Notes on Being a Dad (24)

He’s gone back to school

pursuing welding

and he’s still making his art

as unhinged as ever

when his son asks to talk to the mother

he doesn’t fight it

even though she traded him for substances

and she makes no attempts

he wants him to make whatever decision he will

to form his own opinions about his family

his kid, to him, isn’t a weapon

or a bargaining chip

but a fully formed being needing a little guidance

there are those who say I’m not ready to be a dad

because mine left before I was born

to them I point out men like this

who are better fathers

than he could have hoped to be.

Open House (23)

The nervousness is understandable

there’s so many of them on the Internet

and in real life

it bothers me too how they’re always happy

and aren’t always the most intelligent

but you have to think of the disciples

and what they were before and what they gave

how easy it was to start following

how the promise is utterly free

that piercing on your nose, that tattoo is nothing

whatever you think is too much

doesn’t even tip the scale

keep your eyes forward, they come and go

what we’re here for never changes

and there’s a place for you at the table

if not here

up there for certain.

Old Man Cat (22)

My friend and his wife take care of this old cat

he showed up one day after all his kittens did

and it was pretty quickly deduced that he was dad

to litters upon litters of kitten bastards

and I love him

I love his un-neutered jowls

like puffy cloud cheeks

his loose morals

and his handle on life

they feed him good food

he conquers every lady cat who ever lived

destroys their weak men with fast swipes

and sleeps hard on the couch despite being warned

with little snot bubbles coming out of his nose

and the world growing heavy with his offspring

your pregnancy, your problem

old man cat says

to a legion of sad lady cats

spiritually he is already a dozen states away

with his cat name changed

physically he’s right there

slaying existence


Aftermath of a Fall (21)

Five firetrucks contending with Atlanta traffic

men inside sweating from the heat

but otherwise unbothered

it’s a violent city


Seven police cars blaring sirens

action movie driving stunts

up on sidewalks

yelling at peds to get going already


Two ambulances with EMTs

roused from a leisurely evening at Chipotle

finishing last minute tortilla chips

as they burn out of the parking lot


Millions of cars slowing down in a line

and her saying

‘I forgot the film,’ defeated

I’m glad, sure what she had planned was illegal


My phone reads these text messages out loud

‘No we didn’t see anything,’

‘Bummed that it’s on the complete other side,’

‘Thought of asking neighbors but hate them,’


Traffic is at a standstill a block away

flashing lights going on into the night

she’s asleep now, her head listing to the right

my phone is on silent, I read the message

‘We’re getting coffee, feel free to join,’


I put my blinker on

and start to merge into the left lane

away from the scene

toward some better direction.

Fat Girl in a Pretty Dress (20)

She’s feeling self conscious in her new dress

ducking behind my figure as we meander

through the evening streets of Chattanooga

just as the streetlights begin to flicker on

it is this yellow thing, I don’t know the term

but her breasts pool out of the top

her cute belly stretches the center

and it makes her blue eyes-

behind clear frames

with stylized blood splatters on them-

even more maddening

we sit down for pizza at this worn brick place

next to an open concept venue

with a loud wedding reception

blasting the top 40 hits and slurred toasts

I’m practically drooling as she scans the menu

and the couple seated a few booths behind us

who she’s sure are watching and pointing

laughing at her

I turn and look at the boy

who can’t be more than 15

and when he catches my eye

I am appropriately stern

turning back I tell her she’s beautiful

and I say it stuttering and unable to look at her

because if I do for too long I might cry

because being here I’m sort of happy

and that would make things worse

we are keeping this as casual as possible

despite stopping ourselves

in the middle of complements

to stop something else from coming out

after pizza we return to her condo

the sky shot through with twinkling stars

her dogs asleep and tongues lolling

she slides her dress off slowly

stands in front of the sliding door to the balcony

looks at cars passing on the street below

and asks me if I mean it

when I say she’s beautiful

I say yes, forcing myself to look her in the eyes

when she turns with a face so expectant of hurt

and she asks me to say it again

to say it as many times as it takes

because she wants so badly to believe it.

Her Dad is a Diesel Mechanic, or Annoying My Girlfriend and Her Mom (19)

He sewed his thumb back on in the woods

with some fishing line

I have broken my arm twice

and each time I sucked in a lot of air and teared up

waiting in a clean hospital ER for a bed

going like this:


and been a bitch otherwise my entire life

when he tells me about them boys at work

running the machines into the ground

I go along with him

and say, you can’t find anybody worth a durn

and he agrees with a grunt

then tells me about being shot at by union men

that wanted the job he and his father took

because it was their state

and his father almost ran them over with a truck

and he tells me that he once went

to a martial arts gym and the black belt instructor

couldn’t do anything to keep him down

one time a guy picked him up in the air

with a lift and shook it so he might fall

much to the laughs of the other men

and he put vice grips around this man’s chest

and squeezed on them until ribs were broken

after he finally let him down

and I nodded and grunted and yessir’d my way

up until my girlfriend’s mom asked me

what tool he’s referring to when he talks about

fixing this thing on the cherry pickers they broke

I stutter for a second and then turn to look at her

now joined by my girlfriend

grinning like hungry wolves.


Dudes (18)

Dudes who complain about yardwork

Dudes who don’t take out the trash

Dudes who leave the spoons on the side of the sink

Dudes who leave the drain clogged

Dudes who smash mailboxes with bats

Dudes who don’t take their medication often

Dudes who forget birthdays and anniversaries

Dudes who are unusually close

Dudes who work on cars

Dudes who don’t coupon at all

Dudes who read westerns

Dudes who can’t sit through a play

Dudes who slash tires over stares

Dudes who don’t know how to play UNO

Dudes who leave the toilet seat up

It’s us , we’re dudes

she needed a ride home and we obliged

no one at the party knew our names

and were too obliterated to capture faces

you’re handsome and your small talk is distracting

in the rearview I can see her eyes

on your chin and cheeks and collarbones

drinking them in with tipsy lust

keeping your cool, the last one got you too excited

and you punched them in the head over and over

as I stayed on the lookout for cops and nosy drivers

so enthralled by you

and not paying attention to the exit signs that fly by

far away from where she told me to drop her off

flashing like green lights to a place

she’d rather not know she was going to

and not coming back from.


Theremin (17)

A very nice amplifier system

pulled from years of playing in a post rock band

where the same note for 20 minutes

made you feel real deep and cool

standing at the show, staring at the projector screen

black and white images of birds

buildings collapsing

now hooked up to theremin

and aimed at the house next door

who thought last night’s band practice was loud

‘Good morning, Philistines.’

and then conductor style waving of hands

shaking wildly as alien sounds are amplified

to unsafe levels

as if they were touching down

to a very sick score.


Perez Hilton (16)

In this dream I hang out with Perez Hilton

And we dish about people I know nothing about

Driving down Hollywood Boulevard

laughing about overdoses and broken marriages

that happened here and there

oh can you believe

and I can, because Perez tells me

and I believe Perez Hilton

I believe his meanness

and light socket shock blond hair

And when we are at his mansion

and he’s drinking, he tells me he wants to stop

and I say no, Perez

drink more.


Nonhuman (15)

The face is gone

brick came through windshield

thrown from the back of a work truck

graceful, in a perfect line

like it had wings

sent by God and physics

to annihilate face and head

so that there’s nothing to grieve

except limbs, legs and torso.

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