Scar catalog…

In case you ever need to identify my
body in the morgue on a
television mini-series
or in the middle of a street
after I am sacrificed in the name of jihad:

I have a scar above my upper lip,
from the coffee table when I was three.
I think we were living in the trailer.

My right elbow was scarred on the pavement
after tripping and falling while playing
kick ball.

I have calcium deposits under my right eye from
a skull on skull collision with my
brother during a game of vacant lot football.
The most immense and amazing black eye resulted.

I have three scars on my right knee to
remind me of that long, dark night and
two sheared telephone poles.

I have calcium deposits under my left eye also.
I needed a bookend to match the other and
even out my face. I found it on the
fetal ground of higher education while drunken phantoms kicked me.
It was the second most amazing black eye of my life.

My right forearm displays the result of
punching out a store window, the knuckles
of my right hand the blossoms of flesh
meeting barroom mirror. Glass is not
really a suitable sparring partner.

I have a two inch scar on the back of my head
courtesy of cheap, cheating hooligans and a 2×4.
You won’t see that one unless my head has
been shaved for the sake of electrocution
or lobotomy. Don’t even start wishing.

The back of my right hand displays the
result of my rollover into the farm fields
of Mattituck, New York. It was not a very
deep wound, but it made for an impressive scar.

I lost the nail on my left big toe from
an untended, untreated infection. Man it
hurt when the dogs stood on that toe
or I dropped something on it.

The back of my left hand offers round
reminders of the proper way to flip
hamburgers in a frying pan. Away! Away!

I have a tattoo of Arthur Rimbaud
on my right biceps. No I am not showing you.

It is odd to think that I have inflicted far more pain upon myself
than life generally or the world in total has inflicted upon me
and
yet still I somehow cling to the belief that
life is out to get me, that the
world leans against me.

Given the empirical data cited
I think that these hypotheses could be wrong,
very, very wrong.

While driving the back roads to Sag Harbor …

and stopped at a traffic light, the driver
directly behind us in a fabulous new Mercedes Benz
convertible blows his horn and seeks an alternate route
on the impassable shoulder and the opposing lane with its
unending line of opposing traffic all to indicate his
displeasure that we are not moving despite the fact that the light has
clearly turned green and the long line of traffic should be proceeding
through the intersection in a perfect and orderly fashion and Agnes
says what a freaking idiot, blowing the horn does not make
thick, backed up summer traffic move any faster there is
nowhere to go much less go faster and it just aggravates
people. You will have to write a poem about that yoyo in
his flashy imported small penis mobile.

Fuck the poem…what I really want to do is drag him from the
car beat him one centimeter from death, but that would later
involve cross country flight, law enforcement, the purchase of
assault weapons and a final stand at a seedy no tell
motel just outside of Bakersfield where I would be
mortally wounded in a shootout, my final words would not
be meaningful or poetic, but something like a blood
choked gurgling, Fuck…this really sucks, while a 250 pound ATF
agent stands on my head with his size twelve booted left foot and
damn it if somewhere during the chase he has stepped in fresh dog shit.

But I have never liked assault weapons or final stands
in seedy motels or Bakersfield for that matter and I do not
want to ruin a beautiful Saturday afternoon by being baited
into violence, so I instead make a note that I SHOULD write a poem
about the asshole behind us. He deserves a well worded slaying
retort that he will never read or hear ever and will never
change who or what he is or has become.

But I decided last night that I am not going to write a
poem about him. I decided that I am not a poem machine that
just whips up a little batch of creativity when someone throws
a switch and tosses a few life experiential ingredients into a
large hopper with some wood flour and recycled plastic. I am
not a machine with on demand capabilities. I am a delicate,
creative, flower of a human being. I am a poet, not
a piece of unthinking whirring metal wired to high voltage.

However, this morning, upon a lengthy, thoughtful review during my shower, I
concluded that I actually am a poem machine. I am a poem machine
housed in a nondescript concrete building at the industrial park out by
the interstate. I am a poem machine and not one of those high tech
German MFA machines that manufacture poems to exacting tolerances, an eye
trained toward perfection. Nor am I an exquisite loom, designed for silk and thin
delicacy. I am an old poem machine that squeals and whines and goes
clunk. Listen, you can hear metal on metal contact, gears grinding, belts slipping. I
have never been properly maintained. I have never had my fluids topped
off or my bearings greased.

And as a result, my poems are flawed, oblong when they should be
round, rough when they should be smooth, square when seeking
cool. They are never within spec. They drive the quality control
people insane with their inconsistency and left turns and protruding
parts where nothing is supposed to stick out. But eyeing a sort of
redemption, my poems are common and made from easily obtained
ingredients. If so inclined or required by law, you could probably whip
up a batch of your own. My poems are indeed industrial, working
class even. They drink beer, drive the big rigs and have a fondness for
meat cooked rough and rare. They do not spin in fancy pirouettes, they
speak plain, with a certain pained, painful and withering honesty.

So…after all is said and things done,
I am a poem machine and I am here to tell you that
that yoyo in Mercedes was an uptight, me first, fuck
everyone else in the world asshole that bought a flashy
imported, convertible as compensation for a small
penis and unwillingness to lick pussy and I really
should have dragged his ass from his small penis mobile and
beaten the shit out of him because he stands for everything
that is rotten, wretched, vile and disgusting in this world and
trust me, I damn well would have kicked the shit out of him if
I did not hate assault weapons,
final stands in seedy motels,
dog shatted ATF jackboots standing on my skull and
Bakersfield, California.

In either case, no rose…

Regret is the
exchanging of
an imperfect
yet beautiful iris
for
the hope and gamble
of a fresh nearly
bursting rosebud
that instead
of flourishing
beneath a kind hand,
withers in the drought
of distance.

Regret is perhaps
having gambled
without full consideration
of the iris
or
the fun house
rose colored distorting
nature of possibility.

Regret is having
neither rose
nor iris,
as winter’s dark
armada arrays offshore,
poised and
looming.

Rocky mountain promise derailed

(sung in Dylan’s nasal whine)

From my friend’s sofa…
sick with pneumonia
no money…
no chance…
no flight out.
I laughed in delirium about…
my overalls
the myths
my dreams…
and finally
had to agree
that Colorado’s not the place for meeee.

Fuck John Denver.

The new rock star poet…

Why Billy Corgan? Why?
Why did you go and do it?
Why did you publish that book of poetry?
I rather preferred you as a
know it all, uncompromising,
musical genius rock star.
Why did you have to go and publish
a book of such flaccid, pedestrian poetry?
Yet…even the New York Times Book Review
gave you a pass and refused honesty. You
probably invited them to a fabulous book
release party with free caviar, cocaine and hookers.

Why Billy? Why?
Why did you have to swipe income and
take food from starving mouths of the
poor poet hordes? They need the money,
they need whole wheat spaghetti,
meatless sauce and cheap red wine.
Don’t you have enough money Billy?
You just had to scrape a few more dollars
off poetry’s barroom floor?
Why couldn’t you have written a novel
and usurped some the fiction writers cash?
They got plenty.

Why Billy? Why?
Wasn’t the satisfaction of your rock star dreams enough?
Haven’t you dipped your wick sufficiently in rock groupie pool?
Now you have to swoop in low on the narrow halls of poetry groupies too?
The poor poets will never have a chance, will never get laid, will
never realize the limited fruit of their limited words, when they
have to stand next to your white hot, blazing, beautiful self.

Why Billy? Why?
Why did you go and do it?
Well, you did it and now, you leave me no choice.
I’ll have to take a break from poetry, pick up a guitar,
become a rock star, I’ll fuck Courtney and spread rumors
that she found you naked in bed with Kurt.
That will fix your little red rock star wagon!
Send you yipping tail twixt legs back to your mansion!
Ensure you never publish another lame book of poetry and
steal meatless whole wheat spaghetti and cheap red wine from my
mouth again, you greedy, beautiful, white hot, musical genius, rock star!

Now autograph your book for me dammit!
I’ve waited in line for four hours.

Roadkill Poem

Look there on the side of the road!
(Please choose one or more adjectives)
A bloated, pancaked, bashed to bits,
squished, maggot ridden, rotten,
stinky,
poor,
little
(please choose one or,
if it has been a particularly tragic night
in the animal kingdom, more nouns)
squirrel, opossum, woodchuck, rabbit,
deer, songbird, seagull, turtle! How sad!

Look there on the side of the road!
A dead racoon, muskrat, fox! How sad!
Sad? Bullshit…
My grandfather saw dollar
signs and fur coats. The
pelts stretched and drying
before the sun set.
Roadkilled deer was free
meat. And it beat freezing
feet, trudging shotgun woods
in howling, snowing Decembers.
The Lawd provides in mysterious ways!

Look there on the side of the road!
A hippopotamus killed in a
collision with a unicycle! How sad!

And now…a short,
bitter, elegiac lament.

Please place the back of your
hand across your forehead
like a swooning silent
film star as you
read this:

Woe! O woe! O woe!
See there on the side of the road
cute, furry, fuzzy, lovable
Mother Nature
crushed beneath Man’s tyrrany of
rubber, asphalt, progress, technology
and suburban sprawl. How sad!

Is it wrong to laugh about roadkill?
Probably, but until these poets
jilt their cars and take to their feet
or
until one of their readers actually
plies the byways less frequently for
the express purpose of saving critters,
I reserve the right to laugh. Not
so much about roadkill, but about
the folly of roadkill poetry.

Ladies and gentlemen, yes, while it’s
true, the world is trending toward
abject fear, terror and chaos.
Here’s a poem about
dead bunnies on
the road.
Idiots.

Anyway…
I have now fulfilled requirement
37A toward my inclusion in
the pantheon of modern,
American poet.

Now…to write a poem about 9/11.

<

Responsibilities

A check for
one thousand
one hundred
and
fifty eight
dollars
arrives by
mail.

It would be
suitable
to support
several
exhibitions
of utter barely
confinable madness
or
abject flight
to
New Orleans
San Francisco
Seattle.

But I will
use it
to settle
an
outstanding
construction
debt.

Another
lukewarm
under spiced
ladle
of
bourgeois
practicality soup
please.

I may soon
contract
my
own
assassination.

The re-education of Mister SPK…

After discussing this at length with my
my grandmother, I have concluded that
2003 was a year dedicated to re-learning.

The following are some of things I have re-learned in 2003,
feel free to make notes:

Item Number 1…Being relatively accomplished in culinary matters
does not mean that you can ignore basic rules of the kitchen, witness:
Item 1A
Be sure to spatula and turn burgers,
potato pancakes and omelettes away from your
body. Flipping these items towards your body invites
grease that is roughly the temperature of the sun’s core
to splash on your skin. I still have bright pink scars
on my left hand to remind me of what I learned.
Item 1B
The grates that hold the pots on top of the stove
are in very close proximity to an open flame. Grabbing
one of them to clean around the burners immediately
after turning off said burner, is a very bad idea.
STOVE HOT STEVE! NO!

Item Number 2…While punching doors and/or walls may be a very dramatic
expression of one’s frustration with Life, it remains a dangerous
gesture that can result in being unable to even grasp a pen for about two
weeks. It is also a good way to prove your stupidity to others.

Item Number 3…Kittens are cute and it really does suck that they turn into cats.

Item Number 4…When selecting a Christmas tree, one should hold the tree upright and bang the
trunk firmly against the ground. This will help to determine how fresh the tree is. If there
are any needles on the ground, do not purchase this tree. Failure to learn this principle
shall result in a cascade of needles reaching the floors of your home and a pervasive
fear that if someone shines even a flashlight on your tree that it will erupt in flame and burn everything you cherish.
Thereby ruining your holiday and possibly your Life.

Item Number 5…The sun still rises even when one is not hungover.
Tell me…was the sun always this bright or has that ozone layer depletion thingy really come true?

Item Number 6…Neglecting a problem, no matter what that problem may be,
does not solve said problem. Nor are there wee elves that canvas the
Earth solving these problems. So…for instance…you should quit waiting
for the elves and take your car in for a tune up before you end up
on the side of the road cursing your bad luck,
wondering why these things always happen only to you
or thinking that your God or lack thereof hates you.

Item Number 7 and the final item that I have re-learned this year…While
I may be an irascible, moody, at time downright nasty, curmudgeonly bastard,
I still need…Love. I re-learned that being loved and loving another human
may be the only thing on this planet worth committing petty thievery or murder for.
Look Matilda, the poor, moody, nasty, curmudgeonly, irascible bastard poet is weeping!

So…anyway…please feel free to borrow and apply in your own lives
any of the seven things I have re-learned this year. They could save you
the time and the pain involved in re-learning them. And helping others
would help me…to stop kicking myself for forgetting these things in the first place.

Rapunzel R. Rapunzel

Rapunzel R. Rapunzel
had mighty long
mighty beautiful
locks.

Rapunzel R. Rapunzel
though grew weary of
the care routine
required to maintain
her magnificent long
hair, not to mention
it hurt like a motherfucker
whenever the witch
used her golden plaits
like a damned cherry picker.

Attempting a quiet show of defiance
Rapunzel R. Rapunzel
lopped her locks with
two deft swipes of a rumbling
12” McCollough chainsaw.

For the sake of argument,
we won’t question where our
young heroine procured a
12” McCollough chainsaw,
though I hear tell there was
and remains to this day an
active black market in chain saws
among the elves in a nearby forest.

Back to our story…
of course, the keen eared witch
heard the noise and noticed the
blue two stroke
engine smoke twisting
from the window of her
darling daughter’s cold water
flat.

In a spazzing panic, she
rushed up the fire escape.
Of course, she never bothered to tell
Rapunzel R. Rapunzel about
the fire escape. She rather preferred
climbing up and rappelling down
the child’s hair, besides it
reiterated her power over
the young babe.

So…anyway…the Witch burst
through a previously locked and barred door.

A question escaped from her lips,
“What have you done?” just as Rapunzel R. Rapunzel
split her from hat tip to butt crack
with her now trusty 12” McCollough chainsaw.

Strangely, the witch didn’t bleed much,
so Rapunzel R. Rapunzel felt no need to
spruce up. She checked her new butch ‘do
in the mirror, smiled and hurried down the
fire escape skipping every other step.

At the bottom,
she was waylaid by a handsome
young Prince who asked, “Art you
the beautiful Rapunzel?
Who I have traveled lo’
these many miles to see
and from an evil Witch free?”

Rapunzel R. Rapunzel smiled
and said, “Nah dude, I’m her
wicked witch mother guardian.
Rapunzel is up in the tower.
I gotta split, feel free to head up
there.”

Seeing how closely cropped,
the young woman’s hair was,
the Prince believed her every word
and began to sprint up the fire escape.

Rapunzel R. Rapunzel
shook her head, mumbled “Sucker”
and walked toward a nearby copse of trees.
She found the shiny new
Harley stashed among a tangle
of briar and blackberry, just as the Troll
had promised. She pushed her Hog into
the open, kicked it over once. It roared,
rumbled and then smoothed into a low
growling idle.

She hesitated, was that screaming
she heard over the harsh rumble of
the chromed straight pipes?

“Oh yeah…” she smirked,
pointed her front tire to the West,
dropped the clutch
and set the beast free.

Rapunzel R. Rapunzel and Peter Peter…make pie

Despite the children’s mockery
and the continual disdain of
each and every adult in the village,
ney the County even,
Peter Peter continued carving
and buggering pumpkins.

Things did get a little weirder
midway through the summers
when the previous year’s pumpkins
dwindled and the new vines had
yet to bear fruit. I hear tell, that
resort did Peter Peter to cases
of canned pumpkin and an arc
welder. Leave you will I dear reader
to your imaginations on that
slightly bizarre note.

One particularly beautiful autumn
morn, Peter Peter heard a loud rumbling
outside his modest cottage that by now
smelled perpetually of pumpkin
and seed oh and a little nutmeg he
splashed about for a lame attempt
at potpourri concealment. There
was a knock at the door. Peter Peter
opened it and squinted out into
the brilliant morn. A beautiful woman,
clad in black riding leathers stood before him.
She smiled, “Hey dude, my Hog’s
nearly outta gas. Can you spare a tankful?
I’ll pay handsomely.”

Poor Peter Peter began to stammer,
not one clear word would issue from his trembling
lips. Losing patience, he motioned at
the tool shed in the back. “Hhhhhhelpppp
your your your your sssssssselfffff.”
Rapunzel smiled uneasily. She turned
and walked around toward the shed.

She pitied the poor stammering man, but
something about him raised
the short hairs upon her freshly shorn neck.
“Never ignore the animal fear response,” she
remembered from one of the innumerable
self defense and self actualization tapes
she played during her incarceration in the
witch’s tower. Or was it on CNN?
O! Wolf Blitzer!

She shrugged off the silly debate,
“Fuck it.” She opened
the door to the shed and found a filled
gas can. The inside of the shed did
nothing to quiet the feeling that had
moved from her neck and now sat firmly
to the left of her liver. She slammed
the door, wishing no further inquiry.

She returned to the bike and wasting no
time, quickly filled the tank. She peeled
off a couple of crisp fives, grabbed the near
empty can and went toward the door. It opened
just as she was going to knock. She smiled
crookedly and noticed the half empty whiskey
bottle in Peter Peter’s left hand, an odd leering
grin spread across his face, “C’mon in for a
drink young lady!” His speech was clear, if
slightly slurred.

As Rapunzel was preparing a proper brush off,
Peter Peter yanked her inside his cottage, bolted the door
and placed himself between Rapunzel and the exit.

“Look man,” said Rapunzel crisply, “Take the ten bucks
for the gas and let’s part friends.”

“I don’t think so,” said Peter Peter slurring more noticeably
than before. He lurched toward Rapunzel, she deftly
sidestepped him and he slammed clumsily into the wall.

As Peter Peter stumbled and tried to gather himself,
Raunzel tried the door…It was locked and the
key was gone. She turned back to face Peter Peter,
“Dude enough of this!” yelled Rapunzel, “Someone’s
really gonna get hurt!”

Peter Peter leered, “You gonna hurt me little girl?” and charged
toward Rapunzel again. Rapunzel tried a similar evasive
maneuver, but she was one slivered second slow. Peter Peter
now held her in a firm grasp and calmly and deliberately
moved his hands to her neck and began to squeeze
the life from our dear Rapunzel. Through tearing eyes
Rapunzel saw a small sickle like knife on the nearby
table, it was Peter Peter’s favorite pumpkin picking knife.
She grabbed for the knife and missed, but tried again
and again and one more time until the smooth wood
handle was firmly in her grasp. She was nearing
blackout as she moved the knife between
Peter Peter’s knees and with an upward and then
semi circle downward slice unjoined Peter Peter from his peter
and his peter’s two nutty pals. Peter Peter fell backward
toward the open hearth’s roaring fire screaming.
He stumbled on the hearth stone and promptly fell in.

Rapunzel was bent over at the waist, trying to regain her
breath and strength. She saw Peter Peter struggling
to extricate himself from the hearth, “Dude,
I told you someone was really going
to get hurt!” She grabbed the whiskey bottle
Peter Peter had dropped and slugged back the dwindling corn.
She wiped her lips. Peter Peter had managed to free himself
from the hearth and was doing a fine job spreading
the fire from one end of the cottage to the other. Rapunzel
saw a key hanging on a cut nail next to the door.
She prayed, it unlocked the door, calmly she stepped outside,
closed the door just before Peter Peter made it to the
threshold, locked the door and slid the key
into her pocket. She walked over to her Hog and
kicked it over just as the dry, tindery old cottage began to
fall in upon itself.

As she roared back onto the asphalt, a lone question
flashed across her mind,
“Why do I smell baking pumpkin pie?”