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Tag Archives: poetry

Tonight, as I blew out the wick of a long day,

I saw images of myself as a young boy.

I saw myself closing a book, turning off the light, gazing up at the ceiling.

Counting glow in the dark stars—big one, little one, galaxy, moon.

I had put them up myself, stood on top of my bed with bent legs and sprung

up, pressing the star as hard as I could against the ceiling.

Sometimes, I would press too hard, and the opposing force would be too much

for my little legs.  I’d fall on the bed, get back up, star in my hand,

and do it all over again.  Pretty soon, I had that whole ceiling covered.

My own universe.  My own world.  Stars were there because I put them there.

Big one, little one, galaxy, moon.

They would shine the brightest right after I turned the lights off.

And I’d lay there in my bed, wide-eyed and proud of my universe.

No matter what happened in the scary loud day,

I could rest knowing that my universe was a light-switch away.

Tonight, twenty-years later,

I close a book, turn off the light, and gaze up at the ceiling.

There’s no glow in the dark universe.  Only a dim light shimmers from a smoke detector.

I smile in amazement at it all.  And I think,

I’m still that little kid.  Still blindly springing, legs bent,

slamming stars too hard into the ceiling.

Big one, little one, galaxy, moon.


Lately my dreams have been filled

with weightless silence.

A floating cloud.

A story with faces but no sound.

Before the chatter of a critical mind,

or the company of friends,

each moment is silent.


Freedom is when you can find composure

in the silent, weightless moments.

Be a floating cloud

dancing its silent symphony across the sky.

Gone are the slow days of summer.

I close my eyes in traffic and imagine the Oaks in Big Sur

reaching their long limber arms out to me

and I rest in that.

I close my eyes and remember that I am breathing,

that my feet are on the ground.

I feel gravity holding me. I feel the dance of the spheres in the sky.

But gone are the slow days of summer.

Tension fills the graduate school classroom where I sit.

I close my eyes and feel the wet hot air of Thailand.

I taste the cold mango shakes made with love on top of a mountain.

I keep my eyes closed and I imagine walking through the gardens at Esalen,

hearing the soothing roar of the ocean, the piercing of crickets

singing their songs to the stars.

I remember the hot springs, how I looked over the cliff

and knew there was nothing to be afraid of.

But gone are the slow days of summer.

I close my eyes while writing a paper and I see the faces of my friends.

I hear the sounds of their laughter and I smile my big smile.

I open my eyes and I feel the weight of the words on the page.

I feel the weight of the day pressing down on my shoulders,

slamming my body into my feet, holding me down against my will.

I feel stuck.  I feel trapped.

There’s a calm song inside me that wants to be played.

There’s a soothing voice that wants to be heard.

But often I can’t hear it.

Because gone are the slow days of summer.

I close my eyes in meditation.  I remember who I am.

I see how easily I get caught up in the show,

dragged down by the current.

I remember that the weight I feel is a product of my own mind.  It’s not real.

And once again I feel gravity gently holding me in place.

I feel my feet planted firmly on the ground.

I hear the sounds of the city through my window.

But there’s no story to them.  They’re just sounds.

I feel the dance of the spheres in the sky.

I take my one seat on the ride,

and smile my big smile.


I always find it fascinating, how life looks so different each and every year.
I look back at this year as if it were a dream,
as if Camus’s stranger or Dostoevsky’s double has been meddling with my affairs.
I wouldn’t be surprised. After this year, I no longer believe in surprise.
But I remember back, way back, to those times on Santa’s lap.
“What do you want for Christmas, little boy?”
And I would reply with whatever the boy before me had said.
“I want a Tonka Truck and a GI-Joe.”
And I remember thinking to myself,
that I would for sure get that Tonka Truck and GI-Joe,
just because I had asked Santa Claus.
What amazing faith I had as a child.
If you were to ask me what I wanted for Christmas this year,
I wouldn’t have an answer for you. Maybe if I thought about it long enough,
I would come up with something. But, without a doubt,
it’d be something that no person could ever give me.

There’s nothing more that I want. I have everything that I need.
My life is bountiful, plentiful. I know who I am, and those closest to me,
who love me, know exactly who I am too. And they love me because of that.
And it’s got nothing to do with you. Who I am doesn’t depend on you,
or what day it is, or where I am. And that’s all I’ve ever wanted,
more than Tonka Trucks or GI Joe’s… just to know who I am, and be okay with it.
This year has been tough for all of us. And with our noses pressed so close
to the glass of each day, it becomes even tougher. But I do know one thing. Everything’s going to be okay. Tough, but okay.
I may not get the things that I want, or even the things that I need.
And some of you might walk out of my life with the blink of an eye.
And I’ll be left there, my nose to the glass, watching your handprints disappear.
But everything will still be okay.

And next year, when I’m sitting here, again, in my parents’ house,
listening to Nat King Cole sing Christmas carols, I’ll think about the year,
and the ones before it, how I didn’t get my Tonka Truck again.
But I’ll still have me. I’ll still know me.
And that’s something that nobody else can give me.
And there could be no better gift than that.


Dinosauria, We

by Charles Bukowski

Born like this
Into this
As the chalk faces smile
As Mrs. Death laughs
As the elevators break
As political landscapes dissolve
As the supermarket bag boy holds a college degree
As the oily fish spit out their oily prey
As the sun is masked
We are
Born like this
Into this
Into these carefully mad wars
Into the sight of broken factory windows of emptiness
Into bars where people no longer speak to each other
Into fist fights that end as shootings and knifings
Born into this
Into hospitals which are so expensive that it’s cheaper to die
Into lawyers who charge so much it’s cheaper to plead guilty
Into a country where the jails are full and the madhouses closed
Into a place where the masses elevate fools into rich heroes
Born into this
Walking and living through this
Dying because of this
Muted because of this
Because of this
Fooled by this
Used by this
Pissed on by this
Made crazy and sick by this
Made violent
Made inhuman
By this
The heart is blackened
The fingers reach for the throat
The gun
The knife
The bomb
The fingers reach toward an unresponsive god
The fingers reach for the bottle
The pill
The powder
We are born into this sorrowful deadliness
We are born into a government 60 years in debt
That soon will be unable to even pay the interest on that debt
And the banks will burn
Money will be useless
There will be open and unpunished murder in the streets
It will be guns and roving mobs
Land will be useless
Food will become a diminishing return
Nuclear power will be taken over by the many
Explosions will continually shake the earth
Radiated robot men will stalk each other
The rich and the chosen will watch from space platforms
Dante’s Inferno will be made to look like a children’s playground
The sun will not be seen and it will always be night
Trees will die
All vegetation will die
Radiated men will eat the flesh of radiated men
The sea will be poisoned
The lakes and rivers will vanish
Rain will be the new gold
The rotting bodies of men and animals will stink in the dark wind
The last few survivors will be overtaken by new and hideous diseases
And the space platforms will be destroyed by attrition
The petering out of supplies
The natural effect of general decay
And there will be the most beautiful silence never heard
Born out of that.
The sun still hidden there
Awaiting the next chapter.

I remember the first day I was introduced to Bukowski. It was a Friday, some years ago, and I was sitting at a desk with Jack Grapes. Jack was introduced to some of my writing at the UCLA Book Fair, and he became somewhat of a mentor to me. We would meet every Friday at his house in Beverly Hills to discuss and revise works I was in the middle of, or just sit and talk about authors we liked or disliked. He had just finished doing a review of Bukowski in a literary journal called ONTHEBUS. He pulled it out and I remember seeing a picture of Charles in that review.  There was something so intriguing to me about his face, marred with craters and scars. Jack tried to impress upon me the brilliance of this man, that he was the first in a long, long time to write true poetry. I read some of his stuff, and was, for the most part, unimpressed. Then the day came when my father informed me of a documentary, “Born Into This,” about Charles. It was only playing at a small independent theater in Beverly Hills and he took me on a weeknight to go see it. It was that night that I began to have a true respect and appreciation for Bukowski. I remember very clearly the exact scene when it happened. Bukowski, as a kid, had a terrible condition which lead to debilitating acne and awful and painful sores on his face. He was teased constantly at school, always made fun of, called “ugly,” hid from, ostracized, outcasted. On top of that, son of an angry German father, he was beaten on a nightly basis with whatever objects were handy at the time, while his mother watched and did nothing. Scarred from the beatings and scarred from his illness he walked around in isolation from the world and looking for a way, any way, out of his own skin. One day, on the bus, he was sitting in his seat as he usually did, and on walked a man. This man’s face was absolutely mangled. He must have had some sort of flesh eating disease. His eyes were mangled, his nose and mouth almost blended together into one piece, marks all over his cheeks, truly deformed. Everybody on the bus was scared of this man. Nobody would let him sit next to them. Charles sat there and stared at him in awe. The man walked past, to the back of the bus, and sat down. Charles, quietly, to himself, thought, “Wow…. What a beautiful, beautiful man.”

It was that very moment that I fell in love with his work; that very moment, his poems took on a whole different meaning. I understood him. I related to him. In a true poet’s fashion, he finds beauty in suffering. What an amazing moment. That was one of the most powerful scenes, most powerful moments I had ever witnessed. There were lifetimes beneath that walk to the back of the bus; a poem in itself. I remember taking my friends to see the movie, and telling them to watch for that scene, that when they see it, they’ll be blown away, as I was. But no, quite the contrary, they were confused, and wondered why I cared so much about that scene. It made me feel alone, being so viscerally affected by a moment that to others goes completely unnoticed. It seems to be quite common in my life actually; something I’ve gotten rather used to. I know what it feels like to walk on a bus as a kid and feel unwanted. I know what it feels like to hide and sit in the back, to know that your face is the topic of all thoughts in your immediate surroundings. And, conversely, I know what it feels like to be the one sitting there, to be Bukowski, and to find beauty in the strangest, most unlikely moments.

After that, all of his poems made sense to me. I went out and bought What Matters Most is How You Walk Through the Fire and Slouching Toward Nirvana and Love is a Dog From Hell and The Flash of Lightning Behind the Mountain. And Jack was right, he was so right. It is real poetry, a beautiful voice in a beast of a man. And it felt so good to understand him, but more importantly, to be understood. And I only wish I had the balls to write as much as he did, to live that life, to sit at a desk and create, to make art, to risk, to make oneself completely and utterly vulnerable to the viewer, to find my voice and use it. It takes strength. But was he strong? Is it really a courageous life that he led? A postal worker by day and blackout drinker/poet by night. Did he ever face who he truly was? Was he ever able to look in the mirror and see more than craters and scars? Who knows, and these are not questions for me to answer. Nonetheless, he was one of the only poets ever to become famous long before he died. He set records for submissions to literary journals. He pressed on despite rejection letter after rejection letter. He knew what he was. He was a poet. He was a writer. He never ran from that. He embraced it. He lived it. He taught himself how to love. He found beauty. And that’s more than many can say. And now, late at night, in the moments of myself, I get out of my bed, walk slowly to the bookshelf, grab a book of his, open to a poem, and think to myself, “Wow…. What a beautiful, beautiful man.”


By Charles Bukowski

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
cigarette smoke
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
in there.

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say,
stay down, do you want to mess
me up?
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in

there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
and we sleep together like
with our
secret pact
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
weep, do