WE CAN EAT YOU NOW

I had 13 new voicemails on my phone. I knew it was time for me to check them. Normally the process of “checking voicemails” for me looked a lot like hitting the number 7 over and over again until my phone indicated that I no longer had any new voicemails. Sure, the occasional message from a friend got lost in the mix, but the sweet justice of not hearing to hear a robot lady voice informing me that it’s urgent and important that I contact them for a business matter far outweighed the cons.

This time around though, I couldn’t delete my voicemail. Each time I pressed 7 the message would just start over again and again:

“This is a communication regarding a debt from – This is a communication regarding a debt from – This is a comm – This is a comm,”

I hit the button to end the call but the message just began again:

“This is a communication regarding a debt from ABC Collections. You have been scheduled for a mandatory hearing regarding a flexible repayment plan on Saturday, July 25, 2019 at 1200 hours at the National Trust Tower at 1400 S River Street in Suite 1213. Please be at least 30 minutes early for your hearing and bringing legal proof of income and two forms of identification. Thank you.”

I knew which debt they were referring to, my student loan debt. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to repay it, it was just that I didn’t have any money. Sure, I was riddled with guilt every time I picked up a new vinyl record or treated myself to a nice lunch with a friend, but I couldn’t give up my sanity or my life to repay this absurdly high stack of money I had borrowed. Maybe the hearing would do me well. Give me a chance to plead my case and let them know that I was trying, I really was, I just needed time; maybe a year or two to get my shit together so I could start repaying my debt. They had to understand. I wasn’t the first person to be in this situation and they did mention a flexible repayment plan.

*****

I arrived at the National Trust Tower a half hour early on the 25th. I felt I’d never seen the building before despite the fact that I drove down 14th Street everyday on my way to work. It rose probably 16 stories off the ground and left an ominous shadow over a large portion of the park that it lurked over.

I entered the building where I was checked in by security. I removed my keys my phone and my wallet and watch and put them in a bin to be scanned as I passed through the metal detector. I had my proof of income, my last paycheck from The Burger Shack tucked under my arm. The security guard was dead behind the eyes as her white gloves patted me up and down. It always bugged me how half-assed the pat down is. I’m not requesting a cavity search or anything but a couple love taps didn’t seem very thorough to me.

“Please regather your items. Elevators are straight ahead of you, sir,”

I did as she said and filtered towards the golden elevator doors along with the great masses of other people, sheep being lead to the slaughterhouse. The doors opened and we all gathered in. I pressed twelve on the elevator door before the continuing rush of people on the elevator pushed me quickly towards the back.

The elevator was balls hot. People coughing and clearing their throats dressed in shirt and ties and blouses, some didn’t even bother to dress up. It was no small elevator either. I guess they’d figured with the traffic they’d be experiencing something similar to a freight elevator was the way to go.

The floors ticked by and the elevator got more comfortable, but very slowly. Lots of folks in lanyards with name badges got off on Floor 10, I’d figured it was an administrative floor or something to that effect.

Now it was just me and one woman in the elevator. She gently cried to herself, I couldn’t figure out why and it didn’t seem right for me to ask why. As the elevator pinged for Floor 11 she glanced back at me and quickly exited. Alone in the elevator I could hear the cables pulling me up. I couldn’t help but think of those cables as a knotted rope and the elevator itself my head caught in its fray.

The doors opened as if they were automated gentlemen welcoming me to the last place on Earth I wanted to be at the moment. Ahead of me was a great long hallway with door after door, all closed.

I began walking down the hall searching for my room number. I glanced down at my proof of income where I’d written ‘1213’ as a reminder to myself. The rooms all had placards stating “HEARING ROOM 1201”, “HEARING ROOM 1202,” and so on until there in front of me was ‘HEARING ROOM 1213.”

I dusted myself off, tucked my shirt in and entered into the room.

It was nothing like what I expected. Where I thought I’d find a waiting room or a warm office, similar to a DA’s office, there in front of me was a giant white space, clinical and echoing. There before me was one empty chair and across the room a long table where a board of professional looking people sat and stared at me blankly.

“Please Mr. Carney, have a seat…” said a woman, her voice carrying through the room. She wore a pink business suit and black stilletos. She was incredibly blonde with an incredibly big smile and a flight attendant tone in her voice that echoed through the hollow room. “We appreciate your punctuality,”

I took a seat as their three sets of eyes pierced me, watching me like some foreign zoo animal they didn’t understand. Their desk was clear, except for one stack of papers that the woman in the middle shuffled through. Looking up I noticed a giant two-armed fan circulating on the ceiling, like a great blade that I half expected to descend upon me.

“For the record, you are in fact Mr. James Douglas Carney Jr., correct?”

“Yes, mam,” I said, the cool air pressing down against my face.

“Did you bring your two forms of identification and your proof of employment and income, Mr. Carney?”

“Yes, I did,” I began to stand to bring them to her.

“No, please Mr. Carney, remain seated. Mr. Jetson, please retrieve Mr. Carney’s documents,”

Mr. Jetson was a big fucker. Probably 6’4” 270 pounds. I had this lurking feeling that that was a big factor in his position here with the ABC Collections Agency. I handed him my Driver’s License, my expired student ID and my proof of income from The Burger Shack.
Mr. Jetson presented the documents to the woman who put on her glasses to assess their validity.

“Very good, Mr. Carney. From here, I would like to go through a line of questioning with you, if you don’t mind. If you have any questions or concerns, please save them for the end of the inquisition,”

“Okay,” I said, my voice cracking slightly.

“Mr. Carney, you have been brought here today concerning your remaining debt of twenty-two thousand, eight-hundred and sixty-four dollars accrued during your freshman and sophomore years at Trenton Community College. Following your exit from their education program, you had a six month grace period allotted to you during which time no payment was due, however, after that time you were put on a payment plan of two-hundred and fifty dollars per month, which you failed to acknowledge for a period of 24 months leading up to the present. Is the preceding information correct, Mr. Carney?”

“Yes, it is,”

“Now I see here, Mr. Carney you are employed by The Burger Shack. Is that correct, Mr. Carney?”

“Yes, mam,”

“What is your official title at The Burger Shack, Mr. Carney?”

“I guess I really don’t have one,”

“I’m showing you make eight dollars an hour at The Burger Shack, Mr. Carney?”

“That’s right,” I said, “Just above minimum wage,”

“Mr. Carney, please don’t veer from the questions I’m asking you, okay?”
This woman was scary. I suspected her of being a kind of Stepford Wife. I half expected there to be a wind-up key in her back.

“Now, let’s get back on subject if we could – Mr. Carney, why have you been neglecting to pay your student loan debt to us here at ABC Collections?”

“Well, honestly. I don’t have the money. When I have the choice between eating and paying my student loan, the first one tends to take priority for me,”

“Have you considered getting a second job, Mr. Carney?”

“I have, and I’ve tried, but no one seems to be hiring, and even if they are, they have been unwilling to work around my schedule at The Burger Shack,”

“Mr. Carney, we’re not here to hear your excuses. The bottom line is your generation seems to have a large issue with accountability. When you take out a loan, you are making a promise to return that money, and your complete disinterest in doing so is beyond disturbing to me. How would you feel if I asked you to borrow twenty dollars and I didn’t pay you back?”

“I don’t have twenty dollars to lend you…”

“Mr. Carney, you are missing the point. You need to take ownership of the fact that you dropped out of college and thus, you have put yourself in this scenario. You have to pay us back,”

“What if I can’t? What are you going to do if I can’t? Sue me for the money I don’t have? Throw me in jail and deny me my horrible fucking life flipping burgers at The Burger Shack?”

“Actually, Mr. Carney, we are going to eat you now,”

I must have misheard her.

“You are going to do what?”

“You have defaulted on your student loans, young man. We have no choice but to eat you,”

“To eat me? Is that some sort of legal jargon for something?”

“No, I’m sorry, Mr. Carney. What I mean to say is we are going to tear off your limbs and eat you,”

“What the fuck? You can’t eat me?! That’s not… what the fuck?!”

“Section 14, Clause B of your student loan agreement states ‘In the scenario the aforementioned signee defaults on their student loan, it is left at the discretion of the lender to take whatever action is deemed most reasonable to ensure fairness in the agreed upon transaction, not limited to, or excluding, execution,”

“I’m getting out of here,” I said, rushing for the door, but as I did it padlocked.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Carney, but we can’t allow you to leave. We’re so very hungry, and you owe us a very large sum of money,”

They rose at their table, as I rushed towards it flipping the table over, their papers flying every which way.

“I never agreed to this!” I said, cornering myself as the three of them lurked all the closer to me.

“Yes, you did, Mr. Carney. Fair is fair. Your word is your bond and you have to understand that sometimes human blood is the cost of a good education,”

The big guy held me down as the other two began to rip my clothes off. I squirmed but it was no use. I felt the blonde woman biting into my stomach as the other man penetrated his teeth into my neck. I saw my blood pouring out all over my naked skin. I felt my heart raging. Looking up above me in excruciating pain, blinding pain, I saw the fan blades spinning still, over and over as the searing pain overtook me, and I slipped into unconsciousness.

*****

Heaven is maybe the wrong word for where we go after we die. If Earth is a Beatles CD, Heaven is like a first edition vinyl of the White Album. What I’m trying to say is Heaven is a lot like Earth in its imperfections, but just a little bit better. There’s no anxiety pills here, you wouldn’t need them. There’s no wars, sure there’s fights, but at the end of the night, we leave them behind us. There’s too much to be grateful for to waste your time with hatred or jealousy. It’s like a good camping trip. Good company and good conversation and a few good beers. There’s no palm trees or clear blue water, at least not in my Heaven. That stuff never was the truth to me.

In Heaven, there’s no danger in the United States Postal Service going out of business. The mailman just comes every day, smiling, because he doesn’t have to do his job. He can stop in the middle of his shift and take a nap if he wants. It will get done when it gets done. Why would anyone deliver the mail by choice? Well, because that’s the whole thing here. They have the choice. No one is forcing you to do anything. There’s no salary, there’s no 401k, there’s no credit check. Autonomy is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

I meet up with the mailman one day, and he’s smiling, like I knew he would be. He gives me my letters and I look through them. I got a postcard from my grandfather, letting me know he’s gonna spend a couple more weeks in Mexico up here in Heaven. Says he met a nice woman who is teaching him the true way to dance. I got another postcard from my friend Paulie who is inviting me to come up to his lodge in Aspen in Heaven. Says in Aspen in Heaven it’s always fall and it’s always beautiful. Says he’s got an endless fire going and we can sit around it and drink some whiskey.

My final piece of mail for the day is in a white envelope with just my name on it. I open it up in anticipation and I read it to myself:

“This is a communication regarding a debt from ABC Collections. You have been scheduled for a mandatory hearing regarding a flexible repayment plan on Tuesday, July 28, 2019 at 1200 hours at the National Trust Tower at 1400 S River Street in Suite 1213. Please be at least 30 minutes early for your hearing and bringing legal proof of income and two forms of identification. Thank you.”

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2014

READ “BATHROOM STALL…”

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AMERICAN CHAOS

Artwork by Patrick Beery

Artwork by Patrick Beery

one million murderers crash on the eastern shore of an occupied nation
never forget that handshakes were originally a way of indicating that you were unarmed
i guess that makes our ancestors liars and now we have come so far guns blazing swat teams swatting
riots in the streets of little old ferguson missouri
a black boy is dead and a white man of authority shot him down
we’ve heard this story before
will emmett till ever get some rest?
but we’re far too saturated with top ten
tips for improving your garden and top twenty
celebrities making human mistakes to stop and listen to the six gun
shots to listen to the hum be
neath the radio broadcasts
our heads filled with wifi and blue
tooth and wars on the other side of the world we are too damn frozen
to see that we live in the freezer of a cold war
heads on ice american dreams getting frost bite and still
the television plays on and the men in nice suits sitting behind desks
can talk the talk but without legs they may find it difficult to walk the walk but
still our love is buy one get one free our souls are being sold with free
shipping on the raging amazon and to protect and serve
they were meant to protect and serve but somedays it seems
all they do is threaten and order
and cheerios and campbells soup
skittles and arizona iced tea
hamburgers and hot dogs
right and wrong and right and wrong
and the kangaroos in the courtroom
and the elephants overcrowding the room and
right and wrong and black and
white and 2000 television channels as the news
papers burn on the streets as the true grit
journalists squat on craigslist row
and gonzo is just another muppet
and death before dishonor and
ladies first except
when they have
something to say
and the civil war is a cigarette
that never stopped burning and the two
towers never stopped burning and we’re all
afraid of the flames and the flames
spread like wildfire across
the spine of the rocky
mountains as smoke
billows below in denver
and marriage is being
confused with love
and love is being
confused with happiness
and we are locked up
in this fancy restaurant
with an overdraft fee
and we’re cleaning
someone else’s
dirty dishes
to try and pay
the tab
cleaning dirty
dishes to
try and
pay the tab
we’re cleaning
dirty dishes
just to
try and
pay the
tab

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2014

READ “NO ONE WANTS TO READ YOUR POETRY BRO”

ARTWORK PROVIDED BY PATRICK BEERY. FOLLOW HIM ON FACEBOOK BY CLICKING HERE.

CHICKEN SANDWICH FROM BURGER KING

about two months ago
i dreamt that i was eating a chicken sandwich
from burger king
and since that night
i have had increased my intake of chicken
sandwiches from burger king
exponentially

of course
there’s a burger king
on my way home from work
that glowing siren
singing me to shipwreck
right at the tail end of my
ten hour long work
excursions

four days a week
two times a day
i have to drive by that
godless whore of a
burger king
with her majestic
window mural
of a chicken sandwich
shining in the golden light
of halogen heaven

you have to understand
part of me acknowledges that
burger king is a capitalistic
corporate burger-making entity
that rolls obesity down
its assembly lines for insanely
disturbingly low prices
i’ve heard rumors that the
charbroiled taste on their burgers
is less flames dancing on an
all beef patty but more so
a mad scientist emulating the taste
of said smoke
a chemically perfect alternate burger
delivered by a fascist fast food joint
slowly devouring american life
into chunky zombie clones
part of me acknowledges that

but part of me knows that
the chicken sandwich at burger king
is a work of art
worthy of sacrifice to the gods

whoever decided that the masses deserved
to eat their chicken sandwich
on an eight inch long bun
with an insanely correct amount of
mayonnaise
deserves the shiniest fucking gold medal
delivered to their door by aphrodite herself

it is glorious

and now it has snuck its way
into my dreams and i can’t stop thinking
about it and it floats above my head
like a mysterious levitating orb
taunting me as i try to lay me down to
sleep

but you don’t care
you’ve got your own shit
you don’t understand my pain
you don’t understand what i go through
you’ve got your super important problems
and part of me understands and respects that
but don’t you fucking ever claim to know
the pain that i feel
eternally inside of me

this sandwich
this entity
has entered my life
jumped into my soul and it will not let me be
until it eventually kills me
in bloody ecstatic joy
this ebola which is
the chicken sandwich from burger king
with the god damn sesame seeds and all
it speaks to me when the air is silent
it spoons me to sleep each night
this love will kill me

and i know what you’re thinking
this guy is fucking crazy
and what the hell happened to his poetry
but if you were paying attention now you know
my poetry was stolen from me
by this she-devil that is
the chicken sandwich from burger king

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2014

AMERICAN HONEY

and it pours down my throat
like jesus molasses
pioneers heading west
towards the belly of the beat
east meets west
but i’m slipping

american honey
how do you dance the way you do?
the way you slide down that fireman’s pole
sound the alarm
calling all cars
this country
is a corvette
making the jump to warp speed
where we’re going
we don’t need roads

american honey
stay the night with me
in a jim morrison dream
we can fight the nightmare hangover
in the musky morning

let’s dance to destruction
a line dance
in a three-dimensional world
a house of cards in space
and american honey
your sweat is so sweet
and you are the last girl we will ever
stay the night with
wake your indian ancestors in their graves
with ghosts songs
and the bump of raves

american honey
your curves mimic colfax avenue
san francisco hills
in a red white and blue bikini
that kills

american honey
dollars hanging on you like a christmas tree
white men flock to you like a drug
the hypnotic way you swing your hips
around the washington monument
as lincoln watches
hard as a rock
dance for me
decay dance
rain dance
acid rain
pounds pounds pounds on the grave
of syd barrett
and the dark side of the moon
is our final frontierland
tomorrowland
fantasyland
adventureland
we always want what we can’t have
american honey
you never give me your money
i only give you my funny papers
and you never let me kiss you on the mouth
never let me touch you
when i tell you i love you
you never hear me beneath the sound
of manhattan traffic

american honey
you burn the back of my throat
like cigarettes
like lung cancer
like crosses in the bible belt
setting free a million white ghosts
in their pointed little hats
and glancing down you say
“everything’s bigger in texas”

american honey
sometimes i want you to be a slow dance
in oklahoma
last call dance whiskey in hand
as you whisper in my ear
that you want to make love
but you’re always snorting coca-cola
in your dressing room
under the bright fluorescent lights
of the hollywood sign
you’re always putting makeup
on the four-headed hydra
of south dakota
applying red #40 lipstick

you dance like television commercials
and big blockbuster movies
american honey
you always sneak out in the middle of the night
it’s always hide and seek with you
never spin the bottle
i find you in crack-cocaine alleyways of brooklyn
and tucked in the spaces between the green scrolling
billboards of wall street
but i could never find your soul

buried with hoffa
and the american dream

oh where oh where can she be?
oh my darling
you were lost and gone forever
dreadful sorry

american honey
you tell me you feel like ratso
as alcoholic sweat pours down your face
on a bus to florida
and i tell you everything is gonna be alright
your eyes are doing ringling brothers backflips
and you’re eating yourself alive
like cannibalistic polar bears
your toenails are chipped like the shoulders
of politicians
hidden under shoulder pads
like american sports teams
and i wish i could have seen you dance one more time
but you’re dying on me
your knees shake like east coast earthquakes
that we all feel the tremors of
don’t you go dying on me, american honey
i’m in love with your blue eyes like frank sinatra
and your red hair like lucille ball
your white skin and the way your house always
smells like your grandmother’s cooking

american honey
twenty-one gun salute for you
america’s sweet heart
beating no more
i think about you sometimes
in the white of night
when the clouds creep over the grand canyon
like an american flag over an empty grave

hooker with a heart of gold
frankenstein’s monster with betty davis eyes
and we created you
and all of edison’s electricity
couldn’t bring you back to life
all of carnegie’s steel
and all of ford’s men
and we still
couldn’t put you back together
again

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2012

READ “OH I GOT A DEMON”

POEMS ABOUT AMERICA

ginsberg uncle sam

Happy Fourth, Everyone.

I am stuffed to the brim with hamburgers and hotdogs and carne asada tacos and yeah. I’m a big fan of Independence Day. America and I definitely have a love/hate relationship, but honestly, I don’t think I could ask for a better muse. Over the course of the last few years, I’ve probably written a couple dozen poems about America, many of which are featured on this blog:

A BREAKUP LETTER TO AMERICA is the one on the blog that got the most views. Definitely falls more on the end of my struggles with America then any other poem I’ve written on the subject. It’s also the only poem I’ve ever said ‘nigger’ in:

Do you realize, America,
that you called Joe Frazier
a nigger when he wasn’t in the ring
and a God
when he had your flag on his shoulders?

I don’t feel super comfortable using such a hateful word but it was the only way to be honest to the subject matter. I felt it had to be said. This poem is definitely one of my favorites.

BLOOD ON THE AMERICAN HIGHWAY was honestly me just playing around with American iconography. When I threw it out there, I thought it was trash and a year later I read it again and found that I really liked the poem. Plus, it’s just so much fun writing a poem called “Blood on the American Highway.”

A GIRL NAMED AMERICA I’m really not sure where it came from. I think, key word ‘think’, that it kind of came out of seeing the creepy beauty pageants in the movie Little Miss Sunshine and just how very American in a sense it seemed to shove a child on stage and make them perform for a crowd of adoring and viciously aggressive onlookers. The title I think came from A Boy Named Sue by Johnny Cash. I just love that. A something named something.

AN AMERICAN PORTRAIT came to me after spending some time in Southern California at an old friend’s parent’s house. They had this wonderful house and nice patch of land. The house was blue and they had chickens in the yard. It reminded me of The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams. I also was fairly into Edward Hopper’s art around that time so I was enamored of the idea of trying to paint with words.

MAYBE AMERICA I wrote in a doctor’s office while I waited to see the doctor. Haha. On my way over I really did see the first line in real life:

maybe america is one of those guys on suburban street corners in a lady liberty costume waving a sign about taxes and loans who makes minimum wage and has music in his ears to help pass the time

and it just came from there. Just pondering different scenarios. One of the more fun poems I’ve ever written, just trying to sample the culture, which never fills satisfying, especially in a country as big as ours.

Tonight I stumbled on a great poem on WordPress on the site “Bitchtopia” by a poet named Kiarra. The poem was kind of a continuance of Allen Ginsberg’s poem America. My favorite line from Kiarra’s poem is:

America
had vodka for dinner that night.
America keeps her vibrator in her backpack for emergencies
in which she will need to resuscitate herself.
America’s favorite book is whatever is the cheapest and
America misses her stop. 

Check out Kiarra’s poem and the rest of Bitchtopia, which seems to be a badass site, HERE.

Tomorrow night, I’ll be posting an old poem of mine, one of my favorite America poems that I’ve written, entitled AMERICAN HONEY. Which was the first poem I ever wrote about America and probably my favorite.

Otherwise, folks. Thanks for just always supporting me. It’s been 3 great years on this blog and a few months ago I thought poetry and I had parted ways, but turns out it’s that emotionally abusive ex-girlfriend I can’t say no to, and I’m that delusion boy romantic who answers when she calls at 2 in the morning.

MERICA!

Love,
Brice

 

HAND TAKES WHEEL

it’s the return of the millenial landmineheaded boy poet
the child prodigy who can’t see the whiteboard from the back of the classroom
the rampaging aging bamboo tree that is thankful for the water it is given
and that is about all that it needs
quill and ink and scroll
hand takes the wheel and the rubber hits the asphalt
as the glove hits the face and the knuckles hit the teeth
and they’re off
pulling into the lead the inevitable truth of the brushstroke

he used the same damn toothbrush for so long until he got lucky
and he could afford a new one and he didn’t throw away the old one
he used it as a hodgepodge ghetto ass painting instrument
to flick the colors on the canvas with a lack of control
that ensured that he could never ever ever feel comfortable
taking credit for what he had done

any pieces of gold that got mixed in with the offbrand cereal vomit
was just luck
but he doesn’t believe in luck
and things are getting really confusing
but one thing is for certain
the little wooden horses are circling the little wooden track
and place your bets now, bukowski
because this dented up rocket ship is trying to fly
antigravity words pushing through blackholes
and coming out floating amongst the cosmos of the twittersphere

(a flower grows
in post-apocalyptic america
and it wants you to know
yes
undoubtedly
singing to a flower
will always help it
to grow)

and the weatherman says
flash flooding expected in the west
today
wear a coat
and
do not drown

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2014

READ “NAGASAKI BABY”

A BREAK-UP LETTER TO AMERICA

dear America,

you are everything I’ve ever known
and that’s the problem.

i feel
saturated by you
consumed by you
i feel as though
you’ve branded your name
on my ass.

you’re blurring
my vision.

you
are gorgeous.
really you are.
your desert dry skin.
your baltimore scars.
the way you refuse
to let me be on top
but you are the crazy girl
you don’t know how to say no
to anything
especially yourself
and especially me.

it’s weird
the way you tell me
you’re overweight
and you don’t care
that you’re happy this way
that life is all about
doing what you want to do.

America
it scares me how good you are
at firing a gun.

America
it’s funny the way you pretend
to dig through your purse
for your money
when the check comes at dinner.

i don’t think you realize
i am enamoured by you
really i am
it’s been years and years
and i am still in lust with you
thick lust
deep lust
the kind of lust
that i don’t even know
if love is buried beneath it.

i’ll never forget
that little box in your room
where you keep those vintage photographs
of dead native Americans
and old money
and your rosary.

it seemed to me
that every night before you went to bed
you’d apologize endlessly
for your sins that you still
just keep on committing
am i in love with you
because you make me feel
like a better person by comparison.

i don’t know
if i can continue to be with you.

remember the ferris wheel
at coney island?
we passed cotton candy
between each other’s mouths
like we were forcing our opinions
down each other’s throats.
remember the way we felt
when we walked through ellis island?
we were so small all of a sudden.
we were so lost in the same dream
together.

do you remember
watching the fireworks
because we were too impatient
to wait for the bombs?
do you remember the time
we got drunk in Vietnam
and Afghanistan and Iraq?

is that all we do together?
get drunk
get into fights
and get kicked out of bars?
you never pay your tab
you just leave your card
and cancel it the next day.

do you realize, America,
that i have a box of i.o.u.’s
from you?

do you realize, America,
that you called Joe Frazier
a nigger when he wasn’t in the ring
and a God
when he had your flag on his shoulders?

do you realize, America,
that i’m only with you
until i find someone new
if there is anyone new?

i can’t do this anymore.
we just sit on your dirty apartment floor
and watch the roaches crawl around
on the television.
we’ve got too many shows recorded
and not enough hours in the day
to watch them all.

you’re exhausting, America.

you’re annoying, America.

you’re sexy as hell, America.

you know how to drive
a corvette through the mountains
at ninety miles per hour
with your red high heel
pressed against the accelerator
and brandon flowers
playing from the tip of your cigarette
and into the radio.

you drive a stick shift
like manifest destiny.

your sirens
are red white and blue,
America.

your arenas
are the size of God’s pockets.

your phone
is dead half the time,
America.

i’m writing this letter to you
because i’m afraid
that if i break up with you in person
you’ll threaten
to kill yourself.

your videos
are viral, America.

your impressionable little sister
dresses just like you,
America.

i remembered when i realized
i don’t love you anymore.

we were sitting on a swing
on your front porch
in alabama
and you were singing
but all i could hear
was lies in your words
the gospel was gone
the folk wind had been
knocked out of you.

i need to make something clear.
breaking up with you
might be the hardest thing
i’ve ever have to do.
i love you to death.
i crossed out mom’s name
on the heart tattoo
on my bicep
and put yours in its place.

you kiss me
like we’re on a hill
in the fifties
with the top down
king and queen
of suburbia
teenagers
with chewing gum
and a yawn
that is just an excuse
for me to put my arm
on your shoulder.

you’ve taught me
how to dream,
America
but we always see
the horror movies
in theaters
and they give me
nightmares.

night terrors
of los angeles riots
and sandusky
and columbine
and politicians
snorting coke
laughing
like hyenas
i wake up
in sweats.

and it’s strange
because then you comfort me
you wipe my forehead off
with the bill of rights
and you sing to me
“oh lord
won’t you buy me
a mercedes benz.”
and you’ve got
just the right amount
of makeup on your face
and i can see driving through
nowhere between western cities
in the black of your eyes
i can see me smiling
with a quarter tank of gas
hoping i make it to salida
before i run out of
gasoline.

i can see gasoline
in the black of your eyes
spread out
over the ocean
like a blaze of glory
like a belligerent night;
like one of our one thousand
belligerent nights.

you smell like
chanel perfume
you shouldn’t
it’s french
but you just do
whatever you want to
don’t you?

you make me smile
like a god damn
happy meal.

what am i saying?
i’m breaking
up with you.
i’m not in love with you
anymore.

yes i am.

oh god
you must think i’m crazy
go ahead
throw me in your white padded room
tell me
what you want me to be
i’ll be
whatever you want me to be
because you have always been
what i wanted you to be.

we all ran away
from home at some point.
some of us made it
to the bus stop down the street.
the light of the world.
but you ran away
and you never looked back
you rode bareback
to the end of it all
to the last frontier
where we met
in san francisco
because we couldn’t afford
hawaii
and we kissed
sitting down
at the top of lombard street
and you promised me
that you would never forget me
you promised me
that you would try your best.

this is not an easy breakup.
half of my underwear are at your house.
my c.d. collection is tucked beneath your bed.
my trust is buried
in your backyard.

we bought a dog together
and we named him rex
and we gave him a backyard
to play in.

what are we going to do
with our baby?

you’re not going to
try to collect the money
you offered to spend on me
are you?
are you that person,
America?

okay.

okay,
i’m sorry.

we need
to pull
the trigger.

i’m leaving you,
America.

i want my favorite
t-shirt back.
the one with
the graphic
of bruce springsteen’s
ass in demin jeans
on it.

the one i wore
when we stayed up all night
laying down on your parent’s roof
watching the fireworks
watching the planes fly by
talking about our dreams
and how we had
to keep each other accountable
for them.

i’m leaving you,
America.

probably for a girl
who looks just like
you.

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2013

READ “THAT GOOD OLD-FASHIONED DUBSTEP”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JACK KEROUAC

jack k

jk

A year ago today, I was driving through the Colorado Rocky Mountains and I wrote this poem:

MARCH 12TH

and here i am
burning fossil fuels in the pitch black
something
carving through the rockies
meandering down I70 like a punch-
drunk fool.

tonight, my love!
i kiss you
goodbye.
your trees are green
with envy
but i
have got to
confirm

that there is a world
past your western
slope.

i am slipping
through the cracks
in a black soul.

and this black soul of mine
seems
nervous;
a puppy, with its
tail between its
legs.

breckenridge burns to the ground
in my rear-view.
and my rear-view mirror
frames flashlight city
chasing after me
but this storm
can’t be caught.

this vehicle
is in motion.

i want my eyes to be
panoramic.
i want my limbs to
stretch history.
i need to know what my feet
feel like
in utah.
i have to breathe in the grand canyon’s
sighs
and the artificial air of vegas
casinos.

i am not retracing anyone’s footsteps.

and i am
not
tracing my
shape
into someone else’s
shadow.

i am disappearing.

i want to know
how it feels
to be in a ghost town.
i want to know how it feels
to be
a ghost town.

(may america lend me the disorient-
ation of not having the mountains to show me
which way west is.)

i need to talk to strangers
uncomfortably
and wake up
hungover
in the afterbirth of the womb
of the west.

i am not trying to erase
christianity.
i am trying to
talk to god
first-hand.

i want to see god’s face
without
any makeup on.

i want to hear that
voice:
mountain whistles
slot machine jingles
tumbleweed scratches
bob dylan’s harmonica

i know god exists.
i just want to meet him in
unexpected
places.

please…
sweetheart
try to understand.
i will
boomerang back to you-
don’t take it personally that
i shoot through your veins at
eightyfivemilesperhour
it’s not in your nature to be so
low.
and tonight!
in the darkest of dark

we can be whatever we want to be.

i’m letting my gut
blindfold my mind
throw ‘em in the trunk
and drive
us all
into
oblivion.

the road there is lit
solely by mountain stars
close enough to grab
between the boulders
and the neon stripper signs
i am sway-
ing like a crane game.

on the road
i am finally home

on the road
i am charming
and good company

on the road
i am as confused and conflicted and beautiful as
america

it’s march 12th
(happy birthday, jack kerouac)

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2013

READ “HAIKU #2″

THE HANDS THAT REACH FOR WINTER

the hands

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the hands that reach for winter
the nights that reach for pain
the guns that reach for murder
the fire burns the same

the beds that burn for lovers
the streets that turn like time
the art of stabbing in the back
the acidity of lime

the words that clasp like thunder
the planes that land unharmed
every righteous number
that we shoot into our arms

the man from california
the woman from d.c.
every foreign victim
from sea to shining sea

comforter of angels
chancellor of drugs
loving heart of death now
now the death of love

brilliant manifesto
child in the gutter
orphan military
absent-minded mothers

the sermon on the mount
the dusting of the crops
the clicking of the gears
the roller coaster drops

we fall
and we fall
and we fall
some more

we dig our graves
and dance with death

we talk like
virgins

we walk like
whores

we eat
until
there’s nothing left.

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2013

READ “HAIKU #1″