Sunday, November 30, 2008

No Ambition For Dry Pivot

The white man says walk.
The red hand says stop.
We square step with a broom
and two dance with a mop.

I miss my friends; 
the stand up bass
and upright piano
when they play 
I'll listen and follow.

Inside the basement wood joist ribs
of the old century leviathan 
sounding deep under waves of memory
I finally understand.

The headlights in the rain
are flashlights searching for meaning
in place and time.

I however have no destination.

I'm up here,
north of the oil tar skeleton
of the coal Gas Works,
west of the wayward girl-ghosts
of Good Shepherd Center,
yards from the fifty foot explosion
of big leaf maple
and the nicotine stained windows
of the doll-maker's house.
You can find me
with a needle and lodestone,
no ambition for dry pivot
staring at magnetic north.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An Urban Bestiary

Down the street
up in the buildings
under the avenues
in tunnels of transit
I am always surrounded
by the beasts of the city.
There are bears in the Capitol Hill bars,
snakes in the banks of Fifth Avenue,
dead foxes on old hens
browsing in the windows
of the West Edge.
Rats scurry in every shadow
from Aurora Avenue North
to White Center
(why do you think
they call it "Rat City?").
Cows block the doors
of busses in the Third Avenue transit corridor.
Chickens hide from tavern bulls
in tepid coffee shops
abutting slaughterhouse shopping malls
where the barnyard sleepwalks
single file
past the ringing tills
of the abattoir cash register.
Better watch out.
Young packs of wolves
roam far and wide
slashing at the old and infirm
with impunity
while pigs in penguin cars
sit safely parked
in suburban drive throughs.
This little worm
is gonna find a soft patch
of cold compost
and run silent
and deep,
like a dirt submarine.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Full Retreat

I fall back
from the front
in complete disarray
and teeth chattering confusion.
Shell fragments 
of general ledger flak bursts
lodge in the holes of my eyes
trailing white collar cordite smoke
behind me in the ambivalent wind.
I fall back
all the way to hopelessness
and infant panic
through high rise mausoleums
filled with filing cabinet tombs.
In the dark
I seek out the bright white mouth
of a florescent parking garage's
empty stomach.
Just a nothing place 
to hide in the bright dead light
and finish drinking
tiny bottles of white hot
black ink.
Just a place to go 
to be gone
and sit with failure.
The first thing you have to learn here
is that you're already dead
and that there's no place like home
because there's no place like home.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Electric Laundryland

Last Sunday.
Walking south towards the bakery
on Wallingford
I saw this.
Old hippies 
had been living in the Apex Cleaners building.
They put up posters of Jimi Hendrix 
in the plate glass windows.
They put a Hendrix quote 
on the reader board,
"Blues is easy to play but hard to feel."
Somebody got up there 
and did a little bit of editing.
"Sleasy butts feel hard,
buy poo."
I am pleased.

Friday, November 14, 2008

six six six

All change comes
in modesto sun soaked wrinkles
pushed into 
wheat straw symphony folds
of highway foothills.
Nothing town 
on Salton Sea shore;
in cuts of long range focus
and letterbox quick close-up,
he steam engine idles 
through the pine board set
of the town.
Arriving fingered 
in the lux nova
of sun squint eyes,
he trails out kelp bed curls
of black dust wake disturbance.
Mistrust and awe
settle in greasy white pores
of parade route spectators
who had it so good
until their complexion went dim.
The shit's piled up in the breeze.
The lightning struck the pine.
We've all got a little disease.
All change is here.
It's nothing new.
Everybody's concubine 
is on the nod
and turning blue.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lunar November

Up here
the snare drum
of the fishtank night
is the oil can bulletstrike
of the shipyard rivet gun
on hollow trawler hull.
The wind pounds its way north
up from the bay
through the re-grade
into the deciduous Sunnyside old growth.
Every sidewalk is a gyre
of dead leaves falling through
rot stains of concrete leaf memory.
I can't look down
or I'll forget how to fly
and fall through the maple root cracks
of the sidewalk.
Swaying curtains of rain
flamenco skirt in jaundiced beams
of cascade streetlight.
The edges of the day
that ooze out the tread marks
of the commuter bus tired
under my footsteps
and the gurgling asphalt
are stained with deep space
and howling darkness.
And now I've just heard
we might replace the moon.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The I Formation

It feels good 
to open the valves
on the AC-30 
in the stripper's basement
where four knives are mic-ed
and cut sheet metal circles
out of the ride cymbal ripple.
We've got twenty five years
of quarter inch Belden cable.
We have thousands of minutes
of meetings 
with Les Paul 
and his Celestion Greenback Speakers
logged in the books.
We've got Nixon nailing a split,
electroshock hospital jingles,
The Golden Age of Larry King,
Fender precision,
Herschel Walker's multiple personality disorder,
I-Formation,  fullback offset weak side
and sixteen tracks.
Down in the basement 
out of your earshot
playing loud rock and roll
and rock and roll and rock and roll
is a knockout baby.
It took years
to find the craft in our hands
and the ring in our heads
to know a good thing right.
Sorry people,
this next one is just for the band
and this next one,
and this next one,
and this next one. 

Friday, November 7, 2008

Rain Turning Into Showers

Listen I get up
in the morning's twilight.
The Sybil of Cumae
on channel 13
promises rain
turning into showers.
The Oracle of Delphi
on channel 4
forecasts a long commute.
Autumn's play of leaf fall
carpets the sidewalks
and storm drains
in slick sheets of rot.
No matter where I go
the sound of water,
snaredrum rolling on metal,
follows me.
Away from the streets
and the tired expressions
of the city's worker bees,
the wildwood ground
soaks up the winter
in dark shades of green and brown.
I'll take you there.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Platform Rocker

When I was a kid
rockstars weren't politicians.
When I was a kid
rockstars came from space.
Everything they touched
peeled off petals of dull platitudes
and exposed glitter flashes of munificence
in struck fields of stage-lit faces.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Tuba Man

Five kids
gang banging on Mercer Street
beat the living shit 
out of The Tuba Man
one October Saturday night.
He died a week later.
The Tuba Man 
played in the street,
usually in front of 
a ball game
the opera.
I once asked 
if he could hit 
a low C
on my way into
a Mariners game.
He hit it.
The Tuba Man was like The Ramones;
you couldn't conceive a world without them.
But now, we have to.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I used to work on Capitol Hill,
fixing greasy tape decks
in a basement 
filled with solder smoke
and forklift exhaust.
This guy named Corey
used to come into the shop
with rare bootleg vinyl 
to sell for crack
when he came up short
between paydays.
I picked up a lot of good stuff
and fed his habit
with currency
he turned into
little off-white rocks
he liked to burn
deep into his 
stained glass lungs.
Urban alchemy.
They called him 
the Warehouse Rodent.
Jibb and Fish 
said he looked like a yeti
with his coarse beard
and missing teeth.
His smile 
looked like a 6-7-10 split.
I thought he looked like
Ben Gunn 
from Treasure Island.
Cory used to call me Hitler
over warm swill beers
in the back of the Comet Tavern,
the blackened pancreas of the city.
I never knew why.
Cory used to come to Model Rocket gigs
and request Back to the Beanstalk.
He knew it was about him
and his addiction.
He loved it,
the song and his addiction.
Cory finally got shit-canned
for throwing a pry bar 
at the warehouse manager.
He disappeared 
into the dark, wet guts of the city.
We're all 
slowly getting digested here.
I saw him 
one early summer morning
after a long summer evening.
I was coming up for air
from the Sunset basement speakeasy.
He was with some faded transients
gathered for a parley
behind a rancid dumpster.
I boozily called out his name
and gave him a surprised hug.
He smelled like shit and ammonia.
"You better get out of here.
This ain't any kind of place for you."
That's all he said.
I don't think he recognized me
in the small dead hours of the morning.
For some reason,
he came into my thoughts 
while riding on a bus 
going up the Battery Street Tunnel
into the city.  
The exhaust stained tile
of the tunnel's interior
reminded me of villi
in a small intestine.
Cory's been consumed,
digested and expelled as waste,
passed through the Battery Street Intestine,
right out the Alaskan Way Colon,
through the Harbor Island Anus
into to the rainbow slick of Elliot Bay.
We're all slowly being digested here.