Sidewalk Talk

I know what you think, but don’t care what you say
things haven’t been the same since the good old days
when Mould wasn’t queer and women were grrrls
and all was right with the world.

We played in these clubs on the Lower East Side.
God! Those days were a crazy wild ride.
We all had no jobs and nothing to do.
Our music was wild and new.

We sang songs on the street and we stayed out past dawn,
far away from our teens, drunk on Levittown lawns.
We lived lives completely, full out in the city.
But these days? It’s such a pity.

The kids in the clubs aren’t anything like
we had in the past when we went to the mics
down on Ludlow and over on Sixth Street and A.
Today those same clubs lost their way.

The streets have changed. The Sidewalk’s changed.
Now that Hightower’s left, the scene’s gone deranged.
The clubs are all sold, or at least they’ve sold out.
The East Village lost all its clout.

Now I’m not saying kids today are the worst
but they ain’t cool like we were in two thousand and first
after Jesus. Back then, we knew what was what!
But these newbies just never shut up.

They keep talking about how things now seem so cool.
If they knew what they missed, then they’d feel like a fool,
collected in one, just embarrassed and numb.
What I’m saying is that they’re real dumb.

They can’t live in our history, and more’s the shame
that they’re lost in their own awful modern day game
of the uselessly dull who can’t carry a tune
– not like how we all used to do.

But we know the truth: it was better back then.
These days just suck, but I recall when
Loisaida sang with a glory untold.
Goddamnit, I feel old.

Baby Jupiter’s gone. The Sidewalk has ended.
The future looks bleak, it’s potential descended
beneath hellish depths, abandoned by hope.
I gotta stop smoking all this dope.

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Bacteriophobia

(Mimi and Rick)
When he left
he left her with nothing
but her solitude.
And anger,
along with countless charge card payments
and a crippling anxiety about growing old alone
as well as a certain fear of pathogens.

He left her with an embarrassing attraction
to hairy shoulder blades
and a vast technical knowledge
of free scat porn.
He left her frustrated
and furious
and with no ride out of the Berkshires.

What else?
Let’s see:
he left her broke
bummed, buried in debt
broken down and beat upon.
He left her alone
– which should have been obvious from the start –
and he left her lonely.

But with him gone,
she soon realized,
he’d left her
with another thing,
but that item
she could thank him for
were he ever to show his wretched head again.
He left her free.

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Perkins’ Advice

Slow down.
The good times can’t last forever.
Yours is not a replenishable resource.
Eventually you’ll have said everything
you have to say,
written all the words you know
in every possible combination
that you’re capable of combining.
If you keep up
at this pace
you’ll have run out of good ideas
three weeks ago.

If you’re constantly spitting out
you never have the opportunity
to soak anything in.
So sit. Ponder.
Consider new thoughts.
Learn new ideas.
Give yourself time
to find yourself
some perspective.

It’s possible
with conservation
you can keep the good times going
a little while longer,
at least.
Maybe you can dig
and discover new depths within you
or maybe
you’ll just get better.

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Last Plastic Rubber Chicken

I knotted a noose
around the neck of the last
of the plastic rubber chickens I’d ordered
from the Remainder Store
at the start of the summer.
I hung the hardened creature in my window
as some sort of humiliated cry
to the public.
It was September
and you and I would not meet
for another three weeks.

I’d become older
wiser
but still inexperienced in the ways of the heart.
My tongue
had gained some slight sense of practice
at the end of last year
and would find a little bit more
with a great friend
in the days to follow
but I would save myself
in my way
for your eventual touch.

Perhaps that is why
I thought the world needed a display
of my plastic fowl
held in a hangman’s knot
next to my bed.
Everyone who passed
could see
that in my room
I was choking the chicken.
Everyone would understand
the truth of my solitary activities
until I came to know you.

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Happy Anniversary #014

After all this time
and it’s ensuing silence
I feel that our every anniversary
is a test of my resolve
a chance for me to see for myself
if I still care,
or really, how much.

Each year
on this day that we first came together
I think about you
and I think about reaching out
and I think about the likelihood
of you taking my call
or responding to my letter
or answering the bell
(assuming you still live
where you once did).
Each year
I think about you
and if I’m weak
I try to get in touch.

You never respond.
Maybe you can’t.
Maybe you’re gone.
Maybe you don’t even recall our dates
and our history
and this anniversary is mine alone to bear.
Maybe you have better things
to think about.
I wish I knew
what you think about me.

Every anniversary is a test for me
and every anniversary
you win me over again.

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All Apologies #00001

You’re right.
I was wrong.
I was rude.
I was self-righteous.
I was cruel.
I was uncaring about what you wanted
and expressed evil intentions
far too frequently
for anyone’s comfort.

I was a dick
early and often.
All the things
all the examples
all the times
you told me that I was disrespectful,
you were dead on
and I was dead wrong.
You were right.

I’m sorry for how I behaved
and the myriad ways I was.
I have done you great disservice
and I owe you all the apologies.
I owe you a thousand years of better treatment
but instead
I will give you a single instant.

I’m leaving you.
You’ve been right about how I’ve been
and as soon as I’m gone
it will get better immediately.
I treat you disrespectfully
because it seems
I don’t respect you
and after all this time
it may be I don’t know how.
You shouldn’t be with someone so awful
so let me remove this cancer
and get out of your way.

I’m sorry
that it’s taken so long
to come to this critical conclusion.
You deserve better
– you always did.
I feel lousy
that I couldn’t be kind enough
to have provided it
until seeing this final solution.

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All The Squares Go Home

The lady on stage sings "the dancers just won’t hide"
as we sit attentively
grooving to her fatass beats
dancing joyously in our fatass seats.

She wears tattoos with cryptic designs
that we can study more
as she jumps off her perch
into the crowd
before us
enjoining us to enjoy.

We comply quietly
shyly moving before her
beneath her
but refusing to get up onto our feets.
We continue dancing solely in our seats.

The singer works it
hard
and some join her in some spastic steps
sweating Stoli
or whatever else was drunk tonight.

The crowd gets into the spirit
with many more swallowing defeat
getting up, getting down
doing the singer’s bidding.
Meanwhile: we stay in seats.

Eventually, we’re alone off the floor.
Everyone but us is moving, grooving
approving of their own excited actions.
We watch.
It’s wonderful.
We view the whole scene, beside ourselves,
beside each other.

It’s an amazing night
with ample opportunity to exercise the right
to rock.
Still, we remain rooted.
We recline and
only at the end
after everyone has left
do we stand
abandoning our chairs
and limp
roaming all the way home.

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Typo

I’ve been looking over
all our correspondence
from before you stopped talking to me
trying to find the reason
for what happened.

I think I know what it is.
In the last things we said to each other
I wrote “I hat you,”
because I thought you covered me
were fashionable
and usually over my head.

“Hat.”
Not any other word.
Just in case that was the thing
that turned you against me,
you stupid whore

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By Omission

I’m sorry;
before we go any further:
I have a confession.
When you went to the bathroom
the bartender asked if I wanted a refill
and then he said, "Anything else
for you and your girlfriend?"
I got us another round
but you knew that part.

What you didn’t know was
I didn’t correct him.
I didn’t explain to the bartender
how we were just good friends
that we weren’t going out
and never had.

I let him believe
– by omission.
Only by omission –
that we were a couple
we were involved
we were in love.
For all I know
after he took our emptied pints
he believed that
when we leave here
I’ll take you home
and walk you upstairs
and kiss you before you open the door
and then sweetly lovefuck you
with all the passion
my pitiful body can provide.

I left him with an incorrect impression
and he thinks
probably
that there is something between us
(and that something is a rubber).
I couldn’t help myself.
I didn’t provide truth.
I led him astray.
I can’t even explain why.

It’s just…
bartenders are usually so intuitive.
Maybe he sees something
that we don’t.

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Great Artists

I don’t mean to alarm you,
but the last poem you wrote
was a comedian’s punchline
and the one before that
was once a detergent ad.
That piece from last week
clearly came from Dylan
– though you might have heard it
by way of Adam Green.

I’m not accusing you
or any sort of theft
but it does seem
that a great many of your ideas
are also the ideas
of a great many others.
Your originality sense
might be picking up
a whole lot of extra signals.

No need for alarm,
of course.
There’s a format of credit
you can use with words.
Just say "After so-and-so."
Like, in your piece
"Beers of a Clown,"
just say "Beers of a Clown, After Smokey"
and you’re all good.

If you write "Rock Me, Tyler Perry,"
you can call it "Rock Me, Tyler Perry, after Falco."
If you write anything that you stole from me
– which is really quite a lot –
just say "After Jon Berger."

"I’m the Greatest, After Jon Berger."
"Jesus Was, After Jon Berger."
"The Ballad of Martin Scorcese,
After Jon Berger."
It’s not so hard, is it?
Go ahead:
Try.

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