Tuesday, April 24, 2018

What He Knows About the Girls

He knows they all have something
From his son

The kid would leave something behind
For every one of them
After he was done

He knows most of them have brown hair
One blonde
But that was the anomaly
Or that’s what the police say

Mostly they’re blonde
Fair-skinned
Shy

A lot of them were good students
Some of them still are
One dropped out
Right before the trial started
And nobody can find her

He knows his son wrote them letters
Before he took them out

Wrote sweet things about them
In big, sloppy handwriting

The handwriting expert
Made a meal
Out of those letters
But the contents weren’t threatening
Just the way they were put forth

His son always did have
Terrible penmanship

He knows the girls have to see doctors
Therapists
People to talk to

He knows they’re all on medication
And one of them got pregnant
And had to get rid of the baby

His grandbaby

He would like a grandbaby
He would like to talk to the girl
Who was going to be the baby’s mother
And tell her
That he would have taken care of the baby
Had she decided to keep it

He’s not mad at her
And he’d like her to know that

No way would he be mad at her
But he does want her to know
That he’s the sort of man
Who takes care of things
That are his responsibility

And that he would have taken care of his son too
And the boy’s mother hadn’t been such a bitch
About visitation

The problem was
The boy didn’t get the beatings he should’ve gotten

Instead he got coddled
And this is what happens
When you coddle a child

They get spoiled
They get entitled
They think they’re owed something

And when somebody
Tells them ‘No’
They just take what they want anyway
Because they think it belongs to them

He knows the girls
Probably blame him
At least partly
For what happened to them

A boy turns into a man
Who hurts women
Then there’s gotta be
Some of that in his father

But he’s never laid a hand
On a woman in his life
Let alone…

It’s just something
About the world today

How people act
How people go around acting
Like there’s no consequences
And it’s because
A lot of the time
There aren’t

He’d like to explain that to the girls
Explain to them that even if he’d been in the kid’s life
Even if he fought harder to see him
When that fucking bitch made it damn near impossible
And told the judge lies
About drinking and other stuff
He wasn’t doing

Even if he had been around
And gave the kid a few good smacks
When he needed them
He still could have turned out
The way he did

And that’s just how it is sometimes

He knows the girls
Look up in court
Right into the eyes
Of whoever’s talking

He knows they stare daggers
Into his son
When he’s brought in
And if looks could kill
His boy wouldn’t need the chair

Their eyes would do
Just fine

He knows they’re scared
And not scared
And he knows the feeling

When he heard what happened
What the kid had done
He wasn’t all that surprised

Because with his mother
And her delinquent roster of asshole boyfriends
Coming in and out of the kid’s childhood
There was no way he was going to turn out
To be anything but a loser

But he was scared too

Scared somebody would think
He had something to do with it

That somehow
He was at fault

And he’d like the girls to know
That’s not the case

That it’s simply
Not true

But whether or not
He’ll ever get them
Or anybody else
To understand that?

Well

That’s something he doesn’t know
And that’s the part
That scares him
The most

Monday, April 23, 2018

Here Comes Sunny Weather

Here comes sunny weather

Bills still aren’t getting paid
No gas for the car rides
To the beach

No barbecue grill
No patio to sit on
No pool for swimming
No lake nearby

But hey, okay
Here comes the sun
And the warmth
And the nights spent
Lying in bed
Wondering how much it’s going to suck
To get up and go to work
Instead of being one of those people in the movies
Without jobs to do
Or cars to repair
Or insurance to cover

People who just spend their summers
At somebody’s house
Eating and falling in love
And staring out at the horizon
Thinking about everything
You never think about

Like how the movie’s going to end

Here comes heat
In places
Where heat
Is not a welcome guest

Here comes scorching pavement
And burning tires
And exhaust

Here comes rotting food
And fresh garbage
And human sweat

And yeah, the sun
Here comes the sunny
And sunny weather
And all the days since she took off
With her graduation cap
And her big new book of contacts

Going to go to Europe first
Going to play hitchhiker
And hostel girl

Going to really
Soak up some sun

That’s fun
Fun for her

And here you are
The townie boy
With hair too long
And too much
To cut it all off

No money to spend
On shit like that

No money to spend
On anything
But getting to work
And getting home
From work

And the occasional beer
And pack of smokes

She e-mails you
Two times in June
Once in July

Telling you she misses you
And how you should come see her
Once she’s settled in upstate

Maybe October?

Nice new linens
And a subtle house
Set back from the road

A place you can make a life
With a guy who tried
Not someone who gave up
The first time
Shit got serious

Not a guy who gave himself
A lighthouse tattoo
In his older brother’s living room
When he was eighteen

A guy who’s got a six-year-old daughter
Who calls him by his first name
Because she likes her Mom’s boyfriend more
And pretends that’s her dad

A guy with a bed with no linens
And no sheets
And one flat pillow
That came with the apartment

Wooden floors
And high ceilings
And a rent so low
Either it’s a miracle
Or the landlord thinks
Maybe he’s curious

Who knows?

He knows when it’s cold
He can sit on the mattress
And pretend there’s no world out there
He’s not seeing

Nobody doing nothing
And nowhere to go

He can take the blanket
His grandma made him
And say that’s all he needs

He doesn’t have to hear parties
Through open windows
And get-togethers on Sunday afternoons
With happy families
Celebrating happy times
While he can’t even get his dad
To give him the fifty he owed him back

But that’s okay

Because it’s pretty out
It’s warm
It’s wonderful

It’s sunny

Here comes sunny weather
And then comes what comes next

That’s what you gotta think about
While you’re lying in bed
Covered in sweat
Because you’re too upset
To open the window
And listen to people
Have the time of their lives

You think about next

You think about her
In that subtle house
And those linens
And the e-mail
You’re not going to get
In August
Or September

You think about Fall
You think about Winter

You think about flowers dying
And snowmen
And snow banks
And the snowball fights you had
When you were a kid

And you think about what’s coming
What’s coming
What’s coming for you

Next

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Pigs in San Francisco

The Pigs took over
San Francisco
In the Spring
Of 1981

They arrived in style
With two parades
On separate days
And a commencement address
At a local high school auditorium

At night, you could find them
Around town
Chatting it up
With the Friscanatis
Discussing possible collaborations
On business deals
And art installations

Deep into the morning hours
They’d be trotting down the streets
Trying not to wake the city
With their singing

If you’ve never heard a pig sing
It’s pretty awful
But when they’re drunk
It has a certain charm

The Pigs immediately acquired residences
In the swankiest neighborhoods
All over the city

Some of the residents grumbled
About what happens
When Pigs move into a city

The rents go up
The older businesses are driven out
The gallery nights become every night
And the dive bars
Turn into meditation centers

It’s not that people dislike the Pigs
It’s just that the Pigs
Are culturally assertive
And no city is a City with Pigs

Without fail
They all become
Pig Cities

And the Pigs do their best to appear
As though they’re embarrassed
Over having people fawn
And favor them
But the truth is
They live for it

They’re Pigs

They love a good party
An overpriced drink
And a day on the grass
Taking photos
And playing frisbee

The People of San Francisco
Know how to get rid of them
But should they want to?

They’re not actually...harming anyone

Depending on your definition of ‘harm’

On fridges all over the city
Ten numbers are magnetized
Waiting to be dialed

The phone number
Of an alliance
Determined to prevent Pigs
From changing their destiny

The Citizens would rather not dial those numbers
And get the Pigs in any kind of trouble
But wine tastings are now everywhere

Author readings
Author signings
Workshops on how to be an author

It’s hard to walk down a city block
And not see a flyer for an event
You wouldn’t feel comfortable attending

What happened to staying in, think the Residents
What happened to cozy nights at home?
What happened to not stumbling into
Venue after venue
Talking and networking
And tasting
And schmoozing
And listening
And giving out business cards
And taking business cards
And arguing
And making up
And going home with someone
You just met?

What happened to being aware
That you were living in a great city
Without constantly feeling like
You needed to participate in it?

The Pigs took away
That option

They came and created
And curated
And caused the social dynamic
To develop and evolve
And explode

And now there were no more cozy nights
Or subdued Sundays
Or board games with friends
On a Friday
When the workday was too long
To do anything
But recover from

And so the numbers are dialed
And it rings
And rings
And finally a voice picks up

‘Hello,’ it says, ‘This is the Farm’

And every party in the city
Unwittingly becomes

A farewell party

Saturday, April 21, 2018

And Then You Die of Spite


They tried to tell her
There was something wrong
With being mad

And I let her know—

Unequivocally

--That there is nothing wrong with it

People try to tell you
You can’t lead a happy life
If you’re mad all the time

Let me tell you something

I am mad—all the time

And I have a fantastic life

Because we are living
In a world
Full of idiots

And if you’re not mad about that
It’s because you’re either suppressing your anger
Or you’re one of the idiots
Everybody else
Is angry about

And if you’re suppressing anger
You’re going to die young

And you know how I want to die?

Of spite

That’s how I want to go

When they find me in bed
All alone
Because I hate everyone
There will be a list next to my bed
Of all the people
I died mad at

Pages and pages and pages
All about the fools
I’ve had to suffer
In my life

And at my funeral—

If I even have one
No idea who’s going to organize it
But I’m assuming somebody will

--I want those pages and pages and pages

Read

Out loud

By small children

Really small

Just barely able to read
Just barely

Because I find that idea hysterical

It really tickles me

Because what is on those pages is filthy

Not sexual, mind you

Just filled with obscenities
Regarding the aforementioned fools
And their colleagues

And when I die
Of spite
Which, again
Is the only good way to die

I want to send those names
Out into the atmosphere
So they can turn into acid rain
And spray every moron
I ever came in contact with

That’s what I’d like
Those are my wishes

So when she tried to tell me
That letting go of anger
Is a good thing

I had to remind her
That memories live in anger

Not happiness

You ever try to remember something
When you’re happy?

Think about how good your memory is
Right after sex?

And I’m talking about good sex
Not the kind of sex
Most of you are having

After good sex
I’m lucky if I remember
What my birthday is

If you want to recall things correctly
You have to stay angry

Forgive but not forget?

Bullshit

That’s like saying—

I’ll throw some rocks in my pocket
And wade out into the lake
But I won’t drown

Trust me

You will drown
And you should too
Because you’re an idiot
And you’ve probably made
A lot of smart people
Angry

Don’t forgive
Don’t forget
And don’t let up

Then when you die
Of spite
You’ll find that the only people around you
Are the people you like

Which, again
Is why you’re probably
Going to die alone

Because that’s life, kid
That’s how it works

Now get the hell out of here

That’s all I wanted to say

A Dirty Old Ice Cream Truck

See, in Scoville
We don’t get the nice
Ice cream truck

We get the dirty old
Ice cream truck

The one with the letters
All rubbed off
And the fourth wheel
All different
Like they stole it
From another ice cream truck

July comes
And it’s a hundred degrees
And your mom’s air conditioner
Is broke again
So you’re just sitting out in the front yard
On the two square feet
That isn’t straight up dirt
And you just stare at your toes
Like they’re going to do something interesting

Then the dirty old ice cream truck comes by

And the guy driving it
Is always somebody new

At some point
Every asshole in Scoville
Drove that ice cream truck

My cousin Joey drove it
After he got out of prison

Joey’s buddy Matt took over
When Joey went back to prison

After Matt it was Nick
With the bison tattoo

Danny with the gambling problem
Then Aaron with the drinking problem
Then Danny again for a little while
Then Bobby who used to sell his dad’s pain pills
To freshman at the high school

Driving the ice cream truck
Did have its perks

You’d get a girlfriend for a few weeks
Usually some girl too young for you
Who just needed a ride around town

You’d get free ice cream
If you were brave enough
To eat it

You’d get something to do
On the long summer days
When everybody else was just sitting around
Trying not to get in trouble

One day I rode in the back of the truck
When my fuck-up older brother
Had his turn in the driver’s seat

My father told him
If he couldn’t hold down a job
For the whole summer
He was getting his ass
Thrown out on the street

I told my father nobody drove the truck
For longer than two weeks
Let alone a whole summer
But my old man said my brother would break that tradition
Or get his back broken out in the real world

My brother was a week and half in the driver’s seat
The day I went riding with him
And I could tell it would be a miracle
If he lasted the rest of the afternoon

My brother and jobs
Didn’t work well together
And twenty years after he drove
The dirty ice cream truck
He would drive his car into a tree
As a means of ending
A lifetime of disappointment

Instead all he got was a few broken ribs
And two months spent recuperating
In my living room

I should have guess that day
On the ride-along
That we were headed
For a lifetime
Of me propping him up
And him getting life spoon-fed to him
By his baby brother

That day I took all the orders
Handed out the ice cream
Hid the money from him
So he wouldn’t be tempted to pocket any of it

I gave him directions
So we wouldn’t have to drive
Past where the speed-traps were
Because I knew
He was driving with a fake license

It was good enough
To get him this job
But it wasn’t going to fool
A real police officer

We got through the afternoon
And I told him if he gave me a cut from now on
I’d keep hanging out in the back of the truck
And make sure he didn’t wind up homeless
Before he could start junior year
For the second time

I didn’t know that the next day
My brother’s room would be empty
With a note saying
He was going to California

He never made it that far
But he did spend a few good years in Montana
Helping this guy out on his farm
Before his bad habits
Bit him in the behind again

Every time I hear an ice cream truck
Or see one sliding down the street
Where I live now
I think of my older brother and me

Going all over Scoville
Then taking an unapproved trip
To the lake
In that dirty piece of junk

We treated ourselves
To two sundae cups
And watched the kids younger than us
Throwing themselves in the deep end of the lake
Where they found that body six years later

At the time I remember thinking those kids were babies
But now I realize they were just two or three years
Younger than me

Funny how old people seem
Depending on where you see them
And how

Funny how things look
When you’re remembering them
Instead of living with them

I wouldn’t mind another run on that truck
With my brother

We haven’t talked since he got back on his feet
And walked out of my living room
With nothing but a bag full of sandwiches
From my wife
And two hundred bucks from me

I’d like to not think about him so much
But some things you can’t help

Some things just stick with you
Whether you want them to
Or not

Friday, April 20, 2018

Exercising for Newly Single People

Well, the first thing we did wrong
Was exercise

That was a huge mistake

We were both pretty overweight
And we wanted to get in shape
So we got a gym membership
Like, this membership for couples
And, uh, we were going to, like—

Hold each other accountable

That was the plan

And it worked

The plan worked

Uh, and that’s the problem

‘Cause see

She got really hot
And I got really…skinny

Let me say that again

She got hot
I got skinny

And those two things
Are not necessarily the same

Turns out—

And you know, I didn’t know this, but uh—

All my life
I’ve been kind of heavy
And, you know, secretly
Deep down
I always thought that, like
Despite that?

I was kind of a stud

Like, I would never say that, but, uh—

I mean, I never had trouble
Getting people to be friends with me
Or like me
Or even date me
And, like, she was the first, uh, heavier
Girl I’ve dated

Because, believe it or not, before that
I was mostly with like—

Okay, so this is making me sound like an asshole, but—

I was mostly with, like, really, uh, not heavy girls
Some of whom were also, uh, models

I’m not kidding

But even with that
I thought it was just one of those things
Where, like, guys have it easy
And can weigh a lot
And still get hot girls

Then I met her
And she was just—

Oh man, she was perfect

But she was overweight
And she hated that about herself

Now, I didn’t care—at all

Not one bit

But she did
And she wanted to work out

So I said would work out with her

And everything goes great
We start shedding the pounds
And I notice…

That she’s getting hotter
And I’m…not

Like, I look sort of…gaunt?

And, uh, kind of unhealthy?

Like, I looked better
With some weight on me

I’m just one of those people

But, like, that’s not something
Like, a doctor will tell you
Or anything

I mean, they’ll tell you if you’re underweight
But they won’t tell you—

Hey, be a little overweight
Because you just look better that way

Because, like, doctors don’t care how you look

So, like, it’s a thing where you can be healthy
And still not look great
And you’re supposed to be cool with that
And I guess I was, because I was like—

Whatever
What do I need to look good for?
I have somebody who loves me

Yeah, well, guess what?

Turns out

Once the girl I loved became this like—

Skinny, hot girl

She didn’t want the puny little guy
That I wound up being

So she left me

She left me
For a guy
Who weighed ten pounds more
Than what I weighed
When we first met

So, like, here’s what I’ll tell you about all that—

Don’t exercise

It’s bad news, man

Bad fucking news

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A Paper Day

The thing is
Every day
I would write down
What I’d like to do that day


Sorry, not true


At the end of the day
I would write down
What I would like
To have done
That day


It’s this thing
I read about
In this book
About, uh
Leading a better life


So I tried it


I guess the idea is--


And this happens
By the way
It’s true


Uh, the idea is--


When you start
Everything’s very, uh, fanciful


Right before you go to bed
You think about how
That day
You got up
You went to the office
You came home
You had some dinner
You went to bed


And so you write down--


I would have liked
To have woken up
In Miami
Gone down to the beach
Read a book
While looking at the ocean
And catching a tan


Dinner at a nice seafood place
Again, right on the ocean
Come home
To some beautiful houseboat
Make love to my beautiful spouse
And then fall asleep
With a big old smile on my face


Crazy, you know?


Like, the lottery version
Of your life


And every night you do this
And eventually
You get bored
Writing the most amazing version of your day
You can think of


I mean, it’s fun
But eventually
You start to think about
Other ways your day could go


Aside from just
Beyond incredibly awesome


Like--


Sort of awesome?


And even
Sort of okay?


And finally
You wind up writing stuff like--


Went to dinner at that place
I drive by every day
On my way home
That I always say
I’m going to try


Or


I’m going to call up a friend
And ask them
If they want to get a drink


Or


I’m going to drive for awhile
And see where I end up


I’m going to start actually planning a trip
To Miami
Because if I really want to go there
Maybe there’s a way to get there
And it doesn’t have to be just imaginary


See, eventually
You wind up writing
A slightly better version of your life
That’s, uh, attainable?


That doesn’t seem
Like a fantasy


It’s incredible, really
But it’s also, uh, well--


Honestly, pretty scary


Because, once you see how little it is
That you really want out of life--


Fun
Satisfaction
Just some, uh
Basic enjoyment


It’s hard to justify not just--


Making it a reality


It’s hard to keep writing about it
Without trying to live it


That’s what happened to me


I started trying to live it


Trying to anyway, but, uh…


Well


Maybe eventually I’ll have such a good
That right before I go to sleep
I’ll realize


I don’t have anything to write about

Imagine having a day like that