City of Joyful Dread

I caught a fever, a holy fire

Category: poems

untitled (protest wrote the Constitution)

protest wrote the Constitution
well past the dark ages
when warlocks wore white and conjured
words of compromise and imperfect


Donny Karl

“give Courtney a word to spell”
the teacher told Donny Karl
two hours before the spelling bee

went Donny Karl

spelled Courtney

& we laughed
& laughed until
he was dishonorably discharged from
the Army six years
later and killed in a
hit-and-run, fucking
bastard never saw his wheelchair
rolling out
on dawn’s highway, pipe dumping
ashes on his lap like harsh
black fairy dust

Anomic Esq

Humility is sexy
but I prefer humiliation

Friday nights at a club called the Nile
I walk like Little Egypt
I walk like an erection
I do the pole dance with the pole cats
It’s electric

When I’m under your boot
you can crush my dreams
you can make me come
to my senses
that I can’t have you
when I want you
I’m pathetic
It’s poetic
It’s so poetic

When I’m rambling in my Nash Rambler
on my way to the Black Banana
got a bottomless cup of coffee
got a bottomless cup of coffee and a topless dancer
on my dashboard, won’t you excuse me
would a how do you do behoove me
would a how do you do behoove me
I’m moved by the way you move me
the way you move me out of
your way on your way to
somewhere else

The Seventies

I’ve been to Hollywood
I’ve been to Redwood
Never going back again

Dancing Bear (for Gord Downie)

we die a little
when he dies
robbed of his music
that was never really ours

the impenetrable gaze
the inscrutable phrase
a name projected on a cave

we rave
until dawn
we move on
we move to the music
that was never ours



you told me I was the token male
with mezcal in your coffee
I’ve been known to occasionally
run with the wolves,
I said
I occasionally run with the wolves

did you hear that, we’re wolves
you told her
with something in your eyes
my lover didn’t recognize
and on the jukebox the man in black sang
never do me harm
never do me harm

we dropped you off
at the Christian Street Y
you whispered in her ear,
why don’t you make a baby
you said, why don’t you make a baby tonight

you must have known we weren’t breeders
we’re cat people
see these eyes so green
I’m sure you must have known we were cat people
but I didn’t know you were actual wolves


when you call me
you never call me
when you call me
make me a baby
when I was a baby once
before your time
& will be
before you will



cocaine is so 1984
I wanted more
I’m breaking down
the walls of South Miami

remember when we were
like Walt Whitman I penetrated
multitudes of lovers

once we were old
then we were dead
now we’re reborn
I mean every word I’ve
never said out loud

outside the broken window pane
I dedicate this hurricane
to you

the monuments are coming down
from Johnny Reb to Johnny Brown
so now we’ll never understand
the meaning of confederate
as lover

when I come home the bedroom’s empty
my baby went and found redemption
in Detroit

Photo by John N. Teunisson for New Orleans Railway & Light Company (1917). Robert E. Lee Memorial Column in Lee Circle park, central New Orleans. Available at Wikimedia Commons.

Get It On

I’m enough of a child of the sixties
to think no matter how awful it
turned out or what it took to
end up there at least
nobody else died
nobody except for her and
we can make our own torches now
we can make torches with
ourselves every day
with our own bodies
naked as the night
without masks or muskets or
calling other humans animals
because we’re all vulnerable now
more than ever and
this is what we must do
this is what we have to do to
get it on

Dick Envy

I once convinced a blonde
that our vice president
in 2004
was named Dick Envy

but who’s laughing
now that dick envy
determines who’s president