Oct 29, 2015

The Break Cafe, October 29th, 2015

There are a handful
of things I know
for certain right now:

I have good friends
with small but not unpowerful jobs.
Sean didn’t charge me for this tea.

I know anxiety
and how it can swipe the whole jigsaw puzzle
to the floor in a second.

I know right now
I’m breathing deep and serenely as
Billie Holiday lyrics pour
gently from the teapot stereo
over the leaves of a saxophone.

I don’t know where I’ll be
next lifetime, though I have
a feeling some nothing of me
outlasts this body, the same
nothing of me that outlasts this mug
of tea once it’s empty.
The same me that limps down the street
wearing all of my clothes
and a few garbage bags
waving sharpied cardboard at cars
for the hope of chicken bones in my beard
in the coming days.
The same me that is the body
of a taxi cab honking hurry hooray
for today get the hell out of my way.

There was a tremendous mural
under the bridge over the Yellowstone
in Livingston. It was dated
September 11th, 2001
and prophesied the end of all war.
There were childish drawings of buildings
and soldiers burning, angels
flying down from heaven
to catch the falling, to lift up
the wounded and the screaming and
the dead with X's on their eyes
There was a huge redwhiteandblue tag for
next to it.
I am letting the cool waters of the Yellowstone
bring peace to us all.
In that place, in that month
it wasn’t a mighty river.
It was low and slow and gentle.
Some places it was just
a wide trickle over rocks
and I crossed the river
back and forth in these places,
my feet hardly getting wet.

I’m sorry to say
this is how peace comes.
It doesn’t come blaring from the intersection
green light go, wait your turn,
halt, halt, stop everything
everyone stop.
I mean
it does, but not everyone recognizes
it all the time.
And even when it does
crashing descend upon you
it’s unsettling,
quiet unsettling
how you never noticed
it’s always been there for you.
It’s always been there in you.
You’ve always not been there
in it
and now
the river smashes your dixie cup,
crumples your tea pot
you are rolling over and
down against the rocks bashed
banged brow, face mashed
legs and arms twirling like a mangled
piece of farm equipment
I’d be more specific but I can’t
you’re so old and rusty misshapen
I can’t even identify you.

Not to worry.
When the Spring floods subside
that old metal is just
a former shell of something.

It’s being buried solowly in the bank
by moss and lichen and mud.
That’s not you anymore.

Gather you legs.
Meet me by the side
of the Yellowstone in September,
the side closer to the peaks
and let’s weep before that picture
of our brothers and sisters dying for nothing.
Let’s scream our madnesses silently
into the gentle flow of water, for this
is how peace comes to us truly—
in slow sips of breath,
one Sinatra song at a time,
the warm tears on our face,
the mug lifted,
the ring of tea
left on the table
slowly evaporating.

Oct 16, 2015

Damn You Charlie Wong!

I know what makes me happy,
it’s just hard to get there.
My nose starts itching 
from the grease. I reach
into the backseat for my
                   Which one
should it be? The nine
to five suburban driveway
dream, or some wandering
mendicant never setting down
roots. Long ago he said,
“Here’s what you have to de-
cide: do you want to warm
your feet by your own fireplace
or someone else’s?”
                                         I have
so many sweaters. The green
cotton hoodie, two black wool—
one with buttons, one with a zipper—
a thick, lined flannel that passes
as a jacket and as a shirt, and then
all the gray pullover hoodies
I’ve accumulated from running
track, different organizations over
the years.
                       The years add up,
yep they do, and if I knew
I was going to live to be 200
I’d have a totally different
plan, but I’ve got to plan
on 80, so this’ll have to do.
I’m 27 soon, “Marrying age”
I said to her
                            the other day.
We wanted soup at Saigon Garden
but we were in that awkward window
between lunch and dinner. They were
closed till five, so Frugal’s
was my choice. I wanted
a burger and some fries. Her
stomach hurt. Then she downed
a breaded chicken sandwich and
moaned, “I have no self
I remember playing Yahtzee in the
evenings with my parents. I remember
a Saturday morning in the English off-
ice, November, he had fingerless gloves
and Wish You Were Here on, he was
typing up poems and I thought,
“Damn that sweater looks comfy.”
Then he tore into my poems with a
red pen and I
                              was so thrilled
every time I met a girl who
played catch with my heart.
All the late nights holding hands
on our backs in the grass at
Lorel Park, staring up through
the orange Chicago night sky
until we saw stars, until
it’s getting late, I’ve got to
sneak back home, but let’s do this
again and again and again
                                                  the Autumn
turns to Winter and I happily pull
my sweaters on and we happily keep
each other warm by fires
                                                and then
Spring comes and Summer and we end it for 10,000 reasons.
The years add up. Despite what I
believe, I am getting older and I
am wondering if it isn’t time to
grow up a little, forgive myself
for my childish past, ask for
a second chance,
                                     and a third
of my life is gone now
                                           if I live
to be 80.
                      If I live
to be 80.
                                    That’d be