City of Joyful Dread

I caught a fever, a holy fire

Category: poems

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



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.