Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Alternative

I am trying to slow my breath
Let the moments dissipate
And roll off of me
Trying to avoid the mind of a victim
To avoid my own eyes
Or at least to see beyond
These moments

The tremor in my hand betrays me
Seems to laugh at me
With hushed breath
In my left ear
Even in my pocket
For fear of others noticing
Fear of my own narrow
My own
As sharp as a hair

I must see you as dirt
Taste you as smoke
Thick black fingers down my throat
I must step with distain
Upon you face
To the train
From the train
Within your valley of glass
And steel
I project a river of fractures
Wrapped around your spine
A reason to run
Before the collapse

The alternative
Weighs upon me
Would fold me to my knees
If I did not compress it
Hold back the flashes
Memories of a warm hand in mine
The smile of my love
As she sits waiting for me
In the doorway
Locked out again
She wasn’t even angry
Simply trusted I would show up

I have tried to press the memories
Into small photographs
Burned at the edges
Cut in half
So I no longer see
Fingers pointing at the sky
Eyes peering over the ledge
Counting the heads of neighbors
So I no longer feel
Wrapped around my entire head
Like a pillow

Nostalgia can become a well
Built brick by brick
Up around us
Dreams the flip-book of

I didn’t even notice
As it crept along
Day by day
Like moss

I slow my breath again
Try to pretend I do not miss her face
Do not miss my love
My heart
She does cartwheels in the sand
Every time I close my eyes

I can only exhale slowly
Until this purgatory ends
The alternative
Doesn’t care

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


she was just a spit
past pretty, but her
were sharp and
her shoulders
I curled around her neck for 3
watching the water
for a light
knowing I would eventually
crawl back
to myself
or the loss of my self
either one
the same
part of the same horizon
hidden behind the same
loose sail
devoid of push
lacking of pull
for both of us.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Train Marshal Diary - Entry One

"____________ Shoot! ____________ Shoot! Shoot! ____________ Shoot! ____________ Shoot! Shoot!!" DOT DOT fucking DOT.

It went on like that for 17 minutes and 32 seconds. Yes. I did time it. Call it a compulsion. Whatever. I could tell from the first "Sh–" that I would not enjoy waiting it out. So, I started counting.

Numbers reveal many things. 5 minutes until the next Red Line train, 4 fingers on the left hand of the man quietly sitting across from you, 3 mirrors reflecting your mug as you shave at 5:26 am, or -$2.22 in your damn bank account. Some practical, some depressing, some a measure of decline. Like 17 minutes and 32 seconds of listening to "shoot shoot" rhymes second hand.

I couldn't even hear the kid's iPod. Between the sound of his feet shuffling and stepping to the beat and his punctuated leaps to join in, I couldn't tell if he was actually listening to anything at all. At best, he's off his meds. At worst, a stupid punk fuck who thinks that gyrating and yelling on a public train somehow makes him cool.

"Shoot! Shoot!"

The people around him are no better. They pretend he is no bother or ignore him altogether. They scatter as best they can on the crowded car. They make a dance floor. They grant him center ring. But I see their eyes twitch – their teeth grind. I see between their robotic smiles and the skin under their fingertips. At 5 minutes in, I know they are cowards. I would have to involve myself.

What rubs me is this is below my station. This is not why I am here – not the job. Anyone else could open their mouth and ask. Bitch at him. I am here for the bigger picture.

Being a federal train marshal is a thankless position. The people who volunteer know that up front. We do not need or really want a pat on the back. Most of us begin out of a sense of duty, imagining days of quiet satisfaction. Being a silent protector. The unseen hand over the shoulder. At some point, duty rolls over and becomes nauseating inertia. I still believe in the job. I just don't know about the people we are protecting.

I start to hear the music that seemed imaginary. "Boom tick-a-chick splash boom chick-a-splash SHOOT! Boom tick-a-chick splash boom chick-a-SHOOT SHOOT!" This takes me right to the edge of my seat. I am staring directly at his face as he lobs it from side to side. He throws his head back and lets out a high pitched "Whooo!" Mistake. I take the book I have been trying to read (Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life), lean forward about a foot and swiftly tap it's spine across his Adam’s apple.

He is on his ass before someone can catch him. Following protocol, I swiftly stand up and walk off the train right before the doors close. No need to engage the public with details they don't need to know. Not for something like this. I see faces pressed against the windows as the train pulls out of Francisco. Everyone looks shocked. An old Asian lady is pointing at me, tapping her fingernail on the plastic coated glass. Her lips mouth the word "asshole".

Hrmph I think as it begins to disappear.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Under the shadow of
Empty boxes
This heat
This damn heat
Makes me smile
Legs and arms
Arms and legs
Kicking and punching
To hold up nothing more than air
Wrinkled coupons
And sun bleached posters
Promising bliss
At 30 to 40 percent off
All this concrete could have been
Could have
The glass however
Will take care of itself
Crawling back to the beaches
And deserts
When we least stand watch

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Thing

This is not the thing
That exists
Between grains of sand
Silently preventing
Their escape upward
Upward and far away
This is the wedge
The knife
Pressed slowly beside
The lock
For the inevitable twist
Then kick

Now, it is before you
Before you
On the table
Like a fat, untrained cat
With a taste for whiskey
Waiting to pounce on the eye
You’ll eventually
Roll across the floor

Its patience is numbing

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


In a place where sleep is more valuable
Than self respect, I sit up to wind thoughts
Around my forearm
Counting the loops
Each a little shorter than the previous

It is not long before I am lost
Distracted from where I am
So instead, I trace a heart
Over your left eyebrow
With a blue fingertip

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Too bound to accord the metaphor
Too taciturn to find other words
Too myopic to see our touching noses
Too addled to taste our own breath