Right Now

Right now is Batman tying up Robin? Is Joaquin Phoenix
doing stand-up comedy? Is Elmer Fudd, a notorious
neat freak, hunting dust bunnies? Where’s Ralph Waldo
Emerson right now? Is Walt Whitman shaving his beard?

How many Willows are weeping? How many Adams
are splitting bananas? How many Jacks are changing
flat tires? Of those Jacks, how many know a jazzman?
Of those Jacks—who are changing flat tires right now
and know a jazzman—how many only date girls named Jill?

Is Forrest Gump saving Private Ryan? Is Tom Hanks telling
Matt Damon World War II wasn’t his fault? Is Ben Affleck
still a prick? No need to answer that, Batman. Of course Ben
Affleck is still a prick. Now let Robin go. He can’t feel his beak.

Remove Me From Your List

Spam. It stinks. Spam in my inbox. Spam on my blog. WordPress.
So depressed. Google stressed. Hackers. Slackers. Bad foreign actors.
Grumpy Cat phishing schemes on big screen live streams. Cease
and desist. Unsubscribe me. Count me out. Remove me from your list.

Is this spam? No, it’s a note from Jeff Bezos. Was my delivery guy nice?
Like the postman, did he ring twice? Package damaged? Bummer.
Jeff can fix it. Here, enter my Social Security number. Use both hands.
Not just the last four digits. Jeff, you little rascal, don’t share the size
of my underwear. You have nothing to gain, asking about my Hanes.
Unsubscribe me. Count me out. Remove me from your wish list.

Spam. Snail mail. Escargot. That’s precious cargo. How much is this
gonna cost me, bro? Hey Snowden! I’m no chump. Don’t document
my dumps. Don’t slam my poetry. Don’t mock my odes. Leave
my epic haiku sonnets alone. While you’re at it, untap my phone.
Unsubscribe me. Count me out. Remove me from your shit list.

Spam. It bytes. Clickbait and switch. Trojan horses on porno sites.
My eye pad WikiLeaks. Text a giant techno geek. Some whiz kid
in Belarus stole my name. Has he no shame? He must be bored.
Being me, I mean. My hard drive. My flipping floppy disks. Wiped
them clean. Unsubscribe me. Count me out. The real me, I mean.
Eating tacos in Chicago. He’s never been to Springfield, let alone Minsk.

The People I Love

Lately, I feel the need to tell
the people I love how much I love them.
The people I love need to know
I love them when they feel alone.

Lately, when I feel alone I picture
the faces of the people I love,
beautiful faces not unlike my own.
I see my reflection in the eyes
of the people I love, and I feel
more connected, less alone.

Lately, I hear the people I love
speaking to me, in my own voice.
They beg me to repeat their names
to remember they’re not alone.
Everyone has a voice, let’s not forget,
and a name, and every word we speak
contains traces of all the letters
in every name we call our own.
I love the names of the people I love.
I repeat them to myself.
I picture the people I love, in front of me now,
mouthing the letters of my name exactly
as this poem sounds.

Lately, I wonder if the people I love
hear my voice or if they simply hear
the sound of my voice, speaking directly
to their pain and suffering and joy.
I wonder if the people I love know
how much I love them, how often
they save my life, and help me survive.
I want to repeat, all at once,
all the names of all the people I love.
I want the people I love to recognize
the sound of my voice long after I lose
my voice, and my life is no longer mine alone.

Promise To Whisper

We’re living like strangers
In a house with thin walls

Loose change on the nightstand
Dust in the corner of our eyes

Let’s pause our devices
Put the kids to bed

Go downstairs quietly
And count our blessings

Let’s touch the things
We love the most

The things we’ve broken
The things we refuse to fix

Holes in the hearth
Cracks in the ceiling

Let’s share a bottle of wine
Shake the dust from our eyes

Admire the mess we make
Each day of our beautiful lives

You say come with me
I’ll say come for me

If you promise to whisper
Come here and make me

The Authentic Me

Today I’m thankful for my poetry. How carefully I choose my words. I’m thankful for readers who hear the sound of my voice and recognize the authentic me.

I’m thankful that whatever happens going forward I’ll be OK. In the context of my recovery from childhood abuse, OK means I’m safe from harm. Trauma has a way of making the whole world feel unsafe, and relief from anxiety feel impossible. But something’s changed recently. Something powerful. I feel comfortable in my own skin. After years of practicing mindfulness, I know how to soothe myself. In stressful situations I remember to slow down and catch my breath. Today I’m free to move through the world at my own pace, open to hope and creativity.

As for my abuser, fuck him. Has he published four books? What does he know about poetry?

What I Do For A Living

I make mountains out of molehills.

I help hoarders find Jesus.

I’m a tree surgeon looking to branch out.

I’m a Charlie Brown impersonator. Call me Chuck.

I’m a good grief counselor. I charge five cents.

I encourage mimes to speak their minds.

I make magicians disappear.

I tell jokes on TV. I keep it clean. I swear.

I’m a bad plumber but a great lover. My wife is always wet.

I’m a hoarse whisperer.

I inspect textbooks for double meanings and cross them out.

I count census workers and import exporters.

I arrest sketch artists and court stenographers.

I sell luxury clown cars. Draw blood. Pound sand. Raise cranes.

I greet Walmart customers in my Target uniform and say welcome to Kohl’s.

I’m an unforeseen event planner.

I cry Wolf Blitzer and shout fake news.

I’m a poet. The pay sucks. I sing the blues.