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Reptiles and Portraits and Poetry

April 6, 2010

Come to the Seattle slam semifinal tomorrow ya’ll. I hear  Lucky 7 and Amy Everhart are going to cryogenically freeze your heart. Wh’POW! Also, I’m in the slam, and so are Tara Hardy, Matt Gano, Jack McCarthy, Steven Wilbur, Dane Kuttler, Korvus Blackbird, and Jodie Knowles, so it’s going to be RIDICULOUS.

Here’s my 30/30 poems for the last two days. See you beauties tomorrow.


When are you going to write me back?
In the glittering snapshots taken two years ago, I am full of doubt,
am not sure how to keep you but
positive to refuse affection from anyone else.
I’m wearing drunk proud as a tuxedo, dancing my face off with the night
swirling my glass to distant beats and flinting myself on your steel fists.
Flirting was a trick I learned later,
after I’d smoked and started and sputtered one too many times at our old scraping.

I’m polishing my smile for you.
I sweat across the floor to oil the hardwood
and then it peels away from my face easy.
I dunk it in turpentine,
rub that ragged t-shirt across its genies.

This mouth does a lot,
it is stuck with grime, almost regret,
all of it caking off in the lamplight
my chin murmuring muffled approval,
taut skin and blank muscle chewing round and round,
voicebox groaning between my nostrils and gooseneck.

With horsehair I paint tiny windows on each imperfect tooth,
take a needle between my fat fingers and stitch
my big-as-Georgia lips with a kite, flying.
when you look out from within me
you will always see a sunny day.


To break a window
you must believe you belong inside.
The pane will spiderweb for you if you want it hard enough.
Belonging is another kind of letting go.
The man at the window has a hundred names.
His passports string his neck,
flags of every nation he has never belonged to
visas marked asylum denial
colored threads roping his neck in tangle.

The alligator in his back is coiling to strike.
His kidneys coiled under gator tongue tense as sunlight.
He breathes into the nylon of his sleeping bag,
wraps round heating vents Jurassic.
The alligator used to live in this house when it was a swamp.
The swamp used to be soaked in restless
now it’s soaked in becoming,
soaked in the ever evolving city
the gator wonders what was so wrong with bubble
so wrong with simmer.

He slithers into a man to find something more turbulent to one up the swamp
the inner boil of human vs the ancient bog
human is wheel-driving moss exploding and dandelion
swamp is ocean-want
human is scale-miss.

Scale-miss is a feeling in the spine
shiver and need
anxious and hopeful
claws and whiplash tail hanging so still around your core
that kookaburras rest on possibilities dripping jaws.

Possible will eat.
Possible must swallow bones and all before chance can take flight
or risk everything happening
in a spurt of this and this and that,
and can we not go there anymore?

The time for mistakes is over,
and human reveals itself as boil over
snap-dragon, birthday candle, a lot of words,
not one single leaf, not one piranha.
The gator knows a ticking choice when he hears one
and to get back at home he will strike from within the sleeping skin
dance out his tongue to tickle the underbelly of fateful simplicity.

Everyone knows that simple doesn’t fit in our mouths.
Everyone knows that holding real still
doesn’t keep the bile from burning.

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