progressive pet insurance

Cyclone Scene 11

What dogs do when they think no one is watching.



Just how fragile we can
be when we misplace our
center of gravity and wobble
about pre-programmed. I
really could do this in my
sleep, in fact there’s a
dream-like detachment
to my waking hours.
Alarmed by images in my
dreams. Conscious mind
can’t fathom the meaning,
but the body knows it’s not
right. Useless to deny it –
if I’m wrong, I’m wrong,
and if I’ve been wronged,
I’ve been wronged. So I
forgive all stakeholders
in the name of unanimity.
I defer verdict to a higher
authority. I’ll be neutral
for all eternity, just let
me get rid of this flu.


First scream out of the womb –
hardly opera, but give it time.
Things need time to grow, but
the garden can be unruly. Many
a healing medicine tree has
been mistaken for a weed and
thrown in the fire. See one
seedling and you’ve seen
them all. And so the field we
thought could be a garden
remains barren, and have you
ever tasted such bitter fruit
from such beautiful trees?
Everything needs time to grow,
even our ability to discern the
good from the bad in our own
back yard.


Hungry ego devouring everything
in its path. Towns, cities, countries
consumed and shat out. Hungry
ego needs constant feeding,
stops at nothing to sink its teeth
into what keeps it going. Hungry
ego chasing down its favorite target –
it’s a matter of pride – how dare you
deride its instinctive eating style?
Hungry ego as a matter of principle –
self-preservation is unquestionable –
do you question your intestines?
Hungry ego eventually eats itself
and declares this an act of ultimate
independence – better it than you
till the bitter end.


Perched birds sing of purchasing.
Shouldn’t fit, but somehow it does.
Through my good times, bad times,
times of joy, of sorrow, I can only
recall one constant – purchasing.
Buying things reassures me that
although chaos may reign within,
one step away, anywhere, 24/7,
market continuity maintains a
perfectly orderly predictability.
Weep all you want, pal, but when
you calm down, buy some Kleenex.
Buy the paper. Buy some repairs.
Buy a vacation, some distraction.
Buy some flash and social status.
Buy your way out of the chains.
Hey, you look like you could use
a drink – I’ll buy. No, what I could
use is what filled a big giant hole
once upon a time. The next best
thing is, in fact, not good enough
– it’s just there. I’m not sure if
this is bad or good, Anything you
can purchase can’t replace what
is given freely, with no obligation
but to appreciate in kind.


As far as I know, the crudest
of crude bottom lines applies
here – I may as well have
leprosy as far as you’re
concerned. And it’s true-
pieces of me have been
breaking off for years, and
what’s left feels ready to
crumble come a strong gust.
But it’s one of getting lighter,
letting some light into the
dark rooms of my being.
Glad I got them opened up
before I give up the ghost.
A few years more with some
ventilation is preferable to
an eternity all closed in,
all closed off. Now that my
gaps are exposed, maybe
someone will show up to
fill them. Go ahead, look
right through me – I’ve
always fancied I could see
right through you.


House overgrown by vines, home
to spiders and mice – how could
someone just leave it? Builder
envisioned a place full of life –
poured cement, pounded nails,
created rooms for privacy and
a kitchen for the family. Now
it’s abandoned, save for the
builder’s grave under the vines.
Was it a waste of time? The
aftermath may be sad, but it’s
still the dream that matters.
Just another gift no one knew
what to do with.


I interview ghosts and go over
their resumes with them. So far
none have displayed quite the
qualifications I’m hiring for, but
the process requires patience.
So many college graduates with
sparkling degrees, but I seek
someone immersed in the past
and these young upstarts can
barely explain the present. So
I interview ghosts, read them
that spiel on equal opportunity
and they leave with a wounded
hopefulness that makes me
feel rotten for not calling
them back. They can’t really
explain what was going on in
their time. Just like the young
ones. Just like me.


Television, am I some kind of
freak for living without you for
so long? Sometimes you
fascinate me, but mostly you
make me covet things I don’t
have and make me wish I was
someone I’ll never be. Maybe
I should get a TV just to be on
the same page as everyone
else, but I do fine without one,
unless I’m stark, raving mad
and just can’t tell. Well, if I’m
loony tunes, at least it’s my
own loony tunes, and not the
insanity force fed to brainwash
in the name of uniformity – a
whole country programmed
to see the world secondhand,
and to think they can change
it with just a flick of a remote.


Do I read you right? Everyone
inventing their own language
for those lucky enough to
grasp it, and if not, too bad
pal, back to school for you.
But whose language sets
the standard for acceptable
grammar? Do the same rules
apply to listening as they do
to talking? I’d swear the rules
vary according to which face
you’re wearing. Seems I speak
a language where nothing
sounds right to you. I come
from the country of Wrong.
Our calendar’s all holidays
and work’s a special occasion.
No wonder so much between
us gets lost in translation.


Tyrannosaurus Constructus,
Picanthopus Erectus, Big Willy,
the Reptile Roar, if I was a
dinosaur I’d rock my giant
tail. Dancing ground, shaking
up and down as I stomp
around to the rhythm of
the Stone Age bop. Monkeys
falling from the trees,
mountains falling in the sea,
till the sun falls down on me,
I’m a healthy young dinosaur.
My reptile shriek proclaiming
lust for life sounds no worse,
and possibly better, than
your average rock singer,
so don’t put my song in a
museum, just sing it, sing it,
sing it.


America, your maps are all wrong.
Your paths to material happiness
lead to spiritual bankruptcy and
emotional ruin. Big cars, dancing
rudely and fast food on golden
plates have alienated you from
your spiritual nature. ‘Long comes
Joe Purist from the Land of the
Pyramids brandishing a map he
claims is uncorrupted, but it
follows a route to rivers of blood
and cities in rubble. Islam, your
map is toilet paper too. ISIS can
wipe its ass with it. Just an excuse
for a sexually confused Afghan
transnational to clear the dance
floor of Orlando transgenders.
Some gays went out to party and
ended up martyrs – thank you,
Allah. What beautiful pieces of
paper, these maps to nowhere,
and how lost we must be to try
and follow them.


Now if you’d wandered into
the KKK barbecuing a cross
and opened fire, that would
have been a blow against an
oppressor, a revenge against
a precedent of lynching. But
to slaughter a room full of gays
just dancing and drinking the
night away, that isn’t striking
back at the tormentors who
bullied you as an overweight
foreign child, that’s siding with
them. Who already gets the shit
beat out of them more often
than gays? If you’re portraying
yourself as oppressed, why
brutalize the most oppressed
segment of society? Easy –
because a real oppressor like
the KKK might have shot back.


Don’t lie to me on TV, sell yourself
as something you’re not, just make
me breakfast and I’ll believe all the
bluster you’ve got. Don’t make
excuses why you couldn’t keep your
promises when even your own ego
let you down, just renew your
commitment to a good omelet and
all will be forgiven. Don’t farm out
the blame, freak out your campaign,
caught simple and plain with the
meat in your mouth (or was that
your foot) when the shit hit the
fan, just remind me of the quality
of your cooking and I’ll understand.
Explain me world issues and I’ll
grab a tissue, but grab me some
breakfast and that’s a most
excellent convincer no one’s
better suited to serve as the rep
the public’s so hungry for.


I want to tell you a story
about the little engine that
pulled the big train up the
hill. Everyone expected it
to fail, but it said, “I can
do it,” although It didn’t
believe it until that
moment it surprised
itself. I want you to end
your day with the story
of a prince who had to
kill a dragon for a bride,
a task set by his rivals
to eliminate him from
the running. It isn’t the
handsomest, or the
strongest or the most
clever who proves
a hero, but the one
willing to face the
flames, to burn, to die,
rather than accept
being told, “You can’t.
That’s crazy,” or "We
know you better than
you know yourself."


“When someone hurts us deeply, we no longer see them at all clearly. Not until time has put them back in focus."



Caucasian samurai stalking our
streets, living a fantasy from
some film on the import shelf.
I’m told he’s a military veteran,
and we can take it for granted
they’re all traumatized, usually
more severely than you or I.
The price of keeping our county
free, and other countries, is a
class of veterans wondering
the streets thinking they’re
samurais, swords for hire in
search of a noble cause, and
while they’re finding it, have
your got a dollar to spare for
an unemployed warrior?
Freedom and justice always
need defenders, and you
couldn’t have sent me
overseas for nothing, could
you? All that dying, crying
and confusion – like there’s
really an issue or principle
worth your life – all that could
not have been for nothing,
could it? Here’s what I bring
home from my service – the
discovery of the samurai
inside. And by the way, do you
think you could spare a dollar?


The hurt over something eternal
won’t just dissipate out into the
universe – it will circle the earth
like a satellite and send occasional
broadcasts on my frequency just
to remind me that I should be
HAPPY it will even let me breathe.
I’m grateful to breathe and speak
and write and use machines and
have some humans to talk to
and walk on. They walk on me
too – that’s part of life – we’re
all sidewalks in some way, trying
not to crack in the sun or trip
our patrons. Walk on, all you
pedestrians, champions and bums
in the gutter. Valleys and peaks –
I’m grateful just to breathe – for
another day to try and make sense
of that satellite tuned to my
frequency so often interrupting
its regular programming with
a sharp reminder this hour and
every hour is sponsored by the
hurt over something eternal.


Baggage disowned, no one wants
to claim it. Fill a warehouse with
suitcases of secrets, like skeletons
protesting from the family closet.
Keep a discrete proximity, change
your identity so they can’t trace
this baggage back to you. Book
a trip to China but miss the flight,
just send the baggage first class
to where none will ever guess
what it signifies. When it remains
unclaimed after so many years,
they’ll donate it to charity, and
some needy Chinese about your
size won’t feel bothered at all
to dress in another’s true colors.


Forever captured in youth’s
loveliness, my dearest. Pray
forgive the crudity of my
protruding lens, the rudeness
of me entreating you to hold
still. This small moment of
your time will have no end
date, and will stay the same
as the years change everything.
Hold still just a moment longer
for me, and I promise the
moment will far outlive us
both. Age will surely bring
maturity’s refinements, but
the flower never again has
quite the same beauty as in
its first bloom.


True, it would be nice if we
could kill less children, but
if we don’t do it the other
side will. That silent enemy
who our bombs always seem
to miss. We’ll just drop more
payload, play the odds like
Vegas slots – got to get lucky
eventually. Our Standard
Operating Procedure, right
out of the manual, business
as usual, another day at the
dirty job no one else will take
on, the flushing out of rats
hidden among the innocent,
among collateral souls with
only the vaguest notion of
our prime objective. They
only notice those colors that
rain down from planes, our
special delivery right to their
doors, right through their
roofs – glory hallelujah, the
horizon’s all nothing but red,
white and blue. Do you solve
your own problems with rats
by bombing your house?

(What’s he on about now? Follow link.)


Discipline the piglets for the
camera, a shocking, awful
image aimed at waking up
America to abuse in your
breakfast sure as oil in your
car. Ensure the swine harbor
no aspirations higher than
future bacon, keep them in
their place. Fence ‘em in,
they’re not born free, and
don’t need such subversive
theories entering their pen.
As bacon goes, eggs will
follow – breakfast symbolic
of rebirth and hard work.
Eggs regenerate birds too
chicken to fly. No pancakes,
unless you want to deviate.
Only bacon and eggs provide
optimal outlook and insight.


In the court of the heart, the jury
is hung. Who is the guilty one?
Who drew first blood, initiated
betrayal? In the court of the heart,
you better get a lawyer, because
a case is being made against you,
you’re under investigation, having
aroused suspicion, now the court
requires an explanation. The laws
of the heart left largely unwritten –
easier to judge citizenship by the
damage cataloged, measure civic
commitment by the body count.
As in, pedestrians flying from the
sidewalks, stop signs bent, vehicles
dented, buildings driven into –
what kind of liberal idiot would
issue you a license?


Kitty prison – incarceration for
domestic pets that repeatedly
transgress. Bite the hand that
fills your dish, mark territory
and defend it with claws, howl
and moan till the neighbors
can take no more – these kind
of transgressions will land you
in kitty prison, pussy jail. Eight
more lives left to go, and you’ve
already got your tail between
your legs. But catch some rats
– justify the cost of your litter –
and I might take that as a sign
of rehabilitation.


Empty now, like a sea shell
that once held life and grew.
Beautiful but empty, a sea
shell remains as testament
to the ages. The tough part
endures the ravages of time,
while the tender part only
has a short while to spend
with you.


Another cousin gone – family
members, friends, it wasn’t
the bottle that did them in,
it was the pain that made
them turn to the bottle. All
God’s children have hearts,
and right or wrong, you can
hurt them so badly that pain
becomes their reality. Wars
kill millions, a bottle killed
my cousin inadvertently –
she filled her own glass but
still I’m sorry to see her pass
having never conquered her
pain, forgiven to live and let
live, and let the person she
really was feel the joy of just
being one of God’s children.


Naughty girls bonding over
sinister mischief – mistresses
of the feminine principle;
so essential to our survival.
Naughty girls instinctively
knowing they rule, with no
obligation to rule benignly.
All that niceness dressed
up to be a bride is grand
formality, necessity for the
transfer of power to its
rightful seat. Naughty girls
sit on boys’ pretensions,
quite aware that all their
strength and posturing
can’t compensate for the
family thing. Let the boys
entertain the queens, who
may grant life’s precious
kindness, or cruelly tempt
and deny it till satisfied
with terms of exchange.


Broken, won’t ever work again.
Made to last just long enough
you think you got a bargain,
then it breaks. More expensive
to fix than just replace. How
many radios must you cycle
through before you know?
If broken radios conferred
royalty, then I’d be the Radio
King, ruling my constituency
of discarded electronics. I’d
construct a Great Wall made
of silenced receivers across
my borders as a warning to
working machines developing
outsized egos – better serve
your listeners well, or else
this is what becomes of you
once you can no longer amuse
us with music and news.


9:30, lamb curry, my hearing
fried in peanut oil. In a melting
pot and melting, all sputtering
butter essence, ingredients
in a soup of spicy intrigue.
Flavors across the spectrum
boiled down hours, becoming
one, heated and reheated,
refrigerated, hid in a freezer
till it makes no difference, the
Ice Age is here. Such a soup
could vastly boost the general
mood – peace talks could
ensue, conflicts get resolved,
misunderstandings finally
understood. Or else the chef
could hoard it all for his own
enjoyment, and not waste one
drop on the vulgar tastes of
a public unable, unwilling to
recognize genius even while
consuming it by the spoonful.


Gravity decided to resign
In protest – tortured by
chorus after chorus of
please release me. So
reluctantly, gravity let
go. I always thought
you were floaty – you
didn’t even notice.
What a colorful collage
we made all flying off
into space, going this
way and that according
to biomass. Butterflies
pinned down no longer,
out of the glass case.
Moving on takes on
a whole new meaning –
infinite moving with no
destination. Next time
let’s show gravity more


Contradiction made flesh –
true of anyone. Consistency
is the new sainthood, and
just as rare. For even saints
must leap into the unknown
and walk the tightrope. With
each breath, a test, a fork
in the road. Small steps to
something momentous. If
variables smash like atoms
into certainties, you might
say consistency is a bit
much to ask.


Anticipating something rough,
needles come out of my skin.
In my past life, I must have
been a cactus, at home in
barrenness, needing very
little for survival. And to me,
these are not thorns, simply
all the points I need to make.
If you find my manner too
sharp, take more care how
you touch. Tender with your
fingers and you might get
to taste the desert liquid
that sustains. I bloom using
just a few drops, with no
surplus to waste splashing
around. Like a cactus, I can
show you how to live in all
this emptiness. I too would
rather seek a river, but here
I am – make the best of it.


So many questions I could ask
about you – knowing what we
all know, who you trying to fool?
But the promises flow like honey
and we all have a sweet tooth.
We could be great again, not
sucky like just lately. We could be
brilliant, not the disappointment
we see in the mirror and hear
in hushed tones. No one wants
to rock the boat. When there’s
no more room in the boat, I hope
you can float. Why ask questions,
just to clarify what you already
know? To confirm the pie is in
the sky and you’re the parachute?
Elections are always more about
obscuring the truth.


Be a man, man up, snatch
some snatch, go for the
gusto, stud discussions
to divert attention from
all the penises flopping
around the locker room.
What’s with the bulging
eyes, ain’t you ever seen
someone’s butt? Word
around the locker room
is you better not drop
the soap around Donny.
Always the nervous little
wannabe who somehow
ends up a celebrity. You
can take the twerp out
of the locker room, but
not vice versa. Locker
room talk – if you think
it’s obnoxious, try listen
to them talk politics.


Lizard, you ungrateful shit,
how dare you bombard me
from above my bed while I
innocently pursue quality
literature like Anne Rice?
Lizard, it’s not coincidence
when your aim is always so
accurate. Lizard, when Hitler
bombed Britain, Winston
Churchill comforted the
nation, but who gives me
similar inspiration to sustain
the heinous attacks you
launch in secrecy upon
my solitude? It’s Anne Rice,
my own Joan of Arc, whose
sturdy chronicle of people
overcoming adversity, or
at least vampires, I send
flying towards the ceiling
while you try and retreat
from even taking any Lizard
responsibility. Anne’s book
bounces back, another near
miss, but the point is the act
of resistance.


Dogs give the gift of themselves,
having nothing more to offer than
their loyalty and the protection
of those they love. Is it cause I’m
good, or just cause I feed you?
Does feeding you help me achieve
my greedy ambitions, or further
my obsessive agenda? No, but
it’s nice to know someone has
my back, be it right or wrong,
noble or sordid. Dogs give me
moments when I’m more than
the selfish bastard my detractors
portray me as. Dogs accept my
scraps with gratitude. Would
they rather chomp on filet
mignon? Yes, I imagine so, but
the point is, you give what you
can and so will I. Cause you’re
not like the hostile dogs who bite
first and ask questions later.


Dark clouds and heavy rain today –
the skies are weeping for America.
America, you self-centered fool,
you know not what you’re about
to do if you put that loose canon
Donald Dump in charge of your
destiny. You think the perfect
solution to all the establishment
puppets is a straight-talking, no-
nonsense, take-charge type.
But what if someone had all
those qualities but no brain?
It doesn’t take a brain to do
business, just a calculator and
batteries that work. And running
American is not the same thing
as running a business. Building
national confidence is not like
building a hotel. Addressing
issues takes more than firing
an intern. America, you must
think just anyone can do it.
Today, the skies are weeping
for you. But you can do the
right thing tomorrow, and make
them stop crying, America.


America, I think you’ve made
a huge mistake, but it’s done –
no turning back. All we can do
now is try and keep it together
individually and hope that
collectively things don’t fly
off the tracks.

Another big guy claiming he’s
for the little guy – the guy who
just works hard and hopes for
a fair shake, the guy just trying
to feed his family, the guy whose
labors make our country what
it is. The little guy deserves
a break from burdensome
taxation. The little guy needs
a slice of the sweet life the rich
act like they’re entitled to. All
of this is true. He says he’s for
the little guy, but so did Hitler,
so did Stalin, so did Ronald
Reagan, and did these men
make life for the little guy
better or worse? So if you’re
going to flap your jaws like
the champion of the little guy,
then I dare you to put your
money where your mouth is.
In fact, I challenge you to live
up to your promises and prove
they’re not just empty rhetoric
at the expense of the little guy.


Back to the drawing board when
building assumptions. My peers
can be unpredictable, prone to
declare they’re here when they’re
really there, not entirely sure
themselves where they’re coming
from or going to. We are sailboats,
our destination depending on
the winds, the tides, the accuracy
of our maps. Actions imply values,
and loyalty’s confused – is it them
or is it you? Back to the drawing
board when mapping definitions –
the old ones don’t apply, obviously
– statistics don’t lie. Re-definition
can signal a re-generation, either
that or a national flakiness. On
behalf the me-generation, let me
say we’re not flakey, we’re just
adaptable, so shall we get on with
the task at hand? Just pretend it’s
all right and see what happens.


Maggot of the hour – to fully
appreciate that I differentiate
from that lowly class of life,
I need to be cognizant that
these things exist called
maggots, and I’ve been
privileged not to be one.
As blue as my blues may be,
I should be singing praises
that a simple twist of fate
didn’t make me a maggot.
Maggots don’t use computers,
can’t write poems for you. If
they sing, we’ll never hear. If
they give sermons, we won’t
get saved. If they write
editorials, we don’t get the
point. If they have ten
commandments, that’s ten
wisdoms wasted. We’re
human, we can do something.
We’re not maggots, and that
means we’re important, no
matter how insignificant,
forgotten, ignored, short-
changed, inferior, despised
or marginalized we may feel


Controlling the language is an
attempt to control perception,
to channel understanding
through prescribed definition.
Say it any way you like – but
will you be understood? You
want to be understood, don’t
you? Watch out for language
reform – someone changing
the terms while you aren’t
paying attention, and then
your jargon sounds alien.
Words delineate relations,
even ones that may not
have been here yesterday.
Nothing’s really changed,
except those controlling
the language now make
you feel excommunicated.


A little fear might help you
live longer, but too much
fear isn’t living at all, and
nothing but fear is a kind
of walking death. Zombie
population easily directed –
where to go, how to act,
what to think. Resist the
temptation to draw your
own conclusions – you’re
probably mistaken. This
nation’s hearts, minds
and genitals in suspended
animation. Trust me, no
reason to see freedom and
fear as any contradiction.


Women’s way, their own
adaptation to physiology.
Nature has it sorted, so
just chill. Women don’t
strategize like guys, they
work their own angles,
use their own language.
Both sexes occasionally
find it dismaying how
the other simply doesn’t
get the message quite
as intended, but rather
in a fashion that causes
offense. Nuance is lost,
leaving something scary
too early for Halloween.
In high school we might
have to study Spanish,
German or Russian for
communication across
cultures, but there’s no
instruction in speaking
across the gender leap.


That’s a big loud noise, but
nothing you can count on –
a giant splash that’s all over
in a moment. Fireworks
exploding in the sky make
a treat for the eyes, but it’s
nothing you can count on
when the night turns dark
and stormy. A beautiful
dance is poetry in motion,
but nothing you can count
on when you feel the boots
of life’s cruder movements.
The sweetest song speaks
of a longing inside, but it’s
nothing you can count on
if the roar of meaningless
noise is not only loudest
but also ceaseless. Bless
those unusual, riveting,
and inspiring moments,
however temporary, but
grant me the necessary
survival skills to navigate
the ordinary.


Highway of DNA, evolving,
prolonging the family name
down the ages. Too many
wonders to see in a lifetime,
and mysteries right there
in the mirror. If I’m here for
some kind of purpose, why
so hard to find it? Might do
the struggle, get in the ring,
or pursue least resistance
and just do my thing – this
whole unfolding mummers
play might gain from my
involvement, or equally from
my concealment – someone
decide for me and leave
a message. Left to my own
devices again, me-oriented,
a drop in the bucket, a sea
of possibilities, re-defined
as the moment requires.
A sacred evolution moves
along with or without us –
we just try to hitch a ride.


The way we get ordered
around implies that right
and wrong are all laid out
for us in black and white.
But then we get questions
all shrouded in grey, and
no reference books render
easy answers. No perfect
system, nor any perfect
solution for the human
condition. Those who say
they can lay it all out in
black and white really
can do no more than roll
the dice like the rest of us.
Still, there’s a comforting
symmetry when fools
prescribe lifestyles to
other fools – after all, it
takes one to know one.


Jumbles of feelings all
tangled like vines, take
over the garden of my
thoughts. Obscuring
the good stuff, cutting
off the light. Vines, it’s
now machete time,
and woe to what gets
cut away along with
the cancer, sacrificed
for cleansing’s sake.
Life we want and life
we don’t, all jumbled
under the same sun.
Vines scream, we too
have a right to life!
I say sure you do,
somewhere else.



Biblical rains punishing
Sonoma for voting
Republican. Flaunting
your progressiveness –
the sin of pride. Rising
rivers, rising lakes,
rising tax rates. Stress
on your levies, your
commuters spooked.
Your gurus cautioned
you about your karma,
but you blamed your
own failings on Obama.
Now he’s out and the
Grim Reaper’s about
to take office. Baptize
yourself in the river
outside your door,
California, it might
wash away your sins.
You taught us how
to surf, now show
us how to swim.


Shakespeare mastered poetry,
though he didn’t invent it.
Hawaiians invented surfing,
though Shakespeare never
mastered it. What Hawaiians
made of Shakespeare wasn’t
recorded as far as I know, but
trying to put you in poetry is
like riding waves of emotion
with words as my surfboard.
It’s the only way to be with
you but not dragged under
when you break over me.


There’s the door that
closed in my face so
long ago. The pain
has faded, replaced
by something I wish
I didn’t know, but do.
Should I try knocking
again? The door looks
no friendlier than
before, but we can
take solace in how
things have returned
to normal. It’s normal
to close the door in
someone’s face if
they’re not welcome.
That makes it all the
more abnormal for
them to knock again.
Chaos is always just
a knock away, there
to make normality’s
apple cart turn over.


Hypersensitive to the slightest
change in mood. Re-negotiation
of contract terms between me
and my tooth. Retirement
disguised as rebellion, upstart
declaration of independence –
you will not be directed except
when you’re lost. You help me
digest all I venture to bite, but
now my nutrition’s in question
without you, broken tooth. It
isn’t your intentions that leave
a bitter taste – intentions change
like the weather – but it’s that
moment of separation when
we realize the ties aren’t as
weak as we always perceived
them. Oh, they do break, no
doubt, but how they resist
letting go, as if screaming
that we’re ending something
meant to be lasting. A dentist
will soon end this standoff,
broken tooth, leaving my
mouth a ground zero of gum
tissue, but the memory of how
we once had a bite as bad as
our bark will have to sustain
me whenever I miss you.


Tax time, just so you know
how someone else will reap
the things you sew. Tax time,
worse than being fired – you
pay people you never even
hired. Tax time, come take
a bite. I could worry ’bout
better things at night. Tax
time, like having teeth
pulled. At least the dentist
cares whether it hurts you.
Tax time, I do no see what
on earth you’ve ever done
for me. Tax time, oh how
they lord it. Why don’t you
tax the ones who can
afford it? Tax time makes
me neurotic. To not pay
taxes is unpatriotic. Tax
time, I’m feeling robbed –
enabling crime just by
doing my job.


Sentiments I can’t express,
but do I ever feel them. I
can talk your ears off on
any subject but sentiments.
What we hold dearest does
not always shine brightest in
the light of logic and reason,
but who listens to reason
with emotions ringing your
bells? Whoever responded
to heartache by saying, just
do the math? Sentiments
have something they’re
trying to tell me, I know,
but after all this time they
still remind me of a foreign
country where someone
has to translate for me
the language everyone
else speaks so fluently.


Desperately wet message
via social media – I can’t
believe you want the world
to see, but we’re guaranteed
freedom of expression so
send your SOS to see what
replies you receive. Fishing
circa 2017 – bait your hook
with vague promises to
connect, sit back and see
who bites. Common interest
in dark pursuits inform our
motley little group separated
safely by electronic screens.
Rumored new fish swims in
the electronic grid and will
come slithering out of your
computer to deliver notice
playtime is over, and it’s
now the moment of truth.
Can the rest of you really
go where your fingers so
willingly visit?


My heart builds structures
just because it can, with no
regard for long-term plans.
My heart constructs whole
neighborhoods that outlive
their usefulness too soon.
No rush of residents eager
to bask in the splendor of
my heart’s luxury condos.
At any sign of betrayal, my
heart becomes a wrecking
ball, reducing its own
creations to rubble, yet
somehow unable to erase
all traces of a dream that
once fueled a mania to
make a city greater than
all the rest, just for the
one my heart loved best.


Making the military sexy
again – that’s the agenda –
win the war on terror by
sacrificing female Marines
on an altar of male virility.
Muslims, lock up your
women whenever we
sexually liberated infidels
sniff around your shores.
As these photos display,
we’ve got no shame taking
what we want, no hang-ups
Allah might be watching.
Rape by camera, ravishing
on social media – no big
deal when there’s freedom
to protect. We protect and
serve – line up, girls, let us
serve you like we serve our
own uniformed tarts.


Harder to read people
than these words here
on the screen. Walking
secrets, every single one
of us. That’s only fair –
nobody’s a billboard
advertising their life,
and even if they were
the image would be
enigmatic. Still, some
expect to be treated as
if they’re an open book,
required reading, with
a tone every other tone
is measured against.
They forget… harder to
read people than these
words here on the screen.


You know it’s an old program
when you see someone dead
on TV, laughing and smiling
like nothing matters. At first
I couldn’t tell whether this
was vintage or live – yesterday
bears a strong resemblance
to today – then someone dead
came into the picture, chilling
my spine like a fast food soda
before the ice melts, suggesting
the presence of ghosts at our
public events – in the daytime,
no less. But no, it was only an
old program. And besides, I’d
prefer to recall that person
who’s passed laughing and
smiling like nothing matters,
living forever in the re-runs
that could have fooled me.


Zombies are just metaphors
for those whose with hearts
still beating but brains that
have ceased to function. Our
culture is prone to diabetes,
not watching what it eats,
and then there are those
who slip through the cracks
of the societal breakdown,
who create their own world
based on tabloid headlines,
dramas catering to narrow
minds, and gossip projecting
inner dirt unto others. Like
TV zombies, these living ones
use their life energies in the
service of death. They could
be re-educated, but reform
of the spirit is tricky business.
First, they have to believe in
their own spirit, but don’t
hold your breath waiting for
that to happen. Zombies are
just metaphors for sickness
not borne by mosquitoes,
but rather by polluted ideas.


Grown cynical from too
much bad news, but we
survived the dinosaurs
so what’s another nuclear
war to worry us? And if
by chance our species
doesn’t survive the next
big bang, then at least our
neighbors the roaches will
still be here, carrying a
DNA memory of us. Our
legend will become part
of their oral traditions,
this ancient giant race
who invented machines
to clean dysfunctional
kidneys on one hand,
and machines to dirty
the air and water with
industrial poison on the
other. Life’s ultimate
power is being able to
take another life, so by
taking our own we were
simply ascending to a
power we’ve always
considered to be ours
by birthright.


Hope against all odds
is naive, foolish, illogical,
contradictory, ridiculous
and inefficient. Well, you
know what? I embrace
all of the above with
open arms. Should I go
down in pursuit of what
you say is contradictory,
that’s still the only way
to leave some hope
behind as well as take
some with me.


Playing checkers against
a computer – lazy, off my
game. Still, I win by my
opponent’s predictability –
God forbid it should ever
try an unusual move – the
shock alone would cost me
my victory. Poor machine,
deprived of animal cunning,
the power of analysis, only
formidable until a human
deduces how to turn your
predictability against you.
Beware of set patterns –
these establish certainties
criminals can base plans
on. While this poem is no
tribute to criminals, it is
definitely a celebration
of creativity and a loud
raspberry to conformity.


If that wasn’t love, then
what was it? Idealism
in the guise of foolish
optimism? Appearances
pulling a sleight of hand?
Proof old dogs still get
puppy crushes? A sow’s
ear as seen through rose
colored contacts? The
blowback from me not
acting my age? Hubris
leading me to believe
I could bottle the wind?
Whatever it was, I wish
it would come back again.


All lives are private but I’ll
try and make arrangements
to include you for an hour
or two. This appointment
you won’t regret, but if you
miss it you’ll be pissed at
yourself when you’ve had
time to think about it. All
lives are separate – as much
as we may seem like two
halves of the same being,
when we try joining ends
we get resistance. All lives
would fight to the death
rather than be subsumed
by something bigger than
themselves, just like little
fish dream of being big fish,
but never of befriending one.


Dogs like to play dead.
I can relate, man. Just
pretend I don’t exist –
this whole time only
observing in case I’m
called as a witness.
Dogs like to pretend
it’s over and done,
but it’s understood
they’re not fooling
anyone. I don’t need
to pretend I’m dead –
if you want me not
to matter, just turn
your head. While it
won’t kill me, I might
lie on the grass like
a dog playing dead,
thinking if I’m only
liable while alive
then there must be
impunity in eternity.


Angel flying around, high,
looking down as humans
pursue human nature and
ruin anything you hand
them on a platter. Angel,
bring me something from
Heaven, or at least from
the drive-through. Angel,
I need a clue. It’s all for the
better, these things we go
through. Angel refuses to
intervene, only observes.
Neither an ace up my
sleeve nor an insurance
policy. My only security is
knowing an Angel sees –
even if no one else does.


Every moment, all across
America, another sandwich
comes into being. Barely
enough time to notice our
fast track from existence
to oblivion. It’s a short life,
but at least a distinguished
one – born, bring some
consumer consummation
and fade, masticated. Every.
moment, all across America,
some sandwich sacrifices
itself just to satisfy you.
And you have the nerve
to whine how you’re not


Like a balloon, always
up in the air. I float or
I’m flat. Like a balloon,
take a lofty perspective,
be above it all, see but
don’t feel it, watch it go
by. Like a balloon, hope
the winds are kind, but
know you could pop any
moment. Natural habitat
is airborne, but balloons
sitting unused can barely
conceal anticipation for
the breath that will send
them soaring, achieving
transcendence, seeing
a big picture most of us
miss. But eventually all
balloons need to set free
those airs and concede
to gravity like the rest.
Wisdom from inflation
is temporary at best.


Unpleasant business –
I hate it, but it’s got
to be done. Rubbing
up to the reality we’re
not as safe as we’d
like to be. Neighbors
you be wise to be
afraid of. Seductive
is the idea there’s
profit in evil. Devil
said, you think you’re
slick, but I’ll get some
confused, abused
child to do my tricks.
Wounded souls will
do anything when
offered healing, even
lying, cheating and
stealing. Leaving
unpleasant business –
I hate it but it’s got
to be done.

Posted by James Kneubuhl on 2011-01-24 23:19:34


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