. The Poet's Beat .

. The Poet's Beat .
"A working class citizen is apt to see this country for what it's worth... A miasma of interlocking variations on differing demographics and geographies unlike any other inhabited space in the world. The American Dream. The rolling footloose hills and the upstanding Apache badlands where criminals cut bread with priests and the children of Hollywood. I am no different. Yet I am still brazen enough to think that the world is a playground built by the rugged hands of a hard-working man in order that my fantasies be materialized." -- P.P. Vonnersdale

Monday, December 5, 2016

Momma's Wish



Momma said,
"get on the train and never look back,
leave your daddy and I at the edge of the tracks,
urinate in potted plants and collect your little turds in a sack,
never give out opinions - only solid facts,
rack the pool balls in the pool halls fast and for cash,
laugh when everyone else is sad,
trash the fuck out of the back of every taxi cab,
don't let your balls get grabbed,
cut the throat of every would-be mugger before you get stabbed,
dance on the grave of anyone who has ever made a mistake - good or bad,
drink milk far past the date the experts say it should last,
hand job everyone and then dash,
smoke fags with sass,
drink wine from a goblet and beer from a wine glass,
wake up every day at full mast,
fuck until you are gassed."

Momma looked upon my tender head and was just a little sad,
"we hate to see you go, son," she said,
"but the truth is your father and I are gonna have a blast not having
to worry about your tiny ass."

The conductor called for the passengers.
The engineer blew the whistle.
I searched for the nearest potted plant.

2015

ta

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Bad News (or) Blood Heavy



Look,
I never said this is the way things should be,
But here we are,
And this is the way things turned out,
Lil' Snitch is carrying deodorant flasks from O'Charlie's Cat House
to O'Hallahan's Fancy Candy Bistro,
Gene Snatch is found in the den in the dead of night,
That wedding you reminded me to tell you about is coming up soon,
The pellet gun was snatched by Frankie "Fetal Eater" Fertelli late last night in the rain,
Girl Jews drop by,
Fill the empty pencil post on Doonesbury's desk while he's out moving his bowels elsewhere,
We're tripping balls in capital arrangements laughing at the janitor's hard work,
Filling in behind the rest, Miguel Anastrazio fingers his pocket pussy and licks his lips,
The judge beckons,
His loose golden crown breaks free and falls blood heavy to the tile,

Who deserves to don the black robe now, Old Man?

My friend Walter Marion married a Jewish princess from the East New Jersey foothills
     where the air is as burdened as the overpopulated tenement houses,
Pollution, they say, was Adam's downfall,
Snatching the Red Delicious from the low hanging boughs of the Tree of Life was her's,

According to the guys at Carville's Buicks on Hwy 98, my lime-green pinto-striped four-speed
exhaust-built Fire Starter has rust at the very center of her heart...

She's dying, you unbelievable asshole,
You absolutely filthy mother fucker,
She's dying, and you're laughing like a rock-salt third-world monkey over there,
She's dying,
She's dying,

And if she dies
Everything inside of me will die too.

04.2013

ta

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Moonglow



That harvest moon calls me out
like the howl of the grey wolf long lonely and loud
prowling about in leather drunk on the weather
moccasins tethered in buffalo skin
elf knuckle knife on my belt
calf pelt over my rear end
moonglow shadows fade out
fade in
within the black forest I am made into the shape
of a wraith
skirting the low growth as silent as a snake
full weight of that orbital cheesecake rests easily on the strong shoulders
of my soul wide awake
I am naked splayed for a sleeping city afraid to dance where
devils mate
let them skate along the edges of the gate
I make my way within where sin begins to blur into a less recognizable
face
erased are curses and blessings alike
it's only right
that what's left is the moon
her glow
the night
and I.

2015

ta

Monday, November 21, 2016

Lola



Lola's gone missing in the mist again,
a London-like fog sifting in through the garden's walls making
us question if anything really exists at all,
kissed with wet lips adrift in the cold dark grey,
Lola in her panties has wandered away,
the brightly lit lamps are only a former shade of warmer fuzzier days,
now orbs of dull moonlight betrayed by curling
fingers in shadows and shades,
Lola in her naiveté wandering around a cobblestone maze with
peeling skin papier-mâché,
stray cats croon lamentations under the blanket of
so much midnight haze,
stray dogs hug their buried bones to
keep them safe,
Lola in thin lace and bare feet a ghostly apparition of grace,
there's no need to alarm the state,
in this gloom she is left to fate,
all we can do is stay indoors,
pray,
and wait.

2015

ta

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Ghost Land



Main Street once passed beneath this place,
but now there's only salt water for days,
an avenue for cars is now one for hurricanes,

They talk of land like some women do a dying child,
each year the marsh vanishes by the mile,
the waves lap ever closer but we are as ever in denial,

What our great-grandfathers saw we can never see,
what's currently happening is hard to believe,
but the proof is the salt and the skeleton trees,

Walk with me, my dear, along the vanishing coast,
take plenty of pictures and plenty of notes,
for what you see now will one day by a ghost.

2015

ta

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Black Hand Thinking



Every single last fucking time I've died
I've asked you for relevance,
But never found the remotest kindness in your eyes,

The Witching Hour and the way you unpin your hair,
Found the missing A-minor chords in the bathroom stall,
Left them on your doorstep but you weren't there,

These fraggle crack rock whores tend to stare,
Make like I'm the bad guy when I'm fuckin',
Off-duty backdoor cab queens pay a different kind of fare,

I rode the coal boxcar from Denver to Dynamite,
Taking shits on the roof near the stars,
Slept in the hideaways through the coldest coal-black nights,

I saw the stamps in your desk at dinner,
And the jars of rain drops,
But you won't lift a GOTdamn ink pen to write a poem for a sinner.

7.2013

ta

Photograph by Mike Brodie

Monday, November 14, 2016

361



Wash off, boy, those fears smeared like today's dust and this last year's rust
from the parts of you covering your once so potent natural
musk,
the robots gather like iron maidens at dusk,
sunshine playing from ivory teeth sparkling to iron tusks remarkable
but terrifying too,
such smashing power such,

and I'm terrified, boy, that from this terror I'm unable to protect you,
to keep the dogs of death from the loins where wet with canine breath
they take from me in cruel jest the one fool foolish enough
to love me back,
stand with me,
back to back,
cleft to cleft,
be brave and let's conquer let's,

find what lost courage is left leaping from cold heart precipice to cold breast
where below is expressed in fierce colors a heart possessed
with wild
squalor,
for days and days let's lay waste to what tyranny towers,
be brave, my love,
be brave,
find valor and thunder with me into legend into history into madness,
destined to be our love's confession the engine of the ending
and our final reckoning.

2016
ta

original photograph by Arlene Gottfried

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Had You Had



Had you the talent,
or the madness maybe,
had you had the courage to capture fire, baby,
sip lust from the lady - that water bird
who rises just after dusk,
she sifts through the weeds hushed,
hunting for kind boys,
to coddle,
to kiss,
to crush,

if one hasn't been cruel yet
one simply must,
I beg you if you would,
if you could,
forgive me for losing your trust,
for rushing in with no end in mind,
touching what I shouldn't touch,

had you had what it takes,
the stakes would not need be raised so much,
lost sheep sleep in fear,
and the devil sleeps at our feet,
below the dust,

had you had a friend when none were had,
someone who would come when called in a rush,
perhaps your rusty heart would still be beating
and not permanently shushed.

2016

ta

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Trickster



on the devil's license is the name Marty Vanderlew,
it says he's an organ donor too,
although don't wait around with baited breath for him to offer a kidney in lieu
of the one you've lost,
because of the camera flash his blue eyes are crossed,
tossed curly hair with frosted tips and lips perfectly puckered and soft,
his clothes might be a little unwashed but the cost
of always looking disheveled has been minimal to this whirly devil,
a freckle here and a very special metal cross hanging from his ear there,
rebel eyes beware,
he looks at you with a devil-may-care attitude that comes off as either lewd
or a madman pursued,
he'd love to catch you posing in the nude but wouldn't dare intrude due
to the way his daddy raised him since he was just a little root,
it would behoove him to stand a little straighter
so that he doesn't come off as some stooped anti-angelic traitor,
layers and layers of charisma
which is an enigma
because this red-handed gorilla is only after your soul's shapely hour-glass figure,
inwardly bitter rigorously whispering do-nothings into the ear of the sinner,
that ol' trickster,
a true killer through and through,
that well-mannered Mister Marty Vanderlew.

2015

ta

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Renalt



My best friend was born in the yellow grass below a cattle guard
In 1972
Behind the Standard Hotel on the outskirts of Kansas City
Under the warm breath of a throaty jack-ass braying his arrival late into the night

We once sat together drinking imports in a crowded Glasgow pub
Watching the American girls drowning in their sexuality
Like babes in a bathtub to the ruddy broad-shouldered local women with freckles and impudence
A Jack The Ripper mist settling over the cobble stone outside
The world slippery and reflective
Surrounded by the thickly twisted tongues of a roguish pagan country

He told me that night of his desire to rob the Golden Day Bank & Trust
And he asked me to help him

He once spent three years in a slum near Gwanju, South Korea
His father was a missionary who hung a metal cross above their tenement door
The little shark-eyed South Korean girls wouldn’t look at him because he heard their orgasms
The coast was exactly twenty-three miles from his fourth floor tenement window
He could taste the salt some nights
Although he started using words like “thirty-eight kilometers” instead
With wet lips dipped in soju he once guessed his father’s cock was about fifteen centimeters long
But I suspect those Korean girls would know better than he would

He stole a taxi from an impound yard near the train tracks before anyone was up
He was parked at the bank when the first employee pulled into the parking lot

We once travelled the length of the Pacific Union trans-continental railroad together 
We robbed hobos
They robbed us
I spent the night in the emergency room in Tucson waiting for them to stitch his arm up
If there is any rule in a knife fight, it is that everyone gets cut
We slept in the high weeds and waited for the whistle
We slept on rocks under trestles in pockets where the rain water wasn’t falling
We slept with a black prostitute in Jackson who kept calling herself Mother Teresa 
Who kept demanding we owed her thirty dollars more for things we did that “weren’t on the menu”
He killed her in the back of that den and we slipped like snakes into the Pearl River
He told a judge in Bogalusa that he wasn’t scared of sixty days in jail
They caught him pulling the tires off of a county sheriff’s squad car
I told him I would meet him on the coast
I didn’t see him again for eleven years

He put every employee on their knees in the conference lounge
Letting them wander willy-nilly into the empty lobby like distracted raccoons into a rattle trap
After two rolls of duct tape he walked back to the front door and hung the closed sign over the entrance
Then he selected Pamela from the group

He has a tattoo of a laughing skull with a lion’s mane on his shoulder
Carved into his skin by the mangled hands of a crippled artist in Madrid’s Atocha district
Where in 1977 eight attorneys were gunned down in their office
He says Death is the king of the jungle
He says Death cannot help but laugh at our attempts to outrun it
He says he is not afraid to die
He whispers words in Spanish at the café where we drink coffee and watch girls
¿Sabía usted que he matado a cuatro personas en mi vida?
Only in whispers do we speak truths anymore

It was Pam who went with him to the vault
It was Pam who interviewed him two weeks earlier for a teller position
His resume a bundled grouping of lies fed to him through quick searches of internet facts
She had been trained to detect manipulative questions and be wary of revealing answers
But not trained well enough I suppose
He knew she could open the vault
He knew a lot
It was Pam who died with him when the police came through the windows 

I’m not ashamed of who I am
My best friend and I rode motorcycles through the desert once
We ate mushrooms and danced in the arroyo shadows
There are stars in the desert sky invisible to the rest of the world
He told me his life felt smaller than a grain of sand
Flying as fast as a rocket
We bathed in rivers
We slept on mattresses left on the sides of roads
He thought he probably would not be able to help killing someone again
I was supposed to wait in the taxi
I called the police instead
Pamela died
My best friend died
I am left sitting alone at the edge of darkness 
And although the chasm is perhaps endlessly deep
On some nights I can still hear his voice below

5.2013
ta

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Had We Gone for a Drive



You watch me in her dining
room turned cocktail server
serve yourself lounge.
Soft as baby blue walls wallpaper peeling.
Pulling the cork from a green
glass of cheap wine the eager
gift of one of the guests.

Feel your eyes on me.
Like your long fingers tracing the
scars on my shoulders where
the dark hairs lie down with freckles and
thin bones.
The smoke from your lips snaking its
way across the kitchen.
Around the pot-roast and pecan pie and
overburdened conversations torn
apart by strange hands.

World of slow motion.
World of white knuckles.
These pale faces piss me off and I
could smash each one of them because
the truth is I love you.
I love you in floods of shame.
In fire.
It is the loudest secret I have
ever had to keep.

Who was it that we were in Barcelona
on those warm nights when the
face of our love burned bright hot like the moon?
I told you to stay awake.
I would be home in a while.
You stayed still but I became lost.

You stand wrapped in your questions spinning
in a very quiet way by the sink and the
dishes covered in eaten cake.
I pour my wine and listen to a
faraway Spanish guitar.
A girl in white wearing red shoes.
I'll be home in a little while.

Your sad delicate smile on the beach catching
a few notes while the rest of them fell into the sea and
were scattered across the world.
You would have loved the stars tonight.
But this stranger's bed feels so cold, lover,
without that sad smile
sleeping soundly on my chest.
We'll never know, will we?
We'll never know if all of this would have
changed had we taken that drive that night.
I'm sorry, my love.
I'm sorry for madness and dissension.
And the cruelty of the world.

12/2012

ta

Monday, October 24, 2016

Crimes and Signs



I haven't seen you in a day,
and you haven't seen me in a year,
the all-wise Asian man with the third eye
     still sets the same clock
     you left your grimy cum-covered fingerprints on,
his bent back and withered nut clutch
     ride the city bus downtown
     to repent
     and cuss,
the cigarette smell in your jeans doesn't seem to want to wash away,
no matter how many times they're cleaned,
the crotch rotten and a train
     derailed along the zipper teeth,
my lips pressed to the print of your sunburned tits,
newspaper clippings of your father's brazen outlaw deeds
     magnetized to my kitchen fridge,
his face frozen and bereaved,
searching for a son the devil turned into a daughter,
too sexy,
too sweet,
slipping through trails of sweat in this gotdamn sizzling summer heat,
melting like snowballs flavored like raw meat,
dreaming of sensational days running naked through the glade
praying to the goddess of Fall
     with soothing serenade,
she loves me,
she loves me not,
ripping the pedals from a daisy and crying through pools of
     green snot,
smelling of hard work,
of the struggle,

but that can't be true - she's too damn lazy,
she could be a howling haunting nightmare in denim and flare,
messy and undressed
     and lurking behind flashing signs that warn
     BEWARE,

or,
or I could just be crazy.

6/2016

ta
photo by Helmut Newton

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

In Confusion



What are we doing
in confusion
love me or love me not
the bruises on my heart remain hidden
   because blue on blue is misleading
treating you like a stranger
deepening the gulf between us
illusions of a river we were once knee-deep in
now the current is sweeping and we've mistaken
   the flowing water as freedom

rivers empty into oceans and better men than I
   have been lost forever in that vast empty kingdom
sing me those old soft songs and remind
   me that my heart is still beating
bleeding still means that my blood is flowing

so remember to check the context next time
   you mistake sight for seeing.

2016
ta
picture by Larry Niehues

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Close To My Heart



I will always keep you close to my heart,
as the sun's light fades and I am propelled into dark,
as brightly burning Sol becomes yet another countless spark,
alone among the stars
doing my part in an aluminum jet-powered horse-drawn cart,
I will think of you
when everything falls apart,
when my calculations go awry
and I can no longer read the star charts,
when state-of-the-art sensors short
and shut-down sequences start,
all pretense of survival thwarted
as my ship's weaknesses begin to spiral,
and I am reminded why you called this mission suicidal,
begging me to stay as I prepared to embark,

but you knew the mission was vital,
and that I would always keep you close to my heart.

2014

ta
image by Tim Walker

Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Call Boys of Ensenada



The call boys if Ensenada in their dusty boots
and purple lips
break hearts with bloody knuckles
leave pesos for their princely pimps
desert senoritas scoff those brazen boys with the way
they move their hips
sink the sand worn ships that ride the dunes from
slip to slip
rusty knives in pockets hide light assault ammo
banana clips
the dark haired girls tango
and the mustachio'd vaqueros watch with their beers
and sip
trips into the desert never end well for the unsuspecting peasant
the crescent moon hangs forlorn on pistol-packing legends pregnant
with violence
and the guidance of cocaine in its purest essence
the way of life of the villano is now threatened by government executives
holding public sessions
denouncing the cartel Armageddon
three thousand pesos hidden in the bedding
of Juan Antonio de Jesús
his footprints headed into the desert learned of all lessons
to face the loneliness of omnipresence
the young María Elena left cursing heaven and denouncing all earthly pleasures
crying into her lover's Stetson
threatening to end her life in a teary-eyed confession
the wind blows hot like rattlesnake venom
violencia beckons
Ensenada welcomes.

2015

ta

Thursday, September 29, 2016

My Mother's Principles



these are my mother's principles:
to hunt or be hunted,
in the thick dell or snowstorm swell,
to the summit,
never find your knife blunted,
be husband to your tools of survival,
confront all revivals with skepticism
until in a pool of your own blood
you are swept up in rapture
like the world beneath Noah's flood,
capture those nymphs of curiosity,
fuck them with ferocity
until in a moment of clarity
all fools spouting foolish lies
are revealed as monstrosities,
never say goodbye,
scout from on high,
the biggest bone is beneath the thigh,
wound a man there
if you decide he shouldn't die,
to the sky,
never stop trying,
never stop crying when you're told
it's the day to be dry-eyed,
always burgers with fries,
ride whatever wave passes you by
despite its size
or its might
and ever and always with delight,
like the inherent happiness of a child and kite,
gripe only in the shadows,
snipe only from the rooftops,
find proof where truth stops,
get the job,
do the job well,
my son,
my egg,
your father's brave sperm cell,
crouch low
low in the dell,
see the tiger as he passes
flashes
wherein the devil dwelt
black for the souls that fall
orange for the flames of Hell.

2016

ta

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Rainy Afternoon


She rains off-note piano chords
onto the dark grey concrete outside,
millions of dancing circles
like winking eyes
over the distorted mirrored image of an ashen and invisible sky,
my open door let’s in sodden mosquitoes
and a triangle of muted afternoon light,
my pale skin burns
with the cold cream fires of disillusionment,
and with a sadness that washes in with the rain -
of love’s indecision,
of your lips moving making sounds purring
to be loved as you deserve,

She pours over us the salty tears of a lost and lonely god
respite from his throne and that golden light,
a morning feeling lasts the day,
your clothes like dead animals
scattered in the shadows
in the squares of window light,
in the folds of my silent heart,
in the words it just can’t speak right now,
in the coming morning when we don’t have to feel this way,

what I’d give for a free moment,
for just a moment with you,
where there are no rules,
and no one else,
and all the lies vanish or become stars for another night sky,
and we are there in the love that was supposed to be,

She sends her soul
to be consumed by fire and earth,
all is wrecked,

so let me drown
in the weeping darkness,
in the cold clouds,
and leave me alone.

2016

ta

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Thrush



It was the devil who led me into the shadows
to find the red sparrow hidden in the folds of your flesh,
I followed the slick trails
and slipped when it was wet,
hunting for this lost bird's nest,
my tongue over bite marks,
bite marks over your heart,
and your heart over this bondage between us -
this mess,
your sweat reflecting back false images of a dark bird,
but when I thrust,
thrush,
I miss,

Still, I must confess,
the minute I met you
I made it my mission
to find my way beneath your dress,

But what happened next
was left...
to mystery,
to fate,
to destiny...

and all the rest.

06/2016

-ta-

Friday, September 16, 2016

She Asks Much


Into this heat I convey my soul
while rattle throat'd locusts sing a lament for the lost sun
before the night arrives
the land must pass through a window of grey
when wizards and witches
hang from the black shadows in the branches of old oak trees
the heat rising from everything
in an invisible chorus like the prayers of long dead saints

And into the hungry arms of blood suckers I commit my pale flesh
tiny winged whalemen harpooning the great white whale
how bravely do they fight and fly
how heavy is their craving
how quickly they die
join your brothers, fierce aviator,
rest in quiet peaceful rivers of blood
and
know hunger no more

May the sweat at my temples
hide the tears on my cheeks
this land asks much
she commands my loyalty
but inspires my love

still

still

the price is high
and in between fits of laughter
I weep
hiding my face where she cannot see
swimming through the humid night
where everything tastes like salt
and everything seems to be crying.

9/2016
-ta