Does every asshole in America eat sushi?

I am beginning to think so.
I really am.
I know there are a lot of assholes in
America.
I am willing to wager that every one
of them eats sushi, drinks sake
and allows their overwhelming
arrogance to waft in great noxious
clouds through sushi bars across
this great nation.

If this were a single occurrence,
I could shrug it off.
I have crossed paths with singular assholes,
monumental assholes, assholes I would not
sic on my worst enemy in the world
in the fast food joint,
the donut shop, the grocery store,
the auto parts distributor.

I have never in any of these other locations
witnessed the persistent, pernicious and
obnoxious parade of assholes as I have seen
in my local Japanese restaurant.

By way of comparison,
I visited a nearby Turkish restaurant
on a weekly basis for nearly two years and
I never encountered one asshole.

But asshole encounters at the sushi bar
have occurred so frequently that
every time the waitress seats a couple
or group next to us, I cringe, shudder
and quite nearly pose a question to the newly
arrived guests, “So…which flavor of
asshole are you folks?”

Are you a know-it-all
asshole who has dragged in some
motley assemblage of relatives
and friends so that he might display his
wide and immense knowledge of Japanese
custom, culture and cuisine?
That he might illustrate his worldliness,
his depth of character for being open to new things,
his courage for eating uncooked seafood?
Asshole.

Or…are you a loud mouthed asshole who
never learned the difference between
speaking in a quiet restaurant and
screaming from the right field bleachers at
Yankee Stadium? Who has informed the eastern
two thirds of Long Island about your ex-husband
and his unwillingness to drive your daughter
anywhere? Who tells the entire restaurant
you have been medicating your elderly
father with Xanax because you thought
he needed it? Was that an attempt
at whispering? Asshole.

Or…are you the dog ugly middle aged accountant
looking asshole with the Botox, boob
job, butt lift trophy wife part deux and
the bratty children who did not shut up
for a whole entire hour and wanted to jet to
South Africa or Bali to go surfing?
Assholes raising next generation assholes.

Or…are you the snotty, condescending,
interrogative asshole who
treated the waitress like shit on shoebottom?
What ees Katsooo?
What ees Teriyakay?
What ees EddaMaMay?
What is the deal with your fake Japanese
vocal inflections and reading the paper during the
entire meal while your poor wife attempted conversation?
Give the women a break, Asshole

Now…I am sure not every asshole in America
eats sushi. There are plenty of assholes
who will never touch that raw fish,
they call it sushi,
I call it bait,
Jap, Nip, Slope food.

But…that, ladies and gentlemen,
is an asshole of a different color
and the subject for another poem.

Sunday blues

Sundays are
rough
enough,
this one
worse than
most…
I have been
armed
with a snow
shovel and charged
with holding back
a hurricane…

As cherry
upon whipped misery,
the door bell rings,
she’s dropping
off medicine
for the cat,
decked in
Sunday finery,
down another
twenty pounds,
admits to
over indulging
in the fancy country
club Sunday brunch.

I stand in stained
shorts,
my shirt with
more holes than
viable cloth,
my hair standing
straight in every
direction,
my toenails
unclipped for
weeks,
my
stomach
churning away at
a McBreakfast
combination.

She gives me
the old up one side
down the other
eye summation
and knows everything.

She smiles,
“Nice hairdo.
Leave the
house much?”

Welcome to SteveTown

(apologies to Jim Jones)

When I was five my mother asked me,
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
It would have been easy to respond with the usual,
fireman, farmer, policeman, but not me I said,
“I want to be…the leader of a cult. I will call
it the Cult of Steve and I will have people
who will obey my every word.”

I was a strange child, who grew up…to be the leader of
a cult, The Cult of Steve. The Cult began with one
member, me, and I have since built up my membership
to over two hundred female souls. There are no other male
members in The Cult of Steve other than me, Steve. Did you
catch the double entendre I just tossed into the breeze between us?
Other male members would make our communal nude bathing hours,
how shall I say…uncomfortable.

As I said, The Cult of Steve started with one member, me, Steve,
but grew rather quickly. There are many wayward young women
in America looking for…something. I am The Messiah to
those I met in Utah in the shadow of Moroni. I am The Director to the ones
from Hollywood, pssst…they’ll follow anyone if they think there’s a movie part
down the road somewhere. I am The Big Daddy for those from broken homes
who are seeking a father figure.

You know…I didn’t have much luck recruiting disciples in New York City.
I tasted a lot of pepper spray there, I guess the women of the Five Boroughs
don’t think they need saving. Perhaps not, but now they’re
eternally damned anyway, by me, Steve.

The Cult of Steve was built one member at a time,
by providing each member with the truth they were seeking.

But…it has been difficult, finding a permanent home for The Cult of Steve. We
tried to settle in the rural Midwest, but left for Texas…for ummmmmm…tax
reasons and the lenient gun laws. The are several members of The Cult of Steve
who feel better when they pack heat, including me, Steve. Happiness is a warm rocket launcher.
We left Texas in the middle of the night. I heard the dieselly rumble of tank engines in
the distance. That’s never a good sound for a cult leader to hear.

I think we finally found our home though in this dense jungle in an unnamed South American
country. We call it…SteveTown. It’s named after me, Steve. Life in SteveTown is rather
enjoyable. Here’s what an average day looks like:

10AM…We don’t rise early in SteveTown. It’s exhausting to do so. We have a leisurely
breakfast of oatmeal and bananas and everyone thanks me, Steve, for providing the bounty.

11AM-2PM…Communal nude bathing and Baptismal “hour.” As the cliche say, cleanliness is
next to Godliness and I like to be Godly, very very Godly.

2PM-3PM…We have lunch of bologna sandwiches with ketchup on white bread and everyone
thanks me, Steve, for providing the bounty. I like to provide bounty and I like to be thanked for
it.

3PM-6PM…Communal nude bathing and Baptismal “hour.” One can never be…too clean.

6PM-7PM…Study of The Wisdom of Steve. Soon to be a new book in the Bible or a movie
starring a young, beautiful, but eccentric Hollywood cast. We also use this time for gun cleaning
and target practice. An unarmed, unprepared cult, is no cult at all really.

7PM-8PM…We have dinner. Instant macaroni and cheese…with…hot dogs. Again, everyone
thanks me, Steve, for providing the bounty. I’m nice like that.

8PM-11PM…Communal nude bathing and Baptismal “hour.” We must be cleansed before bed,
one never knows whether or not one will wake up the next morning.

11PM-12AM…Before I read bedtime stories, everyone has a large tumbler of Kool-Aid, grape
flavored Kool-Aid and everyone thanks me, Steve, for providing another beautiful day of Life…I
like monkeys and elephants so, I usually read Curious George or Babar as my disciples begin to
nod off from all of the bathing, the studying, the thanking and the Kool-Aid.

Want to join my cult? I can always make room for one more…

Poem written while looking out the window into the backyard spring…

If you are expecting a lyric expression of
spring’s promise or an alliterative list of the quiet
beauty I can see just looking out the second
floor window and into the backyard, this
poem will disappoint you.

I am having a difficult time this spring moving my
mind into a lyric frame and I do not see much promise
in my backyard either, spring or otherwise. The
plants are tired: the lilacs are played out, budding
green, but there will be no violet announcements and
the forsythias
are
tangled
spindles,
bare, pale
yellow
and
the holly has been thinned by careless ash and
the old pussy willow is good for
furry buds, but only
at the very tips of branch and
the lawn is a dry beige, ripped occasionally
into dark brown slashes by our baby
shepherd and the irises are thick, but
flowers few and I fear this will be the year
I must cut down the pink rhododendron, the
previous winter and last year’s dry summer have
transformed in stages its rubbery leaves from
deep green to yellow, now many curled
brown, earth ready.

The plastic picnic table and chairs are dingy, ready
for the mold of spring, the grills are rusting and should
have found their way into the garage for winter and my
artistic plans for the plywood scraps that have been leaning
against said garage remain unattained and the garage itself
needs to be repaired in the least or razed and re-built.

So this poem written while looking out the window
into the spring’s backyard is not about promise or
re-birth or beauty or any of the other bullshit attendant
in poem’s about looking out a window and into the
drizzling spring morning.

It is about failure, which nags
always, no matter the season.

It is about withering which is as evident in
spring, as it is in the other three.

It is about the beauty becoming something other and having to
twist it, turn it, cram it to still make it fit into the word beauty, the
beauty of decline is an oxymoron, a literary trick.

It is about your expectation as you pick up and begin reading a
poem with the word spring in its title.

It is also about blind belief in words on a page because even though
I told you this poem would disappoint you, you kept expecting me
to come to my senses and deliver myself from darkness, to admit
I was full of shit and that spring is indeed about promise and re-birth.

But that belief is contingent upon your believing I am looking out the window into
the backyard spring, but I am not looking out window into spring’s backyard, I
am sitting, rather uncomfortably I might add, on the floor, at the coffee
table in my living room that looks not out into spring’s backyard, but into
the recently swept street, the morning traffic, the usual routine and my
legs have fallen asleep and I should get up to see what the dog is
chewing on rather than continuing to type this poem and since I
am coming clean here the rhododendron is not in the backyard at
all it is in the front yard, I moved it for the sake of showing that death
always exists alongside promise and I gave this poem the
title it has because no one wants to read a poem entitled, “Poem written as I
sit at the coffee table, kvetching, while my legs fall asleep and
the dog chews on the piece of plastic that ten minutes ago
was an eyeball attached to one of her stuffed toys…”

Sometimes it happens while driving an automobile…

This morning I felt my mind return.
It has been gone for nearly thirty days.
I have missed it.
It has been lonely in my head without my mind:
like shooting free throws alone in an empty gym at midnight or
fishing along a muddy creek on a moonless spring night, your
sputtering lantern the only light source on the planet earth.

I have missed the games of catch I usually play with my mind.
It is fond of fastballs precisely targeted for nose and nuts, changeups
in fastball counts and tossing the severed head of a chicken when I
figured on horsehide.

I have missed my mind.
I wonder where it went, the exotic ports it called on, the
dazzling and dangerous adventures, the wine, the women and
the songs while I sat brooding on a brown leather sofa debating the
relative merits of another glass of mineral water versus a cup of coffee or
just sitting until the coroner’s office comes to claim me.
O meritorious choices!

I hate when my mind leaves me.
It leaves quite often, too often.
When my mind leaves me, I feel so ordinary.
I crave civil service examinations,
the resurrection of my stamp collecting hobby and
the purchase of a minivan in a drab, uninspiring color.
I want to imbibe gallons of flat, warm tap water and subsist on
prepared, microwaveable food heavy with fat and sodium.
I want to get ten hours of sleep a night, take two three hour
naps during the day and watch infomercials for my eight
waking hours.
I want to let the newspapers, grocery store flyers, mail and
collection notices pile on the front porch.
Ultimately though, I want my mind to return, end the boredom, salt in
color, gratuitous explosions, pungent cooking aromas and a dash of mania.

This morning, during my commute to work, I felt
my mind return. I’ll see everyone later.
Hold my place in line.

Snapshots from a bad week…

Sunday
We clean the basement.
It takes the better part of two days.
In 30 trips we lug my past to the curb:
20 overstuffed black plastic bags,
2 32 gallon garbage cans and
several miscellaneous bundles
bound with green neon surveyor’s string.

We are always the ones lucky enough
to sift through the mildew, rotting wood and
debris of my failure, old failure. Why me?
Why my wife? How can someone leave pieces
of themselves, their lives, in every corner
and just
and just
and just
walk away?

The cellar air is clogged with
oily fumes of lassitude
and the solvent vapors
of alcohol. How far does
one actually need to fall before
the safety line draws taut?

I stumble awkwardly, turn an ankle, upon
the skeletal remains of days and plans
ideas and dreams.
New pain for old injuries.
Old pain, new injuries.
It slices in both directions.
I deserve the wounds.
I love these wounds.
I poke around in them with a filthy stick.
I am hoping for blood poisoning or staph.
I am hoping to create obvious scars.
I am hoping for disfigurement,
so that everyone will know.

The basement is clean.
It took the better part of two days.
We lugged my past to the curb:
20 overstuffed black plastic bags,
2 32 gallon garbage cans and
several miscellaneous bundles
bound with green neon surveyor’s string.
This is not the end.

Monday
The pictures from the holy cities
are not promising. We are re-learning
that it is impossible to spin death
and mortars
into a daydream of flowers.

Tuesday
She says almost casually,
“All of the prophecies are aligning.
He will be here soon.”

I worry that living alone is starting
to collect on a past due note.
I worry that dementia has opened
a the closet door.
I worry that she stays up too late
watching 2AM armageddon and brimstone
television programming.
Mostly, however,
I worry that she might be right.

Wednesday
Leave it to my generation to
celebrate the day that needles
and blue steel ventilated
a sealed, inviolate space.

Leave it to my generation to
not follow the pattern.

We do not celebrate the day
Washington and his wooden teeth
withered away on an old age bed.
We do not celebrate the day
a pistol ended a quiet
night at Ford’s Theater.
We do not celebrate the days
assassins spoke through long
rifles in Dallas or Memphis.
We do not celebrate Elvis,
dead in the bathroom with
his pants around his ankles.

Leave it to my generation to
celebrate death over life.

This is stupid.
Stop the music.
Cease the elegies and conspiracy theories.
Come out from under the bridge.
No more gatherings at the greenhouse.

Do they even know when this hero was born?

Leave it to my generation to
get it all so very wrong.

Thursday
The 20 overstuffed black plastic bags,
2 32 gallon garbage cans and
several miscellaneous bundles
bound with green neon surveyor’s string
we placed at the curb have
drawn a Notice of Violation
from the town
Code Enforcement Officer.

We have placed too many bags
at the curb on the wrong
day of the week. The limit
is five bags and they can be
placed no sooner than 24 hours
prior to pick up day.

This is one of the freedoms
that young and poor
Americans are sacrificed for:
the freedom to be told
on what day and how much of
your past you can put to the curb
during one calendar week.

It will take another month
to dispose of my past. We will
haul five bags to the curb for
the next four Wednesdays.

So much for my dream of
a quick, clean
escape from these memories.
This is not the end.

Friday Part I
My dog has diabetes.
She is the third being
in my inner family circle
to be so diagnosed.

Sugar pursues me,
a mute, diligent assassin.

Friday Part II
Plans turn to ash.
Old nails spiked
through new flesh.

Stop…
listen…
Does this hurt?
No.
How about this?
No.

Stop…
listen…
Did that hurt?
Yes.
Should I do it again?
Yes.

Stop…
listen…
You should no longer
race this insanity.
I smell something…burning.

Plans are ash.
Nails enable religion.

Saturday
My wife carried, kicked and dragged
the refused bags of my past
off the curb and up the driveway.

This is a story of collateral damage.
The ones wounded by accident,
without intent,
out of thoughtless self absorption.
The innocent.
These are the ones that deserve tears.
The rest of us deserve cob webs
and hate crimes committed
on our front stoops.

This is not the end.

Pondering serial killings, sociopaths and society…

1.
It’s always the hookers or children, isn’t it?

Sodomized, strangled, abused, assaulted.

Dismembered, disemboweled, decapitated and in the
extreme cases, dinner. Dahmer…dinner.
Alliterational coincidence? Perhaps…
Perhaps not.

Trophies taken: a necklace, a lock of hair,
liver in the freezer.

Bodies dumped…
shallow hasty graves, covered
with sad tree limbs or off rusting bridges
into muddy rivers rushing waters.

2.
It’s always the white male middle class somewhat
intelligent socially impotent loners, isn’t it?

Law enforcement prides itself on it’s
superior profiling skill and ability to track
these “psychopathic sociopaths.” But yet…it always the
same blonde, blue jeans and apple pie kinda guy.

After they’re caught, carbon copy neighbors
give tape loop commentary, “He pretty much
kept to himself. Quiet, courteous if a bit…odd.”

Ayep…superior profiling abilities. Shooting fish in a barrel
can be considered fishing in its own way.

3.
I’ll be probably branded a race traitor for saying this, but,
if white folk were a minority in this country
the cops would lay down a serious dragnet;
break down every white picket fence;
pull over every station wagon, pick up truck, mini-van and SUV;
raid every strip mall, parking lot;
“up against the wall motherfuckers” at every
Krispy Kreme, Duane Reade and Home Depot
from Levittown to the suburbs of Los Angeles,
from Taos, New Mexico to Bangor, Maine.

But these guys are white…middle class…Americans and the
cops can’t very well run around profiling and harassing
the fine, law abiding, upstanding folks whose society
innocently spawned these psychos. Law enforcement
must wait until the predator slips up, makes an error,
leaves an evidence shred at the burial site. Until then…he hunts
he hunts the children, the hookers and the runaways. And the
body count…grows. 10…20…30…40…

In fact, it’s growing now, somewhere.

4.
OK…OK…
Enough of the heavy duty
exploration and commentary upon
race, society and law enforcement therein.
It’s time for me to reveal the real reason
behind this poem, which is, that serial killers
are boring; boring and predictable;
boring, predictable and as bland as
margarine on untoasted white bread.

Always the same twisted depraved crimes committed by
the same twisted depraved criminal minds.

Since there’s nothing unique about their choice of victims,
and there’s nothing unique about the crime,
and there’s nothing unique about the criminal,
there’s no way to exclaim,
“Woah! Now…that’s uniquely fucked up!”

Whatever happened to creativity?

Why not run down random soccer moms with a maroon minvan or
kill them with repetitive blows from a high pressure air
cannon that shoots…soccer balls?

Why not train a group of rogue pit bulls, Rottweilers,
German Shepherds, Dobermans or really mean
Bassett Hounds to set upon and devour
rural dog catchers?

Why not rim the hats of the Shriners with ricin before the big parade?
Ahhh…what an image…dead Shriners slumped in miniature cars careening along
crowded sidewalks and Main Streets everywhere. The mayhem! The horror! The humor!

Why not kill poets, by making them eat their vacant words with…cheap marinara sauce?

5.
Now…now…this is no Anarchist’s Cookbook dammit!
I don’t want to read a story about someone out there that
took my ideas and applied them in real life. Then
you’d be no better than the stupid kid from Connecticut
that copied a stunt he saw on TV and
nearly barbecued himself to death
on his family’s backyard hibachi.
You’d be a dumb ass at that point in time,
and we all know you have superior, albeit unrecognized
intellectual capabilities. You’re a smart man…don’t make
me sue you for copyright infringement. I got lawyers and
I’m not afraid to use them!

This was the last time I ever did something nice for someone…

I received a gift, a
gift from a business
associate. The gift was
a bottle of good Scotch, not
a great Scotch of the single malt
single barrel the water is from a pure
glacial spring, the grain harvested from the
sunny side of single windswept hill, fermented
and distilled in our exclusive four hundred year old
tanks and still variety, but a good blended Scotch
nonetheless.

It was a nice gesture by the
business associate the only problem being
that I really do not enjoy drinking Scotch. I
have tried to make myself like it, to feign
the sophistication required to truly enjoy a
good Scotch neat or with a splash of water to
open it up and allow its full flowering. It is just not
my cup of tea or glass of spirit for that matter. I prefer
beer, occasionally expensive beer, even cheap beer, I
sometimes enjoy a glass of wine, I used to
drink a lot of beer both cheap and expensive and
a good quantity of wine for that matter, but I
really have never cared for Scotch even during
that period of general excess. Sue me.

Since I do not enjoy the aqua vitae, I
decided I would pass it along to a co-worker
who had previously expounded nostalgic and
poetic about the finery of a good glass of Scotch with
a splash of water to open it up and allow for full flowering. I
figured I would spread some holiday cheer about the
room. I figured it was a nice thing to do.
I figured I am not going to drink it, my wife
is not going to drink it and we do not entertain often
enough to justify having a bottle of Scotch in the
house, so I gave the co-worker the bottle of Scotch in
its fancy wooden box bound in fine silk cord.

Apparently, I figured incorrectly because
later, expecting a thank you, a handshake maybe
as he walked by my desk, instead began the litany…
Thanks for the Scotch…
What…did you give up drinking?
I have heard rumors that you gave up drinking.
Did management have a discussion with you?
Did you quit of your own accord?
What happened? Are the rumors true?

I tried to rescue myself…Well…I
never stopped drinking. I enjoy
having an occasional belt. I just
don’t really care for Scotch.

Oh…so you still drink you
just don’t drink like you used to
you know to the point of falling down and
making general folly of yourself.

Yeah I guess.

Well…that’s good.

I suppose so.

That was the last time I did something nice for
someone because my kindness was used as a
crude screwdriver to jimmy into my private life. That
was the last time I did something nice for someone
because my kindness will be used against me
in the court of public official opinion. That was the last time
I will ever do something nice for someone so don’t blame
me if during a public or private interaction with me, I
am a thoughtless, rude, rotten fucken bastard.

You can blame it on a bottle of Scotch. I am.

And the next time I do get a bottle of Scotch from a business
associate for the holidays, I will keep it, never drink it, leave
it and any future bottles of Scotch I receive in a high
dusty cabinet, until they are a hundred fucking years
old and my children can auction them off to hire
someone to feed me my morning oatmeal and
change my god damned diapers.

The science of being too easily swayed

Watching a Bukowski video
is a nearly instantaneous
cure for sobriety.

I can taste the
beer upon my
tongue as he
speaks.

And I know,
I will be down
at the mini-mart
in ten minutes
or thereabouts
buying a case
of brew and a
pack of smokes
and a cigar or two.

Therefore, it is my scientific
deduction, not to recommend
the screening of Bukowski
movies at AA meetings,
halfway houses,
correctional institutions,
or rehabilitation facilities.