Posts Tagged ‘ Poem ’

Four Poems

No, no, the blog is not quite dead yet.

Should it be?

Ah, that’s an awfully good question.

I guess I’m being stubborn about it. There are worse things in the world to drag my feet over, and refusing to let this blog keel over probably isn’t going to make the all-time countdown.

I don’t think so, anyway.

I don’t know why I’m doing a post. The odds of this blog ever being anything but an orphanage for misfit short stories and poems are pretty grim at this point. And I’m forever hesitant over sharing those things here to begin with, since they really ought to be put through the paces of being submitted to literary journals and the like. Sharing them here always kind of feels like I’m giving up on them.

Actually, I’ve had the feeling that I’ve given up on writing in general for much of the year.

Granted, we’re only a couple of weeks into the year, but things have already escalated nicely in the departments of self-loathing, intense doubt, and anxiety that wears a cunning disguise of being easily distracted (“Tommy Lee Jones does look like Grumpy Cat! Neat!”). It has not been a great year so far for work, and that’s entirely my fault. I haven’t tried to finish the third novel, I haven’t pushed myself to start on new projects, I haven’t taken any chances, and I haven’t learned the intricacies of naked tap dancing (and that last one is really goddamn important).

I’ve been disappointing myself over and over again, and it’s made worse by the fact that I’m aware of what I’m doing every step of the way.

This isn’t going to end with a declaration to do better, work harder. Obliterate a few more brain cells through the magic of frantic creative work. If you have to call this anything, just think of it as catching up over coffee with something righteous thrown in for good measure. I’m well aware of how far behind I am on everything I want to do, and I’m aware that I’m going to be twenty-eight soon. Seemingly in the same length of time it takes me to breathe in and out slowly and only once.

Things need to change. Saying that to myself over and over again isn’t going to make that happen. Whether it’s in the back of my mind as I try to fall asleep, or in a paragraph of an introduction to a blog post a few people will hopefully read. The only thing I can do is be even more of a bastard to myself than usual.

And what I definitely can’t do is let things like being tired of being single, the frustration of having a tenth of the career I envisioned for myself when I was young(er) and (even more) stupid slow me down. I can’t let my love affair with aspects of the well-worn past (even if that past includes things that happened as recently as five or six months ago) fuck me over again and again. And I sure as hell can’t let the responsibilities that are inherent in living a life that is not allowed to include trying to head-butt the TV at thirty miles per hour run my life forever and ever. I have to commit myself to a mild obsession with moving forward, and I have to maintain that thought at all times.

No matter how many days in a row happen to suck with the glorious style of an aging porn star trying to win Miss Universe.

This isn’t a declaration. I’m just thinking out loud.

There is a difference. At least there is while I type this at 2:30 in the morning.

In short, bring on the wrecking ball, bring on the work that I should be demanding of myself day in and day out, and bring on the deranged optimism for things like the ability to let go of those weird artifacts from the past, and the dream of once again having nothing but thousands of miles and dozens of towns worth of travel to look forward to.

That is not, as far as I can tell, too much to ask for.

And if it is, well, fuck it, man, because I’m asking for it anyway.

**********
Vintage Surreal Gangster Cinema

It wasn’t Halloween.
It wasn’t one of those awful goddamn
costume parties,
where everyone would rather just get stoned
and watch vintage Samurai cinema instead.

A man who got fat reading “War and Peace”
three times in a row just decided to show up
in a Snow White costume that wouldn’t have fit
a man even half his size.

A girl in a leather nurse’s outfit.
She doesn’t really dig on the whole saving lives scene.

Tweedledee was there.
Tweedledum was down to a black veil and wifebeater.

The Devil was Legion. Figures.

A higher power believed in the darkness
being able to pick off the lights in various hallways.

But it was a mansion. Plenty of dusty bulbs
to guide the desperate, lonely and frustrated
to the safety of a commonplace bedroom.

Complete with a commonplace view
of some strip of some kind of paradise.

And all the violent weather a person can eat.
More than enough to make leaves and branches behave like ghosts.
More than enough to think you really can be afraid of everything.

The windows were huge, were put in a century
and a half after the house was built and survived
a baptism, and just didn’t fit the rest of the place at all.

But practically no one cared. Anyone who did
was too nervous to do anything but laugh.

And the house band held everyone together with pins and string.
Mostly Rockabilly. A little John Lee Hooker and Blind Lemon Johnson
for when everybody just needed to calm the hell down.

A handsome kid dressed as a man dressed as an artist
who stays away from coffee, booze
and any wooden track rollercoaster.

He’s swallowed whatever he accidently crushed
in his pocket earlier, and he’s starting to forget
the name of the wife he came with.

She left hours ago. Love just happens like that.

Everyone just felt overdressed and old.

But they woke up when the house band played
something they had never heard before.

**********
Here Comes the Next Birthday

I bring you in for the dip,
because I really can move like Christopher Walken
once in an unholy while,
and down you go. Right into the bathtub gin
that tastes suspiciously
like bathtub vodka.

Let’s not talk what year this is,
your original hair colour or
why you think there’s bruises
in the backs of your eyes.

Both of us fell for people,
who found happiness and emotional clarity,
long after they started writing love songs
for the next one on the line.

The gin wears vodka goggles.
Let’s just put it like that,
because it sounds logical
in this part of the country.

I need some logic
in this cold place of a time
that has no teeth,
but plenty of good upper-body strength
and the best running shoes from 1994.

Someone’s gotta load me into the car,
and hope the driver is a cohort of mine
from last summer.

We can’t trust anyone from further back than that.
I don’t know what I’ve said to other people at other parties.

You take a long drink getting out of the tub,
and I can hear your friends laughing. On all fourteen floors.
I still think someone installed cameras in this miraculous joint,
before you moved in, with the three cats, the knives, recipe books,
snow globes and all the sketches you’re not going to finish.

It’s impossible to make love here,
and not feel like someone somewhere is watching,
talking to others over thirty-cent martinis
about where you went wrong as a child.

I can’t complain.
I’m through complaining.
Through with imagining old loves are still star-struck,
with something I’ve never been able to put my finger on.

Or anything else,
but this isn’t the time, place or sleepy crowd
for dirty jokes that worked beautifully that one beautiful time.

This is the rest of my life,
and I’m just not much of a writer,
actor, entertainer or scoundrel anymore.

I don’t care for cooking.
You can still use a kitchen after it’s burnt down.
My mind is always somewhere else,
and that goes for a lot of things.

It just kind of flies around,
and I leave my thoughts
with nothing but more trivia.

I hate trivia.
There’s a lot of things these days
I’m not fond of.

Your friends.
My friends.
All the people
I wish were here instead.

**********
Dig Your Own Grave And Save

The groom had a bad cough. A really bad cough.
And these eyes that wanted to dress up
as a runaway train.

The bride had buried all of ‘em. Every last doctor
who had ever brought her flowers for every day
they ever loved her for her dangerous temper.

She had to be older than him by fifty,
sixty years. And the wedding reception looked lovely
to me. But I wasn’t driving a car. I wasn’t walking calmly
to the time and place that could have turned out to be
my last night on earth. So I didn’t give a damn
if their wedding made it impossible to drive down Main Street.

I probably could have saved that guy.
This was clearly something he didn’t want to be a part of.

Kept walking instead. I only knew one of the bridesmaids intimately.
I didn’t like the look of those angels with sniper rifles overhead.
Those wings would kill a whole lot of people, if they just decided
to come down the level of mere mortals.

Guess that old lady could call in favors.
The way ordinary people call out the name of the last person
in the history of their lives that would ever rush to be by their bedside.

And I just didn’t want to get involved. I’m still not cautious.
Don’t accuse me of finally playing it safe. Please, please, don’t.

It’s just that I don’t need any more friends.
Not that kind. I’d prefer it if the psychopaths, contract killers
from the class of 2003, and girls who think it’s cute to call themselves
Bang-Shift Betty, all came to me instead.

I don’t have a problem with the people I can love forever,
and only trust three nights out of ten.

I’m just not going out of my way to entertain them anymore.

**********
Baby, You Got a Sick Mentality

Paranoia is realizing
that you’re the only one at the birthday party
who isn’t a doctor,
and then wondering what each of them
might be thinking of you.

I limp,
talk to myself,
add a little more rum to the punch,
cough when I need a cigarette
and fall asleep every time someone tells me
that I’ll be working for their infant son someday.

They could put me away with all that,
and there’s enough of them for me to know
that could happen if I grab the wrong wife’s ass.

Could be for the best.
You know you done screwed up,
when you have to hire a young girl to follow you around
and tell you what you did wrong every morning at 5:15.

And then I’d have to be careful about who I employ.

Last thing I need,
is some kid telling me that I’m living in the past,
and that things are better now than they were twenty years ago.

Shameful or whatever that I don’t really know if that’s true.
I’m scared of hospitals,
and I only ever watch the news
when an upcoming appointment goes missing.

Reading fiction seems to cover everything else,
and I have plenty of friends who balance
keeping me informed with getting over their addiction
to pathological lying.

This is called a compromise.
It’s like settling for finding shelter under a cancerous tree
after the lightning starts to follow you like a cheery bloodhound.

If I turn out to be wrong about something
I can still meet someone who can teach me how to play chess,
and how to play a piano that’s been busted up.
Shipped to more countries than there are winos
making a living by getting people to pay them
not to spray-paint erotica on the sidewalks.

That’s a lot of drunk people with high-school diplomas.

I’ll bet they were just like me, not too long ago.
Probably went to pot when they hit one of those parties
with all those smug doctors and kittenish wives.

Paranoia tells me this,
and it doesn’t even have a voice worth remembering.

You would think otherwise.

**********

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Three Poems

I’m still a lousy liar.

And I also suspect this will be a fairly short (well, for me) introduction. The truth of the matter is that I’m frustrated, extremely exhausted and completely lacking in the necessary faith and creativity needed to do this shit day after day.

It doesn’t help things that I was without a computer for several days this month. And then running into issues with my internet connection after I got a cheap, refurbished laptop (I’m not complaining about this). Those things seriously screwed around with my schedule, plans and assignments, but those things are still fairly new to the scene. I was feeling pretty miserable, depleted and shockingly indifferent about that long before I ran into trouble. The only thing that’s different now is that I’m feeling even worse since I started trying to get a routine dancing in good formal wear again.

When have I not started off a post this way?

Good question.

I think the two good things I got out of today was hearing a really fantastic song by Maximo Park, “The National Health” (it’s a catchy fuckin’ tune, man), and getting a nice reminder that I have someone in my life who loves me an awful lot. Love will not save the world. I don’t think so anyway. What it will do is give me a good reason to get out of bed in the morning. She’s about five and a half hours away, and it would be quite nice to be with her right now. She’s a great motivation, not the only one, but an awfully great one, to keep working, keep trying to find ways to make a few bucks.

The fact that I went back on my promise to never indulge a long-distance relationship ever again should speak at least a volume or two.

But I’m still tired, still sick of a lot of things in life, still feeling guilty for letting myself fret and mumble over those little things, still wondering where all my good ideas went, if they’ll come back, even for a visit.

And, yes, I’m still wondering if I’m ever going to write about the fact that things are going better than I ever dreamed.

So, I’ll count my blessings, tell myself I’m just not trying at things hard enough, not thinking creatively enough at ways to make those things happen, and I’ll definitely tell myself that I’m not courageous enough to try something different.

The part of me that believes all of that is nonsense is a very, very small voice these days.

We’re going to settle in for some more poetry. Anything outside the box I’ve designed on this blog has either fizzled out for the time being, or just doesn’t strike me as being worth the energy or time.

I know, I know. That’s my problem.

I’d like to quit this stupid whining, but it’s one of the few things in my life that’s guaranteed to give me exactly what I put into it.

Something tells me the three poems (I haven’t picked them yet, but I have some ideas) will reflect the mood I’ve been expressing here.

Anybody want to place their bets?

**********
My Psychological Arithmetic
By Gabriel Ricard

I’m not working on new ways
for people to leave me,
believe me,
but I am meeting more and more people
who consider the funeral fringes of town
to be just too noisy for their tastes.

You have to manage your own ride
if you want to meet with those types.

Drink everything in their dining room cabinet,
get a tattoo by the light over the stove
or faint when the art-school models
remember your first name.

You have to lose absolutely everything
if you want to get to the place
where you can throw away your life in 48 hours.

That was a piece of advice
I picked up from a massage therapist,
with a police record that could travel around
Madison Square Garden forty-six times.

She was mean. She wanted friends like me
to pay with their lives. It’s just that she wasn’t very cunning.
Cops were always banging on her front door
with handcuffs and a dozen gin-soaked roses.

Even in her dreams,
she only ever cared about herself.

But I followed her everywhere.
I thought I was going to write forever in those days.
Play the junkyard game show on the weekend,
and win twenty-thousand dollars I would never make otherwise.

Way back whenever,
I thought at least half of my success story
would consist of things I didn’t deserve.

I thought I would always be brave enough
to steal a car from a museum in broad daylight.

When I went from age twenty-one to twenty-seven
the other day
I found that my slight touch of madness
was suddenly feeling the pressure
of knowing that it could breathe without machines.

It could spread its wings,
and bowl over a room full of laughing,
hard-working sociopaths.

Turn Manhattan into an elevator that trembles slightly.

My psychological arithmetic
ain’t what I hoped
it would eventually be.

What I’ve got are spirit guides made of steam and glass,
mistakes who wear long tongues and brilliant business attire
and not a single shred of hope
that I can tell you in ten words or less why life is worth living.

I can’t throw a basketball into an open window
of a burning building,
so don’t even bother asking me to get my life together.

What I can do is get so frustrated
that I go to bed early,
and run head-first
into a good fighting chance.

**********
Mainstream Medicine
By Gabriel Ricard

Back to the start of a Wild West show
that hires itself out to a birthday party.
With a cast of thousands and a lot more fear
than the euphoria you might expect.

Back to the basics of a very complicated matter,
yeah,
oh yeah,
but don’t worry, sweet baby,
because nothing’s going to change for a little while.

We can still be struck dumb and held for ransom
by the same old broken bridge that used to take us
out of this same old broken town and into the same old—

Yeah,
oh yeah,
you get it.

You’re an airplane full of philosophers.
All in agreement that the plane is going to crash
when puffy clouds shred the wings right off.

This isn’t an effort to work over your hard-earned feelings.
I’d never jump out of an airplane ninety feet above the ground,
with a dozen roses taped to my back if I didn’t absolutely love you.

I’m teasing.
My sense of humor doesn’t believe in mainstream medicine.

You forgive me in the time it takes for us to believe
we have every right to run those four red lights in a row.

Broadway isn’t going to wait for us,
and neither will a future that promises
to make sense of this no man’s land.

Some pairings are discussed
and then created amongst the bumper-car stars.
Some of them can’t handle
what that Tom Petty cat called “The hardest part.”

Honeymooners figure out what they’re made of
when the sun comes around to clear out the band,
and leave the lovebirds with smug, gently caffeinated silence.

That ain’t going to be us.
We will not become a couple that throws
bags of empty wine bottles at each other
the way clowns throw pies,
they wish were bags of empty wine bottles.

Old men are not going to barely make it
to their favorite local bar, sit down,
drink their fill
and write an opera about the way we lived
ten years completely out of control.

We’re not going to die in each other’s arms,
and I’m not going to drown in what I think
your eyes are really saying.

My instincts love spirits
even more than those old men.

They can rest their weary, clicking tongues a while.

I don’t want anything running off at the frozen mouth.
When I’m trying to kiss you like they do when war is over.

Nothing’s going to change for a while,
yeah,
and then it’s just going to get better.

No one gets rich on that kind of ending,
but we’ll make do with cynicism about other things.

**********
The Logger’s Hut
By Gabriel Ricard

In 1989 my mother and I went to the nicest restaurant
in our small town. It was the big reopening
after it had been closed due to a bad fire the month before.

We used to eat there all the time. It was always just the two
of us. Even after two brothers and a sister came along.
I suppose in the grand scheme of small things,
it wasn’t that nice a restaurant. But children are easy to please
and small towns can make a lot of something Victoria
would have swallowed up in the first week.

My mother and I always had fun. It didn’t take much
in them days to make me feel like an adult. I ordered on my own,
drank good Earl Grey tea and complained bitterly about my classmates.

We always had fun. It was still fun when we went for that big reopening.
You couldn’t even tell that half the place had gone up in flames.
No one talked about it. The body count was never able to rise
above zero. I was five and didn’t think much of the whole thing at all.

Back then I was pretty committed to The Lord. I prayed for my family,
prayed for myself and assumed I was building up a line of credit
that would make me invincible for most of my teenage and even adult years.

I was even committed to straight lines
and the personal opinion that all a person ever needed
to make everything okay was sincerity.

On Friday afternoons I would wipe the blood from my nose
and laugh with them as best I could.

So I wasn’t surprised that the restaurant
was the same as it had ever been. My mother and I ordered tea,
talked about school and didn’t say a word about my father
or any of the siblings. I guess I always wanted to be an only child.

In my old age I’m not quite that selfish,
but you will see that in me from time to time.

I think I was just happy to have someone’s undivided attention. So much
that I didn’t really think much of the way it always smelled like
the smoke from the kitchen had just become a threat. I didn’t say a word
about the fork that moved across the table when my mother wasn’t looking.

I didn’t even bring up the sudden anxiety attack that had me convinced
by the time our cheque came that we were too far
in the back of the restaurant to get out safely. Assuming someone
came out of the kitchen and asked as politely as a person
on fire could for a glass of water and a first-rate burn ward.

It was a new thing not being able to tell my imagination
to calm down and enjoy the weather. I wasn’t used to
bad dreams that could talk back, hide their faces
under comical fists
and didn’t need that messy business of sleep after a long time
of laying very, very still and trying not think very much.

Nothing happened. There was no fire,
and I felt better as we paid for the meal and left.

Outside I noticed a face pass through the middle
of the glass in the window, but it was gone before
I could tell my mother. It was as startling as the figure I then noticed
in the clouds overhead. The shape was all clumps of rain and lightning,
but that sword was pretty easy to figure out.

I held my mother’s hand
and tried to assume the best of everything
that was bigger than what I could think to say
at eight p.m. every night.

Over the years I’ve become increasingly frustrated
with things that are greater than the best a child
can think of when it comes to hope and brazen common sense.

Three Poems

The dream to come up with original content for this blog continues.

I swear.

It’s just hard to find the motivation to do so. It seems like most of my essays head over to Drunken Monkeys. That’s certainly not a bad thing.

Doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to come up with something anyway.

I can’t complain though. I’m not that negative. I’ve been traveling more, and through that, and the long line of weirdoes I’ve met along the way, I’ve actually been eager to write lately. My resolve to sell that second novel is back in fighting shape, and I’m even starting to think of how to expand a novella I wrote a while back into a third novel.

The last couple of weeks have been particularly fruitful. It’s been a long, long while since I felt the drunkenness that comes with having more images and ideas than I know what to do with (Old Crow helps with that drunkenness, but it also kills the whole spiritual high thing I was going for a moment ago). I’ve tried to nail down a few in two of the poems I’m tossing into this post, but I know that it’s going to be the kind of thing where I lose twenty such visuals for every couple I manage to lock away.

That’s okay, and the reason why that’s okay is because it’s not going to be the last time I get to knock around a small piece of the world like this.

**********
Hot, Moonless Nights Abroad
By Gabriel Ricard

Abel came back to life on a Tuesday morning,
but Cain had already been back for years,
and everyone had always liked him more anyway.

He wrote great poetry about dysfunction,
and could ride a bicycle down any hill in San Francisco
with his eyes closed, arms out and heart way wide open.

When you risk your life like that,
every day is the last day of summer,
and when it’s gone,
when your nerve leaves you with the bill
you’re never going to get it back.

What the hell was Cain to do?
He moved to New Albany,
gained two hundred pounds
and got a job at the post office.

It was never his plan to come back and cause trouble,
or tell anyone anything they weren’t going to believe anyway.

He turned bitter in a hurry. He became quiet about it, too.
That kind of thing can happen to anybody
with unrealistic expectations of what’s waiting for them at home.

What really killed him,
and this weirdo knew a lot about dying,
was how quickly you could get bored
with a town of less than ten thousand.

Right, right, right,
yeah, yeah, yeah,
fine.

The Kindergarten teacher was a burlesque dancer
with a missing leg. You almost always wound up
with either a dead body or a bag of phony diamonds
when you bought a used car. The local chemical engineer
wore his wife’s clothes, and stopped people
from committing crimes they hadn’t even thought of yet.

One man had seen “True Grit” so many times
that he could look at it fourteen different ways.

Some of those involved pretty far-out stretches of the imagination.

Some writer also just happened to be born there
as he was making his way to the little-known town
of Gravedigger in Hollywood, California.

Hapless, foolish, bloated, lonely Abel
came to regret the whole drunken notion
of returning to the land of living.

He drank beer like Mary drank secrets.
He waited for fights with people
who tried to use his apartment complex’s dumpster
but didn’t actually live there.

When he finally decided that he would die
if he didn’t leave and soon,
he checked with some of his friends from the old days.

No one recognized him,
not even his voice,
so they just assumed he was a really,
really confident liar.

That just made things even worse.

**********
Until The Day of My Tenth Life
By Gabriel Ricard

The sandwich shop is called Hell’s Kitchen.
I can guess,
and I’d probably be right,
that the gentleman in camouflage
and a shirt that used to be white
has been sitting out front a long time.

If he’s blind,
if he hasn’t got a friend in this blue and red world,
and if he’s been waiting for the leaves to change,
then my heart is obliged to go out to him.

If he’s just waiting for a sandwich and a winning horse,
then I wish him the best with that, too.

Even though my dearest comrades and saviors
started out as strangers I don’t ask him for his life story.
I’ve got places I don’t want to be. Places I don’t need to be.

My heart is a Hollywood Video next to a Civil War cemetery.
Or at the very least it’s catching some sun in the hands
of a young lady. She ran away from the circus
to rest her weary eyes
in the cool hush of an unforgiving room.

I will love her until the day my tenth life is up for auction.
Love her until the ninth one feels shiny and new to the touch.
Hold her until everything catches up to me.
Because a quick cut can hear me trying to breathe properly for miles.

Savages will be waiting for me in the future,
and I know they will be savages when the future becomes defunct,
and I have a whole new set of rules,
that will not reveal themselves to me
until long after the ambulance forgets to pick me up.

You pay a lot of people,
leave a lot of heirlooms on a lot of doorsteps,
I guess, I think, I suppose,
if you want to be as happy as the person
you’re cheering up in spite of your downtown health.

I didn’t ask the man outside Hell’s Kitchen for his story.
He didn’t ask me for mine.

We didn’t even exchange a nod,
but if we had made eye contact
I think we would have.

It’s not about making a lifelong connection.
It’s about finding people you know,
and I mean know,
you’re going to see standing nearby
when your private worlds simultaneously collapse.

I’m amazed at how many of us
are members in good standing of that philosophy.

**********
Everybody’s A Drug Addict
By Gabriel Ricard

It took twenty-four years to reach out
and press my palms against the building.

There was no story there.
The memories of the brave and cynical
did not rush from the cracks to greet my tired blood.

And I waited, too. Believe me.

I might as well have been hanging around
for some easy money and one of those cowboys
who sings, but probably shouldn’t.

It wasn’t a disaster though. I didn’t cry,
or miss the bus at 35th and 5th on purpose.

I just reached out to shake hands
with those who live in the details of the shadows,
and are damn near stalking me at times.

I reached out whenever I felt the presence
of something very lost and very human
in the winds of summer. The kind of breeze
that digs deep before you can even wonder
why you’re suddenly so cold.

My youth sings on in a less-than-stellar
part of the world, and I wish all the time
that it would just shut up, go to sleep
and wake up in what I am working to make
a much more forgiving past.

This is just the kind of thing
I think about when there are more streets
around me than I know what to do with.

Bad intentions to my left.
Sobbing empires of dark clouds on up ahead.
Physical consequences of anxiety to my right.
Broken hearts and cheated livers right behind me.

What’s a young man who doesn’t actually feel young to do?
Do I play dress-up, change my name
and act that people might consider a little classier?

Do I prove that I’m smarter than at least ninety-percent
of the car crashes I’ve limped away from?

Do I learn how to at least make sense to myself?

I can’t keep visiting these old buildings,
and assuming the spark has been there
waiting for me all along.

It’s better that I act as though
I ran out of years to look forward to years ago.

Especially since it might be true,
and that one day love and travel
just won’t be enough.

Right now
I’m content
to be so good at pretending I think otherwise
that you might mistake it for arrogance.

Could be.
Could be that I’m just out of coffee.

Three Poems

I’m procrastinating on all those bold, fantastic new things I want to do for this blog.

I swear I’m going to work on it.

Eventually.

Pinterest, sobbing over a Tumblr of NyQuil, peculiar women and articles about New York in the 1920’s are very, very critical to the work that I do. I hope that just goes without saying.

**********
Women Love Jesus Talk
By Gabriel Ricard

I’m honored to say
that some of the best Shakespeare plays
I’ve ever seen
have been in junkyards,
and loser-takes-all boxing rings.

The girls are ridiculous at those.
A dozen strange head cases just like me
are lined up to kick the old cigarette machine,
and then act like they picked up the limp
chasing them across town in elementary school.

I don’t stand out in these places.
My clothes are not brand-new,
the plain, ordinary coffee has been half-gone for hours
and my footsteps are muffled against all this noise.

For the record
they still carry the stupid hopes
and charming loser ambitions of everyone,
who used to come here,
and secretly wished to one day grow old.

Someone else already broke their neck. They tied a bed sheet
around their neck and tried to fly
out the first-floor window
amidst glorious, heavy metal fanfare.

I was actually there for that.
Would you believe it was also
the one and only night
where I almost got hitched?

Everything was glorious and unreasonable that night.
The band was ready to leave Kansas City behind.
I traveled hundreds of miles,
and almost forgot how much the sun can feel like a Vegas hack
when you go long enough without staring it down.

Yeah,
I deserve to be blind,
or telling people how hard it is love again
on one good leg.

I’m sure the hole in my stomach
could contribute a lot
to a game of basketball.

Sometimes,
I wake up in the night,
remember I’ll never be innocent,
remember no one else is there,
and I suddenly start coughing for no reason.

A spiritual woman told me that’s enough.
Another spiritual woman told me to try harder.

I loved them both,
and you can probably diagnose me
with a phonebook worth of a paper
on that alone

A gang of bright-eyed atheists took me out to lunch.

I swear,
their Cadillac never went slower than one-fifty.

I might have laughed harder in the past,
and I know I’ll laugh harder in the future,
but there was something,
I hate to say it,
but there was something magical
about that night.

I didn’t breathe a word of that to them though.

Can you imagine how that would have gone over?

**********
Friendly Skies
By Gabriel Ricard

I didn’t have a clue
as to where the hell I was,
but that didn’t stop me
from having a couple drinks.

I knew I was somewhere
in the city of San Francisco.

I knew I was in one of those
ugly parts of town that appeals
to artist crowd.

I had that much to go on,
and it was enough in my mind
to let me think that there was
nothing at all wrong with standing
in the middle of a crowded loft
with a cigarette and a drink
I couldn’t immediately identify.

There was some music,
a lot of socially acceptable racist jokes,
some bondage and suburban witchcraft,
and a bunch of alcoholics dressed
in nostalgia acts and talking about the war.

I didn’t know a single person there,
except for some Bettie Page bukkake queen
knock-off who insisted that I knew
how to get back to North Berkeley.

And when I told her I didn’t,
she promised me that I’d feel terrible
when I checked the papers tomorrow morning,

But I didn’t see much of her after that,
so she really wasn’t the problem as much
as somehow making it back home was.

I left the party
around the time I caught two girls
performing a blood oath
with what was left of this guy
I had earlier seen in the company
of a twelve year-old dressed like Sailor Moon.

Even at twenty-two,
younger than half the room,
I was still too old for this sort of thing.

I made it down onto the street,
more than a little drunk,
and lit a cigarette while I tried
to figure out the next moment.

Anticipate,
in a desperate bid for the rush
of a nice change of pace.

But as I was thinking,
a homeless gypsy walked by
and asked me for a dollar.

I gave it over,
in need of a little Vancouver karma,
and she reached out
to take my hand and kiss it.

As she did,
she flipped over to face the palm,
looked it over a second,
then let go and told me not to bother.

I asked her what she meant,
but my timing was bad,
and I caught her just as she was getting
run over while crossing the street.

The driver didn’t stop,
and the gypsy didn’t move.

I sighed and managed to check my watch.

I somehow knew
that I had less than fifteen minutes
to find the BART station and the last ride
back to the safety of Hayward.

There wasn’t much else
to do but stumble across the street
and make a sharp turn at the corner
of a bad feeling and a hell of a long shot.

There wasn’t much else to do but laugh
and laugh and laugh and laugh some more.

All the while waiting for the crowd
above ground and below to get a little nervous.

**********
Kansas Visits Virginia
By Gabriel Ricard

They hit the back roads,
miles and more grassy miles
of hitchhikers decked out in long lost fashions
while they wait for their stories to be told.

He guns the truck to eighty-five
and smacks her hand when she tries
to reach for the radio.

Miles and more underworked miles.
Fields with solitary homes in the distance
where no one wants to be stand still
but can’t leave for fear of those violent rumors
that have been following around the wind that picks up
at eight p.m. every night.

The people are few
and demented in between and seem to know
before anyone when trouble is balling up its fists
for something bad on the horizon.

The three of them in that truck
know all about it. They finished high school
four years ago. A lot of the time it feels like
they’re paying off the student loans
of twenty ambitious icons.

They got married two years ago
and have yet to get any children out of  it. No one can say
they haven’t tried. Not one friend or well-wisher can claim
he hasn’t prayed enough,
or that she hasn’t seen enough kindly southern doctors.

Youngsters love to let hope drift through
their fingers. The two of them are starting
to really hate people like that.

The third person,
the third wheel,
he doesn’t really hate anything. He writes books
or some such thing, tells jokes and borrows
a lot of money from loan sharks who are always
auditioning for one reality show or another.

He sits in the back of the truck
and miraculously gets his cigarette lit
every single time.

The couple in the front hasn’t said much
since leaving the baby shower two hours ago.
She worked out all her crying in the bathroom
at Applebees. He dug his hands into his pockets
as he went inside the gas station to pay twenty dollars
on number five.

They’re getting mean in their old age and
Terrified that they might run out of people
who will put up with it. He never wants to send her
packing into the kitchen floor. She never, ever wants
to disappear at a rest stop during one of their trips to Northern Virginia.

In the back of the truck
the third wheel knows they’re running out of time.

He prays for wisdom regardless of consequence.
He still manages to keep from getting angry
and wishes he was just someone who leapt from
car to car, truck to truck, city to world at large
to do nothing more than observe, nod
and move on.

Two Poems

Day seventeen should be making the scene next week. For now let’s see what to make of the two most recent poems I’ve written.

Most of my creative output these days is poetry, fiction and reviews. I’d like to break from those at some point soon, and get into a new script, or even something I’ve never done before (like writing for a webcomic), but I guess those things will have to wait.

Until?

I don’t. Until I feel comfortable with where I stand with the things I’m working on now. I really don’t want to take on any big projects until the third draft of that second novel is finally finished. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t say no, if something were to come along. I’m just trying not to take on too much at once. I want to be ridiculously productive, but there’s always a point where the work will begin to suffer. Who knows if I’m there already. I don’t think I am, but you never know.

These are weird poems that came out of weird, sad dreams and memories. I’ve been having a lot of those lately. I hate anything that leaves me with an inexplicable notion of sorrow. Depression is fine, but I think sorrow is a little dramatic, and not something I’m even remotely entitled to.

Still, I wake up with the feeling, and it digs at me for the rest of the day. Thank-God, it doesn’t  happen often.

I think these turned out pretty well. I’d like to try submitting them, but I suppose this is a good place to let them wander around for a bit. See if they run into anyone familiar.

They certainly don’t want to hang around a sad bastard like me anymore.

Enjoy.

**********
Real Deviant-Like
By Gabriel Ricard

Fear is the great motivator,
and it’s possible I’ve revealed
too much of what scares me
three-hundred-and-sixty-four days out of the year.

I still visit friends,
and I act like there really are flowers in my right hand,
when I visit a woman who knows how dangerous
I can be when the stress becomes unmanageable.

It’s the first day,
of knowing yesterday
was the first day of the rest of my life.

I’m still mostly fantastic for fourteen shows an hour.
I’m still sorry I was too lazy to ride a bicycle,
all the way to the state she was playing house in.

All the bad things I’ve done
remain safe and sound. They used to be in a film vault,
in the stable parts of California but were moved,
and have since been traveling even more I do.

Maybe, I’m just an egomaniac,
but I suspect hundreds of people
are keeping that reel updated
and timely to the point where it’s giddy with insight.

Or it’s just one bitter heart with personality to spare.

Something tells me,
that’s not it. I’ve wronged a subway car
worth of people in the last decade alone.

I know all of this. It makes up the bones
that have their own games, their own language,
and their own way of mouthing off to God
with a mouthful of dirt.

It’s a mighty big closet to keep them in.
The skeletons dance, like someone
set out to recreate a public domain cartoon
from 1928, but fell in and out of love
before they finished and retired,
to watch the underworld
from their front porch.

I think the previous owner
kissed a couple dangerous girls in there once.

Lots of room to make a bad decision.
You wouldn’t even have to pound
the old hotspots. So desolate the wind left them behind
and went looking for something else to whip into shape.

I still do that,
but I don’t keep the souvenirs.
I avoid getting close to new bodies whenever possible.

They wouldn’t love me in the long run.

I know all of this. Every last dreadful gesture,
and every t-shirt that smells like a claustrophobic barroom,
but I’m still afraid of almost everything.

There’s no motivation from that anymore.
No burn marks under my feet. Not no more.

Now,
I just accumulate troubling amounts
of wealth for the distressing times ahead of me.

**********
Echoes from Wild Horses
By Gabriel Ricard

Throw us under the bus heading into town.
Or just throw us over the last necessary telephone wire,
let the chemically imbalanced ballerinas tap
ridiculous sorrow on the back of our heads,
and then leave what’s left of us for the politically-correct crows.

It’s not a murder anymore.
It’s just a gathering of talented public servants,
who just so happen to know which sleeve our hearts are hiding under.

Widows have to be content to be rich in spirit.
The best homes in the best neighborhoods
are still the ones that stand alone,
and don’t need a skyscraper resting comfortably on top
catching the last of Peter Pan’s optimistic fan club.

No one ever goes inside,
but you can hear arguments,
and shopping carts, debating TV finales with stray cats
on a night where everyone’s outside
drinking spiked NyQuil,
and not speaking to each other.

There’s plenty of money around to buy these places.
Fix up the interior. Paint the walls something,
that won’t bleed all the way outside
into the grass. But the buyers are all temporary millionaires,
looking to take revenge on their childhood homes,
and ruin a couple of classic cars.

Some people just can’t let go.
Others develop real mean complexes,
over how easily that came to them in their youth.

Even the Atheists have been touched in the head
by a god of some kind.

Old men gamble on the echoes
of the wild horses trying to outrun the August blues.

Young men try to stop cabs
with nothing but great expectations and loud voices.

Every one of them remembers
the woman who sang to them on a payphone,
and told them everything was finally ready
to forgive itself.

They remember a little too often,
laugh a little too hard,
stay out a little too late,
cough up everything they breathed in,
and wind up too scared to visit a sadistic country doctor
in timeless carnival dress.

No one ever dies that way.
That’s the worst part.

Paranoid workaholics are beginning to wonder
if anyone ever really dies anymore.

Like everything else,
it seems to be taking forever,
and nothing we do
is half as much fun as it used to be
because of that.