Seven Poems

SHOOTING FOR THE STARS IN KEVLAR

We run
from hot summer days
and broken air conditioners.

We run
to chilled movie theatres
make out like teenagers
who’ve never had sex
never been kissed by tender mouths
and never cradled
in the arms
of an unconditional love.

We make our own movies
back in the back of the theatre
laughing like there’s no yesterdays
yesterdays that begged us to stay
and tried to kill us
in our sleep
then chased us
in our waking hours
begging for salvation
and a hall pass.

We are the bright spots in the road
found in dark alleys.

A pair of lives
lived hard
treated hard
and discarded harder
and as we hit the pavement
skipping
we forgot that we were only playing
hopscotch
to the tune of songs
lead by a symphony
of sirens and howling dogs.

Can we believe that we can believe in love?

After we have let so many
put their unloving hands
around our hearts
souls
and throats

x-friends
x-loves
x-cons
x-drug habits
x-drug dealers
still trying to strike a better deal
with empty promises
empty pockets
and empty souls.

Leaving
open wounds
like bullets holes
as the winds blow through them
hollow and scarred
and that sometimes
most often
are un-healable.

A catalog
of catastrophic events
shaped our lives
and sculpted us
into who we are.

It doesn’t always mean
that who we are
can carry us
into who we want to be.

But that doesn’t mean we’ll stop trying.

As we dry our eyes
while no one’s looking
in dark theaters
waiting for the next movie to start…

 

THANK YOU HENRY MANCINI

Thank you Henry Mancini
for all the neon boulevards
and all the city streets
of all the cities
and the jazz
and the poetry
of the downtowns
and the uptowns.

For Sunset Boulevard
in the rain
Hollywood Boulevard
at twilight
and Wilshire Boulevard
at dawn.

For the Pacific Coast Highway
Union Station
and the view
from Mulholland Drive
both sides;
the San Fernando Valley
and Los Angeles.
For jazz gliding it’s way
down translucent highways
at one in the morning
through the steam
of car headlights
in the pouring rain.

For making me feel clean
when I was dirty
and for the fantasy
that my life
was somehow better
than it was
and for the romance
when there wasn’t any.

For crazy but surprisingly
smooth hung over mornings
when an all-nighter
should have been painful.

Thank you
for the lengthy, warm
Santa Ana, summer afternoons
over looking a city
from a dingy apartment
with only the view
and you
to save me.

Thank you Henry Mancini
for those
ephemeral evenings
draped across Hollywood
at midnight
like a ghost town
timeless
glamorous
and still.

For the exquisite
and the calm
and for the clean
and regal lift of elegance
on to a stairway of stars
leading to a luxurious
and illustrious world
where nothing earthly
can touch me.
Thank you.

 

L.A. RIVER LULLABY

It’s 2:06 am
and I can hear the sounds
of a distant train
as the constant passing of cars
drive the 5 Freeway
alongside the L.A. River
heading north
and heading south
going to places
called home.

Home for me
is not a place
with walls
windows
and doors
where framed photographs
are placed on mantles
over fireplaces
and lined hallways
or embedded
in refrigerator magnets.

Home lives in my heart
and in my breath
and in the unsaid exchange
of knowing glimpses
with loved ones
and kindred spirits
ignited by
the reciprocity
of trust
kindness
safety
love
and the generosity
of a spirit
that goes beyond
material items.

Beyond
coaxing words
and gestures
for planned outcomes.

Beyond any exchange
of anything
wanted
or needed.

Home is not
the room
for the life
but for the life
in the room.

Home lives
in the conversations
that our souls
are having with each other
without words
where truths are unspoken
with an unconditional love
that rings louder
and with more power
than mere words
could ever express.

With an emanating
everlasting
unstoppable
force.

Home is anywhere
the heart thrives.

As the passing cars
on the 5 freeway
get quieter and quieter
until all I can hear
is the distant train
and the unspoken words.

 

WHAT MAKES EDDIE RUN
(For Eddie Little R.I.P.)

I see you sitting
sitting in the glow of your computer
burnt spoon and needle
at one side
and a loaded gun
at your other.

There’s only one bullet in the chamber
and it’s reserved for you
you’re attempting to write
the next great American novel
and I believe you will
providing you don’t kill yourself
before it’s finished.

It’s a race
isn’t it?
Your conscience
and your ego
are at a dead heat
while your phone is ringing off the hook
with calls from your agent
and London and New York
all wanting to buy the movie rights.
You were the first guy
to ever buy me diamonds
I’m just wondering
where the hell you got the money;
Was it an insurance scam?
Phony credit cards?
Or your usual
selling phony stocks
to old people
for their life savings?

Well all I can say is
it’s only a matter of time
for you sweetheart
but if it’s true
that nice guys and gals
finish last
than you can bet
i’ll be sitting
in the last seat
in the last row
of the house
that I more than likely
bought at 100% mark-up
trapped between a noisy bathroom
and a rank alleyway.

But at least
while I’m sitting
on the lap of time
checking my watch
I know you’ll be
mixing another shot
of liquid comfort
while running
from that god awful mirror
called your conscience.

There aren’t enough opiates
in the city of L.A.
to make that reflection go away
but I know you
you’re not a quitter
you’ll die trying.

Buprenex
 

WHEN THE LIFE OF THE PARTY TURNS BLUE

It was that last box of Buprenex
living above that bar
with the rock bands
playing so loud
and vibrating
through the floorboards
trying to sleep
trying to kick
trying to die.

It was that last bag
that last fix
that last shot
that last hit
that last 40 dollar piece
that didn’t do jack shit.

It was that last trip
to 9th and Bonnie Brae
8th and Hill
Wilshire and West Moreland.
That last three hour bus ride,
for what?
To maybe get well
and probably get burned.
It was that last cruise
past MacArthur Park.
That last 4 AM front
still to this day unpaid.

It was that last
911 call
to Gower and Hollywood.
That last three day crack marathon
on Normandie.
In a car phone selling
carpet crawling
curtain taping
extravaganza.

But really,
i think most of all
it was that last OD.
First I saved you
and then you saved me.

Waking up in a bathtub
of cold water
fully clothed,
you standing above me,
just wasn’t fun anymore…

 

PUNK ROCK ROYALTY
(For Ratsass)

Somewhere in Sacramento California
at some well known crash pad
sometime in the middle of the week
and sometime
in the middle of the afternoon
day and time
customarily unknown
to the residents of house.
The dishes haven’t been washed
since July
and it’s September
half empty to go boxes
with two week old pizza
and Taco Bell remains
99 cent burgers
from AM/PM
and empty bottles
of plain wrap liquor
and beer cans
lay strewn across
the kitchen floor
leaving not even a trail.

In the living room
there’s four guys
who haven’t slept
in three days
trying to pump life
out of a keg
that’s been finished
since the weekend.
And two Pit Bulls
gnawing on old rib bones.
There’s flies everywhere
and it’s hot.

The Hickoids
Tales Of Terror
Fang
and Johnny Thunders
is blaring out of beer soaked speakers
that periodically
keep shorting out.
The TV is on
but the sound is off
showing Blue Velvet
for the 5th time that day
must be another Frank-Fest.

And in the middle of all this
you’re locked away
in the bathroom
like Punk Rock Royalty
sitting on your throne
jacking off to my picture
in Flipside Magazine
for the second time that day.

Thank you
I feel honored.

 

THE SILENCE OF VIOLENCE

We don’t talk about it
we don’t talk about
how dad beat mom
for 13 years
before she finally got the guts
to throw him out.

We don’t talk about
how I was only three
but took in everything,
or how the whole family
Internalized it.

And we don’t talk about
how the neighbors talked
because the police
were always at our house.

And we don’t talk about
how you did to me
what dad did to mom
gorilla see, what gorilla do
how when I was 15
and you slammed my head in the closet door
over and over and over
because it was dinner time
and I couldn’t find my front door key
and I had the nerve to knock
and wake you from a late afternoon nap.

We don’t talk about it
because you’ve magically
blocked it all out
but I haven’t.

And we don’t talk about
how most all of the men
I have been with
have done the same
coincidence?
I don’t think so.

Or how women for years
and in third world countries
are still being abused
and treated in heinous ways
too brutal for the nightly news.

I didn’t know
there were more ways
to abuse a person than just a punch in the face.

Words are weapons too.
And there are things
that have been said
that I will never un-hear
and if given the choice
I would rather
have been punched in the face.

Little known fact
It takes saying
55 nice things
to take away
one mean thing
that was said
and cut
and hurt
and went so deep
that it burrowed in
and took over
taking sleep
and joy
and love
from the soul.

We are given
the luxury of language
It is such a crime
that words
are ever used
as weapons.

I love words
but not
when they are
being shot at me
like bullets
from a gun,
to my heart
and to my soul.
I hear them
and I fear them.

And we don’t talk about
how Joe DiMaggio
physically and verbally
abused Marilyn Monroe.

They even kept that out
of the news
and the divorce hearings.
That would have changed
The course of history
now wouldn’t it?

Yes the silence of violence
is getting so loud
that it is deafening.
It clouds everything
that is good
and lovely
and beautiful.

It is a thief
killing slowly.
First the spirit
then the soul
then the life force.

Yes the silence
is deafening.
I’m sorry
did you say something?
I can’t hear you.

–Iris Berry