Read: Carlos Williams

Failed Lullaby in 6 Open Letters

Dear mother of mine I am writing to you
from the edge of the world
and of sleep, of sleep

Dear lover of mine, drunk and dreaming of you
with my head in the kitchen sink
my sink

Dear Shoplifter in the junkyard of myth,
I am learning to play the entire alphabet of instruments for you
Because I cannot reconstruct smell
and anything less than the scent of the book she left you
       how it reeks like she rubbed every page on her neck or traced her fingers along
       each line like she was thinking of your thousands of hands
would be an insult to you
I hope at least to be able to clumsily strum and blow out the sound of her ankles popping
as she galloped down the stairs and away from your apartment
or the rattling of her bike chains waning into
a bed away from you

Dear Tiny Little Nocturne Sewer,
Your pillow case should be a buffet of sleepless nights and failed lullabies
Instead, it doesn’t reek of anything but your own spittle
Shit, even the t-shirt you lent out smells less like a girl and more like your backpack

The types of magic tricks we teach each other are the up-the-sleeve
or behind-your-ear kind of deals
Sleight of hand
Tricky angle
Go ahead and keep the quarter
The last time I used a payphone
I had just woken up from a dream
and I needed to hold somebody

I lived in a city where I had to pay to talk to silence.
Nobody picked up on the other end of the line
Everything vibrated like an insect trap.

Dear Town Crier in the Province of the Brothers Grimm and Mother Goose,
You howl like a dog but only the wolves come for you

Dear Dancer with the bladed skirt and wrists of bells,
Thank you for making me feel as small as a story I will never tell anybody

The Gud Word

*As inspired through conversations with Steve Subrizi, poet and musician. *

“A bird in the hand is worth a gift horse in the mouth”, dad used to tell me.

“Don’t send all your eggs to hell in one hand basket”

“If you can’t stand the heat then don’t spill the beans.”

“Don’t count your chickens before a fool and his money.”

“Practice makes old habits die hard.” Dad would often say, staring into the half dark, fixing his martini.

“Girlfriend trouble, huh? Well, there are plenty of fish in the sea running around like chickens with their heads cut off.”

“Liquor before beer and you’re early to bed, which is good to remember because the early bird gets the tequila worm. Don’t look at me like that. Its 5’o clock somewhere so get to school, you’re late.”

“Drastic times call for drinking like a fish.”

“If at first you don’t succeed, join ‘em.”

“Two’s company, but misery loves your mother.”

“I work like a dog for 9 and a half hours a day and – hey! Don’t walk away from me!”

“I may be 3 sheets to the wind but you’re adopted!” he’d often say, before staring at the truck like it was some beautiful stork ready to bring him back home.

Frenetic Bird Rustler

Last night I fell off the Tequila Horse
Wild beasts waving streamers the color of flat brass and tired saxophones
bucked about the festive ruins of my living room
Everybody dressed in smoke and soaked their hair in
bass lines that were too tight to wind their waists up into

Last night I fell off the Tequila Horse and
if the judges for the blind and armless rodeo coulda seen me
they woulda handed me the buckle for “Toughest Buckaroo” right then and there
Me and the Cymbal Crasher kids
kept kissing the floor till the blood ran out and dried.
The walls were forgettable, so
me and the Spanish Bulls kept havin’ to reintroduce ourselves to them
until the bumper cars grew up

I remember wanting it all to hurt
I didn’t want the tender patching of bruises
I didn’t want something the world’s greatest mom could nuzzle away
I wanted something to break
something the size of the Phantom’s grand chandelier
I wanted my heart to drop into my stomach
like a champagne colored comet

As big as your mattress
Or your ring finger

Maybe just the quiet corner of your smile
Something that wouldn’t fit for anybody else’s body
Something only you could make better

Now I inhale night through terrible morning
Now I am an obvious museum of things that do not work

The featured exhibit is a collection of three birds
that have nested in my throat

One is a yellow miner’s canary
who grew up in a rough neighborhood and got into drugs at a pretty young age
Who just got stoned off the shit that was supposed to kill him and just
fell asleep on the job

There is a false alarm
nested my throat

One is a parrot who only remembers what I shouldn’t ever say
He is the loudest
He is only there to embarrass me in front of the kind people
I could learn to care about

The last one is the night owl
he does not ask “Who”
He is broken because he knows “who” so
He sings “you, you, you”
He hunts when the moon is the color of booze
The other birds sleep when he is awake so
He is the loneliest

And the moon is a painting on the ceiling of my mouth
and my mouth is a chapel
and my tongue is a nation of field mice
who pray the owl will not come for them.

But nothing in this museum works.