The Mats at Midway Tonight

I’m going to start
wearing a money
belt to pretend

I’m traveling
in a foreign
country. Wide enough

to hold
a passport
and a spleen

in case mine needs
to be removed.

I would keep it
so I could still vent.

No one will accuse me
of being passive

aggressive. Where am I
going tonight?
Saint Paul. You never know.

Will have to cross
the Mississippi, you know.
Maybe, you don’t.

Was the Anniversary of Johnny Thunders’ Birth

Yesterday. An unmarked package
delivered on an unmarked
morning. But she knows. Has been expecting

you to return
for a new verse, extended play. Gone
from gonna to did

and looping
back again. No more bye-bye. What’s it
like? Who really wants to know?

Ode to Technics

speakers and receiver and
tuner and equalizer and memory

of how I would buy
and pay anything
to get closer

to that bastard
of young
with the voice. To replace

it all now
terrifies me. The sound
of anticlimax

is lonely and loud—
the young turned
fifty years ago.

I Always Let My Victim Catch Me in the Act

The first time I could have thought
I’d died and gone to heaven, I didn’t.
Only years later would I see
how one night of live music inside Toad’s

Place would be all I ever needed—
one almost lethal obsession kicking
in, another stubbornly tame one sparked
and filed away in a Midwestern vault

for safe keeping. Do not remove for more
than a decade (and a half). The first time

I did think I’d died and gone
there, I took a wrong turn
onto a riverboat and got trapped tracing
a wake aft. To cross it without spilling

into myself has become a new preoccupation
about to break the surface. Ready
as I’ll never be and all other stolen
turns of phrase twisted inside out.

Burning Fluid

How many walls will she paint orange
before the urge to find replacements
dissolves in spirit

of turpentine? It is a question she doesn’t need
to answer till other colors haunt
her, flash inside her eyelids

in jealous rages, till another violent act
unfolds flat against this bare surface.

Look Up & Down

It’s happening again—distortion
in the sky. Not another season
in sight. The man in a neon vest drops

his shovel. A bus rolls up—
wheels on a new white blanket.
Won’t last. Disintegration

at ground level. I watch from my skyway
perch—it is warm up
inside. Which one in stupid hat and gloves

is you? I gave up the search
decades ago. Now I extinguish the light.