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Nov 26

Punching boredom in the gut


You told me I should call an album Breakless
Or was it Unbreakable?
Or was it Brake Less?
No, it was Breakless.
I used that word/non-word

(is it even a word?)
And you said, “You should call an album that,
a rock and roll album.”
You said,

"Joe Arthur Breakless, how tough is that?"
I asked Jenni,
“Do you like this?”

She right away did not
but I did.
It came from you
and it’s weird, odd, tough, punk, detached, wrong, right, irreverent, reverent, silly and serious just like you.
Joe Arthur Breakless
Not Joseph? I wanted to ask but didn’t.
You always called me Joe,
which I liked.

It was as if you always wanted the essence of things
without the fluff.
Why be a Joseph when you can be a Joe?
And like a moon orbiting a planet, it was hard not to always just agree with you.
When I asked you for a band name,
you suggested Cooz
without missing a beat.
The best and worst band name ever.
I ran it by a few folks who were almost always horrified by it.

I never said it came from you
and it always made me smile,
your audacity in everything you did.
A real Cooz.
I had never even heard that word before.
I had to look it up.
Another word down to the essence.

I asked you one time
what you thought of so and so’s book.

(it was a book everyone loved)
“Between you and me?” you asked.
“Yes, of course.”
“I don’t like it much.
Too much fluff,
too much poetry speak.”
For you poetry was simple, tough language,
not a series of adjectives describing a bridge going into worlds unknown,
but rather a breakless cooz
punching boredom in the gut.

American Music Awards

Some dreams are simply not made to come true.

I remember being a kid
watching TV upstairs in my parents’ room,
throwing myself game-winning –
Super Bowl-winning –
touchdown passes in the end zone of their bed.

I would toss the ball
and then leap for it,
diving thru the air and catching it for touchdowns every time.
I must’ve won a thousand Super Bowls this way.
I was a kid living in a painful world and susceptible to living in fantasies.
My imagination knew no bounds.
So when the American Music Awards would come on,
I went straight into that world.
I would accept my award alongside The Oak Ridge Boys, who seemed to be undefeatable,

or whatever pop stars won ‘em all–
Michael Jackson
Mariah Carey
These were the low-rent Grammys and I swore or prayed to whatever God was listening that I would make it there,
as I threw myself touchdown passes in a small bedroom in Akron.

But some dreams aren’t meant to come true
and today in the gym,
I saw an ad for the American Music Awards.
Lady Gaga and Katy Perry looked to be the new queens of it
The fucking Oak Ridge Boys are probably still winning those damn things.
I’m lifting weights now and not really throwing touchdowns.
Not sure if it’s failure or growth, but I feel far away from award shows and the need to be in them.
Somewhere, a boy just fumbled the ball at the one yard line
and Kenny Rogers counted his money at the table.
My parents still sleep on that same bed in that same bedroom in Akron
and I still catch the footballs I throw myself every time,

only now those passes don’t appear anywhere
but in the vortex of my mind.
Somewhere in another dimension, me and The Oak Ridge Boys are singing a song together, standing on a pile of trophies in the junkyard of celebrity.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll make it there yet, but for now
I’m glad I don’t give a shit.

Jul 28

ghetto preachers and razor blade legs

It’s hard to get the things we want
Ain’t it, Alex? 
We can work thru our masterpieces 
We can crawl out of hell into some dream of acceptance 
We can lift our obsessions out of damaged mental receptors
And glue them to wax
For the world to pawn and deal with 
A ticket for love 
The birth of bliss
What is a dream but an avenue of salvation?

And they tell us how we should all dream big
But what they forget to mention is
A dream is a dangerous thing
You need a dream to get thru
But a dream can kill you
And rock and roll is the salvation of fools

Ghetto preachers
Slinging the hash of power chord crashes
And razor blade legs spreading in red pleather graffiti light
She’s inviting you in
She’s wanting you to walk her home
She’s trying to be like you
She’s trying to relate
If I could talk to you now Alex, I’d say

Thanks for showing me how strong I’ve been to survive any of this
(and I’ve survived plenty) 
And I’d also say
Thanks for the songs
And sorry that they never really sang for you
Or maybe they did
But well
I guess they didn’t get you to where you needed to go
Or maybe they did
Who knows?

mountain bird’s retirement dream

I could never understand why someone would retire

Until retirement called me

When the thought of no longer doing what had been the central part of my life

Filled me with joy and liberation rather than dread

I knew it was time

To really consider

A life just living

No pursuit of nothing

I can go beyond the rat race just by deciding to

I can give up


With so much life left

Be driven by nothing

Be free

Is this dream real?

Even with its thought

I feel freer now

Just to discuss the possibility

With myself feels like a break through

In a sense, I feel I’ve done it all

And in another way, I feel like it’s never really been out of the shadows

But that’s ok too

Maybe there is victory where failure loomed

Maybe I can sneak out the back door

Instead of facing the firing squad out the front

I still love music

And I love making it

I’m an optimist and so I could keep striving forever but where does it say

That a life in pursuit is the only life there is?

Maybe I’ve given enough

And all that’s left to give is to give up

Maybe that’s victory

Reaching for sanity

Reaching for surrender

Who knows what I would do or could do with my time and my mind?

I could paint but

The life of an artist is no better

Perhaps no life is good

Sitting on a mountain top lusting for God

For surrender in meditation

A dancer in New Orleans

An insurance salesman in Ohio

A lawyer in Alaska

I could still go to college

Or maybe escape to India or Africa

Assume another name

Call myself Mountain Bird and start a cult

Or else sell meth in Jersey

Or be one of those guys who wears a trench coat and has hundreds of stolen watches

and chains just inside

Or maybe move to Buffalo and become a regular in the flea market circuit

Or join a circus as a tall man

Or learn a trade like carpentry or shoe cobbling

Become a pimp or tennis coach

Or a high school math teacher

Or just go back to cooking in a diner, which is what I did before all this hoopla

Of chasing stars and dreams all over this nation and many others

I had my taste and it was good

I got further than most

And not as far as many others

But I’m proud of what I’ve put out there and I can hold my head high

As I go look for a life doing something simple

And off the grid

Disappearing into the wilderness

Of this giant-sized life

plastic meat and robot chips

A note to you, dear reader,

These are works of fiction
None of this happened or is happening

Even if it happened, it didn’t happen

We are wooden horses on a carousel 
We are bumper cars
In the nudity of night
In the left field of a falling light
None of this happened
None of this is real
Now I am free to say anything

Also, anything that points to a belief

Or a belief system
Is also nothing more than an illusion 

For you see, dear reader,

I don’t believe anything or not believe anything

Those matters are for better men than me

I’m an empty vessel 

Marked “Eternity”

I’m made of plastic meat and robot chips 
Don’t confuse me with human
Don’t stack any cards of belief of experience here
I have no belief or experience
I’m simply letting dreams fly around
And jotting down interesting things I see
Leave the wars and the revolution to the others
I’m a bird on the horizon
I’m a flower wilting in the corner
I’m a rat going into a crevice
I’m ice cream on the hand of a child
I’m a beggar looking for mercy in the eyes of a snake

My only hope is to write it down and be left alone
Don’t mistake me for a person
I’m a football flying thru the air
I’m a fire in a trashcan in an abandoned parking lot

I’m a beer on the bar of some dive on Hollywood Blvd.

I’m the loveless monster you see in the mirror 
I’m big foot baby
Don’t expect me to surrender
Let me be free to jot down the perverted murders in my dreamz
None of this is real

gods and rodents

At first they love you

You occupy heroic status with them

And they let you know

To them

You are close to a god

A king

A saint 

A servant of the righteous

The best kind of being

Their savior almost

And It’s compelling.

As embarrassing as it is to admit

You take it in

Maybe they see something know one else does

Maybe they see the truth

Sure, you can see that there is something a bit off about them

But against the barrage of extreme flattery, it’s easy to dismiss

Deep mental illness for a quirky personality 

Magical even

And that’s the trip about mental illness

It is it is close to magical at times

They are locked into compelling vision

They see truth in a certain way that others don’t

And that’s great when the truth they see in you is epic unhinged heroism mixed with a pure heart of genius and love

But what happens is

Over time 

You let them down

Could be something you wore

Something you said

A song they didn’t like

Your image- to them- begins to crumble 

And in their mind you descend to a depth directly proportionate to the heights of the pedestal on which you were mounted

And even that would be ok

If they just wandered off and and wrote you off as a charlatan never to be seen or heard from again

But this isn’t the case

Or hasn’t been in my experience

Thru the wonders of social media, you can track each other

And you can see the change

Their posts get more and more freaky

It becomes more obvious that the person is unhinged

Maybe even dangerous

And then comes the attack

A comment burped up from the pit of despair 

Their disappointment in you and what you’ve done

Another disillusionment in a world full of them

And I’d like to say that that has no effect, as obviously the person or people in question suffer from mental illness

But just as their pedestal is somewhat compelling, so is their judgment of you as a fraud 

For in their way

They have uncovered a truth about us all

We are all gods and rodents

All wrapped in one

Heroes heading to hell

Flung around in the shit of existing 

It’s hard not to get any of it on you or even in you

Jul 25

Joey Ramone

No art is perfect 

And you can make fun of anyone

For trying anything

The more someone puts themselves out there
The easier the target
But those are also our heroes
Joey Ramone
The freaks
The ones who didn’t fit

But made the world fit around them

They were easy targets
All of them
And they felt the weight and pain of that

And they felt its elevation too

And when they were gone
They left the world changed
Their spirit so great
It stuck around
Still changing how we thought about things

Bad ‘80s radio

Bad ‘80s radio on in the East Village bodega

Or is it good? 

It’s Madonna

And there are 15 DX7 keyboard layers

Along with a Linn drum machine

At this point it’s classic

That’s what time does to everything

It surrounds it with magic

It becomes framed by life disappearing

All the ‘80s ghosts are now dancing here at Gracefully 

I rode over the Manhattan Bridge in spite of the gray skies

I had to escape my bed

It was a trap of thick dreams

Hands from the unconscious were holding me there

Giving me mad dreams

One even about how sad the feud between Liam and Noel is

And I never knew I felt that way

But we all need an oasis 

Anyway this poem isn’t about shit

Except what they all are about

And that’s that life is a magic zoo

And no other city nails it like New York

And I want you to know that I drank a small coffee

And a whole bottle of Perrier 

And I also want you to know that for me 

Life is an ecstasy

Full of DX7 robots and hot chicks walking thru the Village

And also to say


I love ya and hope it’s good for you too 

unfinished song

Your beauty is eternal 
Like fire made of grace
The expression of the rose
All across your face
Love in broken shadows
Dance for you and me
Bumping in the light
We search for ecstasy 
A moment of surrender
Put down the heavy cross
Put down the pain of heroes
Put down the things you’ve lost
Pick up the will of mercy
And sing another song
To the ones who’ve been like you
Nowhere to belong

Training Day

(this ones old)

On a Southwest flight to Portland

It’s a free for all

The junkies with a baby let it wail

I’m wearing a vest made out of goose feathers and nectarines 

Still wearing the noose from last night’s failed attempt 

But no one noticed the locket with your picture in it

Or the fact that my belt is a goldfish swimming in a race around my waste

Ant bones and mother’s milk toothpaste

On the side of everyone’s mouth 


We are the cheapskates in the skies

We fly thru discount clouds 

And lay ourselves in the cruddy aisles

Invisible men stand on my back

My brain is made of chewing gum

You’re blowing a bubble in me now

How do I taste?

Like raspberry and jalapeño? 

Or like camel toe regret? 

I’ve been bitten by the bug

And now I want to slave with you

Let’s fly this baby upside down and come in for a drunken landing

Heroes of the final night sky

The world is ending

This is the final jab of Christ

He wants his fish back

And he’s got a message for you

He says, 

“Just do it” 


We are coming in for a landing

We are coming here for a caning

Who signed us up for this pursuit? 

Was it really so bad being a porpoise in turpentine? 

Or a firefly in the belly of a ghost? 

Or a gnat in the god head mound inching closer to destruction in grilled cheese?

The teeth of swingers, like coins falling thru your skull, from the top of the Empire State Building

We are coming in for a branding 

We are the dead and defeated trying to sing for Baton Rouge


Here on Southwest 

We pick our own seats 

It’s disgusting if you think about it

In my chest is a cow’s heart

I’m swimming in rivers of milk 

As the sneezes on this devastating flight

Are like a symphony of sickness singing the Beethoven in my pants into a coma


Over my friends shoulder I watch the Brian Jonestown Massacre doc

Antonio wearing white and kicking in the head of angels

The fat dude behind me coughs like a timpani drum into the back of my head

And I guess there is really nothing to regret

Except for everything

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