Local Bears

I ride in an unfamiliar SUV through my old neighborhood. Two people are in the SUV with me. One of them drives. Through the window I can tell that there is something going on in the middle of the city. There might be snow, I can’t remember. The SUV parks at the edge of a cul-de-sac, a place where the residential road intersects a larger street. I can see a traffic signal from where we park. It is just outside the neighborhood’s reach. We move a little farther down the street. We park again. We get out of the car. I feel that one of my companions tells me that someone has lost a bear. It is running wild. It is also a grizzly bear. The most dangerous bear. I hear it from their mouth. It is what they tell me. It could be a Montana bear or a Wyoming bear, or a local bear. The last is unlikely. I have seen those bears and they do not exist.

In Dialogue with a Mirror

MAN: And even Hegel once said that there are some people—that within them the will of history has been instilled so deeply, like a parasite, like a spirit, that the brain’s crevices turn from flesh to stone, and it is within this burning pumice, within the heated, boiling rock, that man is no longer man, cannot consider himself man, no, more than man—to be the man and the world in one breath. They say if the world could write, it would write like Tolstoy.

A Dark Fire is Kindled in Phoenix

Watching the videos from a safe place,
I’m struck not just by the crowd but by how it moves,
how it swarms to the front like flies to a corpse and churns about in agitated delirium.
It’s all so Bacchic, in its frenzied ecstasy and cultish ritual, or even Lovecraftian;
I half-expect the crowd to start chanting to Cthulhu any minute now.
But the only Elder God this cruel spectacle honors is standing on the podium,
and he speaks in a tongue far less esoteric,
one leavened with a thousand primal appeals and playground slurs.

On the Habits of Coyotes

My girlfriend tells me we’re haunted by dead coyotes. In a blue room in a grey house in Milwaukie, we cut up t-shirts I can’t fit in anymore and M tells me she can hear the ghosts howling.

“That doesn’t really sound like a coyote,” I say when she makes the noise for me, an eee-eee-eee sort of noise that sounds more like a dolphin than a phantom coyote.

“I’m not doing it right—do you hear it now? It’s there,” and she stands on the stacked foam mattress toppers to see out the window.

The summer house is at the edge of Johnson Creek, a three bedroom rental two blocks from a TriMet station. We spend weekends in the sun, smoking joints and pulling the house from swelling vines of blackberry and clematis. They root into the grey frame and I’m worried one day the earth might swallow the house whole.

Big gulp.

“It’s probably just the Gold Man,” I tell M when she won’t stop looking out the window.

Sleeping with Bukowski (and Other Things)

Gabi opens the door and says, “come in,” and I don’t know why I’m at her house because I thought we’d stopped talking in high school but she looks the same and we walk through a home she says is her own and trees grow through the roof and the floors are stacked between ladders and bats hang from the ceilings.

“We’re going to my room,” she says, and we make the climb up a ladder to a lofted bed and our knees touch and I think, this must be real.

Three Poems

Binary Sunrise

"Why didn't you name
Me Anakin?" asked the son
Who saw the whole world

In John Williams'
Scores swell as the call of "It's
Working" began its

Emanation to
The ends of a galaxy
He'd follow it through.



Been a long time now
Since I've been inside this calm
And let myself stay.

I might walk through it
A while to unnameably
Familiar spaces.

Those that would never
Seem less futile to live in
For all these moments.


Only keep the days
That recognize themselves as

¿Qué te metiste a la boca, niña?

Ya ni me di cuenta...

Hace rato almorcé el sudor de una máquina.

Sentí el sabor a metal y caucho de la banda transportando la cajita de espaguettis desde "La Moderna" allá por Vícam hasta la pulpería de la esquina.

Probe la mano de Doña Fabi y la paila donde puso a freír los espaguettis y el pollo en su aceite de canola Goldenjíls.

Comí algo roto, también.

The Pigeon

There were pigeons outside his window, again. He could see the soft green and pink beneath the sheen of their feathers.

The toaster oven spit out two browned slices of whole grain bread. He opened the fridge and pulled out the jar of strawberry jam. He grabbed a knife from the drawer, the one to the left of the sink, and proceeded to spread the thick fruit onto each piece of toast. He placed the toast onto a small plate and turned on the stove, shifting the kettle to the proper burner.

                                  spilled milk
( it’s  just that  now there’s none  left and it doesn’t seem
that important until it piles up broken plates dig into your
heels and  you can barely  see the floor anymore  because
When’s  the last time you had the energy to do something
about it  and it piles up again and  you put it off until later
until it piles up until the water level’s at your  windowsill
and now there’s no use and now there’s ) no use crying .

The Restaurant

“Hey, um!”
“Hey, excuse me!”

The waitress turned on one leg, her elbow on her hip, coffee pot in hand.

“Yeah, hun?” she responded.
“Why do you say that?”
Her face contorted into a question mark.
“What you called me just now,” he fired off, “and once before that.”
She was half waiting for a joke. “What do you mean?”
“I just can’t take it anymore! Have you ever thought that the people you call hun maybe don’t like being called hun?”