1990s · All the Tiny Anchors · Poetry

Gummo (From a Dream)

I saw you on TV lastnight
tall and skinnyextra nervous
your off-set fashion
twelveyearoldface
you were talking with David Letterman
(who wouldn’t listen)
you kept looking away grimacing
you mention Ulysses and Snoop Dogg
I felt like calling or driving
to your apartment and no-talking
I just wanted you to know
he was trying to be nice
maybe you knew
he didn’t get you
but the likeness wasn’t perfect
maybe it wasn’t you
he displayed his hair and his face
you are much more socially adept
still there you were
sitting in your brownpantsuit
and redsweatervest
talking about taped bacon
I just thought you’d want to know
sometimes I see your handwriting in my stereo cabinet
sometimes I hear you standing with hands on your hips
sometimes I forget I can’t drink Kool-Aid anymore

10-18-97

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1990s · Poetry · Things Mean A Lot At The Time

The Disaster On Aisle 8

Some people are better off
never to be seen again
a thought I never thought
until tonight at the grocery store
I saw you by the bottled juices
with your blushing bride
in her child like naiveté
pushing a cart of potato buds
your voice got softer, almost queer
like she tamed your wilderness
I once knew as your wicked smile
I can’t help but wonder
how she erased the shadows
and smoothed out your wrinkles
I guess it’s only fair
you found your redemption at last
and me and my continuous journey
still hoping and getting burned
by similar lies like you
why did you have to meet my eyes
as if you still had the power
to climb in and destroy all mine
you go on now-I am passing by
we’ll never be mutual companions
not if I had my way

1990s · Poetry · Things Mean A Lot At The Time · Unanchored

Excuses

I just called to tell you
Sue’s transferring soon
To tell you she’ll be gone
I just called because I was hoping
You’d want me to come over
I just called to tell you
I made you a tape of songs
Because I don’t like you
And I am so moving on
I just called because
There is a movie I thought you’d like
It’s playing Friday night
“Sick and Twisted”- just your type
If you’re not busy, of course
I just called to tell you
I got better things to do
Because my hormones are going crazy
And my body is this mass of sweaty tension
I just called because I’m still alone
My best friend’s still not speaking to me
And I don’t know why
I just called because
You make me forget myself
Your one-sided conversations consume
the air so I no longer have to breath
I just called to tell you
I hate this war
I think we’re wrong
To tell you about the irony
I saw on the internet
“Make a pact against violence”
As we drop bombs on Kosovo
No double standard there
I just called to tell you
How drunk I wish I was
I watched Futurama again
Did you laugh at all the things
I imagine you’d be laughing at?
I just called- I know what you must think
Desperate girl- I must confess-
I was wrong about you & I being so right
I know you cannot be all the things I need
And that’s okay
I just called because I think
This friend thing is a joke
To tell you I don’t want you
Don’t want to touch your hands
Or your arms or your neck
I don’t want to kiss a man with facial hair
To feel your tongue behind those teeth- I don’t
I just called to say hi or hello
Or whatever excuse we use
To tell you about this new band
I heard his voice- makes me horny
To tell you I lied about how much I like yours
It’s only an eight-eight and a half at best
I just called because I was hoping
We’d really stay friends
And the time you need is finite
Enough to hang around for
To tell you how I prefer my space
Much better than change
Or laughing all the time or fucking
I prefer not to share or take any unnecessary risks
On a guy who can’t ever be serious
Or passionate or vulnerable
I just called to tell you
The checks in the mail
And how I wish I lived in New York
Where people run into people on the street
But we stay in out cars and shop
In grocery stores the size of malls
I just called to ask if you were bored
And wanted some company
I hate your answering machine

5-11-99
Originally published in Things Mean A Lot at the Time, 1999
Also appeared in Eunoia Review, 11-2-13

1990s · Healing the Heart of Ophelia · Poetry · Unanchored

Last and Final Poem to N.L.

I loved you
I admit it two years
Since we last spoke
Your potato chip voice
And bony hands
The way you grouped your fingers
At your mouth
And your big off-center teeth
I loved the way you got into your car
Like a grown up with limbs too long
The way you walked into the grocery store
As awkward as a Muppet’s legs
You and your rail thin body
And old man’s clothes
I loved your shoes
The blue One Stars
And green Vans
I loved the way you couldn’t look me in the eye
The way you never took your hat off in three years
And wore glassed on your tiny head
We were children in our grown up bodies
So we went to parks at midnight
And climbed fences in schoolyards
I loved that you still skated at twenty-two
That you liked stickers and sugary Kool-Aid
I loved that you cut my hair
And painted pictures
I only saw once
That you watched G-Force
And lent me taped episodes
Even more, I loved your music
The ones you loved
You gave me Dinosaur Jr.
And the Wedding Present
You read James Joyce and
Introduced me to Holden Caulfield
(Your secret alias)
Your random letters
And indirect thoughts
I overlooked your snobbery
Your cruel remarks
I hoped to be as good as I saw you
Exclusive and without remorse
I loved the way you resisted me
I loved that you spoke to me for hours
On the telephone
I loved you then
For leaving me without apology
For digging this pit in my heart
For watching with me
The train pass deafening loud
And fingers clenched on the chain fence
You said it made you feel empty
I loved you for those words
For hating my poetry
And ridiculing my insecurities
I loved you
I know you did not understand
You thought me unimaginative
I thought you good and hateful and real
I loved you for the tiny things
Like smelly car fresheners
And emails about diluting ice
But you gave the most unkind cut
Words of detest and spite
You, who loved cartoons and butter tortillas
You did not love me
You repulsed at my weakness
Without remorse or hesitation
You broke clean of me
And I was left with your letters
And musical taste
Left with the emptiness of passing trains
Bootleg copies of foreign films
A heart gouged and affected
Left with these descriptive words
And useless opinions
This is to be your last poem
The last time I love you this way
The last of you haunting me
The last conclusion in these memories
But you knew then what my honesty was
A moment’s passing thought
You thought my sentiment cheap
I know now, you were so wrong

8-25-99
Originally published in The Long Beach Union (CSULB), 3-20-00
Also appeared in Healing the Heart of Ophelia, 2001