"This is Not a Picture Show" by Jana Van Meerveld. Oil on Linen. 2015.

“This is Not a Picture Show” by Jana Van Meerveld. Oil on Linen. 2015.

this is not a picture show

there are no opening credits
no haunting score of music
no rising dramatic plot

this rises and falls as it will
timelines blur
ideas are lost and sometimes

there is no scene of repentance

there is not always
a bombastic kiss
in lunar midnight
on new year’s eve
this is something
more romantic
than that

this is not a picture show

this is sparks
meandering currents
inside your lockbox skull
to present you
this chaotic rock opera

you strapped to a chair
not in the audience
but on stage
you strapped to a chair

feeling your finger nails
scratching its wooden arms
and your bloody wings burst forth
splayed across the rostrum

rows of empty seats
in the house

the sun is the closest thing
to spotlight

there is no audience
only the audience of memory
a pamphlet
dirtied by footsteps
folded in half
and tucked into the back pocket
of your hard drive

there is a fade to black
but there are no end credits
this does not always end
with a wedding
or a funeral
this does not always end

this rises and falls as it will

timelines blur

ideas are lost and sometimes
they are found again

this is not a picture show
it’s something much braver than that


This piece was inspired by the oil painting “This is Not a Picture Show” by Jana Van Meerveld, whose work I’ve recently discovered I have an affinity for. You can see more of her work on her website here.


sports authority invesco
high budget investor money bags mcgee

mcdonalds corporation sponsorship daddy warbucks starbucks
super million dollar america killing
big downtown office buildings

brick and mortar investment opportunity
401k package super bowL
fantasy football new vegas quid pro quo
commercial vip section suites with champagne and
big medicine long fast side effect disclosure
eating grapes

on cloud
stroking yer beard
big breasted girls  fan
patrick bateman zeus
with giant leaves
mini trump
bail out baby
ownership is power

sports authority field at mile high stadium



so i went for a walk in the woods
to be alone with my thoughts in nature
colorado autumn crisp life dying around me
and there before me was a bear!
a mighty bear! he raised up on his hind legs
and growled a monstrous bear growl!
i raised my arms and made myself big
and the bear backed down and took a step away
and then the bear said to me,
what the fuck are you doing with your life?”
and i stood stunned.
arms raised high i made myself big
but i felt so fucking tiny.
“i’m doing things with my life!”
i said to the socially aggressive bear.
you’re a supervisor at a call center.
that’s not things.
you’re better than that.”
and then i asked the bear if he always
spoke with line breaks at the end of
his sentences.
you evasive fuck.”
said the bear.
he was right.
i was evading.
“i’m proud of what i’ve accomplished.”
i said to the bear
in the woods
where i went for a walk to get away
from it all.
“that’s great.
pride is great.
that’ll help you sleep at night.
but what are you doing with your life.”
i sat on a rock beside the bear.
“i’m writing a lot of poetry?”
i submitted for the bear’s approval.
“you always write a lot of poetry.
that’s more a sign of normalcy
than anything else.”
said the bear.
“well, i’m proud of that!”
i said
to the bear.
said the bear.
“pride is the crutch of the
said the bear
quoting someone, i’m sure.
“i’m sorry!”
i said.
“don’t apologize!”
said the bear.
“just go do shit.”
added the bear.
“i came out here
to think about things.”
i said to the bear.
“way to drag me back in.”
so i fought the bear.
“what are you doing?”
said the bear
as i threw an unsuccessful
punch to its gut.
it landed.
it just didn’t carry much force
behind it.
said the bear
but i continued.
i roundhouse kicked the bear
in the face
and with that one fell swoop
the bear tumbled to the ground

(he was okay
just disoriented.)

i wandered the trail
in the woods
to the top of the mountain
and when i arrived
i looked down on denver
like a single cell organism
under a microscope
and all i could hear
were the bear’s words
ringing through my ears.
so i took them out of
my rucksack
along with a blanket
with which i laid down a picnic
and i ate the peanut
and jelly
reality sandwich
filled with strange bear wisdom
and i enjoyed every single bite.
digested and i realized
i’m not doing shit
with my life
but i’ll start
because that bear
gets old quick.



why still so hungry am i
why still so wrapped in ribbon in gauze
in ambulance
in fierce new awakening
in comedown to sugar sweet denver
and its egg crack center
why still so hungry am i
why beat the blood from the heart
banged against the brick wall
grated like cheese
why still so hungry am i
and where goes the escalators
the lack of gravity in the chamber
the people at the south pole standing upside down
and i am them
why still so hungry am i
why my boom not go boom
where my american dream
where my blonde blushing bride
my sit com wife
my day t.v. divorce court
why still so hungry am i
twenty seven
desperate afraid of white lighters
desperate afraid of basquiat cobain joplin
i escape the noose
or do i just ignore its hanging opportunity
a juicy hamburger
floating in the air
like a lightbulb swinging in a basement
why still so hungry am i
where go each branch of my plath tree
where die each planet i do not astronaut
the night sky black as the inside of my eyelids
why still so hungry am i
i go to sleep hungry now
to dream stomach acid dreams
to sleep in to wake up to move to go to die again
each night
craving the dirt of the earth i can’t unbury
why dear white fluffy cloud god
why still so hungry am i



bleeding vein sancho’s broken arrow snapped over knee
motel graveyard down and out adjacent residential battle zone
chased by the owner kicked to the curb
burning basilica piercing sky giant catholic shiv bookstore ashed cigarette seven eleven
zero to fifteen
homeless home / blanket : carpet / narrow skyline : roof top / thin wind : ceiling fan
longest wickedest livingest deadest zombie crawling claws in concrete
city park drug deal
city park tree wooden hand yearn city cash register
tattooed cowboy gutted bookstore jerry’s skipped record
fifty mile fifty thousand mile mile high freedom fighter revolution rebellion
jolt of neon motel dotted lines dodge traffic frogger cross road
fine line between tuberculosis sex fest and white plague apartment improper burial
stripclub strip mall run from wrist to shoulder blade
drunk driver closed door open coffin quilted with rose lady
hellhorse and buggy junkie trash coin machine push copper pennies into silver razorblade
manic depressive red bull and chloroform crack head shop eight ball corner pocket
death metal speed trap endless mass cheeky monk
twentieth century beer binge twenty first century hangover stuck forever in electric diner
shotgun wedding black tie blood-splattered bride in white
separate but equal sides of the aisle
enigmatic peg leg prostitute poets row sweet sugar dance
bardish squire shitty suicidal comedian poet guitar playing satire lounging
giant face mural man smile steamed white hair dead behind eyes
man woman child all hoodlum green eyed denizen tourist nobody live here
capitolist hill pig on leash mcgangbang wrapper in gutter punk guerrilla crochet music
cemetery in a cemetery adjacent immaculate conception
divine destruction rock opera
italian kiss of death cherry sex bomb dropped in porcelain toilet graffiti markered stall
jack’s market grab big bunny by neck shake like two liter bottle rocket
shoot like argonaut into gentrifical corruption rise and fall like joyce and joy
bukowski bluebird in heart want out but too tough
pour whiskey whores and bartenders
american brick river
beat degenerate jack daniels in the lion’s lair
a dream of four kingdoms replaced by a fifth of vodka
emilio’s pete’s charlie’s tom’s dick’s and hairy’s
mine mine mine
drowning fox in lost lake twist and shout writhe and die you could buy me a drink
cat call midnight writer’s block party poets row
voodoo donut tire screech scratch itch scar run in pantyhose barcade starbar
one up the arm doses in the noses back alley bonfire burn
broken beer bottle fender bender
bubble gum bleu cheese bruce banner amnesia wreck green grass
highway man chasing tangerine sunrise down abandoned highway robbery
pioneer get drunk break down in middle of america build home build business business boom
paint golden aurora across rectangle page snap canvas in half stitch together
pour kerosene on canvas light match let burn color red
wicked witch green smoke rise from ashes western phoenix vulture
rebuild rinse and repeat
great place to visit but nobody lives there
they just go there to die
in the cradled arms
of a widow street that aches with arthritis
but still carries its babies
safely into their bruised bassinets



and i walk through the graveyard with flowers in my hand
beneath a stormy sky grey with indifference
until i get to the grave where i buried our love
and i bow down at the tombstone and i lay down the flowers
and i look up to the sky uncracked even by the dead trees

there is a great silence to letting go of something that wasn’t terrible
there is a still lake hidden through the brush of the forest
and beneath that lake there is an entire climate breeding below
fishes swimming aimlessly and dead bodies turning into water
but still the lake is still

i can still see your face light up as i pushed through the crowd to you
i can still feel your warmth sleeping beside me
i can remember us mad and laughing beneath the buildings in Denver
and the songs

i will never forget the songs
they run through my head like wild horses on a carousel
each word relevant to the way that we were
each musical note a leaf stripped away from its embrace of its tree
swaying back and forth like dance steps as it falls to the ground
we swayed back and forth like dance steps as we fell to the ground
the eyes on eyes, the nails on skin, the fingers ran through hair
the moments of ecstasy hidden away from any kind of audience
away from cameras, never spoken from mouths, away from even poems
stuck now like record skips in the phonograph of my mind

we were constellations colliding in a meteor shower
and the blow from our crash was enough to light the cosmos
life born, children running rampant around the universe, and then
fading out like the end of a requiem

and you are not gone, not to me, tall heart
your electricity still runs up and down my spine
your blood still takes hostage my body
but i dug a hole in the ground
and i suppose i must lay in it

six feet of dirt above my head
i laid long nights beside you for an eternal minute
now i must lie without you through a frigid winter
my hands my own shovels
i bury myself with the same tools i used
to bury our love

i will miss you as much as i wanted you
i wish you to find the happy your heart hunts
i wander through the halls of my own heart now

but you and i
we will grow from separate graves like flowers
to bloom, you, red and radiating
me, blue and slithering like vines
and the world will cut us up from our roots
tie us up in string and call us a gift

someone will hold you in their arms
and walk you down an alley beneath stained glass windows
or maybe through a graveyard to place you on someone else’s grave
beneath a clear sky white with pure honesty
to sleep with them forever


the difference, Bukowski

yes, Bukowski
i too have wallowed
in a bottle of

and died
with the hot barrel
of some pistol
pressed against my unholy

i too, Bukowski
have loved a woman
and watched her scurry away
a pair of legs
running rampantly for the

yes, Bukowski
i’ve driven the road
to some shithole destination
where i threw my lifeblood
into a dealer’s hands
and watched like magic
as he made it all go

i too, Bukowski
i too

for we both
have wandered by streetlight
to empty roominghouses

we both have fallen asleep
to alcohol

and the static of the television set

like a glorious reminder
of what could be

but i don’t stay there
one morning i wake up
i shit shower shave
and i take that
empty glass bottle
and i smash it into a shiv
and i stab the world
i give the whore her money
and i move on
i make my bed
and i move

you see
Bukowski, that’s
the difference, Bukowksi

we’re both coiled snakes
feeding off our own

both bit by the same mongoose
but the difference, Bukowski
is i strike back



when i stare across the table and i realize i am in love
and she looks at me as if she is in love with me as well
but that must be some sort of mistake there’s no way
maybe it’s the sushi it’s gotta be the sushi
i assume everyone looks like they’re in love when
they are eating sushi

i sneeze, but it sounds more like a monstrous growl
one of those sneezes that you hear someone do
and you just want to walk across, say, the sushi bar
and slap them across their face for being obnoxious
i sneeze one of those sneezes seizing into my arm
and i look back at her, sugar-eyed she says “bless you.”
and i think to myself that i must be blessed
but my arm so close now i see what is beginning to happen

great thick hairs begin to crawl through my skin like spiders
as my nails lengthen sharpen and blacken on my left arm
i turn my wrist, below the table, upright and black veins bulge
pulsating, i glance up in fear and she is still oblivious to me
she picks at the sushi with her chopsticks and has no clue
that i am beginning to transform

i reach for the sushi with my right arm, still normal
and say something like “this is some damn good sushi.”
my hand shaking as i bring the raw fish to my salty mouth
i chew the sushi like it’s the first thing i’ve eaten in weeks
with the desperation of a wild wolf my teeth at war with each other
my vision begins to blur and i see her just stare onward at me
her cheeks rosy and red her hand reached out for my hand
the lights become harsh and great fangs begin to grown in my mouth
the taste of blood rises from the pit of my stomach like a monsoon
i reach my contorted hand for hers and i hold it like a support system
my fingers tracing her wrist i start to think about her blood
i start to think about my wolf fangs diving deep into her neck
i think about the moan it would release from her soul
like a ghost set loose out into the world, like smoke rising
like some shadow of a red balloon rising into the atmosphere

still she looks at me like i’m the doctor who cured her cancer
she looks at me like i’m the mailman and it’s her sixteenth birthday
my vision black and green the world is some strange jungle
and the kettle drum inside me continues to gain and gain more
my breaths grow faint and i am still turning, now my right arm
grown reckless and hairy there’s no room in my animal skull any longer
for thoughts of philosophy or poetry or sweet women at dinner tables

and still she looks at me like i am the man she wants to marry
and still she looks at me like i am some realization of a dream
while inside of me demons dance around huge bonfires
while inside of me mountains burn and great cities are evacuated
she still looks at me, and interlacing her soft fingers between
the dangerous clutch of my morbid claws she speaks with pink lips
i love you
and i howl a resonating bloodlust howl for the death inside my soul
for the eternal chase of the scattered prey, dark praise to the moon
but all she hears is
i love you too, and
this is some damn good sushi



when there is no world
no footsteps in the ceiling
no static from the television through the wall
i open my eyes from dreams in twilight
to find my mind racing through bad calculus
through morphine confusion paranoia
ten thousand cameras and i naked tied to the wall
unable to see my hands numb fingered and dizzy
unable to taste the appropriate dosage of nyquil
pouring down my throat i myself the monster above my bed
twenty-seven years of carving at my bones
trying to whittle myself a story
and it’s all gone at the first drop of the witching hour
where caffeine nightmares blend with apocalypse
not beautiful no
not a sunsetting into the mountains
but ten thousand soldiers gasmasked and artilleried
black shadows at the windows at all the doors
looming overcast of eternal separation from family
from friends from love from a sense that what i do in this reality
will carry through time like a robot sent to mars
someday to return to nasa
with binary data with information of what we did not know
and once the ugly thunder is dissipated
i never rest i just comatose back to blankness

in the morning
it’s like a war flashback from another life
hollow boned i make my coffee
buckle my belt and head out the door
a robot sent to mars
memory of sweat still gleaming on my shaken soul



trump be shiny new hair piece
trump be build wall big wall keep em out keep em out
trump be so honest
trump be so dumb and so honest
trump be ego
trump be big business big interest big big big
trump be gold mirror on ceiling of trump casino
trump be spoiled little rich boy
trump be bankrupt of heart bankrupt of common sense
bankrupt of day to day life
trump be perfect everlasting gobstopper to come from
modern american machine
trump be gasoline fueled jet engine drone crashing into
total lack of know how on foreign policy
trump be me be strong we be stronger than them
we hit them we hurt them
trump be all humanity selfish
trump be dalai lama inverse
trump be whatever you want him to be
trump be kid in class offer you candy if he be elected
trump be patriotic
trump bring back old america
good america
trump be your great grandpa’s america
trump be your great grandpa get drunk talk
about colored folks
trump be ten feet in mouth
trump be giant handed tallest podium
trump be big fan of trump yay trump
hot wife hot daughter presciption american dream be trump
trump choke on own spit choke on thousand dollar bill
trump be pursed lips me angry me run things
trump be definition american success story
trump be trump real estate
trump be trump sports trump be entertainment
trump be dancing round pole for you for tips
trump buy your drink steal your wallet
trump no man trump more than man
trump american dream machine
trump victim of post-modern capitalist draino
trump be patrick bateman trump be mirror stare
trump be brash trump be thickhead trump be fuckhead
trump lip service trump have assistant for assistant
trump no man no no not trump
trump be what happen
when man fall into giant vat of america
someone flip bigot switch trump be coddled
trump be coddled to sleep by america
trump next american president
trump be america
trump be too close to home
trump pop the ball
trump run first
trump run second
trump steal third
trump slide home
trump home run
trump audience go crazy
trump national anthem
trump be america
trump be angel of death
trump thump gavel
trump swing sickle over america
trump next american president
trump this term next term all term
trump die alone
with america in his bed
trump sleep now
trump sleep now