City of Joyful Dread

I caught a fever, a holy fire

Category: poems

Public School

nurse the patient won’t
respond when I
bashed her head with a
mallet so I
bashed her head with a
mallet & I
bashed her head with a
mallet & I
bashed her head with a
mallet &
robbed her blind & took her car

nurse the patient won’t
respond when I
tested her so I
tested her again & I
tested her again & I
tested her again &
now the patient won’t respond
so you’re fired



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



demons in topaz
remind me of
your moons

those horrible moons

reversing my orbit

making me
castrato delecto

Photo courtesy of FrostClick. Available under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license.


I was born to be reborn
in someone else’s body

Maybe it was Heather Locklear’s
Maybe it was yours
but I’m not sure

When I was high I saw the light
but now there’s only darkness

Maybe Tamerlane would understand
but I’m not sure

I wrote your name in India ink
but you weren’t Indian anymore
I sang Oh Lonesome Me
but you were there

Take me to your Borscht Belt
Take me to your Chitlin’ Circuit
Put me on the paddy wagon
Take me home tonight

I never meant to hurt you
I will miss you when I burn
I was born to learn a lesson
someone else won’t have to learn

Piglet Dies in the End


I will tell you a secret
about Winnie the Pooh
he was in the slammer
for sniffing glue

he was thrown in the slammer
for sniffing glue
with Tigger, too
with Tigger, too

now he’s wearing stripes and walking the floor
with Tigger who even wore stripes before
striped tail, striped paws, and striped pajammers
Winnie the Pooh is sniffing glue in the slammer

with Tigger, too
with Tigger, too
Winnie the Pooh is sniffing glue in the slammer

I will tell you a secret
about Winnie the Pooh
He had one true friend
But Piglet dies in the end
Piglet dies in the end

like we’ll all die too

Winnipeg the Bear photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Spade Comic

we laughed at him
when he exposed our flaws
we got down on the
dance floor
we got down on
all fours
we did the dog
we did the freak
we did the freaking dog
the whole damn night
we broke out in song
we broke the law
we never really understood
him at all

Cracker Identity Politics

What’s the difference between
solidarity and intersectionality?
One Big Union and a Master’s.
Otherwise, we wear the same masks.
We are people, plural,
differences manifest
as one.
Lester Bangs wrote,
“We will never agree on anything
as we agreed on Elvis,”
but we never agreed on Elvis,
or Lester Bangs.
We never voted for Trump,
but it only took a minyan.
Do you identify with
those who identify with
Eugene Debs,
who wrote that the most heroic word
in all languages is
and does your revolution
dance with Emma Watson,
or only Emma Goldman?
Brocialism, the working man’s Branarchism!
(Black flags fly forever, ask any
Raiders fan.)
Solidarity and intersectionality both mean becoming someone else’s struggle
without becoming someone else.
We’re never more radical than radical
tolerance. The rest is reverie.
Both sides do it,
but only one side owned slaves.

* New York Worker, April 1907