we were gathered around
the four of us
in standard party circle
beers in hand
when he interjected

“the hardest thing
i’ve ever had to do
is to deliver a flag
to my friends’ parents.
i had to stand there
straight faced
while i waited for them
to finish balling hysterically
when just days earlier
my friend had said to me
if i die
i want you to deliver
the flag to my parents.”

it came out of nowhere.
nothing prompted him
telling us this.
there was no rhyme
or reason
to it being entered into
the conversation
but i’m glad it was.

amongst the alcohol
and stupid balloons
the chit-chattering
and the laughter
all that laughter
we needed a moment
of truth.
a moment
of raw






Good Morning.

I wanted to take a minute to let you all know about a project I am going to be starting up on Februrary 1st. It’s called “02.2013” and the concept is fairly simple: I am going to chronicle my experiences daily through the month of February here on the blog.

Other than that, I don’t know what will come of it. I’d say the biggest difference between this project and my normal entries is there should be a more cohesive element to the 28 poems I intend to write.

I hope you all will check in daily with me, and join me through this journey. Should be a lot of fun.




minor chords amongst the dust
i’m the only one who comes to your show
the ground is littered
with empty bottles of cough syrup
i stand among the wreckage
and i watch you destroy yourself
i can’t look away
from the mirror you hold to me

i can’t escape the morphine sea storm in your eyes
envy’s eyes are as green as yours
envy’s eyes are as green as yours
you’ve got me wrapped up in your small pox blanket

you’re a newspaper fire burning in a rusty trash can
a shopping cart in hashbury at night
you’re not as glorious as i’ve made you out to be

i’m a gas fire and you’re the water
i’m a gas fire and you’re the water

i’ll burn like big giant factories
i will give you a sunset
the color of chemicals

minor chords amongst the dust

you left your phone in the car
along with our 1994 seattle love song
our song of retribution in a wasteland
we are just getting lost in different drugs

what happens when glass slippers slide
on black ice

we are the sound
of an i.v.

i swear you smell
like kurt cobain

you taste like
sonic youth

someone popped
every single one
of the balloons
at our birthday party

someone left the car on in the garage

envy’s eyes are as green as yours
i can’t escape your morphine sea storm




capture me in your film reel
put me back inside your toxic head
give me the angst i crave
give me the perfume of wastelands
give me the perfume of wastelands

it’s insensitive of you not to call
i swear to god i’m hanging over the edge
of this building and i’m gonna jump
i swear to god i’m gonna jump
without your visceral voice
i will hit the concrete headfirst

i’m not trying to be the bull in your china shop
i’m not looking for romantic disney love song
give me your health insurance
and all the disease that comes along with it

let’s pursue the american nightmare
let’s try to put the past behind us
let’s bury our children in the yard together
trauma bond with me for life
won’t you trauma bond with me for life?

i know there’s not a lot of hope here
i know there’s some spaces inbetween
they don’t fill in
they’ll never fill in
but let’s continue through shitstorms
umbrellas open now
umbrellas open now

we are children who played with lead paint toys
we are the island of misfits
let’s just close our eyes and hum the garbage disposal
let’s let go of that shiny diamond ring of hope




always the bridesmaid, never the bride
he dresses in your sister’s clothes
and sneaks up behind you
with piano wire
he strangles you
just when things were beginning
to go so well.

lies. lies. lies. lies.

it’s life that’s the killer;
so dramatic, so whiny
callin you at two in the morning
when you gotta work the early shift.
calling lonely and horny
when you gotta work the graveyard shift
and shit, man
you know you gotta call in
because seize the day
carpe diem-
am i right?

but no-
death is the asshole.
the one who punches you
in the kidneys,
makes you piss blood
not true!
not true in the fucking least
life has just perfected
her death costumer.

but life is the day
and death is the night
if life is the day
and death is the night
then why do you crave
a little more two a.m.
and a little less
six thirty in the godless

death is your ally.
your friend
who just wants
to get you drunk.
tell you
to dump that bitch.
she’s just playing games
with your head, man.

shit, man.
life is your friend
death is always waiting
by the phone
for you to call and
hear me, you:

when life stabs you in the back,
when she
sleeps with your best friend
and turns off your alarm
so you’re late for work.

when life cancels your insurance
just before driving your car
into the first brick wall
she finds.

when she strikes you
with sodium penethol,
truth serum,
just before
your lifetime achievement speech
and calls your mom
and tells her you murdered someone
and the cops catch on
and they break into your house
in the middle of the night
and arrest you for the crime
that life committed,

hear me, you, brothers and sisters.

death will be the friend
who takes a taxi
to the penitentiary
to try and bail
your sorry ass out.

life is the terrorist who hijacks the plane.
death is the friend who is waiting
on the other side
with a sign
with your name on it.



Interesting in submitting to Flashlight City Blues?


sometimes it’s just too much to ever handle
there’s too many woman with eyes like intelligent design
there’s a sun that has burned for all of us
and will always continue to burn for all of us
and when we don’t have that, we have the moon
we have the moon and the stars and the black silk sky
and the oceans that reflect the light so we’re captured
we’re captured between the two and we don’t have a choice
but to see ourselves as one common entity
we are all, all of us, every single one of us
part of the same vehicle of life, don’t flatter yourself
you are not something special
you are amongst a billion special things
we need to seek this out in one another, in everyone
we need to remember the way
that we help to push the grass out of the ground
we must remember the way that a heart can succumb
to a bass line, i’m not even joking
your heart can literally adjust to the music it hears
and it definitely can adjust to those around you
so i beg of you to answer, why can’t our eyes see
why can’t we appreciate the million instruments
that surround us, and the glorious grandiose
extraterrestial superhuman cataclysmic kaleidoscopic
kandinskily colorful grandiloquent magnum opus of existence?

you don’t know
none of us know
we make up questions
and we find answers
but we can feel each other’s presence
we know when someone is looking at us
we can feel love
never forget that one
we can feel love
sometimes it’s easy to get separated from that
but it’s there
i assure you
right now
i have enough for all of you
and i’m trying to pass it on
i can’t hold onto it
i’ll explode
we’d all explode
be unafraid to love those around you
be unafraid of what is different
because the things that are the same
are boring, they’re boring
and you don’t want to go to the same grocery store
at the same time
to see the same boring faces
and buy the same foods
and check out with the same cashier
every day of your short short short short short life
life is not very long
bad days drag out tugging at our legs
to appreciate the good ones

open your mind
open your eyes
open your arms
open your rib cage
and let that god damn drum beat
let it beat
let it beat like it has never beat before
bleed on the canvas of life
do not be afraid
of being too happy
there is no such thing
there are no limits
that’s the god damn point
you will not put a period on the end of a sentence
you are a conjunction
you are the connective tissue of everything
we need you
i need you
even if i don’t know it
reassess the hatred in your life
what aren’t you doing?
what should you be doing?
who should you be calling?
what do you have to say to who?
i guarantee you
i fucking guarantee you they will be glad to hear it
even if it’s bad news
and there is bad news
just open
regret there not being more hours in the day
and that is all
i want you to imagine yourself smiling
and now i want you to smile
can you do that for me?

can you do that for me?



Interesting in submitting to Flashlight City Blues?


and i have run into several interesting kinds along the way
the girl whose heart ticked like a richter scale
whose pulse i feared to make rise
because along with the waves in her blood, her skin
came seismic cracks in the land, tsunamis and volcanos
the devastation of flash flood like we were all
drowning in her childhood

there was the one whose heart i could not feel beat at all
silent the crevice of her chest sounded of a hand over a mouth
a door that had been boarded up with nails and bad habits
she said she wanted to die so anyone else could live
and i tried to tell her that you cannot die for a stranger
if you are not able to live your life for yourself
but she sure as hell tried and refused to give up
as i found myself giving up on her

some hearts are made arrhythmic
they bounce around the chest cavity
like a schizophrenic cell mate
they dance in heavy drugged delirium
they twist through psychosis
and they refuse to acknowledge
that someone else may catch on to the pattern
in what they thought was
their complete lack of pattern

those seem to be my favorite to catch
and the ones that are best at getting away

this one heart
beat like a symphony all on its own
like a great deep dark jazz drum rumbling
it echoed through me and still does
my bones the beams for it to try to tear to shambles
it filled me with black oceans where i could not see through
and i just kept swimming along through this haze
and i’m still just swimming through this haze
on the hunt for the heart that beats like mine



Interesting in submitting to Flashlight City Blues?


Rant Unicycle

#1: TIPS FOR WRITING BETTER GOD DAMN POETRY PART 1: I’m not a big fan of how to guides, especially how to guides on writing, but I really enjoyed writing this. I decided to shoot from the hip. Say what I truly feel. Focus less on the structure of poetry and more on the what keeps me going.

#2: THE OBNOXIOUS SOUND OF MUSIC UPSTAIRS: Most of my pieces I write and five minutes later, I post them to my blog. The fact that this is something I wrote a couple years ago and still held up on my blog made me extremely happy. I don’t write short stories or prose very often, but I was happy to find myself writing this piece, that not only helped me rationalize alot of things from my past, but also better understand love.

#3: MTV: When I sat down to write this, I thought it was gonna be shit. I thought it was gonna be pure angst and cheesy and trying too hard to be trendy, but in the end, I don’t feel that it’s any of those things. I didn’t realize until the comments started coming in that this piece wasn’t just about MTV. It was about the things we lose along the way, sometimes include our whole selves.

#4: AN AMERICAN PORTRAIT: A personal favorite. My trip to California really inspired this one in me. I wanted to speak of this iconic idea of America that we’ve created in our memories and our history, and maybe point us to the fact that it’s time to redefine what it means to be an American.

#5: I AM AN APARTMENT BUILDING: One of those ones where you know the title, and the rest just kind of comes from there. I feel like this piece really helped me to rationalize a lot of aspects of who I am in so many ways. My roommate and I talk about how I don’t really edit, but what I seem to do is rewrite the same poems in different ways until I get what I’m after. This one seems to be a later, but I don’t think necessarily better version of SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE THERE’S A COWBOY ARGUING WITH A BUDDHIST MONK.


More than anything, what I’d like to say is thank you. Thank you to anyone and everyone who stops by and reads my blog. Poetry is not something that is easily made a career. No one gets into poetry for the money. What I’m in it from is to share something I felt with the growing circle of people around me. I want to inspire people to be better. I want to challenge people to rethink who they are. I want to make a personal connection with someone on the other side of the world as me, and I have been lucky enough to get to connect to so many fantastic people, all with incredible stories and nothing but kindness to give back to me. You’re not a poet until someone reads your poem. I believe that too. Often times, I’ll read poems to my family and friends, and whenever I hit that publish button on wordpress, the same rush of satisfaction and honesty hits me.

Let’s make 2013 the best year there ever was. The world didn’t end, so we still have a responsibility to make our resolutions as courageous as we can, and our words equally as brave.

Love, Brice

p.s. let me know what your favorite pieces were.🙂


A shot from the mini-bar costs roughly $7.
Tonight I have spent over $140 on the mini-bar.
I feel like I’m inside of a washing machine. Everything’s oozy and spinning so god damn much.
I’ve been leaving messages on Tanya’s phone.
Hi Tanya. It’s Mark. Um. Call me.
Hey. It’s… well, it’s me. Call me when you get this. It’s been probably three weeks since we’ve talked.
Hi, if this isn’t Tanya, would you please give me a call back? The voice message thing doesn’t say whose phone it is. This is Mark. Mark Swift.       Also, I’m sorry. I realize it’s 2:33 in the morning.
If you are satisfied with your message press one.
Does it cost money to make phone calls using a hotel phone? Can they track your calls?
I’m watching Late Night with Eric Creed, and the musical guest is some Irish band I’ve never heard of. Some band called “The Last Calls”.
Right now, Eric is interviewing this girl, Elizabeth Bends. I shouldn’t say some girl, this girl is gorgeous. Elizabeth Bends. She is flirting with the entire room, and she’s not even breaking a sweat. Her skin looks like it’s never seen sunlight or a bruise or a scar. She’s wearing this soft looking dress with her toned legs sneaking out underneath. She crosses her leg away from the camera. If you think that’s an accident, you are bat shit crazy.
I am standing less than six inches away from the television. The static is jumping to the little hairs on my forehead. I don’t feel that drunk. I’m close, really close to Elizabeth Bends.
“I understand you have a film coming out this weekend?” says Eric, dumbly.
“Yes, it’s called Scandals and the People Who Pay for Them. I believe we have a clip.”
They say something, and cut to the trailer. I fall back on the bed and count the tiles on the ceiling. It’s a nice hotel. The mini-bar, I mean, it is stocked. I’m alone in the hotel room. There are 25 tiles going one way on the ceiling, 26 going the other way. They each look about a foot long.
Tanya? Is this Tanya? Call me, okay? I’m in room 917.”
I can’t believe someone put those tiles in one at a time. There are 14 floors in this hotel, probably 30 rooms on each floor. That’s, I don’t fucking know, a shit-ton of tiles to install.
I wonder if one person put each and every single tile in, or if there was a team. I wonder if Elizabeth Bends works hard. Do you think her parents instilled good work ethic and good moral values into her? My stomach hurts. I unzip my pants, and I start to think about Elizabeth Bends naked. I’m touching myself, but I’m not hard.
Do you think she cares if a guy is bald? She’s got to be loaded. I wonder if she thinks about money when she dates a guy. I wonder if she gets nervous on dates.
Elizabeth Bends is whispering naughty things in my ear. I sit up, my chin pressed against my chest. My stomach feels like it’s on fire, like it’s filled with rubbing alcohol. Elizabeth is no longer on. That band, The Last Calls, is playing. They sound more Irish than I even expected them to.
“Thank you for calling 719-555-3221, please leave a message after the beep.”
“Hey, Elizabeth. Shit. Hey, Tanya, or whoever. I don’t know if this is Tanya. Just calling again. I mean, it’s 2:40 something but I haven’t talked to you since I left. How are you? I’m doing fine. Denver’s treating me well enough. What are you up to? I’m just about to do some painting and…” I blink, and the room resumes its soap spin cycle.
I’m having a conversation with myself.
I’m having a conversation with a telephone number.
“Hi, Elizabeth?” Aw, fuck it. “Yeah, hi. Elizabeth Bends, it’s me, Mark. I just wanted to say you did great tonight. You looked gorgeous. Give me a call back when you get a chance, sweetheart. I’m in room 917. I’ve got a queen-sized bed here, and I wish you were in it with me. I hope your movie does well. It looks wonderful. I can’t wait until your home, and I’m home and we can just lie together and discuss your long days on set, and I can tell you how beautiful you look without makeup on. How beautiful you look when I wake up beside you. I can’t wait to kiss your neck and tell you about my newest painting. I miss hearing your voice. I miss talking to you. Telling you how I’d love to paint you, but you’re never here. I feel like it’s been years since our wedding. I talk to your mom, now and again. She’s lovely. I know when you’re older you’ll be like a great painting, just like her. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I miss you. It’s hard being in hotel rooms in weird cities and only seeing you through the television screen. It’s hard looking at empty pads of paper in hotel rooms and realizing those are there for lonely people like me. Like a coloring book for kids on a long car ride.”
If you’re satisfied with your message, press one.
To listen to your message, press two.
To erase and re-record, press three.
To continue with your message, press four.
I don’t press anything. I just stare at the hotel phone for a second.      There’s a button for room service. There’s a button for the front desk.    There’s a button for the restaurant.
Are you still there?
The phone knows I’m drunk, I think. It’s checking in on me. If I press five, I wonder if it will bring me a glass of water.
I press four.
“Elizabeth, I want you to know that there’s a lot of guys out there. I know how Hollywood is for a young, beautiful starlet like you, but they don’t love you like I do. They don’t know how I would kill for you. They don’t see the twinkle in your eye that I do. They don’t hear your beautiful voice or the effortless way you speak. They just see a nice pair of legs. A good screw. I want you to know that what we have is all that is keeping me living right now.”
I breathe into the phone. My lips pressed against the mouth piece, I can feel the condensation of my breath on it. The phone smells like a Long Island Iced Tea.
I press 3. I erase my message and I re-record.
“Hi Tanya,” I say, and that’s about it. I’m looking at my reflection in the window. I’m looking out at the city. I’m counting the buildings in the Denver skyline.
One, two, three. I literally say one, two, three into the phone. I am so embarrassed.
“Sorry, Elizabeth. I’m not going to lie. I’m drunk.”
I set the phone down on the table, next to the note pad. I pick up the hotel pen and I write on the note pad “I am in love with Elizabeth Bends,” I set the pad down on the desk and I retire to the corner of the hotel room, a dark corner near the front door, but it’s uncomfortable. I move into the closet, I scoot the ironing board to the side, so I can sit cross-legged on the ground. I start to cry. No tears come out, which makes me feel even more pathetic. I just sob, like I’m forcing it, but I can’t stop. I look up and the ceiling light hits my eyes, and I’m squeezing them shut. Trying to kill this headache before it can start.
I grab my suit-jacket off the hanger and I hold it like it is Elizabeth Bends. I try to remember what Tanya looks like naked, but I can’t. I just met Elizabeth tonight on the television screen, and I can picture her naked more clearly. I close my eyes and there she is, straddling me, biting her lip. In my college dorm. Maybe, on our honeymoon.
My stomach starts doing back-flips and I run into the bathroom. I puke right before I get to the toilet. There, splotched all over the nice tile floor.   Imagine what your vomit would look like if there was nothing in your system but booze. That’s what my vomit looks like. I close my eyes and its Tanya straddling me. I can still smell the vomit, and it’s no longer me Tanya is straddling. It’s some guy. Some stranger with a better body than me.
I look out in the hotel bedroom, and my easel is set up and there’s a canvas on it, but there’s nothing on it. The television is something about some product for making life easier.
I can hear the telephone in the background. The dial tone, like the sound of robots dying.
Are you there, God? It’s me, Mark. Was it written in my life story that I would deplete my 401k one expensive hotel room at a time? Was it written that I would be here, marinating in my own body fluids, pondering my marriage to the girl on the television? That I would confess my love to Elizabeth Bends on a hotel room note pad? That I would hit the mini-bar before I even touched my paint brush? I’ve been dragging that same easel into hotel rooms for two weeks now. It’s like my cross. My burden to bare. It’s like an ugly child from a one night stand that I have to drag around with me.
God, why is it that if I make money selling paintings, if my art makes it into fine museums that I’m a success, but if it doesn’t, I’m just some child doing finger paintings, avoiding reality? If I kill myself, will I get to talk to you in person? Or do I have to call you on some God-awful payphone from the bowels of hell?
Tanya, where are you tonight?
I’m here in the bathroom of a nice hotel, debating whether I want to order room service: a snack off the late night menu. I can’t even find the menu, let alone read it.
This washing machine is tossing me hard now. I’m on the floor now, cursing it for the rug burns.
There are 25 tiles going one way on the ceiling. There are 26 going the other way. There is a man in a warm bed with his wife tonight who runs all 14 floors of this hotel; all 30 rooms on each and every floor. His wife wakes him up every morning so he can do this. There are companies that run half the hotel rooms in this city. One person runs that company.
There is a company responsible for every light I see in the Denver skyline. Someone made the machine that made those bottles of shots I took tonight. Someone invented the wheel so there’s a legitimate reason why Tanya chose not to be here tonight. Some guy invented the telephone so I could leave messages to fictional characters. Someone looked at Elizabeth Bends and said the world will love you. Let’s put you on a piece of art that is in constant motion called a television. Let’s enlarge your face on screens.
God, it’s me. Do you even get to rest on Sundays? Do you ever find yourself lonely, drunk and sick on bathroom floors? Do you think it’s funny that I have no hair left on the top of my head? God, I’m drunk. Do you ever take a drink from the mini-bar? If your blood is wine and your flesh is bread, how can you tell me you aren’t self-absorbed? Maybe we really are made in your image.
I crawl to the living room, my knees bleeding with carpet burn, and I bite down on the telephone cord. I need something to chew on, so I don’t swallow my tongue. This is me clicking the trigger on the phone to make a new call.
The tiles are laughing at me. I can’t prove it, but if I could reach the note pad I would leave a note to hungover-tomorrow-morning me telling him the ceiling tiles aren’t your friend.
“Tanya, Elizabeth meant nothing to me. Please take me back. Please. Call me. I know I’m an asshole, but I’m an asshole who loves you. I would do anything for you.”
I erase and re-record. Beep.
“I would do anything for us.”
I press four. Beep.
“I just want you to be happy.”
I press four. Beep.
“I just want us both to be happy. I need to know that still exists.”
I press four. Beep.
“Hi Tanya. It’s Mark. Listen, I loved you, but I think if I keep holding onto what we have left, I will go crazy. I’m sorry.”
If you are satisfied with your message, press one.
Are you still there?




i tried calling
you didn’t pick up

where have you gone to, America?
i can’t find you under my bed or in my closet with the other monsters
you seem to be everywhere all at once like you’re imitating God, but maybe you’re just photocopying yourself until the ink turns to white like your flag on the moon
where have you gone to America?
when I go down on you, you never return the favor

where have you gone to, America?
your model homes are empty
your desks in your schools are empty
your teachers are just praying for tenure
where have you gone to, America?
are you in Central Park with those cast to the corners?
are you in Brooklyn with the rappers who reside in check out counter headphones?

the Dodgers are in Los Angeles now
the Lakers are in Los Angeles now
how come she always gets whatever she wants?
where have you gone to, America?
your youngest daughter still needs you

where have you gone to, America?
your unwrapped gifts are stacking up under the Xmas tree
your churches have walls to expand for the holiday rush

where have you gone to, America?
you left the groceries out on the table
you left your poor friends out on your San Francisco doorstep
you left your children at school with a gun
and you want to blame the trigger for the finger that pulled it

you want the television to babysit us
while you go out drinking with strange men

i tried leaving you this message, America
but your mailbox was full