The beautiful dead

11:38 p.m.
desert milk moonunnamed
streets sharpened and
peeled back in poems
sitting in my study with a
book of Jeffers next to a
play by Eliot
a drive across the oceans
of ink
of boulevards pronounced
in smoke and sweat
decades adding up and creating
a feel of Faust
of Cervantes
milk moon
and flags in blue fire
reading the heavyweights
plucked like stones
from the shelf.
Tonight’s a night for them.
A Machiavelli moon
lit high above
a Sun Tzu street
enough of our genius
without them we’d be nothing left
to have gone before us took guts
the blood on the page,
the suns of Neruda
gripped in the fist
of moderns,
our fingers still fleshed
at midnight
beating the hours back
because of them
I sit here and think about what
they’ve left behind
rolling hills of words
for feed
the sun-torn expanse
bleeding and spilling
into ours
dropping down from
them into us
our hearts’
excuse for laughter
for understanding failure
for victory against
the bullshit
I sit here and write into
the midnight hour
high on the words
of beautiful madmen
once so brilliant of eye.
Tonight’s a night for them,
while I stroke these keys
and reach out
across their oceans of
all bravado aside
all my own bullshit
dropped away
sitting here behind
the machine
reaching with everything
I have
to be a speck of
dust shining
in their

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Burning with rain (or Abandoned by whores)


coffee and the burning of incense
my plant on the sill absorbing
the rain, wind, and album
while it rotates on the player
my dogs full
head full
all the decades lost and drained down
my feet bare against a throw rug that costs
more than my last car
and my blood tricked by health
my body snapping back into form
mind tricked by money
but today remembering the old days
the shit days
the days of running on fumes
in every sense of the phrase
an inch close to suicide without
even knowing it
the road and cities and sabotage
the faces and
the teeth in those faces
the rats inside of them
the roaches inside those
and the rotting insides
of them
but I sit here and drink coffee
Disintegration belting out from the
a nice contrast to Bad Brains
while I fed the dogs
and stretched
-yeah, no shit, stretched-
and watered the plant
which I’ve named Tom Araya
because when it was given to me
by some woman last year
it was just a stem and three leaves,
and it was thirsty
and shooting up from a
small, dark pot
and for some reason,
my mild synesthesia
placed a summer orange glow
around the
dark blue planter
and I heard Araya scream his
famous intro
on Angel Of Death
I’d never had a plant before him
and today Tom Araya is much taller
and living in a much bigger planter
15 or 16 leaves, his stem supported
by a bamboo splint
and next to his trunk in the soil
a new part of him is shooting up
in three stems from his badass
I sit here and listen to the rain
the album
the burning of scent
and time
and maybe wonder
but that’s what age
must put between us and
the world
and it’s what we use
to keep feeling like there’s
a fight to win
but I think about my plant
both of us abandoned by whores
after birth
both of us rescued by
soft hearts
and grown
from those hearts with
the best that they knew
and even though
I let time and populace
and myself break me down
from soil to trash to nearly saying
fuck it
I held on through words
which became my own soil
and I became their synesthesia
a slave to the source
to that place, the core that
has never stopped burning
toward a sky that we will
never know
regardless of how much
we praise it and mystify it
and give ourselves over
sitting here in Seattle
the rain tapers off
and I glance at Tom Araya:
I’ll keep getting richer
and you keep

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Sexy Mexican Maid

On my back listening to music
old albums from the mornings of
youth: waking up lean, ready, relaxed, hair in mouth
and touching shoulders
the world out there full of color and blood
the sand and sun and salt water waiting
the bikinis waiting without expectation
the songs of then, like the one this morning,
the careless yet loving caress
of not knowing
the song’s intro bringing me back to those mornings
waking up in my rented room on the beach:
California, 18 or 19 years old
wild-eyed and mad with the words, fast, beautiful,
without stress, without care, without bother for anyone
else’s opinion, without the need to shield myself
from the eyes and hateful intent
of dicks and cunts
I was unaffected by their drain
and sometimes I still am
but the years put wear on a man’s heart
his skin, his mind, his instinct
and without being careful, the past can spill over into the future
but mornings like this come more often as we let cut loose the hateful faces,
let the shitty intent of others
roll off our backs
and keep our eyes on the Sun and surf and cities and towns and fields bathed in moonlight
the present spilling out before us
with what is earned
and nothing else
leaking its way to the
the center opens
and we
walk on in.

2015/01/img_3135-0.png”>Sexy Mexican Maid

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Shower, stone, domestic violence.


I hit the bank and got the cash, drove to the house and carried everything to the place downstairs. The hotel last night was a bitch, literally. This couple was going at it all night, yelling next door, fighting, the door slamming shut, flying open, on and on until 5 a.m. The entire motel smelled liked weed, which was fine, it was legal here now, but for someone like me, a once-a-year stoner at best, I hadn’t made friends with the smell, I couldn’t embrace the burning tire odor. Dog shit all over the back lot of the motel, garbage strewn in front of the door.

I got us fully moved in, fed the boy and stood in the shower, the high and perfect setting on the spout cleaning my flesh, my thoughts on the last month, and last night’s voices of domestic violence running off my shoulders and into the drain:
The slamming door, then another one of her screams:
I felt the water move down my skin, and the last year of being out in the wind moved with it. I thought about the last book tour, my Australian girl, my diamond, really, the one who flew over and traveled the coast with me down California from Washington, to Vegas, to San Diego, to her departing flight from LAX. Six weeks of happiness, six weeks of beauty slated not to last, but to be ripped and torn from me, from her. We were the ghosts of each other now, she moved on and I moved on, which was healthy, it was essential. I counted back to the year when the word first found me with its tattoo, with its permanent mark. I was a young man, a cook in Tempe, my fingers weeping into the keys of my first typewriter, the bricks of the room bringing Hell onto the page, the reckoning of worth, the strength in pure solitude. As the water covered me there, I rested my foot back on the stone, and I felt the words start to grip me again, I felt the sentences strengthen, I felt the wind of words and the wind was the world, it reached from Mombasa to Montezuma, from the depths of Mars to mirror the Moon and flow back to Earth. We were all carbon, and the universe was carbon, there was nothing separate between us. I looked down at the floor unblinking, the water falling from my brow, and I remembered everything and nothing, and I remembered the loving eyes of my angel dog, Meg, my Border Collie-Blue Heeler girl, her electric soul and her bones in the ground. It would soon be four years since she left this place, since she left Chico and I behind to sift through all the things she knew, the things she took with her. I thought about the faces of the past, the ignorant faces on the jobs, the teeth of them, the look of them because they knew I hated them, they knew I didn’t share their fears, and they pawned me off to insanity.
I shook off the thoughts and killed the water. I dried myself and let the sorrow of those days go into the towel, the anger of them. Chico nosed his way into the bathroom and looked up at me, his mouth full of food, and I laughed.

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In transit.


Blasting through the southwest. Stark brown, mesas, plateaus, cacti, Joshua trees, dirt and disfigurement. The desert has its own kind of dignity.

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All you artists are fucked up. (From an old folder, from somewhere in the ’90s.)



I was hanging a door at work today

when this piece of shit I work with

asked me what I was working on

a book

I told him

no shit,

about what?

just a bunch of short pages

on different things, I told him.

so, he smirked through

his rotted-ass teeth, and

said, so

it’s not really a book then, right?

and I said

that’s why I didn’t say novel,


that’s when he dropped his level

and called me a queer

and I laughed

and told him

if I really was queer

he would have been loved over and over

by this point in our relationship

all you artists are fucked up

he said and picked up his level

just help me square this goddamn frame I said

so I can leave

and he said all artists were selfish

and I said more like precious

faggot, he grunted

listen, I said

you keep projecting your weakness on me


me and you are gonna

go round and round

to which he said bring it on,


he squared off

and I squared off,

caught him on the jaw

stunned him

Jesus, he said

I was only kidding

and I said so was



Algren mentioned that

he liked to stay close to

his sources.

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Breath Upon A Burn


Breath cover

I drove her car to Norms for some dinner, where I finished the novel. Something snapped in my head, something changed. The last line in Hunger wound the book up air-tight and gave me chills. Such selfless, beautiful work. All the wonder of pain, the blood of words that dripped onto the page like rain, like breath upon a burn. The next day I sat in the same booth and read Ask the Dust. The warm colors smiled. The whole book was like swallowing the ocean. I drove home looking for his characters walking the streets.

Breath Upon A Burn, coming soon…

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And the books will burn.


I noticed this young couple reading. I made the block and parked across the street, walked up and shot their photo. It didn’t occur to me until later that I noticed nothing in their pockets: no phones, no media, no headphones. They weren’t waiting for anything. They were outside reading because it was good outside, and they read in silence bracing each other, absorbing the sentences, and it filled me with a kind of warmth I hadn’t sensed in years, in many years. I was just thinking earlier about the feeling of holding a paperback, the old and good feel of it, and while once in awhile across the city, I see someone reading a book, this scene was too perfect for me not to capture. Going by my own career, and seeing how big ebooks out-sell paperbacks, the rise and domination of that: paper is dying. Downtown a few days ago, I drove up First and waited at a light. Looking around, every fucking face was buried down into a phone. Bus stops, smoke breaks, walkers, drinkers: faces down, smart phones. I said to myself, “And the books will burn.”

Seeing these two made the drinks taste better tonight, and the thought of smoldering punk burning up into a flame of orange and blue and silver crossed my mind the same way coffee crosses blood. Back home behind the machine, blasting vintage metal and waiting for summer.

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Loss of Shadows

bad jacket kindleCC…the love for the written word and the sun-torn highways flush with mountains and small stations, a cup of hot coffee next to my typewriter, the feeling of life warm down my arms, is no longer real to me. It’s a grainy film, a mirror I use for my own self-image, and it keeps me going in here. It keeps my blood warm in a sea of cold, controlled environment, a place where autonomy and expression are simply not possible on an outward plane. A place where your own death is welcomed hungrily, because it would be a diversion from the horrible nothing. My life in here is a new, sick dream. I exist by minutes in this cell, by dark hours of uniform garbage. It’s pushing 9:30 p.m. and we’re celled in for the night. I sit and pencil this to you, Helena, my muse, for lack of a definitive word, because I need you here next to me, a friendly face to listen without words. Know that I write this with a gun to my head, while every 15 minutes the hacks walk by and make their count, while the lights of the cities across the States are lit and waiting for spring to burn off to summer. I’ll start from the phone call now, and will soon revert to form, because I need to make this letter to you as clear as I can, but bear with me for a chapter, Helena. After all, you taught me how to write, how to sit and be water, bone, blood, and fist while the words fire from chest to arms. Yet what I wouldn’t give to feel my bare feet in the grass, my hands upon warm dirt. I sit in this concrete box freezing. The pencil moves across the page while outside my shadow looks around for its body.

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