Thursday, February 22, 2018

Just one more

Some folks vie to tie strands
on the world's largest balls of twine.
Make it onto the Guiness list.

Francis Johnson
of Darwin, Minnesota
spent four hours a day
for 29 years
adding strands.

The ball lives under a gazebo.
It weighs nine tons.
Darwin celebrates Twine Ball Day
every August.

Some guys prefer
balls made from
rubber bands.

The largest resides
in Lauderhill, Florida
and consists of 700,000
rubber bands.

Alexandria, Indiana
is home to the world's largest
paint ball, 20,000 coats
on what began as a baseball.

The Department of Homeland Security
has designated it as a
"distinguished heritage site"
which helped the state qualify
for a slice of the terror defense pie.

Some individuals go for more
esoteric collections:

A North Carolina dermatolgist
owns 675 back scratchers
from 71 different countries.

Carol V in Birmingham, UK
has 5,000 bars of soap.
A McDonald's franchise owner
has a collection of 75,000
bits of McDonald's memorabilia.

What to think about the Dutchman
who has 6,290 airplane barf bags?
or the Russian with 1,320 toothbrushes?

In America, we collect guns.
The top fourteen percent of gun owners,
seven point seven million people,
own a hundred and thirty million guns.

The average collection is seventeen.
Seventeen. A handy number.
One that fits just right
to personalize seventeen
assault rifles with a name:

Meadow, Jaimie, Alyssa, Scott,
Aaron, Luke, or Carmen.
Gina, Alex, Peter, Cara.
Alaina, Christopher, Helena, Joaquin.
Nicolas with a C not a K,

and Martin.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Dawn on Drumm

Guy walking down Drumm Street
cell phone glued to ear, says,
it was wrong, it was wrong.

Thought I heard a pigeon
moaning in the park above him.
I was wrong.

It was a woman
in the throes of ecstasy.
Either that or sorrow.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Stuff the mouse has taught me

That I have flame retardant 
in my blood. And plastic.
Seasoning for the soup
of nicotine and bourbon
that I put there myself.

Discovered that
George W. Bush
is a distant cousin.
So is FDR if that's any

That I'm descended
from Salem witches
and slave owners.
and the poet Longfellow
if that's any consolation.

And the seas are slowing
becoming more like
vinegar than honey.
And a garbage patch
of shoes and refrigerators,
shopping bags and soda bottles
swirls out there in the blue.

There are Russian women
who are eager to meet me.
With just a few questions first
on the subject of money.
Better deals can be had
in Cambodia or Rwanda.

Kansas has ruled that
a dog can't run for governor.
Which is too bad, he might win.
Unless he ran against a cat.
Either would be better
than the rats who rule it now.

There is a twiitter feed
for news story headlines
that start with "Florida man"
and I don't even have to wonder
what that says about things
that happen in Florida.

Most likely it will involve
poor decisions involving
an alligator, an arrest,
drugs, genitals or vehicles.
usually with a mugshot.

It's not all ugly memes and kittens,
I've wandered Chernobyl
and Mars without protective gear
and a wink on a dating site
can last for years.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Alejandra y Leticia

Alejandra tries to ignore
the blisters on her heel.
She keeps her eyes
on Leticia's hooded figure
a dozen steps ahead.

Listens to the soft crunch
her duct taped shoes
make on sand in the arroyo.

She whispers a string of numbers,
one with each step, each breath.
The cell phone contact she will call tomorrow
or the next day or the next one after that.

For the promised job in a hotel.
Making beds and cleaning bathrooms.

The sky is brightening and already
the cool of the night is changing
into the furnace of the coming day.

Tomas, the coyote who has lead them
across the desert, stops under a clump
of tamarisk trees overhanging the bank
of the arroyo. Raises his hand
and gestures for them to hurry.

Points at the scanty shade
where they will wait until night
to resume their trek.

Leticia sits down and slumps
against the trunk of a tamarisk
without bothering to check
for any scorpions that might
still be hunting in the leaf litter
under the tree.

Opens her eyes when Alejandra
flops down beside her
and asks, Are you thirsty, mija?
take a little sip of my water,
but save the rest for later
when the sun will be more cruel.

When we get to our new home,
I will buy you so much soda
you can take a bath in it.

Leticia stares at Alejandra,
sets down the dirty purple
stuffed elephant that she has
clung to for a thousand miles
of buses and vans, and now
this long march through the desert.

She gulps some of the cloudy water
in the two liter plastic Pepsi bottle
that her mother hands her and sighs.
When will we get there, Mama, when?

Soon, mija, soon. Tomas says
one more night of walking
and then we will ride in a car.
Can you sleep? Shall I sing for you
Your favorite corrido?
I must sing it very quietly, ok?

Había una vez una princesa
que vivía en un gran castillo....

Thursday, January 25, 2018

At the end of the world

The finger of Pierce Point
points towards Siberia.
Feels like the end of the world.

When a Northwest wind
chills my ears, I could almost
ride the updraft and chase
the setting sun.

At a thousand miles per hour,
night would never catch me.

The bloody fire in the sky
always just ahead,
painting icy mountains

and gray cities
in its rosy glow.

Unfortunately, I'm too slow.
I turn away from the Pacific view
and walk back past

the rutting elk and jutting rocks
the shattered cypress
and shuttered barn

to where the trail
begins and ends:
the parking lot.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The wall

rerun the paragraph.
again again I fail
to untangle cars
from houses or

the magazine claims
to reveal the real
that will shift

the course of history.
I would care more
if time could slip back
a dozen days or so.
before this wall

of inescapable fact
that a never ending flow
of classic movies or
breaking news loops
fails to distract me

from this dark wall.
taller than the ones
on any border,
I know you're in there.
trapped inside your skull.

with a lifetime's,
laughter, tears
and boredom,
christmas mornings
weddings, beaches,

camping trips
and yard work,
arguments about
household chores
and the time I ran away.

I'm glad that you
still laugh and even
managed to make a joke
somehow. before you
slipped back again

behind that wall
fighting to speak
your name or mine
or the month
when you were born.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


Jimmy coasts up
to the crossroad.

A crow sits atop
the sign.

Left road goes
to Armageddon,

right goes to
the newly

national prison.

Straight ahead
the eastern sky

is blackening,.
nightfall beckoning,

with the pink
and yellow glow

of a slot machine
palace where

the house wins
ninety nine times

out of a hundred.
Crow dances left,

bobs right,
flips around

and thrusts his beak
towards the gleam

on the horizon.
Jimmy figures

that his odds
are better at the slots

and eases forward
across the intersection.

As he passes,
the crow chuckles,

squirts a crap,
and flies off

to a cozy nest
where the western

sun is reddening
into night.