Your Query

When your strength is your tongue
and it betrays you
what have you?
When your lips are what make you
who are you without them?

Now that you have become the voiceless
what has become of you?
Who are your people?
Who will speak for you
since you no longer can?

What is left?
What will be?
What do you have to say for yourself?
Gods, is there any way
you can see fit to resolve these issues?
Why won’t you respond?

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Your Cover

You were a bad book
and I had a lot of trouble with you
from start to finish.
At the start
I couldn’t understand
what you were supposed to be about
and at the end
I couldn’t understand what you were supposed to be about either
but in a different way.
You changed directions a lot
and seemed to tell very a varied story
some of them interesting
none of them consistent.

Your chapter headings
were petty awkward
too.

I wish there had been
a live Comments Section
while I was reading
that I could have gone to
and provided you my complaints, book.
Maybe with a speedy customer service department
my issues could have been resolved
by the time I reached novel’s end.
That would have been pretty cool, right?

But no.
You finished…
not the way I expected
– because you didn’t make any sense, really.
But you finished in an unsatisfactory manner
which is kind of how you started
and I should have known better
and I kind of wish I’d bailed on you earlier, book
but my mother taught me not to give up
so I read you to the bitter end
and now here we are
and damn
I’m glad I didn’t buy you
and the library’ll take you back
and soon I won’t have to look at you again
until they eventually make you
into Oscar-fodder.

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Calculations

There are only so many hours
so much time within which
you can function
you can accomplish
you can earn.
There are only so many moments
during which you can prove
that you deserve to be here
instead of some other karma-fucked sucker
who was cursed into the body of a worm
or a Welshman.

You are awake, perhaps,
sixteen hours, and functional,
if lucky, for twelve of them.
Seven hundred twenty minutes.
A shitload of seconds,
if you stay on your game.
What can you accomplish in that time
to make you worthy
of everything you’ve got?
Do the math.
Have you done your part
to prove you’ve earned your keep?

With your job
or your deeds
or your relationships
or your thoughts
or your donations
or some shit that you’re not thinking of today figure out
if you’re deserving
fast.

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Trying

I am trying
to justify stillness

become one
with my breath

learn to live
in solitary space

to simply sit
and be
and be alone
and be fine
without motion.

I am struggling
to find peace
in some sublime isolation
but
I know I’m being lazy
when so very much
needs to be done.

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Our Long National Nightmare

I wonder how much better I would be
were I to forsake you
but I know I can never forsake you
because you have been a part of me
far too long.
I have worshiped you
for way too many years
to give up on you now.

I think of you always
and will wait for you
no matter how long it takes.

If I stopped
praying for your return
watching at the markets
for any evidence of you
how could I forgive myself
if someday you were to come back,
and I was not waiting,
ready to welcome you, Chocodile,
with open mouth?

I shudder at the thought
and shudder in anticipation
of going to the store tonight
in case Hostess has decided to stock you
on the shelves again
at last.

I know you’re no good for me
but I can’t help it.
I need you.
Come home to me, Chocodile,
please.

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Change is Gonna Come 4

I look like an asshole.
I feel like an asshole.
I probably am an asshole.
You know what they say about walking
and talking like a duck?
I once tried to pull off a pompadour
an asshole’s haircut
which, in an earlier generation,
was called a duck’s ass.
Apparently, I’ve been an asshole from way back.

And in most of my ways
it’s intentional.
It’s protective posturing.
Blast ’em before they do you.
Best defense is good offensive assholery, y’dig?
I do dirt first before I gets hurt.
It’s willful, is what I’m saying.

But I never meant to hurt you.
Believe me, please:
it’s the very last thing I meant to do.
I feel so helpless, with blood on my shoe.
Is there any way at all to make you smile anew?

Well, clearly crappy rhymes are out.
But obviously, understand:
I don’t want to do this to you.
I’ll turn over a new leaf.
I’ll become a better person
or a more careful one
or at least a less thoughtless one.
The actions I’ve been involved with
are those of a dead man
who doesn’t belong among the civilized.
He will be purged, I promise.
I will flush him out
to ever be sent to the depths.

When next you look, I hope,
the asshole will be gone
and, I guess,
you’ll have to tell me
exactly what I feel like then.

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Regrets Unearthed

Some times
in the blistering afternoons of summer
or the frost of winter nights
I consider the roads not taken,
my lives not lived
the dances I never learned
the plants I didn’t buy.

I just passed a rhododendron
by a nursery
last week
– or so I suspect.
What do I know of flora?
Maybe it was a ficus.
This thing whatever its phylum
could have livened my room
and perhaps my life.
I let it be.
I left it alone.

There was a lovely fern cutting
I was offered last year.
It was free.
I merely had to accept it
and love it
to have some green in my life
but I forsook that chance
as well.

I could have had a cactus.
A cactus.
It takes no care.
I could have left it to its own devices
in my home
and then I would have become closer
to the ecosystem.
I could have lived a more natural life
with a cactus of my own
but I have no cactus.
I have no plants
at all.

Sometimes, the elephants cross no mountains
no canal gets built
and the plant remains unpurchased
so I am left to live alone
which surely
has made some sort of a distance.

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Rights Left

She killed the kid.
Our kid
– or potential kid, I guess.
Her body, her right, totally,
but I wish I were involved.
I wish I had been something
other than an afterthought.
I wish I had been included
in more than just the original recipe.

I could have been told.
It could have been talked about.
I’m not saying I wouldn’t have done anything different
if it was my choice.
I’m just saying
it warranted discussion
and I wish I’d been invited to the conversation.
I only heard the results after the fact.

I know it’s not my decision.
I know I lack sovereignty
and unlike earlier eras
I have no rights left over what she does
with her frame.
I don’t even need to be told
of any decision
even afterward.

Kid would’ve been three now
or the end of a different argument.
She could be anywhere.

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Not Bieber’s Baby

When you call me baby
you diminish me
you infantilize
you present me as nothing
but a desperate, helpless child.

A baby is bald
and incontinent,
pre-ambulant
and incoherent
and inchoate.
When you call me baby
it is very difficult
to hear the intended endearment.

I am not a kid.
I am responsible
and capable.
I have paid bills for three
out of the last eight months
and I have gotten very good
at returning most of my correspondence.
I am perhaps not a fully formed adult
like my parents were
and will probably never be
but I am not an infant, neither.

Still
if you stroke my ear
and let me nuzzle your knee
for a little while longer
I think I can let you call me baby
just for the rest of today.

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Five Rights

I didn’t understand the path we took.
I asked the driver,
“We’re heading downtown?”
He looked in the mirror, nodded.
“I don’t know the route.”
He didn’t say anything,
didn’t ask me why I needed
to micromanage him
why I couldn’t let him do his job
just as I was doing mine
in the backseat
sucking my percentages out of clients
while they did their own jobs.

“Sixth Street,” he replied.
“We’re still going to Sixth.”
“On the East Side, though.
“You just went West.”
“Couldn’t make the left on a two-way street,”
he explained. “Sometimes, you gotta make three rights
to go left.”
I nodded, considering his logic.
“And sometimes,” he chuckled,
“You gotta make five rights
– when the fare forgets his wallet at the office
and you have to go back
if you wanna get paid.”

“Or hers.”
“What?” His reflection raised an eyebrow
back in my direction.
“If a woman forgets her wallet,” I added.
He snorted. “Women don’t forget wallets.
“And even if they do, they’ve got other money set aside
somewhere in their bag.”

I learned a lot on that ride
– mostly not
to trust the wisdom
of a chatty cabbie
who seems to resist
the micromanagement
I so frequently seem to require

from those I pay for services.

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