for James Baldwin

there is this microphone wire
and we do not know clearly
where it started
but we’ve been
chasing after it now
for so long
static pace after static pace
fingers dry as the sun
cracked and worn thin
the microphone wire
traveling through our grip
as we heave and hoe
in pursuit
of something

this microphone wire
they say
leads to something
to a great microphone
for this audience
that just sits
but does not move
that observes
but does not help
like a terracotta army
that’s never fought in this war

and still we step on
tangle after tangle
some days
tripped up
wrapped in our own heads
in dreams deferred
our finger tips
so close to the electricity
we are mostly water
all of us

still we step
wire in hand
and they say it’s there
that someday we will arrive
and standing at the podium
we will sing a song together
that booms through
the ugly halls of time
and shines bright gold paint
in the cracks
the paint below remains
the pain in our feet
our hands as dry
as a raisin in the sun
and maybe we’ll realize
that you do not need an amplifier
and you do not need a microphone
in a room
that is intimate enough
for everyone to hear


Woman, Blue Hair

there’s a woman with blue hair sleeping in my closet
her clothes are on the floor the walls the ceiling
she plays me Leonard Cohen and Lady Gaga
and we sit in silence having conversations
her hair tied tight twisted she paints herself
and she lights a candle in the nucleus of my apartment
she speaks Leonard Cohen and Lady Gaga
and patiently she teaches me languages i’ve never dug from the cold ground

i asked her to come to Denver
and she arrived on my doorstep

she tells me that she’s staying here as long as she likes
she doesn’t apologize and she doesn’t need to

she makes me question god
and helps me find it in the thick rings of my tree

she sings like warcry and nirvana

and the mirrors are part of the conversation
the open books scattered like dead birds on the floor
the chair, the bookshelves

in this tiny room of an apartment there is a tangible physical representation in each minute detail of the war that wages in the confines of my mind and she enters in it unafraid and curious and lovely and lighting a candle in the nucleus of it all speaking Cohen and Gaga and sweet songs as i wake up into a new life with her unafraid as all hell



i am not a bottle of pills

i am not some sort of
orange plastic container
that you can pull out of your bag
when you are having a bad day
or a breakdown

friendship is not a pair of crutches
that leans on each other

i have hunter in my bones
though there is less blood in my water each day
i do not look to you

i am not built to be a mirror


so sit beside me
and together tucked in the bushes
we can stare out onto the planes

but you cannot swallow me
i am not drugs

i change too rapidly

i am not claustrophobic
i just like to change rooms
when a door opens

i am not afraid of heights
i just mend my wings before i fly

and when i fall
i crack six ribs as i hit the ground
and i am out
sometimes for months at a time
lost in dreams
and on the backs of nightmares
pushing through jungles
balancing on the hands of a clock
that cannot tell time

and when i arrive
i am glad to see your bright shining face
and i realize you were the sun peeking through the trees
all along

but we are not pills
and if we continue to pressurize ourselves
into tiny capsules
that promise to shake away the haze of life
we will all need disclaimers the length of constitutions

i am not a bottle of pills
but i love you
and if you need someone to listen
never don’t ask



I am wearing a tuxedo and listening to Boards of Canada in my bathtub. I have set my television on top of the toilet seat and unplugged my electric razor to free an outlet to plug it in. I tune the television set over to a news station and The President’s face flashes before me. The television still on mute, Boards of Canada still playing, I watch the squabbling motions of the mouth as a blue banner across the bottom of the screen informs me of another closed door. I myself have closed the bathroom door and locked it. I have taken large pieces of wood and strategically nailed them to the door of the bathroom to ensure I am safe from the flat planet on the other side and it from me. In the bathroom stall at Sputnik, somebody wrote Make Stabbing Nazis Great Again. I hold a strong fist for non-violence but I fear that if I release the grip of my fingers I may find a dead butterfly in my palm. I hear a door slam shut in Wyoming. My cellular phone is ringing but I am too shattered on the tail end of a coffee high to gather myself to answer it. A cuckoo clock tweets. Boards of Canada continues to play. My cell phone rings again. My yellow home telephone rings as well. I could not be bothered to move. My hotline phone rings. I have opened my window to let a winter breeze in and outside of my window I can hear a nearby payphone ringing. Every phone on this flat planet is ringing. The President continues to move his marionette mouth. The television set remains muted and even if it were not, the sound would be drowned out by Boards of Canada and the ten billion phones ringing on the other side of the door which I have boarded up in case of anything. I have nightmares but I just try to fall asleep when I do. One phone is ringing for your state senator. The invisible voice on the other line recites a love poem about tolerance. The line stutters and turns to a solid beep before the voice of a robot operator speaks and requests that you try your call again. Another person leaves another voicemail. A slave song. A song that would sing the body electric but it is cast on the other end into an ocean where the electric sting fizzles out and is ultimately swallowed by spineless jellyfish. For a split second, I escape my tuxedo and my bathtub and I think about the purple lipstick kiss that you left on my kitchen cabinet. I imagine what it must be like to have time to love another human being the way that the marrow in our bones so desires. Another phone rings. It is my dear friend Cathy asking me if I will be marching for equal pay and I say no. I have to work that day. Jessie asks me if I will be marching for affordable housing and I say no. I’ll be working my second job that day. The bathroom door seems to shake and I have a heart attack and I recover. I pull my heart out of my chest, wind it, and put it back in. I ponder if the door really did shake. I place my ear to it and on the other side of the door I hear the breathing of a police officer in riot gear. I can hear the condensation of his breath on the curved clear mask that surrounds his face. I start to wonder if this is real or imaginary. I reenter the bathtub, having another heart attack while fact checking if there is in fact a police officer in riot gear on the other side of the door. I check multiple websites that a website told me are credible websites. They point to yes. I still hear the police officer’s breathing beneath every phone through time ringing and beneath Boards of Canada performing an electronic composition based on the ethereal horror of 1970s horror films. I realize I may be in a 1970s horror film. I stand up and look in the mirror and my tuxedo has become an evocative dress spattered in blood. I am now the main female protagonist in any of several slasher horror films. I look at the blue bags beneath my hollow eyes. I look at my barely covered breasts. I realize that I have not slept in several days as I am being chased by a man with a giant knife. He shakes the door. I retreat into the shower and curl into the fetal position. Closing my eyes I hear the ringing phones again. Beneath the sounds of the ringing phones I cannot hear America singing. I see three little girls in glittered red white and blue dresses dancing at an inauguration. I taste the bloody residue of a hamburger on my tongue. The sink drips. Each drop an unfulfilled promise. A window appears on the wall. I watch as a singular brown leaf levitates up to the branch of a tree out the window. The leaf turns golden. The leaf turns bright green. A dedicated army of leaves follow suit levitating up back onto the tree. A return to their parents’ home. I watch a boy on a bicycle drive by out the window in reverse right to left. I watch as a demolished building becomes undemolished. It is a big box store. I watch as the big box store brick by brick is unassembled. Construction workers use their crane to pull steels bars out of the sky and back onto the ground in piles. Slowly the buildings disassemble. Smoke goes back into giant cylinders. A park with trees. Winter Fall Summer Spring. The sun sets and then rises. Cars drive by backwards. It is all so fast. A toddler walks, then crawls, shrinking back into a newborn baby. A mother drives with her newborn baby to a hospital and doctors work carefully to put the baby back inside of her. Each day she shows a little less. I watch a political bill, a mainsail, disappear one letter at a time. I watch bathrooms relabeled colored and white. I watch a painter paint over a black president with white. Back in the bathroom the drips from the fountain float upward, scared they return to where they were. I see refugees fleeing peace for war. I am alone. I pant like a dog. I sweat like an intelligent woman in a Russian cathedral. My hands brittle. Sledgehammers pulling back bricks. Walls being built. Dominoes. Flowers fold up into buds. The television turns to static. It disappears. I unboard the bathroom. I disassemble my one bedroom apartment in Denver. I drive to Aurora. Police cars outside of a movie theater. I drive to Aurora. I kiss my girlfriend goodbye and then lay on the bed where we make love depressed as all hell and wondering where we’ll be when the sun stops rotating around this flat planet.



there is something sad about today and that is okay
the sun decided to sleep in
the cars they don’t move quickly down their thick lines
the news radio is solemn and uninteresting
in the shower i found myself staring at the drain for way too long
catching up on silly thoughts in my mixtape head
and that is okay
this is all okay

the dynamic of human emotion is dynamic
the hedonists maybe will be filled with disappointment on this one
but not every day is a party
maybe today was the day i was designed to count the sidewalk blocks
as i walked by hundreds of displaced human beings attempting to sleep in the entry ways of local business shops

it is a mistake to think your existence is one of exuberant joy
your existence is rocket ship, yes, probably
but so many tiny broken hands pieced together your engine
so many people stood around just to watch you launch

it only makes sense if you acknowledge the collective experience of us all
maybe god is the devil and humanity has to be its own god
we still haven’t figure out how to combat natural disasters
we still haven’t figured out the most efficient and effective methods of loving one another

so if there is something sad about today then that is okay
this dream is far too valuable to be perfectly utopian
let’s just try to keep our rocket ships directed toward whatever it is above us now
that we find so valuable



this beard is an aftereffect of me vacating your life
i cannot tell if i’m blossoming in the soil of this apartment
or if i am drowning in dead hair

i want to say that i will continue to grow this beard
until i love myself in a way that is both stable and honest

i want to say that i will continue to grow this beard
until i am no longer seeking happiness
until i can acknowledge what is so plain to see before me:

i am an old man
blind and crippled
down on my knees
searching endlessly for the glasses
that were placed on top of my head
all along

if happiness were a snake it would have bit me
it would have swallowed me whole
and warm in its womb
safe from everything
i would call it overwhelming and temporary

i shirk off rain drops
and drink from my own bathwater

with no pants on
i watch documentary after documentary
on enlightenment
in the dark
on my couch

i trip over my ego
i remove all the mirrors in my house
and put up self-portraits in their place

i have read the first chapter of so many books

i have almost dedicated myself to so many lives

i have fifteen watches
and none of them tell the time correctly

the gilded domed theater of my head though
it’s a fucking renaissance in there
beneath a shining chandelier
sit hundreds and hundreds of patrons
brushing the heat of the revolution on stage off their pale faces
in the gilded domed theater of my head
a mad-haired composer splays his four arms
he commands a war of music
a renaissance
dark deep drums pounded
this ship rows thick through the trenches
the friction of thought with contact

the friction of exhaustion with dream

the friction of chaos with grace

you do not need other people to know what love is



dog stuck midair
tongue out black eyes wide

baby crying
face all smashed peas
cheeks all tears

cat hiding under bed

chairs are still
were before
extra still



slightly cracked drawers

clock on wall above the fire
the hands together frozen where they are


fire below the clock
frozen flames

master bedroom

the bed all made up

throw pillows

clothes still on

wife and husband

eyes stuck fixated on a cracked ceiling

their hands so close not touching

painful is the art of silent intention



i saw one thousand pictures of your face over the course of time and it looked to me more like a history book
a story of massacre and rebirth, of the human condition, of pushing through when faced with unparalleled conditions
men with swords and guns and love and heartache white horses frozen on battlefields redcoated troops caught in the snow
i watch as your hair changed from spring to winter, from summer to scorched earth
and there imprisoned in your eyes was a cold war
nuclear missiles aimed at the moon
and deeper yet was a shaggy olive green rug and on it the ghost of a child fascinated
swallowed completely by a snowglobe
and in the snowglobe was a city and in the center of that city was an apartment building
where in the basement a boy sat on his phone where he saw
one thousand pictures of your face over the course of time and it looked to me
more like a history book

i am you and you are me



the fan stopped spinning the
dish washer stopped washing a long time
ago so i guess that just leaves me sitting here twiddling
my thumbs til trump jumps into temper tantrum and hits the button
on the big
yeah that’s me
trying to find optimism in momentary existential crisis
but on the flip side can
a flower
really grow as big as it likes if it doesn’t
take a minute
to compare itself to the sky which never ends?
i’m just saying
ennui is just a fancy french word for going numb
trying to figure some stuff out but that’s neither here nor there
i guess that’s
what i’m getting at
the fan stopped spinning and there
is a sufficient amount of winter floating around the house
two pbr’s one shaken rolled and lit partridge in the pear tree
you know
i’ll get where i’m headed
i’m resilient
i’ma push through the nihilism
like the militantly happy fucker i am
so here i am you know
merry christmas