my spirit sleeps with the lights on


i rub ashes into my eyes.

i don’t want to write another poem

            about war,

another sentence about death or


washing my hands in the kitchen

sink with hummingbirds on my mind.

like lamps without shades the light

of erupted ideas. learning to walk in

the dark while staying up past my

bedtime. i would cry if i could afford

the tears, but as it is, my eyes, a

goddamn of salted water while my

pockets hang like wrinkled bats

turned out from my blue jeans.

i climb through the branches of my

family tree in hunt of blue genes. or

broken limbs or termites or anything

to explain what it is that rattles

around in my head like a mojave

green on amphetamines.

i trip into the (w)hole of myself,

skin my knees, curl into unconscious

-ness, dream of a place i often dream

of, a quilt of two cities i’ve lived in with

seams of others i’ve seen or imagined.

this is dangerous and i am aware of it,

but couldn’t stop it if i wanted to, and

i’m not sure i want to. i drive to the

park with the stone fountain of flowers,

across the street from the school like a

hospital and mall, with stairwells like

towers with windows and levels painted

different solid colors like orange. the

park is empty and i blink to the first

apartment we moved into when we

moved out there, at the top of the hill

with snow on the road and a white

building with a red garage door. there

is a gas station at the bottom of the hill.

my room is upstairs; he sleeps

downstairs, but he is never home. there

are wood walls in my room, the ceiling

is wood too. i turn around and i am in

the parking lot of the smaller school i

work at in the summer, the children

make me laugh.

the building is red brick with yellow trim,

a flat black tar roof (not visible from

ground level, but i read up there at night

sometimes), single story, always in the

sun. i watch a movie

in my room at our second place, a

three bedroom, bluebird eggshell sided

house in the neighborhood of houses. all

of the other houses in the neighborhood

look more or less the same as all of the

other houses in the neighborhood. this

neighborhood of houses is somewhere

between the park with the fountain of

flowers (a rainbow of daisies: asters,

chrysanthemums, dahlias, marigolds)

and the road that leads to the highway,

past the college, and then either to the

houses in the woods (tall skinny pines)

or to the interstate. the movie is about an

ego that is born, lives, and dies. it doesn’t 

show the birth or death (the movie is like a

bubblegum pop song), but the bits in betw

-een. i like the flavor of the movie i chew, i

blow a bubble as big as my head and when

it pops, i wake up and do terrible things to

my body. the tittering of a bashful piano

calms the angry demon of my…

the sound of baudelaire vomiting is the

only… i see the surface of the movie,

but also so very much more.

there are an infinite number of layers

to every movie ever created or not

created, but imagined, which is (trust me)

more than enough. never trust a man who

says, trust me. also, never trust a man who

says, never. also, thank you kindly, matt.

when you hooked me up with surround

sound, my entire movie experience

changed, grew, evolved…

my beard grows, blissfully

unaware of itself. this reminds me of the ten-

year-old infant i work with. he poops and he

laughs and i feed him and i change him and

he totters around like a thriller zombie.

this is more or less my every morning and it’s

really not so bad… my dream bleeds into

supermarket isles of the south pacific ocean,

or it (my dream) does not. very much like the

accordion, i wheeze toward the fringe of the

modern zeitgeist in a zeus’ nosebleed or

odin’s handspan or an ancient venetian

viniculturist in a midday drunk in may or a

movie that begs to end as all movies end…

inevitably, always. an opera’s aria over an

argument in the background of the universe.

i cook biscuits in the oven on aluminum foil

over the top oven rack for 15 minutes at 350˚.

in a snow globe city of southeastern wiscon

-sin, i continue to keep on trucking. i use the

orange syringe to oil the door hinge. fingers

toward the sun, teeth in the wind, my other

parts into the ether, some of me into the fire.

i take off my clothes and i stand in the center

of my kitchen and i turn around in slow, slow

circles. while makeup commercials murder

the egos of little girls all over the world, war

is a game the boys play. there, i went and

did it. i do not care if you are happy, but for

what it’s worth, i prefer you laugh than cry, if

for no other reason than i prefer the former

sound to the latter, but remember, it’s the

latter the star of my poverty. i wear my blue

genes to work on friday, my cartoon soul on

a spit in the devil’s backyard patio.

one mother aborts while another mother

miscarries and we’re supposed to call it

even. depression is exclusively a human

condition. dogs feel shame. cows hate.

monday morning’s shower is a gift i am

cursed with. what a petty immoral mortal

he must be. hey, presto! i’m an asshole.

there, i went and did it, i couldn’t help

myself, even if i wanted to and as much

as i desperately and unabashedly desire,

i don’t, so there that is. this is life as my i

knows it. i try, but not really. my fingernails

never stood a chance. smug cowboy life in

the land of nod. i do not have a fact checker,

but i imagine he would try to bite my tongue.

the world cocks its collective head and

wonders while i rape cain’s wife with a smile

on my sad clown face. relax, it’s a metaphor,

and though i’m not entirely sure of what it all

means, i think it goes something like: while

we squares wear our khakis and sieg heil,

art dares unflinchingly into the unknown and

unknowable with fierce and utter audacity.

for this i bare reverence unto the nth degree.

money is smut in everyone’s pocket. picked

over like so much carrion, the spirit of modern

mankind. like, one can’t ever hope to explain

it, but just to be happy to be aware of it, and

more so, to then experience it, and then to

intuit that you do, in fact, experience it. we

take it out on all the wrong people, ourselves,

each other. it is them we must rage against

like the dying of thomas’ light, our light, the all

light. our fire should burn so bright the sun go

-es blind and cross-eyed with envy. it’s nobod

y’s and everybody’s fault, if such a word still

exists. those who hurt the helpless already

live in hell. it hurts to know devil like a lover.

a whirring in the bathroom, a small space

heater left on. the internet doesn’t catch

butterflies, the internet catches child predator

-s and viruses, consumers at a staggering

rate. transgressions here, get you’re transgre

-ssions here! yes, even exclamation points (or

point) i have really outdone myself here, i will

pause for the applause… this is what crazy

looks like on paper, insanity in ink. this is

the sound of my voice in any empty room. my

love slits its wrists while the clock masturbates

to pictures of my funeral. six just isn’t enough

and that bites through my lower lip like veal,

shame on the whole lot of us. I eat day old

spaghetti and meatballs from a lemon tree

tupperware bowl with my can opener under

my pillow, i know why it’s there. déjà vu:

i pull a shard of glass from my foot with

tweezers in my bathroom, only this time, i do

not get my blood on the carpet. the crumble

of the glass against the steel of the pincers

disgusts my ears, my ears vomit onto my

shoulders who respond with profanity and the

fierce shaking of fists. i brush them off and

whistle for my unicorn. i wink into a spiraling

mess of math, shapes and colors, preschool

homework. the alarm clock is set. eyelash to

blade with the grass of second grade,

the backyard of a friend’s house.

i do not police my thoughts as i should and

am in constant fear of some kind of eventual

consequence, some dire and eternal

comeuppance. this is what you get for taking a

murderer’s mystery monkey wrench against

her will. i do not want an explanation. i just

want to be a friendly caterpillar, an able

butterfly. caught in the tide of my private hell,

i hold my breath and sink to the bottom of the

bottom. i do my best to look up, struggle.

i know better, but try just the same and that

choice hugs my trembling spirit, kisses it

goodnight on the forehead and tucks it in

tight. my spirit sleeps with the lights on.

then, at the end of the movie, i cry.