Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Following a Star, on Earth


Each and every priv-

ilege crip-

pling you more

and more in-

fecting your ab-

ility to think yourself--

definition of pre-

judice, each absolute

nonsense entering

every argument with-

out the flexible move-

ment of the nomad;

evolution, even

human, is a denial

of all absolutes,

                        of all other

fixations. A gift

is a spit on private

property yet the triumph

of privileged investment.

Our most sacred dis-

interest cannot be

posted on facebook.



 (Jesus with his hand out--or at least 47% of him)

Friday, December 7, 2012

AFTERWORD (to Sojourner)

AFTERWORD (to Sojourner)

This compilation of short stories, poems, prose experiments, and prose poems is, for me, a literary framing of a few of the many occasional texts culled from the notebooks that I have filled with writing over the years; it represents a kind of selective diary of narratives, observations, and tonal meditations upon this author’s fascination with place—both in terms of a physical landscape, an imagined geography, as well as a conceptual space either of belonging or otherness, a home or a strange place that one visits for whatever reasons: curiosity, escape, or for that measuring of the self that unfamiliar places seem to invite—even provoke.

As the title of the collection suggests, perhaps the best way to access the various narrators’ experiences recounted herein, to define their singular lack of a stable personality or literary method, is to think of each text as a sojourner, a voice who enters, inhabits briefly, and then, for one reason or another, abandons each place in favor of the next. A dear friend once remarked that, like a bird, I tend to settle into other people’s nests, hatch myself there, and then fly off toward some distant horizon. It remains for the reader to decide if it is I who have left my mark on these many places, mostly cities, by inscribing their names and some words about them into the notebooks that have fed this collection or vice versa.

Taken together, the disparate texts that make up Sojourner can be read as the fictionalized and poetic chronicle of my wandering years, which began in 1986 when, at the tender age of twenty-four, I left San Francisco for Europe planning never to return, and which have more or less continued up to the present day. I have lived these, my adult years, at first willfully, later accidentally, as a transitory sojourner, experiencing first several European capitals as a traveler, then Florence and New York City as an itinerant student, and finally some ten years in a little piss-trough of a town outside of Florence called San Francesco as a teacher, a husband, and a father.

During my decade in San Francesco I used to joke that my autobiography would be called From San Francisco to San Francesco, but my ex-wife had other plans. Which brings me to what putting these texts together has taught me is the overriding theme of my writing (and I suppose my life as well): solitude and companionship, otherness and familiarity, both between people as well as with places—a situation that constructs, in these texts, the themes of chance encounters, identity, self-destruction, escape and dreams, compromise, resurrection or transformation, desire, and, of course, traveling. We fly, “like a demon, from station to station,” as David Bowie sings.

I write this afterword from a rented room back in Florence, Italy, during my fifth sojourn in this city. I have a four-year lease, with an option for another four, which I might see out or which I might break any day in favor of a room in Naples, Oakland, Rome, New York City, or anywhere else they will have me. Just as the day I left San Francisco some twenty-six years ago, with three thousand dollars in travelers’ checks and a one-way ticket to Brussels in my pocket, the world remains my oyster.

I hear that, with a little Vernaccia, they slide down pretty smoothly.


Saturday, December 1, 2012


The Man from Mandrax

The Man from Mandrax

Mandrax seed in a dead man’s coat, I stalk the floodplain until recently held to be a Venetian phenomenon. Crackling seals re-perform my crime for random passerby in drastic madams’ elastic tokens. Gone. Another flat-ended puddle of flax: liminal, pointing eastward. Signed, sealed, delivered. I’m disguised as a junkie of old—they stare at me outside of the soup kitchen. It rains still and, huddled in niches, the snails emerge towards their hallowed wine and tobacco hollows. One toke, one toke—only a motion away.

At a hiccup’s pace, not necessarily stoned, butt-ended avalanche of water, or waiting, of wine and sandbags. Dramamine helps one to lean with the city’s rocking gait. An oasis palmed in plaid, deflated, then drowned, newly navigable as carburetors cough up blood and conk out. In that, another deed indeed gets done.

The sun may never shine again, undone as Newflorence’s Renzi's-pavement’s laced with mercury, a mirror to the falling water, upward in a twin so thin against hidden stones and sea-ment, no seed to take over mortar, no earth beneath our feet, only moons, a mutually attracted collaborator to the weight, an image in the sky of the night we exiled electronically orange, crucifying all good intentions for the season ‘tis for regretting the folly of poverty with all them gifts.

But quit? It don’t seem likely—not in a text anyway, a mandate for decent proceeding onto the next hanged man giving birth to worlds of poisonous offspring in stolen coats who never look back but only forward to vengeful revolutions.

Florence and Bologna

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Today the train"

Today the train
becomes a figure
for noia
                        for bother
,man’s inhumanity to her fellows,
swine — Circe — dye jobs

a gun in every bedside
table, a hidden agenda
always the same, always

            the heart’s greatest desire
the Make A Wish Foundation
Jesus, the one up on the cross
winks, “You put me up here

            “didn’t you?
            “and you’re not even ashamed
            “of your hatred
            “your dis-attention
            “your mental cock
                                    always in your hand.”

            You’re proud
                                    to be what you are

                        Florence-Bologna, in transit

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Meditation

A Meditation

How does one tell time? Why do we tell, rather than read or decipher or measure, time? What does time give away? What if a crystal should survive the humanly measurable universe in order to keep on ticking, in imitation of a human heartbeat, with attracting and repelling protons and neutrons, long after there is no one left to smile, no one left to care about measuring the duration of mere duration. It would appear that its length is the same by any measure.

Monday, September 10, 2012

"Don’t you dare quench my insatiable boredom"


Don’t you dare quench my insatiable boredom
in yr breathtaking clothes, that mask you wear
on the back of yr head—bang
that tambourine, Dick! Evolution
makes you taller. Tempting terrain
of pissed-on boots, aquiline noses
and the return of knickers,
boxers, and big-bra biddies
moving off towards the powder
keg in the backroom where the tap is
always dripping.

Mustache man falters with the cigarette
bit, bumble nose boy weaves
,not looking, past his mascara
lips lubing the slick beer stem,
spittle warming the cool glass knob.
Face powder becomes your holy-
cost, hologram, hot-toddy thump
of the mechanical bass on the lower breast

            and go, porno sonorous gaydar
has released all of our mysteries to the wheel
but for the odor. Rawer meat
and standing water. Heat comes down
a fool to her weight, pats herself off
to it. Aglow, I spy Ms. dreamy beneath the telephone
light, before the piss-pots. Having
been groomed by the doorman, shy abdicates
my face to the wall: flower pot
caught in the hoar-frost. Hep hep me
realign ‘er, get her offa that harp, ‘at ship
of our ingenuity sailing to some higher service
out of a blinding night as white as this
to that great, golden
fuck up in the sky.

San Francisco
(Kennel Club, née VIS, now Independent)

Saturday, September 8, 2012


The 97th street gate, portals to the scraping underbelly of the beast. We’re just fleas, sittin’ up at the counter, sittin’ up at the bar, ready to eat. Gateway to out of control, Grand Central, the zoo you can’t look at but only see to. “Yo, whas up? Whas up?” She can’t hardly perch on them heels down skeleton row on her way to 110th Street, crackling commuter trestles, tombs, an end to torment. (That other junkie crying: her black-eyed boyfriend ex-Hell’s Angel puts a silver bullet in her handbag and stomps away in slow motion. Not getting’ whatever it was ‘at she was pleading to get she calls him back with, “Hey! Fuckface!”)
 I’m beginning to feel awkwardly alone all these transitory days long. The waiter hates me writing on his counter, pushes coffee, confused pancakes in my direction. Back o’ the border, falling off a’ their fork before reaching my mouth. Nodding on the platform. “Do you know what time it is?” Stares. “Do you?” Salsa, soul, salsa, soul.

Anyway, she was teetering up by the playground through the George Washington houses. He let her go like a stage mother shoves her little girl out in front of a blind audience, pushing her into that spotlight, the sun, in 95˚ humidity, as if shorts were really the answer to those legs with barely enough fat on ‘em to keep the bruises blue. De rigueur to ask for clean silverware here. Obligatory map of Greece. No second cup a’ coffee unless yas ask.

In comes a white “HOLLYWOOD” visor. You don’t even know where she’s goin’. “Yo.” There comes another. “Whas up? Whas up?” A rolled up newspaper cradle. Then a scuffed-up bike accident loser slumps on a stool too. Her boyfriend? “Gone,” she says—pregnant pause—“long gone.”

Walkin’ in circles. It all stops if there’s a cop stationed on the corner. “You can’t touch this.” Sleeping so huddled up for it, can only go with a nod, like last Christmas and the icicles pointing down from under the trestles at what used to be Park Ave. like the subway’s frozen teeth—commuter train—they all correct me. Seriously too cold to get mugged. Ye olde el.

Whatever it is that’s your mission you go on, you don’t just lie down and die, do ya? You put on your makeup and sway off across the borough, the bird that kept on fallin’ off a’ the wire and getting’ back up on it. You listen to so many stupid conversations about the same damn bullshit you get a little too eager to speak your mind. You left off the bra, got out the tank top, climbed up on them shoes and did what you had to do.

She might even climb up that steep slope just for the pleasure of being stared at, to say that she had done it once outside of the subway—anyhow it always ends in a fight, getting’ yourself thrown out, like you like it like that. While I go racin’ up outta that tunnel and into the blue December-light smear of the hazy day over Harlem. I go up like a shot light bulb, browned out in a power surge to a blazing new home. I call, but ain’t got no.

Never even saw 111th street; is that fair?

Feelin’ so alone to be jes doin’ all these things I done so many other times before.


Friday, September 7, 2012

My Act

An invisible clown on a garbage can
attempts to move robotically
to the sound of a delicate calliope
falling through all of that traffic,
like the November excuse for sunlight:
poor. An echo (già) of Palermitan voices.

Paris: Les Deux Magots, fashion prostitutes
at 40—an endless school excursion
for refined young women. It must have been
an unconcern for expense that drove them
out into this puny negation
of the night to come.

However, the clown, eyeing my
writerly act (Sitting before Les Deux Magots)
and not receiving any coins just the same,
feigns indignation—and a woman with Dante’s
profile (ti giuro, spaccato!) who also
would not smile—refuses to invite change.

Thus the world goes on
                             the same.


The Siege of San Marco

The event staves off its message / each picture begetting another on down the isle / a day’s work / done the humble meal / a fire at night / no doubt, in winter / Savonarola’s tears / on the pulpit to come  //  Staves off the decision / marks down the outlines / on down the isle / images that return / “The same damn saint,” says the American turning away  //  They won’t be able to blame us for bullets / resting assured of some king of kings / for whom they have voted / and all that judgment crap  //  They hire / executioners all day long / up against these walls / each one with a paintbrush / and then to sleep / in the simple cell  //  The making and the undoing of the day and the night / stacked out by the outhouse / grinding glass for the red (bloodpaint) / soaking in the sin / to contain the sight, the stare / looking into the sun / or hugging a cross / with blind faith  //


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

CATHOLIC WILL: A Perfect Roman Poem

Roman Fortune (innately
Mannerist) smites a curb-
    side tournament, its turn-
    stiles timed to mimic
land mines, whilst tragic
fame, mitred in disguise,
prizes suicidal maidens and
allows demijohns decisions—
                                  to decant tanks, for favor,
                                  to take arms against
                                                  a sea of turbines,

by all rights should have been
shed by Fortinbras' cat,
hopping over Roman bric-a-brac.

                           tout court, our tongue
had strangled all our firm intent
and lent its charge to chance
    (said Cheshire to the waif)
of interactions all, both small and large.
Therefore, onward friction's
shoulders!      Bearing the boss
across the bridge of bad
humor (angels!)      to Papal precipices
'n' grumbling, placated
    Tritons & Britons
in the rain, we trod on.

And just like that!
A spat!
Between perfect strangers.

Rome-Florence, in transit

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"Velvet wet precaution..."

Velvet wet precaution, a savior
salivating over dampened greens and golds
and soggy grey, grounded olives past
passengers far, far away in hopeful

            Those ravines dividing Tuscan sun
From Latian solarity, the revelation
that there is no particular one, no center,
despite Peter’s rock and/or Orpheus’ egg.

The circular line of expiational time
expands, mocking clocks, drenching benches
and presiding over all—‘though there are no—
second chances. The gist of arable fields,
fallow shoals soaking up the thunder
of another era, a Roman sojourn

to the thought that becomes this velvet
wet precaution: that you might get caught
in the rain.


"The Heart..."


     The heart deep-sixed this dark again
    as my whole weight tilts through
    the spider web you spin around the frame
    of the door that holds us in. You stake your claim,
    summer ushers it in, for hearsay’s plans
    and your private plane tips me over;
    my guts fall out, overboard
    with all of the other failures


Friday, March 23, 2012




Jest another cranky cobalt crook, a tethered brat’s one-trick pony trapped in a propped-up crack, cobras break her fall into all this paradise, and we are content to seek the one step before beyond—hands that held the head that cried human tears. There was a prize for cropping hair and drinking beer. A knight, a rook to queen’s pawn one, to rack and ruin, a young man’s only honest hearth and home. Such crumbs rumble like thunder in our hearts. Once in a lifetime he runs over her thumb and fumbles with the locks—hairdressers, window dressers, undressing becomes us, our only honest crabwalk towards that opening, love.

(No! I will never thumb my nose again!)

We run instead, comrades, screeching cables and brakes, labor over levers, throated throttles to ‘at toboggan’s banking ‘round some curves woven by breezes blown through sometime summers. We vote for the hive of love and arrive at this; we’re done, have been left out in the rain, timeless bicycles, unnamed dolls, our itchy scalps above shock-rimmed eyes rolling open and shut, open and shut, our Humpty-Dumpty grins a sin to each and every one of the king’s men.

A heap! A heap! My kingdom from a heap of trash!

Love is still the most revolutionary debt we could ever call in. Without usury, a first step towards the use of life and the evolution of value. No slogan, but the only surviving form of the word “interest” draws me in—fragment of a whole, the only alliance worth re-realizing, the mote that the eye knew as the measure of its sight, the parameters of entropic erotic enterprise.

Life! The timer ticks and we make hay—if we’re luckily disposed to do so—by breaking wheat up into flour, fruit-flowering ourselves inside-out for each other; we turn suitors without suits and ask for 31 favors, tear ourselves asunder, rending our dues, aping our axes, suing our lawyers for lax black graft in heaps out back, and we sit favorably influenced by another female-named hurricane called, appropriately, L-O-V-E-Y.

As the wise man was once wont to sing, “Love, it’s a broken thing.”

It mirrors all of my cracks.


Sunday, March 11, 2012



There is nothing so liberating. Nothing. There's nothing. There is nothing so frustrating as that. There isn’t even that. No, nothing’s so liberating as the frustration of waiting. There's nothing so frustrating as waiting for liberation. There isn’t. Because we forge chains. We forge chains because we’re afraid of nothing. Except frustration. Except liberation. So? So what.

Because alone is not alone, because nothing is just so. Because there’s nothing so liberating, or there wasn’t once, as a chain. And chains are real. Rings are real links and there’s nothing so, no, nothing so real as our own forged link in a chain. Anglo-Saxon tradition even here—and there’s nothing as frustrating as that.

When nothing is so, or as it seems. When there’s nothing as it should be because of rings and links, because of chains and time—time takes shape in rings, time takes shape in chains. And then there’s nothing, nothing but time's image round our fingers. Well, there’s nothing so frustrating as that. No, nothing. There’s no nothing as frustrating as the forced nothing of a liberation, of losing a ring. Because chains and rings are real. Because real rings go round and round.

Chains and rings are real because chains and rings are forged in time. We forge them in time in time’s image—and there’s nothing as frustrating as breaking a link, as breaking the round ring of a chain that we ourselves have forged in time. No, nothing’s so frustrating as that. So? So what. Nothing’s so, just so, so liberating as that frustration, as waiting to break a vow, because it breaks up the rings of your time of day.


Friday, January 27, 2012

ALPHAGORIA (An Introduction to the PARADOXA)

“Her dress was made of very fine, imperishable thread, of delicate workmanship: she herself wove it, as I learned later, for she told me. Its form was shrouded by a kind of darkness of forgotten years, like a smoke-blackened family statue in the atrium. On its lower border was woven the Greek letter Pi, and on its upper Theta, and between the two letters steps were marked like a ladder, by which one might climb from the lower letter to the higher.”

--Boethius, The Consolations of Philosophy


Now is this winter? Alpha to Omega or Pi to Theta? Another sine qua non embryonic twinkle in some discontent father’s zoophagus eye. Favors production, this world of eternal return. Dark clouds glower at the crash and burn, at the Intel Inside artificial insemination of ages. In saeculum saecularum. This alphabet is a tripartite world war of words: ZANG TUMB TUUUM! Its bold retreats and advance alarums retrace a column of text under attack by drawn slashes of bomb. A gaff forgets, abjects, is sagacious in such evasions. This sum of York offers them often, offends, and is forgotten before the Theta can claim ascention.

But i… Da rules—dem ol’ dry bones, t’ain’t janglin no mo’. That threat was not made true. The raven always gets the last word, remember? Kinda takes you back: crumpling up inside of womb-like spaces, flesh and feasting, sin and symptom, sense and insensibility. Simply living and graphing pleasures as old as opinions ass-backwards gasp nimbly in a lady’s chamber. ‘tis thought, thought i, baggaged self-packing polystyrene in its own anxiety not to be lost, arranged in advance retreats through travel agents’ itineraria. Thought is not sought out to be paralyzed by thinking, to fall and gain through comings and goings, to say yes to all nay saying an’ that sagacious hayseed fool’s sense of what’s not worth gnawing.

The ruminator threatens to run through his theories too hastily to erase all the paper a priori tigers burning in the bright sublime of symmetrical fear.

The burden of thought bears what’s not worth saying down payments' maid against that certainty that went without. What aims outside of thinking is borne in suffering and suppositions akimbo. A crumpled body breeds crumpling and rears its symmetrical back, unfolding. All these baroque bric-a-brac's gestures lead disintegration to the trough and pour themselves inside out. So many ideals embody liquidation—a thirst for fornication—or merely work, opus reticularum, in unthought-of constructions—that’s just the way we undo things around here.

2/14/2002 & 2/1/2003