Tuesday, November 30, 2010

west coast

An Explanation:
A combination of being too busy, sad, or otherwise engaged in late November has forced me to play catch-up in a gamely manner of sorts: I have picked headlines from November 18-30, and wrote one poem using all the headlines’ major words.  


“For California, a New Month, a New Deficit”
by Adam Nagourney
November 18, 2010

“Axis of Depression”
by Paul Krugman
November 19, 2010

“Hiding From Reality”
by Bob Herbert
November 20, 2010

“Teaching for America”
by Thomas L. Friedman
November 21, 2010

“A Safe Haven in Cartoon Confidants”
by David Bornstein
November 22, 2010

“The Sound of Lincoln’s Silence”
by Harold Holzer
November 23, 2010

“A Very Risky Game”
by the New York Times Editorial Board
November 24, 2010

“Dig Out Those Pocket Combs”
by David Coman
November 25, 2010

“For Retailers, Black Friday Expectations Are High”
by Stephanie Clifford
November 26, 2010

“Winning the Class War”
by Bob Herbert
November 27, 2010

“A Women. A Prostitute. A Slave.”
By Nicholas D. Kristof
November 28, 2010

“A Stale Food Fight”
by Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser
November 29, 2010

“A Fate That Narcissists Will Hate: Being Ignored”
by Charles Zanor
November 30, 2010

west coast

she didn’t love an East Coast man
by coincidence or on principle
the man for her is in California
hiding from reality a little bit like her

she finds a safe haven in cartoon confidants
he’ll find a safe haven in the Science T-shirt she wears out on the town
in her brown curls and the glasses he’ll find
before she realizes she’s misplaced them again

love is a very risky game
sometimes it goes stale

she takes time to decide things
falling in love is a three-year affair
it doesn’t happen over dinner
or even a season

it’s a new month
a new deficit
of things missing
things not here
of things elsewhere
some in Europe
where she left them

on the east coast her best friend is
naked on two axes of depression
crying from left to right
yelling from top to bottom

in most parts of the country, narcissism makes people ugly
but in California narcissists arrange themselves in fit, tan clumps

the first time he saw her, she was sitting next to a group of them at a bookstore
in jeans and a T-shirt
no makeup
no cellphone or computer
just a girl in Converse
reading something for children

there is a woman on 36th Street in Manhattan
she’s a sex slave
in the city where white kids from rich families and good schools
teach for America against the backdrop of Lincoln’s silence in between words like a house divided cannot and this hallowed ground
it’s a city consecrated by art and money by clothes that don’t hang off a person

on the west coast a man will dig out his pocket comb
before the girl reading a fantasy series
agrees to meet him for a beer and some philosophical foreplay

her clothes hide her shape
he’ll trace it later

she will not be impressed when he does all the right things
he will not be impressed when she pays her half

in the aftermath of a Black Friday and the math of a White Christmas somewhere else they’ll agree a class war in East LA rages on but this isn’t East LA this is an unimpressive bar that they’ll come back to every year on this day to celebrate where something good started where something that looks like a west coast morning feels like a redwood tree’s deep roots tastes like a beautiful fog is physics is science is an equation that you can’t calculate but every force they learned about in school

she says gravity doesn't even exist
he says then how did we fall in love

Monday, November 29, 2010

the things you will come to need

“Diana’s Ring Seals Prince William’s Marriage Plans”
by Sarah Lyall
November 17, 2010

the things you will come to need

sapphire and diamond
on a white finger in Kenya
that says let’s wake up together forever
and watch each other’s faces change
in slow motion so slow we only notice it
in photographs decades apart

a ring of metals on a woman’s hand that say
let’s stop running through these English fields
and build a tree house with our bare hands

a circle of words on flesh that tell the world
let’s grow sideways and all ways on the same plane or at least planes close to one another
so when we change the degrees of our bodies add up to the boiling point of love add up to make
complementary angles out of torsos lying parallel lying perpendicular

something that says if the world turns to ash let me make you shoes out of grass, a dress from leaves, a blanket from my body

says let me invent the things you will come to need

This Raging Fire

“This Raging Fire”
by Bob Herbert
November 16, 2010

This Raging Fire

Black children can’t wait
They don’t have time

This is a Call for Change
This is a Public Service Code Red Orange and The Color of Fire Announcement
Calling all fathers home to dinner and while you’re there
put a ring on your baby mama’s ring finger

This is a Call for Change
This is a Public Service Please Read Urgent Priority Mail Announcement
This is a war on two fronts and
your babies are going to grow up into black men in the little crack of dirt between the sidewalk
where his home and the streets meet

Black children can’t wait
They don’t have time

This is a Call for Changing the hard-to-stomach so it makes you ache fact that most of them that don’t graduate do and will end up designing license plates with nametags from their nation that just say “Brute” wearing orange jump suits unless you do something right this this this second

Black children can’t wait
They don’t have time

They can’t take much more of this
socioeconomic abyss their names might as well be on lists that say no you can’t we won’t let you and nobody knows who to blame or where to start but you can start with mom and dad where it all began in the first place you can read to them at night and help them make it through the night

Black children can’t wait
They don’t have time
So please run 
Daniel Beaty says
Run to your children
They can’t wait
They don’t have time
Douse them in water
Flood your houses
Drown the things that are
drowning them put out
this raging fire right

Bones aren't so personal

“The Full-Body Backlash”
by Nate Silver
November 15, 2010

Bones aren’t so personal

there’s too much room
between ribs and bones
a skeleton can’t hide things
the way a person can

Americans want to be touched
by strangers

On the plane I
shake hands with
the man whose shoulder
will get to know mine
for the next fourteen hours

He goes to the private rooms
at holes with names like
Boobie Bungalow or
The Cockring

Behind closed doors
when money is exchanged
the rules about skin on skin
flake away

At Newark International
he went for the pat down
He waited for the woman

Americans want to be undressed
by machines

There is a woman
She dances at a place called Passions
She touches herself in front of other people
She’s in grad school, wants to be a diplomat
She knows how to work an angle, a corner,
knows how to sell a fifteen-dollar coke,
thinks she could sell ideas to countries

At Newark International
she struts through the scanner

Bones aren’t so personal
and she’s got nothing to hide

Friday, November 26, 2010

sexy, somehow

“Think About Pink”
by Peggy Orenstein
November 14, 2010

sexy, somehow

At the bar with
a seventy-three year old
survivor who says
I don’t like those
slogans and stuff that
make the scars in the places
where breasts used to be
sexy, somehow

Women used to keep
their mouths shut
about this stuff

Seems like these days
they open their legs
open their mouths
and show everything off
on the Internet

There is a couple
His name is Pete
Her name is Alisha
The fate of their fetus
lies in an online poll

Women make montages
after their miscarriages
of pop songs and pictures
You can find them
on Youtube

Around a man’s wrist
I <3 Boobies
His eyes say
I grab a feel
so cancer can’t steal

Somewhere atoms are colliding
with other atoms to
save second base
for she-roes that
can get lost in the mix
of all the hoopla
all the sex

Monday, November 15, 2010

Terrorism isn't ordinary

“Court Ruling Limits Scope of State Law on Terror”
by Mosi Secret
November 13, 2010

Terrorism isn’t ordinary

Things on a street can be ordinary
like candy wrappers and cigarettes
or wads of gum and homeless bodies

Things on a street can be ordinary
like gangs ganging up on
ten year old girls until they’re dead

Things on a street can be ordinary
like a tourist with a camera
or a couple running late

Things on a street can be ordinary
like a knife in a body that
didn’t ask for it

Things on a street can be ordinary
like a congregation of pigeons
or bodies painted in team red or army blue

Other things on a street are not ordinary
like pigeons on team red or army blue
or people ism-ing terror like they’re on fire

worth it when

“Video Games and the First Amendment”
by The New York Times Editorial Board
November 12, 2010

worth it when

sounds that go into every
freespeech word like a e i o u sometimes y
sounds like a question: why is eighteen the it age
to make sexual choices
like who to vote for or
who to let inside of you

some words are just not worth it
is a thought is not a law the law is
men in white wigs couldn’t say yay or nay to what’s worth it
can decide should decide it’s more important that
words be said at all

in the air or acted out on screens in the form of
high-speed car chases between thugs and pimps
and you can’t rape or pillage a virtual community
until you can honestly slip a piece of paper with the numbers
one and eight in the sole of your shoe and say
yessir I’m over eighteen
send me to war

in this country we protect children from
certain things

we think they grow up too fast
after we have been them
doing it

in seventh grade I was four feet tall
and eighty pounds with glasses and braces

in art class I kept my head down as
two girls talked about fellatio
I thought it had something to do with nipples

in this country kids get older and older
every year

my kindergarten students know what
homosexual means

their parents tell them what sex is
but not that Santa is a fraud

they decide what words are worth it when

Thursday, November 11, 2010

men like this

“A Special Court for Veterans”
by Ronald D. Castille
November 11, 2010

men like this

he stole someone’s wallet
and smokes weed every night
sometimes it makes his dreams better
sometimes it makes them worse

he dreams about the little boy
who exploded in the street

he dreams about the mother
waving her daughter’s arm
in his face

sometimes they are silent dreams
sometimes people speak in ka’s and booms

sometimes he moves through everything
sometimes everything moves through him

I sort him
there are boxes to check off
there are forms to sign

he is a special case

we will send him where other men dream similar dreams
we will send him where other women don’t sleep

men like this can pull out an
I.O.U. dotted with his brother’s body bag

men like this do not belong in jail

his wife left him
she tried but
he never really came back

he doesn’t drink except
when that’s all he does

sometimes it helps him forget
sometimes it makes him remember

we will send him where other men drink to forget
we will send him where other women can’t forget how to remember

men like this do not belong in jail

between my legs

“Bush Recollection Puts Spotlight on Miscarriages”
by Benedict Carey
November 10, 2010

between my legs

the body in a jar that
didn’t get to be a baby
doesn’t look like
the life between my legs
in lines of red

we weren’t ready
so we got ready

when you have to be something
you can be it

we are only twenty-seven he said
but we are twenty-seven I said

I call a girlfriend
she sits with me in the bathroom
I don’t catch it in a jar
I bleed into the toilet

she watches me cry

later my boyfriend will hold me in our bed
I will mourn a death
he will scratch my back with relief

soon enough he will leave

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


“Free Tuition for New Haven Students”
by Winnie Hu
November 9, 2010


failing streaks and a big gap
between (sub)groups where
children get left behind
or fall in

suddenly money
but you cant just
throw it in heaps
there’s still those
day-to-day issues
mothers who don’t care
food that tastes like stamps
white lines on tables

it’s a
New Haven Promise

It’s a New Haven
sliding scale to
slide into home to
close the gap where
too many little feet
dangle their toes

Monday, November 8, 2010

for other people

“For Afghan Wives, a Desperate, Fiery Way Out”
by Alissa J. Rubin
November 8, 2010

For Afghan women seeking escape from abusive husbands and in-laws or poverty, self-immolation is an increasingly popular act.  According to the UN, 45% of Afghan women marry before 18, often against their will to erase a family debt.  Older, abusive husbands and mother-in-laws excited to wield power over someone for the first time often wait for these young women.  Without a way to leave their marriages, education or social mobility, suicide seems like the best option for so many.  Burning is so often used because even poor families have matches and oil, and many women mistakenly assume death will be instantaneous, only to survive and deal with painful physical and emotional consequences. 

for other people

Here in my bed
broken in the middle
from night rapes I think
our men are born
with a stick in one hand
and a fist in the other

I imagine sons punch their way
out of their mothers
with a war cry

My daughter cried as she came into the world
a miniature fortune teller

My husband fourteen
Afghan summers old
beat me the morning
after our wedding to
set the tone

A rooftop is no guarantee
A broken leg won’t do
and running
breeds stone

I light a match against my flesh

My marriage was for other people
My death will be for me

On the way to the hospital
my husband whispers
If anybody asks
don’t tell them my name

It is new to feel his fear
and I like it

Most of my body must regrow itself

It is ugly

Like my son will be
once he learns
all the uses
meant for his body
My daughter will marry
as she must
perhaps to make up for
the debts her father will accrue
perhaps at twelve summers old
as it was for me

I pray her marriage will not be
for other people
as it was for me

history will

“Now Appearing: George W. Bush”
by Peter Baker
November 7, 2010

history will

verdicts change over time
like pretzels that go down the wrong pipe
come up again looking different
and people who hated the letter W
wear t-shirts asking “Miss me yet?”
because it was easy to blame
someone with a Texan accent
it was a pointy decision that
stabbed him in the polls
and history will appreciate
a president that 65% of us
do not right now

it is hard

“Big Fish in Small Theaters Often Find a Big, Scary Ocean on Broadway”
by Ben Brantley
November 6, 2010

it is hard

it is hard for the thing you love
the thing you are best at
to weigh so little
in greenbacks and coins

it is hard for the thing you love
the thing you are best at
to be under-valued
by the free market—
the people have spoken
the people are wrong

it is hard for the thing you love
the thing you are best at
to necessitate a fluff job
from 9 to 5
or 6 to 10

it is hard for the thing you love
the thing you are best at
to be too beautiful
for normal life so
everything must taste
like a color or feeling

it is hard for the thing you love
the thing you are best at
to expire in the air and so
must be made over and over
from scratch from the place where
fires starts

it is hard for the thing you love
the thing you are best at
to be elsewhere
somewhere but here


“When Boys Dress Like Girls for Halloween”
by Tara Parker-Pope


@ 3 ft and
5 years my son
is gay before
any conscious choice
(not choice wrong word)
sub: Manifestation of
what’s pre-programmed
is more apt he’s
5 years old
& maybe he is
maybe he isn’t
he’s in a wig and
60s heels chasing crime
and monsters and
ghouls call him
Daphne for just one night
when all the kids dress up
as something they’re not
or something they are

At three feet and
five years she
outed her son before
there was something
to out, before a choice
to expose a not-choice
was made, like a
costume made from
thread and gender,
constructed like
a set of beliefs
about a person with
certain sex organs.
And these things
last forever on the
internet even after they’re
words you can’t
take back in 0s and 1s

at three feet and
this many years old i
have heard the word
gay but I don’t feel
anything down there
with jack or jill
and I feel like
something’s going on
ever since halloween
my mom’s been happy
at times and sad
at other times more
feelings more than
usual and i got a lot of
candy to eat to share i
got sick from eating
too much of it and i
like the color purple
i like the color pink

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It Gets Better Part II

“Do Employees Still Feel Lucky to Have Jobs?”
by Jay Goltz
November 4, 2010

It Gets Better Part II

it gets better
the economy
I mean after
three years of
waiting for the
great pumpkin
to raise wages
and what is not easy
is the situation
six pockets on a
soft chest
but patience
is a virtue
and 2011
will be better
and 2012
will be better yet
these are
get rich or die trying
times and
people don’t feel lucky
to be standing
in the same place
people don’t feel lucky
to be treading
in cold water
but it gets better

to the right

“In Republican Victories, Tide Turns Starkly”
by Peter Baker
November 3, 2010

to the right

a house leaning
to the right
will stand for
two years
boxing with
a senate
rumbling within
itself and
a leader chanting
yes we can but
doesn’t snap
into place
at the snap
of a majority’s

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

between pews

“Church Attack Seen as Strike at Iraq’s Core”
by Anthony Shadid
November 2, 2010

between pews

met now on a great battlefield
of hallowed by thy name
ground below blood and bones
flesh between pews
between hymnal pages at
Our Lady of Salvation Church
where people came to
kill kill kill people praying
Peace be upon you, Mary
God in Heaven, help us
in a back room

We’ve lost part of our soul now

this is not a country
you can just leave
easily there are questions to ask
like Why was Father Wassim killed
and Do I love this earth these people?

Our destiny,
no one knows what to say of it

fifty-eight walk now in the valleys of
a post-world where Mesopotamia has been
reclaimed by descendants of Adam of Eve
who use snakes in the place of ties
serpents in the place of shoestrings
whose eyes throw fire at
stained glass windows and
grenades at the interior of a building
that is more than a building is
evil in the form of a nave and
columns and an organ
that should not be allowed
to play music

this is not a country
you can just leave
easily there are questions to ask
like who will raise you up on eagle’s wings?

in seven years half the
prayers to Jesus God and Holy Ghost
have emigrated from this
hallowed by history and another
inthemaking ground less making as things
crumble bodies fall prayers
cut short by gunmen in
a country some cannot leave
for love of this earth these people


“From Farm to Fridge to Garbage Can”
by Tara Parker-Pope
November 1, 2010


“When in doubt throw it out”

(a man or a
browning head of lettuce)

or you can try
not to pout and
“Give the food the benefit of the doubt”

(a metaphorical justgivemeonemorechance-er or
half the pepper that still looks good)

Some refrigerators are just too big
(if you know what I mean)

So well stocked
(that’s what she said)

sometimes you forget what you’ve got at home
and bring something new back
(he explained to the divorce lawyer)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Objective Information

“A Hidden Minefield at Pregnancy Centers”
by Ariel Kaminer
October 31, 2010

Objective Information

love bomb
in a room of pregnant
perfection par excellent gifts

this right here between us
is an interaction
of love and information

my body my choice
there’s another body
Without a choice

maybe a baby
girl with
a body
that could pass
through your fingers
at this point

but it’s a body

it beats

After thought:
Margaret Sanger
had ties to
the Third Reich

here are
no papers with
statistics or graphs
to scare you
about having a baby
the physics of it
or the emotions of it

here are
papers to tell you
abortions could
give you cancer
could give you

there is little such thing as
Objective Information

There is a child inside my uterus
but What is a child?

I could take care of it
meaning What?

there is little such thing as

In a life-or-
love bomb/body bomb-
death situation
What is life?
What is death? 


“McDonald’s Workers Are Told Whom to Vote For”
by Sabrina Tavernise
October 30, 2010


# 9 with a side of
Republican propaganda cause
if the right people are elected
we will be able to continue with
raises and benefits and
if others are elected
we will not

hold the pickles
hold the lettuce
Democratic side sauces
do upset us &
Lovin’ it means lovin’ right
means the following candidates are
the ones we believe will help our
business move forward:

This is Canton, Ohio
This is (love is) a battle (hallowed ground) field
of dreams and mines

supersize the finger you x a box with
the right box mind you the
family values box with your
value meal with your
happy meal with the
wind-up toy that chants
tea is an acceptable beverage to
caffeinate your government

on Tuesday
do not pass go
do not collect
your paycheck if
you x marks the
right spot

fig leaves

“Poparazzi: In Praise of Celebrity Excuses”
by Ben Widdicombe
October 29, 2010

fig leaves

mashup explain-aways from
people whose skin reflects light
more than the average person’s whose
job is to entertain and not to explain
whose behavior is an allergic reaction
to the light that meets their faces
in a series of flashes so walking
down the street is like
having a seizure

It’s an Adam and Eve
sort of thing i.e.
he blames it on her
she blames it on slitherstick
and everybody winds up
ashamed of their naked bodies
searching for fig leaves
while their bodies reflect light
on newspaper stands

stonesmoke doesn’t have to be inhaled
a blowjob isn’t sex to
some people and
sometimes a hooker
takes the week off
to carry luggage for a man
whose doctor said it would be
detrimental to carry it himself
on the health front

It’s a garden of post-Eden partum de-
flower our minds with reasons that spell
“instead of this” and replace them

my wide stance in a men’s room means
I’m just that much more of a man

in Zambi everyone knows
I lose focus when _______
so don’t hold it against me
so don’t think less of me

I spy I spy with my little green eye
a tree of figleaves a beanstock of
figleaves a garden of figleaves
to roll my naked body up in like a joint
for you to
smoke me
but don’t inhale

a social thing

“Are We Social Even in the Womb?”
by Freakonomics
October 28, 2010

a social thing

in warm waters a pair of hands that jerk
towards another pair on purpose on point in this
pre-world of sorts this pre-world of fourteen weeks
when the world is just a walnut of ideas beginning to form
inside the inside of the palm of a stomach where
eighteen weeks of solitary confinement for a brother or sister
means twenty-nine percent of the time an arm moves for another arm’s sake
it becomes a pre-world in response in concert with in contrast to in with two parts to
a social little pre-world of everything to come
where you know there’s something special about a body
that shares the same space as you so you don’t hit it
like you hit these pink and red walls
you let your limbs linger in response to in caress to its
head its back its mirrored self all those other
pre-worlds are made for one and it’s not until
eyes can meet other eyes hands can hold other hands that—
but here in this pre-world of fourteen eighteen nine months’ worth
of weeks growing is a social thing outside heads will turn
towards things that look like the faces that come to be known
inanimate things with two things above one thing above a curved sort of thing
like the lips that explain feelings or hide information before it’s ready to be spoken
into this world where hands jerk towards other hands where
limbs linger on other limbs to say there is something special
about a body that shares the same space 


“Study Finds Street Stops by N.Y. Police Unjustified”
by Al Baker and Ray Rivera
October 27, 2010


blue and red in the rear-view mirror
big bad whirr in the eardrum of a
black man who’s not speeding

big bad voices in the back of a
Mexican in a mostly Mexican area
up to his ears in nothing bad
up to his ears in stop right there
let me frisk you up and down
for Reason: leave blank
for Reason: unjustified

according to empirical scatterplot points
calculated by somebody with
a point to prove with
a paycheck to cash with
an article to write
cause sex sells and
disproportions are
downright sexy
even if they’re true
even if they’re warped
like the sound of a
big bad whirr
doppling down
the city street