A Portfolio of Poetry (2015)

Awash

Solemnly I stroll through my front door,

my forearms throbbing from the weight

of two dozen grocery bags

because two trips is unacceptable.

The house music is blaring,

the carpets are stained,

the trashcan is leaking,

The kegerator is tapped –

God help us all.

My donation to the cause is fifty cent two liters –

Publix brand will have to do,

My feeble attempt at being a gracious host.

My Hobbit hole reeks of chronic and cheap beer.

I play Eye Spy with the half-empty liquor handles

my stomach churns at the sight of Everclear

I grab my trusted Wild Turkey

 because I like the way that label says 101 Proof.

I walk by the dames making their way

to the bathroom to snort their paychecks away,

I wink and smile because they’re easy on the eyes.

I crank up the jukebox classics

to drown out the party

echoing throughout the house.

I sit back with my legs crossed

turning words into poetry and prose.

The lawn is plentiful

with gossip and crude jokes,

conversations about life and world events

are burrowed in the mulch.

I hate their prison tattoos

and Celtic crosses.

Their personalities are as fake as their ID’s.

They turn their heads like confused puppies

at the sight of John Milton and Gandhi’s words

tattooed on my skin,

As the ashtray fills with a herd of Camels

my face is buried in my laptop.

As I put the garnish on the last stanza

I suffocate my cigar and arise too hastily,

my head becomes a merry-go-round.

I walk the plank,

I drown in the pool,

my head in the clouds

as the chlorine burns my eyes, I ponder:

“I envy these people,

I loathe these people,

Am I pompous

or is better not?”

2. The Barstool

 

I despise clubs.

I loathe the blinking lights,

Praise Jesus I’m not epileptic.

The booming house music gives me the spins

And the spins piss me off.

I roll my eyes while echoing “excuse me” to no avail

As my buzz gets killed

at the thought of trading an Alexander Hamilton

for a Crown on the Rocks;

It’s like drinking salt water

to quench your thirst.

I hate the weak pour almost as much

as I hate the douche who poured it.

I murmur, “fuck the tip,”

As I make my escape

From this wretched place.

 

I frolic to my safe haven,

The bar.

There’s just something about sitting in a barstool

Adding to my Instagram followers

And greeting familiar faces

with bear hugs

and slaps on the ass,

As I order another round of cervezas.

I sink in my seat,

Like it’s the warm spot in my bed.

 

I don’t smoke,

But my confidant Jack Daniels

Begs me to reconsider.

I give little resistance,

Soon waving a white flag.

As I follow in the footsteps

Of the Marlboro Man,

I grin like a child,

Opening a fresh pack of Pokemon cards.

 

I’ve evolved to a renaissance man in my drunken stupor.

The pretty ladies and I exchange smiles

And my gaze lingers up and down,

I cannot discern

if beer goggles are in full effect.

Overdraft protection is worth

the sight of a flat stomach

and shorts too short to understand

And I let my silver tongue

Do the rest.

 

3.  The Locker

 Here the game is waiting where

Time tends to frail resolve.

In this room are cagefighters from all walks of life,

Firm men who know nothing else,

Educated men who let their degrees collect dust,

Women fighters who have never heard of conformity,

Us all playing roulette with omnipotence and failure.

Even the hardest falter,

Their demeanors change with the minutes,

Their minds become a strange adversary.

 

I think about my human canvas

Waiting in the other room

As my fists are wrapped

In each hand is a four ounce paintbrush

He will be my canvas.

I am the predator,

My target is marked

Around him I imagine bull’s eyes and crosshairs

 

I bake under the lights,

As I wait at the locker room door,

Bouncing up and down,

Heeding the green light,

Waiting to make pain pretty

To create my Sistine Chapels

 

I do not fear the bottom of the bottle

The silver medals and hard knocks

Staring at the ceiling through clouded haze

This is the risk I take,

The revolver’s barrel stares into my temple

And I pull the trigger swinging

 

 4. The Parlor

 There is something about sitting in that leather throne that

revolves time and again like a sun dial.

I dread and love that cringe when my bare skin touches the cold black.

Futilely I attempt to hide my grin as I hear the motor run

and the needle stabs unremittingly,

as it spreads from ear to ear I think of the pain that is bittersweet,

A blissful agony that I endure for hours on end.

 

I am the architect fixed on my blueprint coming to life.

Black ink above all, I have this in common with squids.

I watch in nervous glee as the arduous procedure unfolds before me,

as I see how my pain is made pretty.

The beasts eat away at my flesh, first the lion, then the hyenas, then the vultures –

the outline, the shading, the highlighting.

 

My sculptor requires breaks of three-hundred seconds and two Cowboy Killers

while my doctor is pepper keeping me on a twenty ounce high for my toll change.

I hate the grease that congeals my fresh stamp,

I feel like a car getting an oil change.

Underneath the saran wrap my skin is raw and sore,

something like a steak being tenderized

Countless have adorned this throne for the price of discomfort and a swarm of bee stings,

In return to be a breathing Mona Lisa.

 

 

5. Voicemail

 I borrowed your car last night

And went out in hopes of finding a warm body.

A Budweiser turned into rounds

Of Fireball,

A bummed cigarette became

An ash mound.

 

The bartender couldn’t pour

To save her life,

But I succumbed

To her seductress ways –

She got a better tip than she deserved,

But I extorted her for her ten numerals.

 

I bought a peanut butter burger –

Yes, they exist;

In my drunken stupor

I couldn’t find your Acura

In the parking garage,

So I took a cab instead,

Then ran out on it –

I needed the exercise.

 

I waved a white flag to the ZZZ’s before

I could shower; I’m heading to work smelling

Like a chimney and well whiskey.

I might have borrowed some money as well,

I owe you my next paycheck –

Check your wallet…

And I think I left the oven on, can you check?

That’s my bad.

6. Writer’s Fee

It took hundreds of hours

of darkness

a saga of red-hot mood

swings

three-fourths of Starbuck’s

carte du jour

more than a few dozen

7&7’s

the discomfiture of Publix’s wine vendor knowing me by my first

name

the ardent parrying of the unyielding writer’s

block

a string of texts in all caps because I write better in a computer chair than I do in a

barstool

my dog’s health because she gets a bone instead of a walk when I’m in the writing

zone

and a never-ending cycle of carpal

tunnel

to write this god damn

poem

7. Whiskey Fever

Seagram’s Seven when I’m feeling generous

Evan Williams because it’ll put hair on my chest

Jack Daniels when the night is young

Southern Comfort when I’m ankle deep in beach sand

Jameson to compliment me pub lads’ Guinness and Bailey’s

Jim Beam when I’m trying to make a dollar out of fifteen cents

Crown Royal when I want quality over quantity

Maker’s Mark when I want the world to know true class

Wild Turkey every other night

because I like how that label

says 101 proof

a crystal tumbler

a few cubes

a strong pour

of caramel color

because 1oz.

is unsatisfactory

Ginger ale

or Coca-Cola

Publix brand is better

than nothing

A blue flame

a searing cherry

smoke ring tributes

to Tolkien’s Gandalf

A V-cut for that

hand-rolled Macanudo

so I can chew the end

as I relish the taste

but hold the torch

I like to use a wooden match

ode to Hellboy’s Tom Manning

I sit back with

my legs crossed

the perfect combination

not quite euphoria

but a silver medal isn’t always bad

I call it whiskey fever

because one drink doesn’t quite do the trick

but when the morning rolls around

sick is the only word that sticks

8. Andrew Jacksons

 I’m sorry

I took eighty dollars

out of your wallet

all in twenties

 

I can’t remember what

I spent it on

but remember

it was plenty

 

but I’m sure

it was

positively

worth the risk

 

because I knew

you’d find out

and in time I’d feel

your fists

9. Just To Let You Know

 

I forgot to walk

the dog

before I left

for work

but I made

 

the coffee

it’s hazelnut

I used

the last of the creamer

there was only enough

for one

10. AFTERHOURS

Eight:

Craft Beer.

Cigar Smoke.

Eight-Ball Pool. My

Brothers in Arms. Our

Pin-Up Girls. The

Sportstown Billiards

Ten:

Boiled Peanuts.

Neon Beer Signs.

Steel-tip Darts.

Arcade Air Hockey.

Jukebox takes a George Washington, gives

“Ring of Fire” and “Country Boy”.

Three:

Philly Cheesesteaks.

Pretzels N’ Mustard.

Jell-O Shots.

Laundry List Tab.

Three-Thirty:

Hopped Curb.

Flat Tire.

Cracked Rim.

Hazard Lights.

Four:

Mom’s Silent Anger.

Dad’s Life Lectures.

Tow Truck.

Head Low.

Eight-Thirty:

Hangover.

Nine-Hour Shift.

Overdraft Benjamin Franklins.

Never Again.

 

11. Cherry Tree

 

I hopped over auntie’s fence

to steal a piece

of her cherry pie

cooling on the windowsill

that I smelled from next door.

 

The first bite was so sweet I thought

of Pooh Bear’s honey pot,

yet tart my face squirmed in pleasant pain.

So moist it melts as I munch away,

my lips smack as I take bites too big,

I save the crust for last as

I dispute seconds and thirds.

 

I was scared now,

Santa would think I’m naughty,

but still I licked

my hands clean,

as I slowly savored the claret juice.

I’d finish my broccoli for your garnets,

maybe even cauliflower.

I relish the taste as I wipe my face

as if I could hide the evidence.

 

I made sure to thank your cherry tree.

The smell of morning dew,

the cold of sleet

on my bare feet

as I tiptoed across

the wet grass

that slid so simply between

my toes.

 

I brushed my hair out of my eyes

and stood on my tiptoes

reaching, as I

pressed against the tree,

sullying my overalls

and climbed the first branch.

Stuffing my pockets full

of these rubies

and made my escape.

 

 

12. A Muse

 

The voice said, Look me in the eye 8

and tell me God’s honest truth, sons of Adam 11

and daughters of Eve, 5

of all wars’ carnage, lovers lost, lives mislaid 9

was evil created 4

or did we make it? 5

 

 

13. Under the Lights

 

I am not samurai,

Nor am I an immortal,

I am not a soldier,

I am a modern-day cage-fighter.

Training,

Sweating,

Bleeding, willingly,

For this moment that will define me.

 

The cage door closes and locks

Like a gate behind a gladiator entering a coliseum.

The crowd roars and applauds

At the battle waiting to ensue.

My opponent glares,

I grin as

I run my hand

Across the black coated mesh.

In this cage I fear

No man.

I will be punched,

I will be kicked,

Bloodied,

Battered,

I will reply with vengeance

Every time.

We lock stares,

As they announce our “Tale of the Tape”

His fists clench,

My smile widens,

He paces back and forth,

Not breaking his gaze upon me.

I stamp my feet at the echo of my name.

 

I fight because I come alive

Under the lights, that beam down upon me as

The audience becomes silent.

The referee asks us, one at a time, “Are you ready?”

I nod,

He nods,

The bell rings

And we clash in the center of the octagon.

When the smoke clears

He will remember my name.

 

14. Wanderer

 

Wandering,

but not quite lost.

Beaten,

but not quite broken.

Starved,

but not quite hungry.

Guilty,

but not quite sorry.

Crazy,

but not quite mad.

 

Down in the dumps,

the razors follow me closely.

Overdraft,

Andrew Jacksons in the wind.

Knives in the dark,

yet my sword is sheathed.

My will is running on empty,

I bend the knee to the unknown.

I am a wanderer,

chained to a blank map.

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