A YEAR UNDER A RESTRAINING ORDER
…A work in progress
Whispering Hope
we’ve all prayed

we don’t call it that

not with fingers crossed

but we talk with ourselves

sometimes in tears alone

in laughter to savor the

moment and is there an in-

box to all those prayers how

full would it be and 

we sing songs and it helps

a troubled soul with the mystery

we all feel at once

untitled
I’m doing something wrong right now

I just don’t know it

sometimes I know and I

still do it wrong but to who

am I accountable if the mistake is

premeditated and really all the countless

things I do that could be right 

or could be wrong it is my knowledge

which makes it so… and yours too

but it doesn’t add up that way

in fact put enough people together

and no one’s wrong except 

the person who says they’re right

so in a way this really isn’t

a bad poem–at least not

that I’m aware of

a picture’s worth…
she was sitting on the floor

when I dropped off the girls

from school on my way to work

her legs out in front of her

looking at pictures from our marriage.

Delilah quickly undressed and ate

a Jonathon apple on the new couch

while Bell found the DVD slideshow 

she made of our wedding photos 

set to an instrumental of Pink Floyd’s 

“wish you were here”.  I put it in 

the PlayStation for her it didn’t take long

to watch laughter and comments 

to the pictures as they passed 

on the screen…  In some of the

photos we looked happy

the children at various ages

in our arms different places–

Montana Texas New Orleans 

her hair always different.

I’m pretty much always

holding a beer or a cigarette

or both.  sometimes I wish

my eyes were on a different face…

I went to work what else

could I do the DVD ready again

for Bell to press play and tonight

when I go home the pictures

won’t be there but they gave me

a moment and they say a moment

of realization is worth a thousand

prayers

sempre libera 
I used to like overtures to operas

in high school I’d go to the mall

to the music store and buy 99 cent

tapes the popular ones at first like

Tannhauser but I didn’t go for

German opera much not Wagner

not Beethoven not Mozart (Austrian really but 

who cares) I liked the Italian opera

Verdi and Rossini and it followed

in college in New Orleans they offered

an evening intro to opera class

where you just sat in the theatre

the lights out a full movie screen with

sub-titles surround sound and we watched

The Magic Flute by Ingmar Bergman–

it sounded like God… it was on Wednesdays 

and I called it Wednesday wino night because

I walked up to the corner of Broadway

and Claiborne and bought cheap wine–

Night Train, Ripple, Thunderbird–the kinda 

wine that works good as a paint-thinner

but anyway I digress the fact of

the matter I listen to opera now

as much as I play golf so Bukowski

can shove his Shostakovich up 

his ass I know the fucker wouldn’t know

what to do on a back road which is why

fine writers need to get out of cities 

and get lost somewhere it’s good 

sometimes to get lost and scared

out in nature with no man-made signs

to take a narrow un-paved road where 

you don’t know where it leads to be by yourself 

with no assurances so when you find 

the highway and turn the radio 

on and you tune into classical

music you know when it’s La

Traviata the end of Act One

a writer writes
so all I have to do

is finish act 3 and be

done with it the structure

simple enough a boy acting

as RA helps someone on his dorm 

floor in college with an attempted

suicide after taking a bong hit

of spice a girl (interested in

him of course) acting as

intermediary in his call 

to action while he meanwhile

shows an on-line infatuation

for girl in New York who offers

him a job to do some coding 

on one of her latest painting

projects all he knows of her

what’s on social media–her 

Facebook posts–that’s the plot

but I don’t write in plots

I need an idea to talk about first

sometimes it comes from reading

other writers but the best lines come

when you hear them in your head

almost like there’s someone else

there and it takes years to learn

to discern but only a moment to listen… 

anyway when I’m done with act 3 there’s 

still 3 more stories to Catadoupe and last

night I found my ninth cat–he comes 

to her at night when she sits on her 

back stoop smoking my weed all black

yellow eyes a bad hip but he likes

to be petted and she calls him Tom–

act 3 then 3 more stories to write

but sometimes it’s so much better up

there in my head before I type it

with my fingers it’s mine for a moment

without the silence of judgment

and the loud noise of my own

failed expression

Event Horizon
you don’t know unless you go inside

then you don’t know if you’ll ever

get out because I used to find it

hard sometimes to see the truth

as beautiful, but simply–it is…

a couple weeks ago on Pornhub

I saw her daughter had made

a sex tape with her boyfriend

I assume it’s him you don’t see his face

he just holds the camera on the phone

they have a baby son together

and I’m not sure when it was made

says it was posted three weeks ago

by a SexyYennifer and it was featured

two weeks ago when I saw it

she of course confronted them

over the phone or by text I imagine

and they just laughed it off calling

it their hubble double but of course

very curious to see it to see if it looks

like her I told them to look under the title:

incredibly passionate sex with a

beautiful girl–obviously a girl posted it

and she directed it as well very careful

to only show herself at certain angles

never showing her full body or the possible

stretch marks from having the baby

and it was actually quite tedious not

very passionate at all maybe they did it 

to spice things up maybe it was recorded 

a long time ago but my ex-wife said

it wasn’t her it just looked like her 

it wasn’t the same mouth but I know

those eyes she has her mother’s eyes

so I said okay it still makes a good story 

how she was propositioned to make

a sex tape when she was young

and what makes a girl wanna post 

that of herself shit it’s so prevalent 

all you gotta do is say “free porn” 

to a smartphone and it just pops up

back in the day you had to sneak

looks from the magazine racks

I’m glad I don’t have a son

but I have two daughters and I

knew her daughter since she was

a little girl before she lived with

her dad at sixteen what if they 

make a sex tape to see that

the sad psychic shock… but

just like this post the story I might write

of it this poem–it won’t have over a 

million views and hell all I really did

was maybe just boost her post…

and what sucks you in is not gravity

for not even the light can escape–

no, what brings you there and makes

you stay there is your own frozen

pride your vanity alone

made smaller and smaller

staring back into the past

(why my ex-wife thinks she’s saved

and looks forward to church on Sundays

while she smokes my weed living solely

on food stamps and child support)
yesterday I spoke my mind 

and she paraded me out 

in front of my children in an

apartment I pay rent for… if 

there’s anything that turns us away

from God it’s looking at each other

with our own eyes and not seeing

what God sees but this we have to

imagine and we call it faith and what 

we see with faith we call love

and that all sounds real nice

until somebody who loves you

hates you which is merely a matter

of timing…  hatred is practical in how

it erases everything you loved about

the person before and I don’t know

why we have to bring God into it

like some sort of referee because

if there’s one thing I’ve learned

from my children you can’t have 

a game if you don’t play by the rules

but everybody makes up their own

rules when it comes to God and love

and loss and unless you side with 

the devil obviously you know 

which side God’s on and maybe

that puts it all in order for you

when you settle your affairs

and you pray for your enemies

at night–pray for them to quit

drinking… but who said salvation 

is a comparison?

GDP
speaking in strains not

in economics though I heard

our town is opening a medical

marijuana dispensary employing up 

to a dozen workers good news

for those with cards but i didn’t hear 

about that until after what i saw 

on my way to the launder mat 

the mailman walking up my street 

with a large white parcel in his bag.

i was going to put my clothes in

the dryer, and i said to myself, Hmm

and proceeded the few blocks to the 

launder mat where two cop cars

were in the parking lot.  i drove by

slowly, and again I said to myself, Hmm 

and drove back to my place sure enough 

the white parcel in my box return address 

from Washington–top shelf Granddaddy

Purple frosty in the light–165 an oz.

i threw away the mylar and vacuum

packaging taking a quick hit

from the bong before going back

to the launder mat the cops gone

but an irate black woman with an extra

wide ass talking down her man

while washing pillow sheets and

upholstery–something about he lost

his job…  i just pulled my clothes

out of the dryer while i heard him

sitting in a massage chair a recorded

female voice saying repeatedly, 

Please Insert Money.  last i saw

of him he was walking across the

street to the Dollar General… i

went home rolled a fat one

and finalized the order on Abraxas, 

releasing the bitcoin funds 

to the vendor.  as for feedback i said, 

top shelf bud at a midgrade price 

and fast shipping (it was marked

as shipped on Columbus day) i also said

i almost want to keep it a secret

but then nothing real is ever kept

a secret it’s just not profitable just like 

where I heard about the marijuana 

dispensary– economies need their  

Scheherazade…

Stoned Blind Love
I look and you tell me

what you want I don’t 

have to look closely

and see myself but

I try to tell you that I 

matter when all of us

do stilled by the ancient 

waves of greed and fear 

and what you don’t regret

erodes the rock of last

grasped reflections fused 

by the sun and hourglass

the passing gravity

in every grain of sand

And Hell Followed With Him
yesterday we went on a walk

between pounds hollow and

rim rock after a hike through

the garden of the gods the mist

rising up around the rocks in

a light rain the colored leaves

falling all around us in the wind

and just before ox-lot cave we

heard a snapping noise and I 

thought it was behind us but

then I saw her scream Move!

as the rotted limb of a tree branch

high above us on the rock face

made heavy by the rain fell the

dry dust of its diameter at least

four inches the length several

feet and I had no time to look up

helpless as the pieces of wood

fell on my children in moments

that just seconds before had been

peaceful reflections of the forest

I try to protect Bell as more wood

fell but a branch glances off her arm

a limb lands on Delilah’s back the

cries of pain come… luckily we are

not alone other people hear our

children cry saw what happened

the panic passes the injuries minor

but we turn around and wonder on

the walk back did it happen for a

reason fathoming all kinds of

scenarios as the rain comes down harder

maybe twenty years from now Bell

will hear that sound the recognition

giving her the half second to save

her youngest child from certain

death or maybe it was just a few

distractions in our day that made us

arrive that moment in the path

anyway we go to pizza hut and I

feel like a wet dog from the woods

but my children are alive if bruised

they are in my bed now and now

if I could get rid of the fleas from

getting rid of the cats life would be

good but then everything is

significant you just can’t hold on

to it you have to let it flow through 

you and try not to go insane

requiem for a dream
as you get older there is

no crisis only acceptance

and extraction but there is

no sadder thing than seeing

a woman get old the hollow

shell of her former self

succumbing to the symptoms

of a drug-induced psychosis

just to fit in a red dress again

no help from the protocols

of our mental institutions

curling in the fetal position

to cope and when you see it

all you can do is cry

and hold one another

always depending on the

kindness of strangers

over the delusion and 

deprivation what gets lost

in screams under water

and catatonic eyes waiting

at the bus stop on your way

back home

be careful of something that’s just what you want it to be
and it’s not about profit

some say it’s the smart people ain’t nice

now why is that?

Bukowski said go all the way

where the feasts are promised

Shit…

I’ve lived with my mom

as the father of two girls

lived with bugs in places

so roach-infested they swarmed

everytime I made a pot of coffee

bankrupt, divorced, at 38 all my belongings

could fit in a Ford Fiesta on high interest–

that’s as far as I went and I still live

on an American diet

never cared about the money til I didn’t have it

then I saw a price to the poem

got a job as a civil servant

and began to repay my debts

all the time talking to myself though, figuring, keeping score:

8 books roughly 2600 pages around 750,000 words

I’m 39 now and that’s what I got

just about beat Shakespeare and

about half way to the big dogs of the last century–

need about 16 books roughly 5200 pages around 1.5 million words

Faulkner got there at 62

Hemingway, Steinbeck almost

and Kerouac burned like a Roman Candle–got there at 47…

but what does it profit a man?

what does it profit me?

a smart man knows

the measure of a man’s happiness

are the limits of others and

God wouldn’t it be nice if

someone just took a look at you

knew your soul with immeasurable

pity and love and understanding–

that’s what we want

to be loved for who we are

herein lies the catch

adjudicating cleverness

because something somewhere

made us all and who you are

to be loved we make ourselves

yes something somewhere made

all of us but without judgment

so that our victories and defeats are

at the hands of each other

and this all of this

merely to prove something

to prove how smart you are

and that’s about as dumb as it gets

the victories the defeats

makes you almost want to say:

ah the hell with it I’ll just get fat

and sing the blues…

the truth is we all want something sacred

I’ll be 40 soon

and whatever made and loved and pitied me

keep me from touching it any further

TO CHRISTIANS
so the phone rings

but the person to cover it

is off getting a flu shot…

you know when jesus

got angry it was
fundamental
we sing and we hear

and it’s all fine talk
even the church has been

contemporized into The

american dream
may the Lord bless you

and you could almost cry

about how good you are

you follow all the rules

well, at least most

of them
all that to save it cheaper

on a trash bag… ya boy

and do you really plead

dumb or just leave it

for the other person to fix?
every trap effective is simple

and every reverse trap is

simpler still and so he said
i will make you fishers

of men… but if you go

to the poor even they know

God don’t like ugly and 

there are many dead

who think they’re born again
and so the devil laughs

at his existence

and who is God for the heart 

is a lonely hunter is it that mute man 

who listens only to commit suicide 

some say it was Robinson

Jeffers or maybe Ingmar Bergman

no no you got it all wrong man

keep it simple to the masses

it was Elvis Mr. Mojo Risin’ that first

time you heard the white album

and saw Van Gogh in a song

and maybe none of us have time 

for that sermon on the mount

listening to our wallets

too busy harried overwhelmed even

in finding something authentic but really

when we compare daddies

none of them talk back

when they’re dead

the deer hunter
i saw it and didn’t understand

then i saw it when i bought

a big screen tv and i still

did not understand so flipping

channels last night after

work at the VA

i watched again a man

crying in hospital pajamas

when the doctor asks him his parent’s

names discharged to oriental

streets where no one answers

the phone and prostitutes turn tricks

in front of their children

and gunshots call to back parlor games

of russian roulette– he was a good

man wounded and given the right 

nudges and like a soldier 

he missed his friends…

i didn’t watch the rest what no one

understands about coming

home after coming to yourself

in a dark wood where

the straight way is lost

i was hungry and source code

was on fx

supersize me
there’s gotta be a math

to how much you’ll pay

for what you’re already

getting but you want

just a little bit more.

ritz crackers with peanut butter
maybe I forgot to mention 

there’s birdshit in the bottom

of my mailbox so when the

mailman comes he tries to

close the lid even when I 

have parcels of weed but

the bird droppings are still

there just like the terror and

the trap that we know what

we can’t possibly know and 

have come back as gods

with the knowledge of eden

and we act on this almost as if

the expression matters even

when no one you know hears

and the crumbs stick to the

roof of your mouth

writers block
so many things i could

write about
like the daywrecker lollipops

arrived perfectly in the mail

on Halloween–155 mg of THC

in lemon and tangerine
the difference in a body high

and when it hits the head
cerebral mellifluence

forgetting by the world forgot

     and so i ask myself
why put it down?

for is the expression heard

did it reach you

did it engage your mind?
truth is it’s not Halloween anymore

nor All Soul’s Day

nor All Saint’s Day

and Veteran’s Day has passed
but my car door still ain’t fixed

and i still might have flea eggs

and it’s time to get a new badge

      at work–fingerprinted again

      and a new picture of myself
three years of my time to the VA
but what else in those 3 years?

the psalmist was finished

catadoupe is 350 pages

not that numbers mean anything

in the measure of quality

      

      but break it down

      day by day
I write and

I share and

I rely on metrics

to tell me someone’s listening

but when the phone rings

it’s always a telemarketer

and you can read my mail

the money goes out that way

it doesn’t come in
so why should i do it?

to prove something?

to who?

myself?
i used to never understand

why writers were seduced by

the bottle so many words

to forget you said so much time

spent alone but i know

i’ll look back on my life

with no regrets for the work

no doubts that it’s good

and i’ll drink not

because justice wasn’t done

but because justice isn’t

     for if i ever heard

     my voice come back

     to me
i still wouldn’t like

the way it sounded

the bite of the tarantella
it makes sense that ugliness

is proud in how it can handle

itself-its-Being
you see your beauty 

marred in the mirror by it

when you walk away

with last words

for yourself

to greet the day
those things

you tell yourself, but
tell me–

when was the last time

you hurt because you hurt?
when was the last time

you thought of your old mother

the tears your dead father cried

a child discovering they’re alone?
dissatisfaction with your

position or your place

is a matter of who you’re lined

up with at the moment

but what will you do

to be picked to win?
many atrocities are committed

because it’s comfortable

or rather 

I’d rather you be

uncomfortable

not me
and like a child fading in the mirror

we leave what we cannot control

we leave father mother

and one day a lover will remember

gossamer strings are seen

especially in calm clear weather

floating tiresomely

in the convulsing colored background

of what’s condemned to fall

la forza del destino
shit

not a bad day so far

i woke up at 6:11

with my children

and spoke to them softly

to open their eyes
dropped them off with the ex

at work at 7 an outpatient

blood draw at 8:15

but other than that a quiet day

in the lab
wrote a poem

excused myself for a bad

contact and a short commute

home on the back porch

drank a beer
came back wrote another

poem in time for lunch

fuck it let the type and screen

sit no wax in the mail

but i made fresh cartridges

drank two more beers
took a few hits from the bong

not sure which strain

could be the dutch treat or

the sfv og kush not as 

sticky as when it came in the mail

and you may wonder why
i talk so prevalently about

underground activities as a

government employee and it’s because

at around 2:57 i’ll walk out

of here and unless i see my children

nothing visceral will come

of this poem and besides i just
spilled piss on my glove from

a could be pregnant veteran

but she wasn’t

raise no more devils than you can lay down
nostalgia can come alone

or with someone maybe after

you have children it’s easy

to forget that sixteen candles

sort of feeling of being unnoticed

not important… you say

hix calix and pass on

the mantle of histrionics 

mixed with hormones

remembering now how
they say nothing burns

in hell except the self

and shyness is a form

of pride for if you feel

like no one notices you

you’re obviously noticing

yourself then
this too passes

so when you wake up

on a Sunday morning

the darkness already gone

but the dream-like quality

still there you play your part

in the peepshow ready

to perform as soon as 

somebody puts a coin in
is there something going on

when the lights are out and

the curtains closed?

when the stone has not

been lifted?

am i only alive

when you read me?
it’s a pity i have such low

self-esteem but it’s how

the writing gets done

and if all you think i’m doing

is selling my panties

for a sniff maybe you need

another roll of quarters

like fish in a barrel
i went to tulane university

on an AFROTC scholarship

in physics

i double-majored in

mathematical economics

i think i had about a 3.3 GPA

i was good at math

but didn’t excel in it

half the time i showed up

still drunk for class

it costs over sixty grand a year

to go there now (that’s about

what i make in a year if you

count my VA disability)

my military assignment

was classified but i

quickly drank myself

out of that

i wrote my first book 

when i was 25

i finished Lazarus

just before my 33rd birthday

i’m forty now and you can say

i’ve written about 8 books

depending how you look at it

do you count the children’s stories?

the original Salted with Salt?

maybe since Lazarus and The Psalmist

are both over 700 pages they count

for the picture books and revisions… anyway

i have no student loans and i’ve made

less than a hundred dollars in royalties

the past 18 years, and oh i have

two daughters…

so when i show up for doughnuts

at work on a Sunday morning 

i’m the only one at the breakroom table

with a private education and a few

novels under my belt and if there’s

one thing i’ve learned in all my travels

people only see differences

in a good way

when you’re dead

and what they don’t understand

is quickly understood how they

can understand it and really

only stupidity asserts itself…

so what i’ve found if

i shoot straight 

you assimilate

and pretend to never be the bait

and then they say you’re just

like us and they’ve got you

the only true measure

whether the water

has salt in it or not

the standard model
you see we try to fit things

in our measurement

but the bell theorem

states an inequality

about local realism

does it collapse

to our consciousness

or is there a counterfactual

definiteness

but whether you ascribe

to a Copenhagen interpretation

or think of many worlds

there’s still a spooky action

at a distance

the sad thing we don’t know

how to communicate

information by it

with relativity making

any sense

but I used to have

a pickup truck

and dialectics

come by the dozen

and when it comes

to gravity and my penis

all I gotta say

is hubba hubba hubba hey

run with the hunted
I must eat and clothe

myself and I need

shelter from the storm

by the sweat of my brow

and you must labor

the rules of civilization

saying I must shake

hands while making

eye contact 

but all I want to do

is howl

outlaw women
should I talk about Rosie

who saw plenty of dinkers

in her day running the bars

of east Texas how she raised

my ex wife waking up cursing

how she lives with one

of her sons now a pill

habit the constipation

a chore Jake the grandson

dead on a overdose and

Ellie her liver shot trying

to raise her daughter’s son

because she can’t get off

the heroin and so like

evolutionary algorithms

in a computer the generations

self-optimize learning how

they’re built but awareness

doesn’t help for the

father in between

today revisited yesterday
Mephistopheles met Methuselah

in the Quick-E Mart the other day

and like one old man to another

they discuss their bids on eBay

‘it’s a beautiful world’

‘it’s a wonderful life’

they say plangent and sincere

‘been a while since I’ve seen you here’

and not sure what else to say

not sure what either has become

it’s regular kismet when

they reach for the same

brand of chewing gum

Oedipus wrecked
the sun and breeze

right i thought

what is the sum

of me and how do i

express it

but all i could think about

was the sick shit

i had this morning

the gray clay kind

cherry red with my blood

and i look back unsalted

to an idea of a sweet

innocent boy

and wonder what the

hell happened

what protects me now

the lost honor 

of what i watch

die every day

so when i have those

beer shit blues

i crack open another

word problem

and i never come down

even when in the end

a woman becomes

a mother

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