Thursday, June 30, 2005

20 Questions

I took this from Yournamehere who took it from Dena who took it from someone who is of no relevance here. Always nice to answer questions and learn more about yourself in the process.

1. Tell me something obvious about you.
I have a dark sense of humor.

2. Tell me something about you that many don't know.
I want to be a good person.

3. What is your biggest fear?
Life, with death a close second.

4. Do you normally go the safe route or take the short cut?

5. Name one thing you want that you can't buy with money?
To be forgiven.

6. What is your most treasured possession?
My Bachelor of Arts diploma.

7. What is the one thing you hate most about yourself that you do often?
Lose my temper.

8. What is your favorite lie to tell?
"I'm impressed!"

9. Name something you've done once that you can't wait to do again.
Have my poetry published in a print journal.

10. Are you the jealous type?

11. What is the one person, place or thing you can't say no to?
She's reading this.

12. What's the nicest thing someone has ever done for you?
Someone told me I was a great poet.

13. If you could do something crazy right now, what would it be?
Take my shirt off and cry.

14. When was the last time you cried?
November 2004.

15. When was the last time you felt so good that nothing else mattered?
This morning.

16. Do you feel comfortable in public with no shirt on?
Yes, but you won't when you see me.

17. Name something embarrassing you did while drunk.
Everything I did while drunk was embarrassing.

18. Name one person, past or present, with whom you'd like to spend the day.
Andre the Giant.

19. Name one place you've never been and would like to go, and why.
Prague, to see the city that bears the nickname of my favorite Mozart symphony (No. 38, K. 504).

20. What's the story behind your online persona/name?
It's my name.

Busy Busy Busy

I hate missing days blogging, but sometimes life just gets full.

Amazing how a full-time job can begin to dominate your existence. Yet there is something quite pleasing about this current work situation: 40 hours and no more (out the door at the stroke of 5:30 p.m.), flexible lunch time, blissful solitude.

From my third-floor windows I can tell if I need to bring sunglasses or an umbrella with me when I head out to the Duane Reade directly below. Across the street is the Sony store, which I plan on visiting soon to check out their CD selection.

Tomorrow I get my first paycheck, and I will do something special to celebrate.

Monday, June 27, 2005


Rag-doll physics
Don't tell
The half of it.

Someone says
He'd rather be
Crazy than blind—

I fail to see
The difference
Most days.

Whatever you do,
Don't touch
That smile.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Meeting of the Minds

Prior to my Saturday Earshot reading, I spent the day at Coney Island, taking in the 2005 Mermaid Parade. Here I am in a historic moment, chatting on the phone with Viva Las VegASS's yournamehere! Eavesdropping away is a pink and purple clown hat saleswoman.

(Photo by MsAPhillips)

"That's a cat, baby!"

Mott takes a break from checking the Austin Powers action figure inventory.

Earshot Reading

Last night I read at the terrific Earshot Graduate Reading Series, curated by poet and New School MFA candidate Nicole Steinberg. Nicole has edited the chapbook "First Offenders," a superb collection of Earshot readers from February - May 2005. It is well worth checking out.

On the bill last evening were several great writers from various graduate writing programs in New York City, including two poets with whom I read back in September at the Cornelia Street Cafe: Pamela Burger and Melissa Christine Goodrum.

I got a chance to try out some new pieces I had not read in front of an audience before, which is always challenging. As usual, "The Jethro Tull Story" got the best response, though "8-Word Poem (The William Carlos Williams Story)," also generated quite a reaction.

The details, for posterity:
SAT 6/25 8:00 pm
Cafe Ludlow
87 Ludlow Street
New York City

(Photo by MsAPhillips)

Friday, June 24, 2005


One of the many considerations in a new work situation is where to find reasonable food. My current job has me stuck in a part of town I'm not very familiar with, though I did work right around here at two previous places of employment in years past.

Thankfully, I cannot recall where the fast food joints are around here. Ditto the Dunkin Donuts (but I'm pretty sure there's one close by...). There seem to be a couple of those very nice (read: pricey) deli-esque places, where you can get everything from a burger to a mixed salad to a panini sandwich, etc. Thrown in a bottle of soda and you've just broken through the $10 mark.

One thing I find vaguely odd: sushi seems hard to come by. Does no one in this part of town ever eat it? In the past, take out sushi has served as a fairly cheap, filling, protein-rich meal that generally makes me feel as though I've done my body a good turn (as opposed to, say, three slices of pizza).

Hmmm. I haven't seen any pizza places around here, come to think of it.

Thursday, June 23, 2005


Big things happen in there.

Flame-kissed by
The gazebo blend soliloquy.

Choking on trail mix;
Now I know why they call
It trail mix.

Informed of.
By virtue of.
By equal process.
By the fact itself.

Be very surprised
If you don't hear from me.

So that's how a heart breaks.

Another suspect detained in Aruba!

I find it interesting that Aruban authorities are detaining - not charging, mind you - suspects every so often in the missing person case. It would seem that the strategy is to eventually get everyone on the island into custody, and with public spaces thus less populated, the mystery will be more easily solved.

Aruba is quickly assuming a California-esque luster: want to get away with something heinous? Add this quaint island to your list of places to do so.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A sentence I'm not used to hearing:

"Things seem to be coming along nicely."

—My new boss

* * *

So, I had two job interviews last week, one of which resulted in this completely open-ended long-term temp position I'm currently at, with a great hourly rate in a really comfortable situation. Another interview today which went very well.

It's so nice to have options.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

My New Big Fat Temp Job

I realize just by typing the above words I may be jinxing things, but what the hell - half the fun of having a job is the stark fear of losing it.

So, yesterday I started this long-term gig. Having supervised temps way back when, I know the early warning signs that things aren't going to work out. Temp is in the office for five minutes and asks where the menus are, does he need a client matter number to make a long distance phone call, can he Xerox some fliers for his play, etc.

First order of business upon my arrival is plugging in my cell phone charger and enjoying the thrill of free electricity. Then I scout out the vending machines (new poem in the works, entitled: "Choking on Trail Mix").

For the first time in my life I have my own office (with two windows!). It is situated in the file room, a white cavernous space with rolling shelves that is right out of The Matrix. Thoughts: getting speakers for my computer; wondering why my log-in name is "Caratzax"; can I do this job without caffeine?

Day two: Arrived several minutes early, brewed some peppermint tea. Read from Matthew Rohrer's "A Green Light" on the subway up. Tried to figure out how far to roll up my sleeves (when I begin allowing my tattoos to show in a work setting that means I'm either relaxed or don't care). Must be vigilant.


Comme ça, they say,
And generally mean
It. Makes sense, so
I don't argue. Life
Has gotten considerably
Easier since abdicating
Emotion in favor
Of manners.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


Hear tell your yoke
Is light.
So you can manage
For us both,

Saturday, June 18, 2005


To your credit, you've remained
A mystery. The weight of a peep
Show token was enough: keening
Alarms, stifling black ashes;

The old news was way better.
You painted a fair portrait with
A very fine brush. Next time, think
Of me in sepia tone & tails.


Listening to the standards:
"You've got some explaining
To do, old boy."

Excellent tricking &
Delivery service—
In the weeds, eager.

I keep hearing the word
Integrity as they
Recycle my extras:

She of the lavender handbag,
Making a scene again
About her latte.

The same bouncing
Yardstick; the fur-lined
Handcuffs in the window.

Don't they know
I can see where
The scenery ends?

Friday, June 17, 2005


Far post
Top shelf
Poke it home
Lay the lumber
Five hole
Two-line pass
Sin bin
Twisted wrister
Ride the pine
Frozen biscuit
Third man in
Another icing
Sudden death

News of the Day

Terri Schiavo is expected to come back to life at any moment, as Republicans maneuver to have her feeding tube reinserted. Governor Jeb Bush is sitting graveside with the ceremonial nozzle.

Three more suspects in the Aruban missing person case have been detained, spelling the three who had previously been jailed. Antonius "Mickey" John has carved out some free time to be back in the pokey the week after next, and seems intent on becoming the most visible of all the detainees.

There's still a war gong on in Iraq, and we're still losing.

Michael Jackson, O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake have all decided to go to law school and get cracking on Scott Peterson's appeal.

Thursday, June 16, 2005


Aloha fuckface:
As soon as I say hello,
I have said goodbye.

iTuneage - recent baker's dozen

1. "Born to Lose" - Johnny Thunders
2. "You Shook Me All Night Long" - AC/DC
3. "Help Me Mary" - Liz Phair
4. "Indiana Wants Me" - R. Dean Taylor
5. "I Shall Sing" - Art Garfunkel
6. "The Third Hoorah" - Jethro Tull
7. "Like like the the the Death" - The Silver Jews
8. "Guts" - John Cale
9. "Funkytown" - Lipps Inc.
10. "Fire" - Jimi Hendrix
11. "Mr. Bassman" - John Entwistle
12. "Blown" - Bachman-Turner Overdrive
13. "Welcome to the Jungle" - Guns N' Roses

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Best real-life name not currently being used by a professional sports figure

Antonius "Mickey" John (former suspect in the Aruban missing person case).

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Starbucks eavesdropping:
"I'm about integrity!"
Now everyone knows.

8-word poem

Job interview
Plus 92° heat
Equals: human sponge.

Monday, June 13, 2005

"Michael: on behalf of the world, we're sorry!"

Thus read a placard being carried by one of the faithful outside the courtroom in which Michael Jackson was acquitted on all charges.

Memo to self: Steve, if you ever feel like committing a major crime, do it in Los Angeles. You will walk. (Note: Attain celebrity first!)

Yes, I'm sorry. That he's a freak and wasn't convicted. Very sorry.

Compare: ghostly white face, fright wig hair, bug eyes
and lewd lipstick. And the Joker looks scary, also.

"I faw down!"

Which is exactly how Mike Tyson would pronounce it.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

The cat days of summer

This is with air conditioning! And so far as I know, he's sober.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The joys of temping, part 2

So I finally get to this place after all of the arrival time gymnastics. It's an uptight law firm: all the furniture in the reception areas looks like it was lifted from the set of "Masterpiece Theatre."

The word processing center has an overly bright, 2001: A Space Odyssey look to it, but with really old computers. I sit around for three solid hours waiting for work, idling away the time reading The Life of Samuel Johnson, listening to The Flaming Lips on my iPod, and making the occasional call to my son's little league game to get the score.

Finally, they give me a sheaf of papers to proof, the originals of which are handwritten and coffee-stained all to hell. No biggie. Except, it seems, I have been breaking rules left and right since my arrival.

To wit: no cell phones allowed in the word processing center; no music allowed in the center; (can you guess what's next?) no leisure reading allowed.

Note to self: Next time the agency wants to send you to this place, tell them "Steve is not allowed in blue-blood law offices."

The joys of temping

1:30 a.m. - Called by the agency for an assignment, told to be at the client's office at 12 noon.
4:30 a.m. - Agency calls to tell me the assignment has been moved up to 10 a.m.
9:15 a.m. - Agency calls to tell me I can be there at 11 a.m. to make up for lost sleep due to 4:30 a.m. call.
9:20 a.m. - Agency calls to tell me the client wants me to report at the original time of 12 noon.
10:40 a.m. - Waiting for call cancelling the assignment outright.

On the positive side, was able to watch some Three Stooges on Spike TV from 9:15 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Friday, June 10, 2005


Silly me, I thought we were living in PC times. I found this image - used as a real banner advertisement on Yahoo! - some time ago (but definitely not before the Civil Rights Movement). What gives?!

Was Archie Bunker handling this ad campaign? I guess I missed the one where a bunch of pickaninnies were lazing in a watermelon patch until some helpful white guy mentioned that they might be more comfy in a Holiday Inn.

No detail has been spared: note the bug-eyed look of supreme terror; the hair standing on end; the "Ahm losin' mah mind!" hysterics.

About the only thing missing here is a panel showing this couple done with the terrifying trip and safe in the refuge of their Universal Theme Park jobs of cook and maid, respectively. Christ.


Walk on concrete,
Live in concrete,
Heart of concrete.

—Won Dim Phuc (busboy at Fong Lee's, 66 Elizabeth Street, NYC)

* * *

I heard this bromide uttered back in the late '70s, as I and a couple of friends (known, for some reason, as "the Yambos") attempted to skip out on the check. All was forgiven when the cleaver-wielding Won got his money (and extorted a sizeable tip, as well). For our trouble we were favored with this sage advice.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


Muffled moans, hidden;
A sloshing mop spreads pine scent—
Welcome to Peep World!

Ok, this is scary

You are John Ashbery
You are John Ashbery. People love your work but
have no idea why, really. You are respected by
all kinds of scholars and poets. Even artists
like you.

Which Famous Modern American Poet Are You?

* * *

So, basically, I'm a doddering old incoherent drunk who is worshipped for no real good reason. Could be worse, I suppose. (It all fits, save for the worship part. Though I'm working on my cult business model even as I type these words.)



Wednesday, June 08, 2005


Rollerblading ass—
Spastic Olive Oyl jitters;
Bobby Orr I ain't.

8-word poem

It takes two
To make
A successful sycophant.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Afterlife mugshots
Prescribe death after glory
The power of the soul shakes
Too much of a badass
A book based on the candy bar
Swear on mother’s eyes
Brown violent contacts
The way God undid them
Love doesn’t mean sweet


Charisma beauty
Checks her gloss
In a hubcap mirror—

Praises the day
Animal testing
Was invented.

Monday, June 06, 2005


Ends with the
Dusty finish.

8-word poem

I'd rather part
With my grandmother's
Paisley shawl.

"Game 7?! Daaamn!"

Shaquille O'Neal reacts to the disappointing news that he did not in fact win the role of Ed Norton in the new Honeymooners.

Or maybe this is a still from his screen test.

Regardless, there is a game seven tonight betwixt the Miami Heat and the Detroit Pistons. Aight?

Sunday, June 05, 2005


Toward the end
Of senior year—
Required course.
Mannequin victim
To practice on,
Typical of most models:
Only a torso.

One by one,
Approaching in turn.
Gentle shaking,
A cradled neck,
Pinch the nose.
Listen for breathing,
Says she can't feel her legs.

Saturday, June 04, 2005


Static in the eye,
Revenge in the attic—
Shot down in Nam
And still collecting residuals.

A loaded word like “reckoning”
Has you praying for rain,
For faith—
You’re not those, are you?

Choking instructions:
The skull didn’t miss a trick;
Last in line for first aid—
They like it that you don’t know.

iTuneage - recent baker's dozen

1. "Do Ya" - Electric Light Orchestra
2. "New York Groove" - Ace Frehley
3. "Whip-Smart" - Liz Phair
4. "Only the Good Die Young" - Billy Joel
5. "You Mean So Much to Me" - Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes
6. "Here Comes the Bride" - Lou Reed
7. "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)" - The Monkees
8. "Downtown Train" - Tom Waits
9. "Your Wildest Dreams" - Moody Blues
10. "Dreaming" - Blondie
11. "One Fine Day" - The Chiffons
12. "Young Americans" - David Bowie
13. "Home" - Iggy Pop

I'm It

Gina has tagged me, this time about books and reading.

1. Total number of books I've owned: Too many.

2. Last book I bought: Haiku: a Poet's Guide by Lee Gurga. This would have come in very handy while I was writing my critical thesis. I tried special ordering it through the Gotham Book Mart, but it's been months now and they seem unable to track it down. A similar thing happened with another book I tried to procure through them. Despite the rich heritage of the place, I have never really walked out of there with the book I was looking for. So, I ordered it from Amazon, and had it in like two days.

Anyway, according to Mr. Gurga, I am exactly the kind of poet most "serious" haiku practitioners can't stand. Great success!

3. Last book I read: Ric Flair: To Be the Man. Woooooo!™

4. Five books that mean a lot to me:

Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt by Richard Brautigan. My favorite book of poetry. The title poem is also one of my favorites.

The Stranger by Albert Camus. A very well-crafted novel, that poignantly suggests man's isolation in the universe. Depressing or freeing? Yes.

Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. Tight prose, outrageous humor, sickening descriptions of bodily functions, futuristic mayhem, pornographic afterthoughts. A little something for everyone.

The Short-Timers by Gustav Hasford. The book that provided the basis for Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket. Absolutely the most frightening and haunting war book I've ever read.

After Dark, My Sweet by Jim Thompson. Excellent pulp noir with all the right ingredients in place: a mentally unbalanced former boxer, a boozing seductress, a former cop turned small-time crook, and a kidnapping gone awry.

5. Which five bloggers am I going to pass it to? MsAPhillips, Stephanie, MsHellion, Todd, and Steve Roberts.

Friday, June 03, 2005


I'll never say
A little prayer
For you again
In San Jose.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

8-word poem

How many summers
Do I really
Have left?

8-word poem

Air quote 'til doomsday—
You're full of shit.

8-word poem

So many people
Are losing
Faith in karma.

* * *

Overheard on F train, 5/31/05.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005


Sure, everyone (even me) knows that wrestling is fake. Outcomes of matches are predetermined, feuds are scripted, hated enemies frequently hang out together once they leave the ring, etc.

I recently got a great inside look at all of this via the very entertaining book, Ric Flair: To Be the Man. Flair (pictured above in the clutches of Dusty Rhodes) explores his 30-year history in the wrestling business thoroughly, if not in the most brilliant prose style. The book (a New York Times bestseller, according to the cover) reads like you're listening to Flair wax nostalgic over the course of one long brag-fest, yet so much of the information is intriguing.

The line between real-life conflicts and the foes his in-ring persona battled is often quite blurred. Shrewd promoters have capitalized on Flair's endless charisma, as well as his ability to hold a grudge to the grave. Learning the back story to many of the matches and plots I witnessed as an impressionable "mark" (a fan who believes wrestling is real) was great fun.

One thing that surprised me was learning how delicate Flair's ego could be; dropping the championship belt to an opponent who hadn't paid his dues seems to have brought him a great deal of genuine anguish. It is clear, however, that he truly loves the wrestling business - despite the frequent backstabbing and professional jealousy that is part and parcel of it.

Weird but true: Flair's trademark "Woooooo!" - a crowd-inciting vocalization - is, in fact, trademarked! Is this possible? I think I said "Woooooo!" just the other day, though in an entirely different context. But still: am I liable for having uttered this, uhm, "word"?