
To light the city at night
She will sit on her porch in the dark
Waiting on her devil who will not come

Monday, April 5, 2010


When the neighbors burned a cross
in our yard, it was for practice.

They'd never done it before.
They wanted to get it right.
It was not much taller
than a first grader
covered in gas and burlap.
They sat around it in lawn chairs,
drinking beer. I didn’t know why,
but I was ashamed.

Most of our acre was hidden
from the road by our house's
dirt floor and tarpaper.
A good place for secrets.
They asked permission of my father
he said it would be fine.
One more thing not to tell at school.
Kids raising hell. Just practicing.

A week later, when they burned a cross
in the front yard of the only black person
in our neighborhood,
(the adopted girl from six houses down
who shared my bus stop)

There were no lawnchairs
That is when they they were serious
That is when they meant every word
of what they did not say.

Sunday, April 4, 2010


There are days when I forget
How much I have taken
Your good and holy heart
How we kissed till our jaws ached

How much I have taken,
still want to hold onto, like a thief
How we kissed until our jaws ached
How you loved me before you knew me

still want to hold onto, like a thief
The way we sailed together
How you loved me before you knew me
When I stole you honestly

The way we sailed together
an outpouring of stories
When I stole you honestly
an endless day

an outpouring of stories
how you called up your dead
an endless day
your memory a churchyard

how you called up your dead
how I poured out my life
Your memory a churchyard
How I wanted to die there

how I poured out my life
every moment not with you an error
How I wanted to die there
in the house of your heart

every moment not with you an error
I am learning to be a better man
in the house of your heart
I have broken all the windows

I am learning to be a better man
Your good and holy heart,
I have broken all the windows
There are days when I forget

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Jenny Greenteeth squats in mud and duckweed
with her broken mouth and her long bony fingers
She is a swallower of apple-cheeked babies,
the riverwitch, the willow's lover
sweetheart of suicides

Jenny Greenteeth has weedy hair
and long bony fingers, to clutch at the ankles
of boys skipping stones, swinging from ropes
she is the tangler of fishing lines
her teeth are broken bottles
her father is a grindylow, a nix

Jenny Greenteeth combs her hair
and children piss their beds
she is the dark, and the man in the car with no windows
and she will take what is left when he is done

Jenny is the fish that eat the eyes of the broken dollies
she hisses in the grass at the waters edge
Jenny is the lover of the boy with the pocketfulls of stones
Jenny fills her bed with cold water on the nights he comes
she is swallower of crime and sorrow

she is the branches where the drowned boy tangled,
the rot that puffed his belly in the cold and the dark
the kiss that took his lips
when he rocked in her arms for a fortnight

riverwitch, hungry lover
her splintered mouth whispers
of how they knew her once
how she could teach a secret song
to charm the fish, to knot the wind
to swell the bellies of the kine

how the river rose, black with mud
for the crops before they broke her
how they gave her bones and blood for barley
for their beer, called her mother
for the good black earth
she left behind her

now she is hungry, and the weed
a green carpet of scum, runoff rich
tastes of oil and poison
jenny remembers songs to reap to
remembers lovers in her good black mud
fires in the autumn
remembers dollies of corn

she waits and whispers in the dark and mud
for the babies with their apple cheeks
for night swimmers, for the sorrow-laden
to come down the weedy shadow
to riverwitch, to unfed dark
to jenny greenteeth

Friday, April 2, 2010


My house is a ghost ship
hung with yellow lamps
foundered on the reef
of the morning

my little fish huddle
in their private sleep
the shadows of their little terrors
passing over and away

here the bed you left
here the plate and the bones
here are such rags as have draped around you
but you are gone

here is the mast I have lashed myself to,
here the jackline of your hands untied
here scylla. here poppies
here your song still hangs
above the wave and the seabird
and the starless dark
here the shipworm heart
in the carved and painted girl

birds throng the crosstrees
it is good friday
the sun and the moon-pulled water rise
and you are coming home
but not today

Thursday, April 1, 2010

2 of 30:

because he cast the books upon the fire,
because the angel stands at every locked door
we took to the sea in search of paradise

and the storm drove us on for fifteen days
till we came to the island of silence
where we followed a dog
to an empty city,
the beds turned down, the lamps bright
the larders stocked, but not a soul astir

long shadows fell in the quiet houses
clocks kept the hours till the world falls

we would not be satisfied, and
cast off again

and came to an island of sheep
the streams thick with trout
and another thronged with wheeling birds
and one lit on his shoulder and laughed
“seven years you will wander,
and still not find what you seek”

and ever west, we came to land
on a great stone resting in the sea
and going ashore, found nothing
and lit a great signal fire,
and stood round in a ring
and the ground trembled
and we were sore afraid
and returning to the boat,
saw the beast whose back we had stood upon
sink beneath the waves,
one black eye like the moon below the water

and rested, after, on an island of men whose tongues had died in their mouths
and their silent abbot, only, his voice cracking from disuse
said “eighty years”, and his voice was as a library of dust

and leaving them, we skirted those shores
where the head of judas rests
one side frozen, the other burning
speaking in a strange tongue
and weeping stones,
and men with the heads of pigs
scream among the flames
and rivers of golden fire pour from the black mount of hell
and one of our company was swept overboard, and lost
and worms devoured the outer skin of the boat
and the sea was still and white as milk
and still we chased the sun over the world's rim

and a beast rose up, horrible mouth
open, the fish fleeing before him
till swallowing his tail, he encircled the boat
and closed round like a hangman's knot
till the ribs of the currach creaked
and he sank like a stone, and the storm came after
and our captain sang, and the fish circled round to listen
and calmed the sea

and we came to a column of ice, or glass
that rose up from the sea farther than we could see
smooth and windowless
surrounded all around by golden nets
so vast we sailed between their meshes,
and called out, but none answered
and three days we sailed round that watchtower
and into fog so thick we could not see

and were met in that grey land by a youth
so curious I could not describe him
who took half of our company ashore
to a land so green one could not believe it
and for fifteen days we wandered in that blessed place
where the sun never sets
till we came to a river so wide we could not cross
and the sound of far of singing, and a grey light
as a city casts its own false dawn on the horizon
or the glint of metal seen from afar
and our guide would speak no human tongue
but would take us no farther
and there was sound of thunder

returning to our companions,
we were met with much alarm,
for they had waited in the harbor for a year and a day
living only on such fish as they could lure with lines,
and rain was their wine

and the wind lifted, and we sailed back
the way we had come, and now I am an old man
and still I do not know what we saw there
here we keep the hours
and after Compline, we enter the great silence.

Monday, March 29, 2010

1 of 30

The women with the heads of birds

are singing in the bright place

their tongues stitch the bright bones with flowers

on the final beach, atomic eggs on the white sand

the vanishing point like a well of ending

and the pail drops down, the water ringing in the dark dark dark

and the women spit stars in the wormy eyes of sailors

o my soul, have mercy

when I am stripped beyond naked

when I am undone, a mouthful of ash

when I am come at last to the hollow city's drowned battlements

when I have stretched my skin's boat across these splintered ribs

and sailed beyond the edges of the world,

o my kindly one have mercy

boatmen stand in the bright blast of heaven,

scraps of film develop in their pockets, tattered insignia

dropping among the bone thickets, the copper briars

and still you spin out the promise of angels,

honeyed traps of heaven and the faces of the dead

flowers turn their deaf heads towards the sun

in the windless calm, among the blooms sirens

sing a mantic song

prophesy to the worms

because the end of beauty is death

and when I am come at last to that shore I will carry your name

in my mouth, a bird with the head of a woman,

your fingers hooked in my collarbones

your breath in the windy hollow of my skull

in the marsh

in the islands in the sea of milk,

the labrynths of my days unwound

and you, spinner of my days

perch at the end of all threads and ways

at the end of all tales,

o my bird

o my tongue's confusion,

o my heaven, be with me even past the end

where the cold rocks scrape their tracks around the sun

where the radio coughs out its last in the icelight of stars

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

writing exercise number 16

I will give back the armless engineer
I put in my pocket,
his moustaches curling in the dark,
over my lips, thick as secrets.
The songless egg I put my thumb through
The naked heads of the mice before they went under,
The cat I left in the tall grass, the ruined house

The bloody girl by the carnival stone
The envelope of money behind the bar
The purse left behind in a phonebooth

every broken window, every brick
every dumpster fire, every kicked mailbox
every candy bar, every book, every breath
blood daisies, gravestone roses, concrete saints
the furniture of churches
how many pounds of salt?
How many hours of your good heart pumping?
Your voice on a wire
This book of lead, these millstone promises
This broken lock.

I should have cut off my hands.
filled my lungs with coals
should have stitched a barrel of stones in my belly
and drank from cold deep water,

I want
a vinegar-scrubbed plate of a heart,
White linen on a laundry cart, my angel-collar
Boiled in starch, I want warm snow,
Cold fire,
Crumbless time, with hospital corners,
Bleached history, and a forever of clocks
To give to you