Archive for ‘Emptyscapes’

March 16, 2021

Pilgrimage


Snow falls outside the hotel window,
floating carelessly through the air…
and I don’t care.
The town spreads out below me:
A sprawling red brick dream,
with white capped peaks beyond.
But I don’t respond.

Crushing boredom, grueling emptiness,
purifying alienation:
This is exactly what I came here for.
There is nothing more.

The snow brings silence with it,
sinking into the frozen darkness of a Sunday night.
On these tired, sour, leaden streets,
the bitter desolation is too much to take
for very long.  I return to my station:
stretched out on a bed,
gazing at a distant mountain range
or staring at a faucet in a trance.
It’s not refreshing, it doesn’t seem strange
and seductive, as it appeared in advance.

Far from the City of Refuge,
with no practical scheme,
constantly ruing the latest version
of what might have been; emptying myself
into the emptiness, negotiating the rush,
as a pick-up truck plows through the slush;
and I resign myself to another night, another day,
serving out a sentence.
I told myself I’d stay.

Outsiders here are quickly identified:
they’re clean-shaven.
I observe the bartender’s warmth
with other customers.
Surrounded by laughter,
I watch the bubbles in my beer,
shooting from the bottom of the glass
to a rapidly nearing surface, evenly spaced,
like asteroids in a primitive video game,
and leave unthanked.

On the street a creature is drawn to me:
a vicious black dog, grudgingly restrained
by an unapologetic owner.
These excursions strike me now,
as they always strike me at this point,
as being selfish and pointless.
What am I doing here?
When will I learn?
Despite all the goodwill I brought with me,
the place gave me nothing in return.

March 7, 2021

The Creative Process


The moment slipping away,
sinking into the unseizable day.
The sapping sun, the sadness
kept at bay; the churlish thoughts
that are allowed to circle freely,
while clinging
to a perverted form of integrity.
A threadbare urgency,
as pointless as poetry
but tighter than time.

March 3, 2021

World on a String


Beneath the unforgiving staleness
of the lucky old sun,
on the sunny side
of the empty street,
what’s left of the past dries up
in the heat.
Not far from the wedding chapels
and the sea of fun,
the action drains
into a slum.

It is quieter here,
the people are thinner,
the world’s un-stringed,
and everyone’s a sore winner.
That’s life, frankly sinful: entertaining
the possibility that life might be more
than a series of missed opportunities.

Riding a lukewarm streak
into a lonely road and a memory.
Sensing the disinterest, feeling
my insignificance, made keenly aware,
in a world of burgers and fear,
of my newly minted irrelevance.

Out here, you are nothing
and the past is paste,
as the world’s indifference shifts
into fragmented waste.
From sedentary restlessness
to flaneurial nausea, pursued by
but eluding grace.

Days of futile transit
redefine my sense of wonder.
Manifesting without the emptiness
within, between lesser known ruins,
in a promised wasteland
of lost opportunities.
When I catch myself unawares,
in the November of my years,
I’m hardly even there,
and I have never been so tired
of talking to myself.

March 2, 2021

Springtime in an American Town


Why is it that I only ever notice my gut in motel room mirrors?
Perhaps obesity is contagious in these parts,
the natural result of pride and fear.
And why am I not noticed here?
Barely branded by sidelong glances
in one dead-eyed town after another
by a populace whose chief talent lies in the ability
to instantly distrust anything they don’t understand.
The feeling is mutual.
I have passed like a ghost through your cities,
scavenging for scraps of the past.
I have rambled, ambled, bled your cities dry,
arriving at the end of the trail of trash,
weighed down on the great white way,
on tired streets of dead blood-red brick.
And I have found the old buildings,
in all their purity, perfectly preserved, in paint
on the sides of new buildings
in towns like silences
that need not be filled.
And there is nothing left anywhere
that hasn’t been turned over and undermined
by overawareness.
For in this tarnished day and age
the luster of everything must be restored
and celebrated with meat and sugar,
and a soundtrack of feigned emotion.

 

March 1, 2021

Holding Pattern

She demanded to be held.
So I held her.
She collapsed lifelessly into my arms
and remained there
while I lay there, with mind elsewhere,
wondering how much longer
I was supposed to hold her for.

After what seemed like a long time,
I gently disengaged myself
and got out of the bed.
She looked coldly up at me from the pillow.
She said that she would find somebody else:
Somebody who would want to hold her
for two hours
after an act of love
that lasted two minutes.

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January 2, 2021

As Good As It Gets

 

 

I’ve never been to Heaven,
but I’ve been to Oklahoma.
Played ‘For The Good Times’
fifty times in a row,
then pissed on the jukebox.
Smeared my blood
against a white picket fence,
and left town.

July 1, 2020

Iron Anniversary

The object of this restlessness that puzzles you
is solitude: a loneliness for loneliness,
a wistfulness for restlessness, a straining back
to what comes naturally – the way things used to be
when I had only me. I miss myself madly.
I long to be romantically involved
with myself again, like old times,
dependent only upon independence, demanding
only temptation. I’m better off in an empty kennel,
unmuzzled and free: that was the essence
of my doghouse epiphany.

Upon your encroachment my world shrinks.
My energy level sinks. I feel as if I’m fading away.
But your need of me is addictive: It keeps me warm,
the way a tea cozy maintains the pot’s warmth
long after the tea has lost its flavor.
Now I am continually both parched and sated,
sapped, tired of feeling, halfheartedly clinging.
With or without you, my life has no meaning.

March 27, 2020

Down From The Mountain

The trail you blazed was a well-worn path.
Narcissistic heroics,
with one eye on posterity.
Until the time rolled around to reverse
into the antithesis of what you once
so convincingly pretended to be: stripped
of the trappings of excess, climbing
the twelve steps on the ladder to success.
Sober up, straighten out, settle down
and become what you always wanted to be –
a clean-living family man.
That was the plan,
and it worked out perfectly.

An artist over-appreciated in his lifetime,
who threw himself a lifeline
of excess. Sheer force of vanity
kept you going; self-immolation
in the interest of self-preservation.
A smart career move:
You got it all out of your system, knowing
you weren’t in it for the long haul,
and found that underneath it all,
you were just a regular creative joe,
who used to claim that he couldn’t say no.

While others took a stand, you showed your hand,
reaping the rewards of self-destruction
as reconstruction, making mountains
out of your stumbling blocks.
A prince of redundant darkness,
chipping every nickel out of that rock.
A smug survivor, without a damaged liver,
satisfying a luxurious affliction
from a position of responsibility.
It wouldn’t be worth it
if you couldn’t do it publicly.

October 17, 2019

A Legacy-Defining Moment

New Emptyscapes up at Alias Books now through whenever.

3163 Glendale Blvd, LA CA 90039

August 20, 2019

Last Ride

You lose your face, your health, your mind,
and what do you find?
Wisdom…
that it is too late to use.

You don’t have time anymore,
time has you. It speeds up
as you slow down,
and all the wasted years come rushing back
as you run out of fuel on a one way track.

The last ride is an express train,
not bound for glory,
no more stations,
end of story.