Friday, June 29, 2018

The Ghost of Cirrhosis

My father’s lost

from his corporeal form,

legs akimbo

down liquor store aisles,

with a love in his liver

for bitter bourbon solace.

Fish-eyed and floundering,

Dad gave up the ghost of cirrhosis

for the madness of King George

without a crown.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Do the Existential Queen Village Crawl

I crawl into my head

for the long winter

of my discontent

yet dread the company

I keep there.

Venturing outside my house

past cat cafes & coffee shops,

fabric stores & hair salons,

vintage thrift & restaurant fads

on my Queen Village block.

I am alone.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Polaroid

Dad carves the turkey -

smoke in his mouth,

booze in his blood,

cirrhosis making plans.


Mom dishes side eye -

lightly sauced herself,

menthol smokes the light

and plans her germinating stroke.


Long shadows cast from both

on benders of their own -

stumbling Rorschach tests

splashing our dining room feast.


The aroma of pumpkin pie,

love and death

spreads outward from the kitchen,




Sunday, August 28, 2016

election night

her beauty kept hidden
down doorways half broken -
his ugliness showcased
for american smiles.
their calling was sewage
for the feast of st. stevens -
but talents left dormant
for want of applause.
my eyes were but open
for the taste of salvation -
left out of reach
in an ampule dream.
puddles of empty
splashed boots made for walking -
nancy sinatra
through chloroform eyes.
cobblestone nose rings
through the snowdrifts of winter -
bloodied and cleaved
watching leave it to beaver
on tablets of apple
on tablets of apple
on tablets of apple

Monday, July 4, 2016

My father always had a lady on his arm and she was unfailingly naked. No, he was not a galavanting playboy or strip club devotee; rather, this was a tattoo that ran down his inner arm from elbow to wrist. It was one of the more visible, persistent reminders of the innumerable mistakes Dad had made while in the throes of alcoholic bliss. It was perhaps the single biggest source of embarrassment for the old man, who took to wearing long sleeve shirts at all times, even in the midst of a particularly noxious mid-August swelter. I'm guessing it was just too large to consider removal, at least with the means available back in the fifties and sixties when he might have been in the position to weigh such an option.

I never thought much of The Lady, and frankly don't even remember the details all that clearly. I think it adorned his right arm but maybe he had one on each; my addled flashbacks have been edited for sanity's sake and these bits must have been left on the cutting room floor. I do vaguely recall asking him about it as a toddler but the only really clear memories I've retained relative to this matter are the incessant threats my parents made as to just what they'd do to me if I mentioned "her" in front of others. The folks lived in terror of outsiders discovering dents in what they viewed as a lovingly crafted model of Leave-It-To-Beaverism. The truth is that dents were the least of this model's concerns when all that remained were gaping holes by the time the late 1960s rolled around, the ghosts of June, Ward, Wally and the Beaver flying off into the night in horror at being associated with our unique spin of familial dysfunction.

I think The Lady is the primary reason I never desired a tattoo of any sort and have never understood the appeal of body art in others, whether it be ink or piercings or like forms of self mutilation. In fact, I don't see the difference between a person with piercings or tattoos and the ragged razor scars of a cutter. Sure, there's an obvious difference in intent and the former might be more aesthetically pleasing than the latter; however, the psychology of intent can be many layered and not at all obvious to the conscious mind while aesthetics are, by definition, subjective.

A news recap this morning showing a group of Independence Day weekend revelers included a dude with what looked to be a very familiar tat running down the length of his Flexor digitorum and the hazy memories of Dad's ink-drawn Elke just sort of washed over me like a fog.

The 4th of July is often the time when my childhood remembrances come to the fore: it was my father's favorite holiday after Christmas and it was my mother's birthday. She'd have been 87 today. When Mom was celebrating her 41st birthday, my cousin Jennie (my Mom's niece) gave birth to her daughter, Lisa.  So we celebrated a lot of birthdays this day if you throw the USA into the mix.  Dad loved to buy and light off fireworks and we did so each year until my Mom had her stroke in June of '72 and Dad took his final plunge into the bottle shortly thereafter, never to return again until his body bobbed to the surface for a toe-tagged gurney ride to the morgue a little over 5 years later. But prior to this slide into oblivion, I had a giddy anticipation of each Independence Day that was only bested by Santa's annual sleigh ride.

Where I grew up, "Safe & Sane" fireworks stands started popping up in June all over the town and we'd peruse the season's "new" offerings with excitement. Really, there wasn't much new year to year (sparklers and snakes intermixed with various pinwheels, rockets, and fiery cannons). No firecrackers or bottle rockets or M80s and the like. They were certainly available on the sly but Dad mostly stuck with the legal stuff. After the fireworks were expended and we were done running across the lawn with fists full of sparklers, finished watching the "snakes" melt into the sidewalk where'd they leave a stain lasting the rest of the summer, sick of going 'ooh' and 'ahh' at the pinwheels and sparkle rockets as Dad ignites their glory; after all that, we'd go to bed and wake up again into the usual drama that defined our lives outside of the spell of the 4th and Christmas (and, perhaps, for a few hours on Halloween). Thanksgiving sometimes dampened our dysfunction, but just as often accelerated it (sort of like a gasoline-based fire extinguisher, if there were such a beast).

The Lady on the Arm and 4th of July seem inexorably intwined, even if the random news clip hadn't jousted the Freudian gnome living on the European continent of my subconscious to change the reel of my yesterday-dreams to Scenes of Dad's Ink-stained Other Woman. I guess it's because pop did wear short sleeves while orchestrating the fireworks, likely because the fear of polyester melting into his skin outweighed that of the neighbors eyeballing his epidermis artwork.

In the end, when Dad was cremated, The Lady on the Arm went the way of the fireworks that freed her for an annual night unveiled. I guess it was her destiny.

Ooh, Ahh.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

A March without Movement

I awaken to the ground hard,

vestiges of melting winter come at me

downward from the slate stricken sky.

I awaken to the dawn

of madness bearing down.

Of b-ball bracket worship

and faux celtic drunk-fests,

of emergence from snow-swept silence

and the last gasps of ice storms fading

while the boys of summer stir to life

in grapefruit cactus play

and the alpine calcifying snow-bound zombies

recede into the mud

of fool's days to come.

I arise from my slumber

through a fog into sunshine,

floating past in a quandry,

stuck in stasis along the way.

I feel close to south of empty

yet still somewhere north of broken,

smack dab in a permafrost

of the perpetual in-between,

swept into a March without movement

toward teasing promises anew.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

the frozen muddy

She is a whisper

of dawn

at midnight,

a sharp breath

of clarity


I dream of nothing

but blackouts

and madness,

she is the promise

of morning

come dawn.


She is a figment

of my

exhausted pointless,

the last filament

of desperation's


with daydreams of nothing

but delirium's



into shit storms

of shimmering sleet.


down South Street's

filthy drifts devoid,

she is gone.

Leaving nothing behind

but the frozen muddy.