Hell Was the Second Word You Uttered

It’s 9 am
on a Saturday
in April, do you know where

your Please
Kill Me t-shirt
is? Who you were

with the first time
you listened to Chronic
Town all the way through?

Gardening at night
is not always as romantic
as it seems. Mumbling may be

a gift of genius,
or merely of the arrogant
camouflaging an inferiority

complex the size of a bull’s eye
on that t-shirt
in XXXL. Or, it could all be

a joke—the way
we equate enunciating
with the truth.

Soap Song

“The life I live,
The one I hoped
To live—
How seldom
They coincide.

Sometimes, briefly,
They do;
Sometimes, in the city.”
—Gregory Orr, from The City of Poetry

And after all
that commotion
attraction betrayal
ecstasy memory
loss anarchy sexual
tension breaking
open night by night.

And after all
that walking waiting
crowding into a small
room sipping and spilling
coffee onto an unfinished
factory wood floor watching
it run

down the sloped boards
into seams
between checking
to see if the dark
river has dried up
smiling at the man
who asks

how are you

when he sits next to me.

This seat
will do.

And after all that
the reader

who is a writer
who was a punk musician
who stands on
an invisible stage
before us

is shorter
with a much warmer smile
than I imagined the founder
of the Blank Generation
to have.

This ragged sometimes damp
sometimes arid line I walk along
separates the punks
and rockers from the poets
and storytellers DJs and
critics from spoken word
artists and the rest of us.

And after all that
I see the line
wasn’t really there.
I’m just rambling
through it. Imaginary
borders don’t dissolve
till we outgrow them.

How To Define Punk to a 12 Year Old (or, Richard Hell at the Soap Factory)

Who lives
in this post-post-modern polyphonic
blitz? Blitz—not
bliss. I love

that anarchy—murder
of the omniscient
narrator. Reliable, or
not. Or,

is it an assassination? Did she
(or he) hold
political office? Or, at least
run? I could be running

to go to Hell
on time. I have a VIP seat, but
I should get
going. Don’t want

to miss a word. Think
of all those voices shouting
out of turn

their individual versions
of what it means
to burn in, burn on,
burn out.