Friday, January 26, 2024


 National Championship

This is the game for all the marbles

Everyone tunes in and watches until the end

The victor gets every single marble 

Which must be carried out by hand.

One player, the captain, the hero—take your pick

Is selected to be the marble bearer.

If he drops a single marble 

The laugh track kicks in

But it’s an audio loop of walruses giggling

And no one knows what it means. 

The studio hosts, retired linebackers

Or whatever, stuffed into designer suits,

Act like they don’t see it

And go back to telestrating how

To make enormous piles of money

Without doing anything meaningful at all.

No one seems to care about the marble

So he drops the rest of them

And shotguns a beer.

Some hit the hard floor 

With a sharp ping

Like hail against

Your glass face. 

Some shatter into fragments

Of a wasted consciousness. 

Others fracture only on the inside.

Connoisseurs with monocles hold them up to

The light and write down a number

In a leather bound book.  

Only the dorks know what it means. 

Most of them end up bounding

Down the basement stairs

Into the scary cobwebby darkness

And come to rest next to empty paint cans

That should have been tossed out

With the dusty plastic trophies decades ago. 

By now, of course, everyone has stopped watching.




I never thought the things I was interested in

Would be interesting to anyone else.

I never thought of who I was 

As just a singular iteration 

Of the same thing playing out 

On the inside of everybody else 

No I was different

An impostor faking it until

I figured out what everyone else

Already seemed to know.

I never learned to dance

Or whistle or give a proper wink.

If I think too much about what I want to say

Before I say it, it comes out trembling

And the words run off to therapy. 

I’m still more afraid of what I’ve done

Than the unknown that’s surely coming.

If someone says they’re proud of me

What I hear is that they might love me 

So I can’t let them know I’m

Just another selfish ass

And deserving of total scorn.

They might stop loving me

Or worse, they wouldn’t,

Maybe pull me closer, double down,

Love me even more.

But that would feel like something else

Not love as I defined it, but different. 

I would need a new word added to the private 

Dictionary locked in the cabinet of my head

A word I would never say out loud

In front of whoever was right there 

When I started to feel it happening


Tuesday, January 23, 2024


 A Nice Game of Chess

It’s a game of chess, life.

We each get a square.

You’re my Queen.

You can do anything

But it’s a lawless game

Played according to strict tradition 

So it doesn’t even matter.

You do whatever you like

And we say, them’s the rules.

Everyone feigns

They forget how to play—

It's now two hands below the waist.

Pieces are recognizable but different.

Knights move in rococo Q's instead of L’s.

The bishops are huddled in conclave

In the corners getting ready

To release a plume of black smoke.

Kings pretend to be pawns

So they don’t get eaten.

There is no nuance 

When all the world

Is either black or white.

I play for a draw

Not because I’m a coward

I’m just bored with it, the game, all of it—

Somebody wins, somebody loses,

Blah blah blah.

I’m not interested in winning anymore

And losing just sucks. 

Stalemate is genius—

Backing yourself into a position

Of forced paralysis where 

You can’t even try to win

And it’s impossible to lose.

The best endgame is to draw

By threefold repetition.

I started it all,

Getting us into this configuration

But now it’s up to you.

You get to choose—

Either nobody wins

Or we keep dancing,

This same pointless pattern,

Check, check, check, check,

Just you and me

Trying to keep our game going 

For the rest of eternity


Tuesday, January 16, 2024


 Sea Shelling 

We all went sea shelling

But under certain conditions:

You could only leave the beach

With one shell.

By the end of the session

You had to pick one.

The rest returned to the shifting sands 

Of life’s oaken hourglass.

My son found the perfect shell,

Better than anyone else,

And don’t anyone try to deny it

While my daughter found one

With an interesting etching

Carved on its white back 

Like an old wound

From a survived attack.

My wife couldn’t choose.

She loved them all.

In the end she picked 

Without looking— a broken one 

Which she treasured and loved

Until she was dead. 

I waded out into the ocean

And was swept away in a riptide.

The kind of shells I was looking for 

Had to be alive



 Small and Insecure

I am small and insecure

Yet assert a certain feigned 

Savoir faire of the martyr

Down to the last arrow

In his quiver 

Some of it is made of plastic

Just touch me until

You find the places I can’t feel  

Some of it is made of wood.

As I get closer to the end

I’ll use it for kindling.

Some is iron 

But in all the wrong places

Just makes me feel heavy

I sink, but faster 

As for more precious metals 

I like to think I gave it all away

But no, it’s still stashed there

In the locked room where I never go 

The rest is flesh

The rest is bone


Tuesday, January 9, 2024


 True Love

Do we truly love only those 

Who perceive us as we wish to be seen?

Is love at bottom a boundless narcissism?

A nystagmic racket

A wallet with secret compartments

I bought after watching an ad

Narrated by a man with an English accent 

She sees me seeing her as the one who sees me

As I always wanted to be

Seen. Seeing her as the one 

She always wanted to be seen being

Both of us believing




There is a risk of bleeding

A risk of infection

Of dying

Anything you say 

Can and will be used

Against you 

In the court

Of arbitrary opinion

Place your hand over your heart

Face the sun

To which it stands

One nation under the influence

Of cynical fraudsters

And half hearted huggers 

O’er the ramparts we bumped

Our fists and agreed

That there are no guarantees here

That everything could go horribly wrong

Wake up with whisks

Instead of hands

Leak bile when cut

And shit blood

In the morning 

Forget your name

And never miss it

America! America!

God shat his grace

On thee

For this is your last chance

To do something 

That won’t change

What happens in the end 

And the risks outweigh 

The oughts

And the love in your heart

Might leak out

Until it’s completely empty

Nothing to fear 

You won’t die

Not from that

But I will do

The best I can

Purple mountain majesties

I promise you

Just sign here 


Sunday, January 7, 2024


 Soccer Parent Glossary

If you are on the pitch and you hear someone say “good try” it means that trying was the only redeemable aspect to whatever the fuck it was you just did. You tried. Effort recognized. Congratulations. Everything else was crotch-rot terrible. If you hear “good idea” it means yeah that was a good idea I see what you were trying to do there but the execution was dogshit. Next time don’t botch it up like that. If you hear “good kick!” it means we’re all dealing with a moron over here on the sidelines. He played linebacker in high school. He thinks he’s being supportive. Sir, your son just kicked it the wrong way down the hill and now the ball is floating away in the creek. Like going to a swim meet and yelling “nice splash”. If you hear “come on let’s hustle!” it means you’re lollygagging around out there and there’s a 50/50 chance your dad is going to ice you out with the silent treatment on the drive home. If you hear “nice pass” it means you’re being acknowledged for not being a selfish ball hog prick. If you hear “pass the ball guys” it means someone is trying to shame the kid who just tried to clumsy dribble unsuccessfully through four defenders. If you hear “don’t give up” it means we can all see the defeat seared in your faces as you retrieve yet another ball from the back of the net, how you all just want it to be over so you can go home and play video games because it’s 11-0 and the other team’s parents are avoiding eye contact with us. If you hear “let’s pick it up!” it means we all hate you this sucks we could have been having mimosas after a couples tennis match at the club. If you hear “hey!” it means some parent is this close to running out on the pitch and knifing the kid who just fouled her little boy. If you hear “I was proud of you out there, you played well” you’re probably in the back seat of the car but you don’t really hear it because even though you controlled the midfield and scored your team’s only goal you missed a penalty kick that would have tied the game. If you hear “hang tough, there’s always the next game” it means your dad is trying to pass on the only non-phony wisdom he ever truly learned. If you hear “no matter what, I love you son” it means I love you son.  No matter what.


Thursday, January 4, 2024


 Briar Patch

Memories hide in liquid spaces between

Axons and dendrites like rabbits

Resting in the tangles of a briar patch 

Sometimes they escape—

Invasive snakes, wildfires in the distance 

And this becomes a frantic forgetting

Some migrate to muscle

Where they can ride along 

Anonymously in arms and thighs 

Not doing a damn thing 

Until one day old suburban dad 

Tweaks a hammy and can’t walk 

Right for a week

Then they start pulling their weight—

Start flashing old scenes

Of lost athleticism and vigor 

Some seek shelter in the liver

Only to be exposed 

By the solitary gin drinker

As recollections of every time

He ever hated himself

And hoped it would go away

By morning 

Some hole up in the hollows of bones

These are the ones you just wanted to be safe 

But then you get old

You fall and break a hip,

Three or four ribs

The marrow spills out

Screaming and moaning about

How much it hurts—

But still worth it