I want to find love like the rest of us,
Like a tuxedo on the back shelf of a thrift store,
Wear it like 1950’s prom night when some punk got lucky in the back seat of his father’s brand new Cadillac,
And when he was finally a man,
Or at least when he thought he was,
He lay there naked while the sweat dried off of his skin,
He felt like the sand at low tide,
He never wanted to put on clothes again,
So he cigarette flicked his suit out the door,
Let the crimson lining of its insides kiss the asphalt as if his innocence were road kill,
And I found it here,
All these years later,
It still smelled like 17,
But I didn’t want hand me downs,
No, I wanted something of my own,
I tossed it back.
Call me blue valentine,
But my parents barely made it past their first anniversary,
And twenty-one years later,
I can still hear my mother sobbing like the sound of her tears can’t pierce past the bedroom door.
I took sanctuary in the garden,
Watered her orchids to pass the time.
I drowned them accidentally.
From a young age, I kept people at a distance,
Until the smog cast a veil that smoothed out their features,
It’s funny how the farther things get, the prettier they appear.
I was a bird watcher with a rose tinted telescope,
But the only thing I discovered about cardinals were sins,
I learned to drink, fight, and fuck ‘cause I was living as fast as I was dying,
If a hummingbird stops beating its wings will it pass away?
I saw one once, perched on my windowsill,
It looked at me and flew,
I didn’t want to be the bad guy any more.
I played a redemption song,
If you listen closely you will hear that this record skipping in my chest is a stuttering songstress,
My bones like The Beatles,
Breaking apart to the Ballad of John and Yoko,
And I just want to get the band together,
This is my world reunion tour,
Because I’m still searching for this thing called love.
Where is it?
Went to the beach and only found wedding rings,
Groomed the matador’s cape and found nothing but fear,
Climbed beneath the banyan trees and found the ruins of something man once worshiped as god,
I did not find what I was looking for.
So I went back to where it all began.
Have you ever noticed that no one ever stares at the ceiling in Grand Central?
It’s the only place in the city where you can still see the stars,
But New Yorkers are too busy,
They always got a place to be,
My place was here,
I ran my fingers across the constellations like Braille,
They read me a poem,
Let me share it with you.
EP Love to alum J.Reilly. Do it big King!
After twenty one years of neglect,
Countless promises of next time,
And a Father who swore on his bank account,
The only God he has, that I better be here today,
I arrived at my Grandmother’s hospital bed,
In some parallel universe,
I’m sure we were inseparable,
I would come after church on Sundays,
Dressed in clothes that made me look more like a small penguin than young Christian,
She would bake me apple pie,
Let me eat it before supper,
And never make me finish my broccoli,
While told tales of the old country,
Fables of the handsome prince I would’ve become,
And I would in kind recount these anecdotes to all my friends,
Because everyone loves a good grandma story of simpler times and glory days,
But that never happened,
I arrived here a life too late,
I used to pull the sheets over my head when I was afraid,
Now I’m terrified of what’s beneath them:
A scarecrow crucified on wooden bones and tattered skin,
Her breath sounds like crumpled paper
Two Bright red lanterns wrinkled beneath her breastplates.
Her lips clawing away from her teeth like soldiers retreating from a two front war, and they just want to smell a home cooked meal again,
Pops says she recognizes me,
He’s always been a clever liar,
She has Alzheimer’s and I haven’t seen her since I could still hold my age in my right and left hands,
Strawman she is,
Her brain is absent as I have been,
How do you cry for a stranger?
Visiting hours for friends and family,
This feels more like hospice care
Once upon a time,
My father dragged me to her convalescent home,
Where I played hide-and-seek with pale faced zombies,
Ravenous for human flesh and anything warm that would touch them,
A cup of coffee
Or her last memory of the sun,
Years ago the Great Wall of China ran up her spine,
Rumor has it you can see this wonder from the moon,
But that’s just an urban legend,
Trust me, I’ve watched from farther away
From the other side of a casket,
And the front seat of a rental car,
She laid to rest in Monterey,
I can’t say Steinbeck ever walked this cemetery,
But I felt guilty with every sin east of his Eden.
We had the ceremony in a church,
Because that’s what people are supposed to do, The service was me, my father, and a priest paid by the hour,
No mass requiem,
No Ave Maria sung by a woman in the only little Black dress she’ll never to want wear again,
Just prayers read off paper sheets folded like fast food menus,
Hands pressed like mantis,
Hadn’t heard her real name until the undertaker read it in Chinese off the tombstone.
A shotgun funeral,
Fitting for a life that ran from bullets.
Fled a communist revolution with nothing but a suitcase and a first born son,
She put her past behind only for me to forget her until she past.
It’s only now that I realize I should have loved her like the lotus she was,
A flower that blooms from the mud,
But remains unstained.
Grandma I am so sorry,
If I ever have the chance to make it right,
Find myself in the Human province of the Chinese countryside,
I will craft this poem into a fleet of origami boats,
Place a candle in each,
Sail my one-man navy of flames, down the Yangtze river until the ghosts know that my Grandmother’s face launched a thousand ships,
And I intend to bring her back,
This is an Illiad penned on the inside of a paper lantern,
May it illuminate her story into the night,
A winter’s night,
Haven’t seen you in awhile,
Apologize if I’m having trouble making eye contact,
But you’re the same kind of gorgeous I remember,
And I’m not ready for that yet,
The weather still reminds me of the excuses we made to play Eskimo beneath bed your sheets,
When our noses were the best kissers this side of the north pole,
Not like those reckless things below,
Too much tongue,
And not enough substance,
We used to arc flight paths across the heartland,
Lie upside down and flip them into the widest smiles from California to Manhattan,
You’re not as warm as you used to be,
And I chose a crowded restaurant where everyone knows me,
So I won’t make a scene this time ‘round.
Whether on a stage or a familiar place,
I’m always best when people are watching,
But there’s only been one person,
I’ve never been afraid to see me for who I am, naked,
And it’s been far too long,
How many times can I drive you home,
Watch the front door close stoplight red,
And wonder would you let me run it if no one’s around,
When I got home, I went to play basketball,
Because it’s the only thing I’m worse at than you,
And I need to feel good about us again,
It snowed on the walk back,
And I swore the sky was trying to romance me,
Sierra Leone mine diamonds from the stratosphere,
Have you ever tried to catch a dying star on your tongue,
It tastes nothing like forever,
More like innocence,
The dust of the February wind dancing halos under each lonely lamp post,
Until the earth is a blank slate again,
But I know now we can’t start over,
Because we don’t stick right anymore,
Love is not always white as wedding gowns,
Sometimes you have to get your hands dirty,
Like New Orleans jazz and the hurricane season,
The grit of brass band parades when the muck is up to your knees
Believe we can rebuild a home out of anything,
Take me back to Dixieland, I’m cold.