Fireboy

Originally posted 12/19/2004.

My mother has always said
that when I was born,

I yelled like kindling
crying for a match,


but I have never yearned
for the fires I’ve started

as much as I have longed
to be soothed by their quenching.

My deepest hope is that 
one can of gasoline away 
from wherever I am, 

there’s a world
that forever smells
of approaching rain.


My Bastard

Originally posted 9/23/2013; originally titled “Lie Of A Brother.”

Wake up at midnight to find
my daytime mask gone from the nightstand.

I can hear one of my fictional characters
typing somewhere.  I’ll bet he has it on

and I’ll bet he’s working
on another fictional character.


I can tell by the tempo –
it’s my tempo. He’s killing those keys.

It’s OK with me that someone I made up
handles my day-face so well he can make up another.

My myth is taking over my life
and my bastard is better at being me than I am.

I built him well, it seems.
He’s caught my spark for creating 

so I think I’ll roll over, go back to sleep, 
maybe skip living altogether tomorrow.

Let him and his creation handle it.  
I like it better here — dozing off 

while listening to my betters
laboring in the dark.


Commuter Moment

Originally posted 6/27/2008 — original title, “Mass Pike Moment, June 2008.”

The pond by the side of the road
is obscured in a green-brown mist.
If I wasn’t stuck in traffic
I might never have seen that color
that may be the result of the sunlight

pouring through the green leaves behind it,
or perhaps it is caused by the oak pollen
so thick in the air
that it clearly has changed

more than my breathing.

It is something I would not likely have seen
if I had gone whizzing by
intent 
on my eventual destination,
or if I had noticed it

I might have missed its hue,
and if it showed up again
in my thoughts

I might have decided
to say it was mist colored,

the default silver-gray that shows up in every poem.
I might then have turned it into a metaphor
for something else
instead of letting it stand on its own.


Perhaps all morning fog

carries a shade worth noting, a shade

only visible when the viewer
is halted in his progress 
toward importance
long enough to see it,
long enough

to be content in the viewing
and the knowledge

that everything that is known and believed
has a loophole 
in it somewhere
that is large enough to drive through.


By the way…my OTHER project is…

I’ve mentioned here and there that I perform much of the time with a tight jazz/rock/funk/folk/what have you band, The Duende Project.  I do the poetry and play a little guitar and cuatro while Steven “Faro” Lanning-Cafaro (electric and upright acoustic bass, nylon string guitar, and archtop jazz guitar), Chris Lawton (electric and acoustic guitars, Dobro, banjo, mandolin), and Chris “O-D” O’Donnell (drums) do the heavy lifting behind that.

Here’s a cut from our most recent album, featuring Faro on 5-string electric bass and O-D on drums.

Zodiac Mindwarp, by The Duende Project.

If you like this or any of our other work — and there are five albums worth at that site — it’s all available for purchase.  But not really pushing that — just thought you might like to hear what we do.


Polish Hall, Uxbridge, MA

Originally posted 12/19/2005.

nothing has changed
except for the higher prices
it’s now two seventy-five
for a jack on the rocks
and a bag of chips
is now seventy five cents

I could end up drinking here all the time
the way I used to drink here all the time
thirty-odd years ago

some of my old barmates are still drinking here
dave parker

sue something different now but born boulanger
rat guertin

we all get to talking
rat hits the rest room before he takes off and
suddenly i’m helping dave
push rat’s car

out into the center of the parking lot
while it’s locked and running
and then rat’s cussing us out
and we’re laughing our saggy asses off

the car looks like it was made in 1980


I’m wanting a cigarette bad

it’s damn cold out here
it’s warmer once we’re back in the bar 


six drinks
in one hour
seems about right

once again


Phoenix (for Blair)

Originally posted 7/24/2011.  

The cut on my arm reminds me
that after the phoenix has flown some
always gather around its birth-hearth
to stir the ashes with dirty sticks.
What do they expect will come of that — 

is it the same thing
I expected
from the blood
I drew from myself
when I heard he was gone?

Did I think that if I drew enough,
the phoenix would rise again
from where my blood
had pooled? I don’t know.
I’m old enough to know better

but for a second there I became young again
and fell in love with childhood magic,
believing that if I gave enough
and hurt enough,
the phoenix would return.

I am old enough
to know better
so I bind the wound
and listen as I do
for the song.

The myth says when the bird flies
he sings, and the song
burns the air behind him
with the fire 
that released him.

A myth becomes a myth
not because it’s a lie,
but because it is a truth
that cannot ever
die for long.

It rises again and again.
It flies blazing
up from the ash.
It is never in the ash.
It is in the clean, bloodless sky.

– for David Blair


Obsidian

Originally posted 3/6/2013.

A man who has never been rejected
is watching women on Highland Street

as if Highland Street were the ruins of a Mayan city
where these women are exhibits to be viewed

as if they were souvenirs
A man is shopping for a souvenir

among the women of Highland Street
imagining he is a prince of a lost realm

A lost realm he learned about in school
or perhaps in books from his father’s library

that displayed women as souvenirs
for the taking by princes of the realm

who may imagine themselves
against the backdrop of old roads

and palaces and even temples where men
are never rejected

because they never ask permission
when they take a woman for a souvenir of the realm

A man watches women
on Highland Street 

Imagines himself 
crafted in sharp obsidian

Ordained as prince and priest
Taker of live hearts

Imagines himself
hero of a bent myth

written by princes and priests
of the realm


Face No Face

Originally written in 1981 or 1982.  Never posted; not certain it has ever been performed.  Significantly revised here.

This is not a face I love
so I’ll gladly give it to you.  

Pull it from my head.
Put it on your own.  
I don’t need another, people would just 
recognize me then, don’t need that.  
Would rather look at them bare
and then scare them away
with my front skull.

Gradations are odious.  
My face is all gradation 
and subtlety and neither
is a thing I love.  
I surrender them
with this new wide smile.

The flesh we devote to expression 
is annoying and extraneous.  
I would gladly dispense with emotions
beyond the largest of them:
ecstasy, terror, rage, despair. 

In the new world
we won’t need subtlety.
In the new world
we’ll stick with ecstasy, terror,
rage, and despair.  These
will be our default settings.
Will guide our appetites.
Will drive our businesses.
Will admonish our gods.
Will break us in.

This is not a face I love.
I’ll gladly give it to you
but you should ask yourself
before you take it:
in this new world
why have a face at all?


Three Scenes From A Weekend

Originally, this was three separate poems written over the years 1976-1980.  Never posted before, found in my ancient archives from that period.

I was a kid then, a teenager, and my reach was often far greater than my grasp.  I had an essay and a whole theory about what I was trying to do with poetry that when I read it now (of COURSE I kept it!) makes me giggle and blush.  But I was aiming at something, something larger than the individual Poem, even back then.  Didn’t have the life experience or the skill back then to make it work.  

Not sure I do now either, of course, but I am far more clear on my small abilities and my large ambitions than I once was, so…let’s say I think it’s worth a try.
Overheard from a dusk-dimmed driveway:

“Basketball’s simple —
you take the ball,
you dribble it, you move,
then you
shoot…”
Father, uncle or big brother speaking,
but who’s listening?  There is no second voice –
until after that, the good flat notes,
the rhythm of rubber on asphalt.

Two worn men on the sidewalk ahead of me.

One says,
“Every time I get my check
I try to hold on to the money.
They rob me at the bank
so I keep it all at home
but they rob me at home
but now I got them all fooled — 
I give all my money
to the man behind the counter
at the liquor store,” 
and his companion howls
and slaps him
on his age-sloped back.

On the bus

another old man, taller than I
by a head and a half,
muttering
again and again,
“…had a big
fat fat
fat fat
fat fat
wife, seven kids, forty years,
I know her face I think
but not her name…”

and now, by myself, in bed alone,
I say

may I never forget
that there are 
innumerable ways 
to get from one end of the court 
to the other
and may I never
scorn a journey
simply for where it ends.


Answer To A Question Posed To A Friend Home On Leave

Originally posted in 2002 on the ancient blogging site, Diaryland.  Which, much to my surprise, is still up and running in 2014.

 

The moment I knew my life
would be different forever

was when the whoosh-snap
of the rifle

dissolved into my chest.
The sound of it and the feeling of it

were one and the same and the only way
I knew the sound had been there

was by its immediate absence
as I fell back.

All that – and of course
this too: my target 

fell back without making a sound of his own,
and did not get up again.


Glass Fist

Originally posted 9/29/2009.

In a world
wracked by anger and justifications
for anger

Glass Fist,

weirdest superhero of our time,

breaks his hands
on yet another villain’s face,
leaving the enemy shredded and wailing
and himself
crippled
yet again.

Back at 
the Fortress of Righteous Anger
his snickering friends watch

as he thrusts his hands 
into the Superkiln
and refashions them once again,
blowing shape back into each finger,
gloving them after they cool.

“What, exactly, is the advantage
of this particular superpower?”
they ask him. “You’re only good
for two shattering blows in any battle
and then we’ve got to save
your sorry ass.”

Glass Fist smiles and bows his head
in assent as they laugh — 

but later, when
he is alone in his lair,
Glass Fist pulls off
the gloves
and the mask.

Stares into his palms –
so clean,
no trace of blood.
His true and naked face
stares back from them
stained by tears,
soaked in doubt.


The Real Man’s Approach To Painting

Originally posted 8/29/2010.

you say
you’re material?
I say you are
my material.

you are pale
to be written upon, 
tough to be 
stitched, taut to take my paint.

I’ll get on you, canvas.
no backtalk, 
no ticktock or ripsnap 
when the wind gets at your back.  

mine, canvas, you’re mine.
I’ll sail you,
wear you,
cover you in my vision.

canvas,
when I’m done
everyone’s gonna know 
who hit you.


God’s All Right

Originally posted 8/1/2010.

God’s apparently
a pan-Humanist –
he says,
“these are my people,”
while pointing everywhere
and confounding everyone.
Doesn’t seem interested 
in choosing sides…
mostly, he’s just
content to be God.

Or she is.  
Or they are.

Anyway, God’s all right.
Vaguely Amish,
kinda simple tastes.

Sometimes, though,
God says
fuck it. 
Sometimes
God belly-bumps you
and screams,

“Me dammit –
this place is a mess — 
who built this half assed world?
Who left me out here
without a backup?”

Looks you in the eye
the whole screaming time,
and it’s hard to fall back
on religion for answers 
when God’s
up in your face

with such big questions.


The Rider

While this did come out of an old fragment in an old notebook, there’s also no way around it:  this is a new poem.

Ride a motorcycle
out of a twenty story window
and plummet to the ground below — 
that’s the way to go;
so much

implied backstory, so much 
obvious preparation. Those strangers
unable to mourn such a whacked-out demise
would nonetheless be talking about it
for days,

and those who loved the Rider
would wonder in their sorrow
if indeed this was the best way
to go, if this
was indeed

the obvious final arc
for someone
following their bliss
to its logical
conclusion.

Every death by diving from on high
makes at least one person wonder:
what if they had landed on someone?
Someone else always wonders,
what if they had found themselves able to fly?

Would they have changed their mind?
Imagine putting in
all that work
only to learn
that you are Icarus.

Imagine watching the bike
fall away from under you as you rise, hover,
begin to consider your options,
to imagine what those options
could possibly be.


A Man In Need

Originally posted 3/19/2012.

You look like a man 
in need of a punch
to the side of the head

or a piercing

in the side of the body

You’re looking for something that hurts
Something from the hand of a punk
or a Roman soldier

Something you can add to
your Martyrdom Book

Something as good
for starting a conversation
as any 
suicide attempt
colossal drunk striptease
bad haircut

Something to tell
the LADIES about
over a bottle of tears

You look like a man
in need of a narrative
to put it all into

A man in need
of a rabbit to tear apart for effect
as if the rabbit were an envelope
and the winner’s name was inside

A man in search
of a terrible weakling to be

A man
who knows his disease well enough
to call it up for a ride
when he needs
to get somewhere FAST

A man who’s not going to get
that much needed punch in the head
from this guy
because this guy
has no desire
to help you
win your victim badge 


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