to Diablo, who has recently died

just when I thought
the tide of grief was receding, it
rushes in again. fuck. you
know how much I loved you, right?
please tell me you did. I couldn’t
bear it if I thought you died
not knowing.

I’m sorry that I wasn’t much use
to you at the end. I learned
something about myself and how
I’m really not much good with
the dying. you were a great little
guy, with a huge heart. everyone
who ever knew you
loved you. you tried to go home
with every delivery guy.

you were often naughty, and
that made you wonderful. you
were more like a dog
then a cat, which I must admit
I often found annoying. but you
were so smart, and so human;
I swear you understood
every word I said.

you chose me
that day 15 years ago, and
I never regretted it.

I hope you come back to me
when you’re ready.

to that guy who sneezed 3 times during Charles Mansfield’s open mic set

Dear fellow
allergy sufferer, or
perhaps just rapidly
sickening sir,
your triple sneeze bonanza
has now been emblazoned
into my memory for all time,
because I recorded that song.

it was a new one by Chuck –
the one I wanted him to call “Liberating,
But” but he insisted on titling “New Joy”
when he released the studio version
a few weeks or months later –
so now in my mind every time
I hear it, I will pause for the sneezes,
curse you, anonymous man, and want
to angrily say, “Bless you!” in a passive
aggressive tone.

but then again, I’ve been known
to rudely shush my best friends
when they start talking to me
when I’m recording. on the one hand,
the audio is already marred, so
why not just let them talk,
and on the other, I’m starting to think
I must come off as a total dick. on
yet a third hand, they don’t know
how these things stick around
to haunt me. I will be hearing
myself shushing them
for the next 2 weeks, at least,
thanks to my “new additions”
iPod playlist.

which is worth more, in the long run,
the experience of the moment,
the documentary evidence of the moment,
or my relationships? when you
put it that way, there’s no contest.
I should either stop taping, or stop
having friends.

in which the past repeats itself

so I
saw people posting
their favorite books
they had read last year
and I thought, “I should
do that” and “I think
I CAN do that
fairly easily”
and then I went on
the site that I use
to track my reading
and got the list and started
manipulating it in
spreadsheet form.

at first the list was
a bit overwhelming
as it was 600-odd titles
so I quickly filtered out
only those read in 2018
and arrived at a count of
418. more than one a day.
which seemed excessive
even for me.

chortling and chuffed,
feeling highly superior,
I quickly fired off a tweet
with this number, rather than
double check my work.
big mistake.

further investigation revealed
the true number was ONLY
177. this now seemed paltry
compared to my huge boast
and furthermore I felt a fraud.
since someone had already
responded (shocker!), I did not
delete my original, lying tweet
but merely buried a clarification
amid the replies. further filtering
gave me the 25 books that
were published in 2018, and of
those, the 10 I liked best.

anyway the second, secret
point of this exercise
in self-aggrandizement
was to set my reading goal
for this year. 200, I said to myself
and filled in the box.
then I thought to look
what my goal had been last year.
200, it said. I achieved a mere
88% of this goal.

I tried to feel good
about myself nonetheless.
other people (presumably
gainfully employed, parents, normal
to slow readers, or all three)
were listing goals of 10.
25. one ambitious soul
said 52. ok. I can beat
that. the site is stupidly
counting re-reads which
in my opinion is silly,
but it works in my favor,
so I’m not complaining.

surely I can read even faster.
surely I can prove
that I’m the best
at reading
if not so much
at math.

Nothing Ever Does

I almost cried
when I found out you had come
to town and left again,
not only without telling me
but without even contacting me
in any way.

no call
no text
no fax
no telegram
no Morse code
no goddamn smoke signal.

the only reason I didn’t
break down in tears right then
was because I was not alone.
she was there all humble bragging
that it was all her fault, she
soaked up all your attention
with her drama and I
stupidly gave her the satisfaction
of seeing it upsetting me.

but forget her – Lord knows,
growing up, you always did –
what matters is what you did
or, as usual, failed to do.

you might have known,
or thought to wonder
if perhaps I might have needed
a few minutes of your
precious time – between your hair
appointments and doctor’s
appointments and lunches
and dinners and undoubtedly
some shopping – I would have
come all the way in from East BFE,
New Jersey to meet you for
ten
goddamn
minutes
but. you didn’t
even give me the opportunity.

and now you have the nerve
to write me all breezy and
“what is going on with you”
as if nothing happened.

I guess
for you
nothing did.

3:20

things are different,
in the dark. in the middle
of the night when I’m
the only one awake – even
the cats are sleeping, and
the birds not even dreaming
of their stupid little chirps
for hours yet – my mind
starts to play tricks
on itself. thoroughly unfun
little games like “let’s remember
twelve times I was
hideously embarrassed”
one hopscotching to another
reaching back as far
as I can remember;
or “how many moral failings
can I count in the next
hour”; or “let’s analyze
every interaction
I had this week to see
who hates me and what
I’ve done to deserve it”
and nothing stops it because
there’s nothing else
to do.

that’s when
I get up and smoke
yet another cigarette, shivering
in the cold air from the
open doorway, feeling
it’s my just punishment
for still being awake –
if I had gone to sleep
two hours ago
like I was going to, when
I actually felt sleepy,
I wouldn’t feel the need to do this
to myself right now – but
helpless
in the face of the relentless
assault of a mind
brewing up horrors –
like when you go too long
without eating and your stomach
starts digesting itself – I
desperately take the stopgap,
in the hopes that this distraction
will give me a break.

that’s why sometimes
I wait until dawn
to sleep, when at least life
is happening.

because
the darkness breathes
at me. things that are not real
seem dreadfully, hugely
powerful, and only daybreak
robs them of their strength.
I suffer for that choice too
but sometimes
it feels necessary.

I’m sorry. I fear
you daywalkers
will never really
understand.

desire

a stray thought of you
crosses my mind as I lay
reading. I push it away, but
you come back, insistently
luring, distracting me
from my novel with the
imagining of how hot
you’ll be, how juicy –
but no. I want to fling
myself from my bed and
rush downstairs – despite
my man sleeping peacefully
on the fold-out (he’ll
never know, a little voice
whispers) – and fix you
right up and then
devour you with a
three a.m. passion. but
I shouldn’t. I should just
go to sleep. I don’t
need you right now.
I turn out the light
and lie there in the dark,
tossing restlessly,
trying to ignore your siren song,
my mouth watering, heart
racing, until finally
I succumb.

I am going to eat you,
frozen pizza, and I’m going
to love every single,
sinful second of it.