ALMOST CONVERSATION AT A COFFEESHOP BOOKSTORE

as i handed down the book for purchase
i glanced eyes
mortified by the moving bag of skin
snatching at my plastic cash
and in the silence
i said aloud to myself
“no more!”

and through the dark thicket
i crossed my sharp machete
of conversation
“how was tonight?”
“slow,” he said,
“the good news,” i said,
“you survived it.”
so very bad dad joke am i
and i saw his tongue
behind his tired teeth
itchy at the thought of response
but the receipt came before
before the words

and he stayed still
i walked away
from maybe a fist fight down an alley
or maybe solving the riddle of time

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016

AND IN THE RED CORNER OF THIS HERE LIFE

boxiat

alright, kid
you got hit pretty damn hard
but this shit don’t stop

this ain’t the
holiday fuckin inn

i need you to
brush that dust off
your shoulders
wipe that blood from
yer cheek
and remind us all
why you’re the champ

it’s not how hard
you can hit
it’s how hard you can
get hit

so pick yer heart up
off the floor
and put that shit
right back into yer chest

there are kids
who would die to be here
sweating under these lights

don’t do it for me
don’t do it for the glory
do it because it’s what you
were born to do

your vocation
is tooth and nail

and yeah
it’s gonna hurt
it’s gonna hurt real bad
yer gonna sting in places
you’d never known
but at the end of the night

you can lay down beside her

and push yer fingers
through her soft hair

and that glimmer in her eyes

yeah that glimmer

it’s the only two stars you’ll want
in your sky

and at the end of the
long long long long day
you can rest
like yer broken ass
has never rested before

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016

AMERICA

america
you pray like russian
roulette

you kiss like you’re trying
to commandeer our teeth

you smell like the little samples
0f perfume in skinny magazines

america
you’re pirating porn on the internet
wearing nothing but a stolen pair
of air jordans

america
you’re panting like a dog
do you ever put your tongue
back into your mouth?

america
your gums are bleeding
from brushing your teeth too hard

do you ever do anything
with grace?

it’s always 75 miles per hour
drunk on jack
jacked up on red bull
listening to two metal albums
on your cell phone
while playing candy crush
in seven o clock rush hour traffic
because life is too short
not to do
exactly what is most important to you
in that exact moment

america
you may listen to podcasts
on new age philosophy
be here now
live in the moment
but you always fast-forward
to the good parts

you always cut away the meat
of your steak
and sit back and chew on the fat

america
you’re so good at interrupting
the people you ask
to speak on your show

america
you borrowed from me
whenever i tell you you say you didn’t
but you did
and i want it back

america
you invented advertising
and marketing
and coffee and beer
and whiskey and electricity
and freedom and democracy
well
at least that’s what you tell everyone

america
you pretend to be attention deficit
but the truth is you are consciously choosing
not to listen

plus you can get great turnaround
selling addy to high school kids

america
were you ever great?
will you ever be great?
hyperbole is a french word
but its nine-hundred percent american

i once thought i saw you
through the brush of trees
that line flathead lake
there i know i saw you
this grand estranged deer
wide eyed and still
your black eye gazed back at me
full of one-thousand yard stare
post traumatic stress disorder
you looked at me
like you just discovered
the human concept of time
0r math
or internet-streamed television service

i picked up my AR-15
and i pointed right at you
as you bolted
deep into the thick trees of bigotry

i swear i saw you

the one that got away

a hologram of a dream
of an invention

a colossal invention

there in the hand of every american
there in the heart of those who believe

not a device to help you
a device that is you

america
are you recording this call?

america
why do i have to press one for english?

america
why is my seat so small and inconvenient
in this giant bullet
that flies through the sky?

america
you’re pronouncing
“patronizing” wrong

america
i asked for no special sauce
my daughter is allergic
i can’t believe this
what are you going to do
for me?

america
what are you going to do
for me?

america
why aren’t you the country
we talk so fiercely about you being?
we spent so much time so far
talking so fiercely
about what you could be?

america
tie your shoes

america
get a job

america
love your neighbor

america
i’m not going to pay for your webcam
i don’t care h0w handsome you tell me i
am

america
if you say a word too many times
it starts to sound funny
it starts to stick to the roof of your mouth
like jiffy (c) peanut butter
america

america

america

america
when will the illuminati
reveal themselves?
was 9/11 an inside
job?
when will those walmarts
be turned into internment camps?

america
you manufacture paranoia
shelf after shelf
aisle after aisle
section after section
department after department
store after store after region
after enterprise

america
take my tickets
i brought my swimsuit
i want to ride the preschool to prison
pipeline

plea bargain my politics

mass incarcerate my poems

america
you can’t fall asleep sober
if you even fall asleep at all
you keep counting sheep
like you’re tallying days
on a prison cell

your eyes are automatic doors
that slam shut behind us all

america
your bloodsteam is refugees
you’re just too intoxicated to see it

you’re so busy building walls
you forgot to put in a door

you’re so busy campaigning for president
you’ve got not time for your family

you’re the kind of ugly
that happens over the course of a lifetime

you
america
are a pyramid scheme

you
america
beg for food
while you choke to death
on your thick privilege

you
are the one
who was born so late
to sing the world to sleep

america
you pray like russian roulette
to a god who can’t hear you
over the sound
of your own
gunshots

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016

NOTHING IS RANDOM THERE IS MEANING IN THE CHAOS

ancient chinese gold wall drip past passionate flame thrower dance
we run trenchant through the puddles of the world we drained
crash symphonic into post-arthritic buildings chanting death destruction
capital oceans vast and uncharted wrap around your wide hips like destiny
and here we are laying on the beach drunken stupor past half vodka midnight
you sweet cherished moment gone but parading around me like looping vhs
like a bad trip like mountains crumbling at the feet of a tomorrow that promises
not to be anything like the day before for better or worse

i promise you this
what fills up the holes in the bottom of my pockets
and this fastly depleting heart

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016

WHEN YOU PLAY THE VIOLIN SO HARD THE STRING BREAKS

when you
play the violin
so hard
the string
breaks

when
you beat
the horse
nearly
to death

just screaming
go faster go faster
now

i need you
to stop
but it doesn’t

when you wake
up
buried
beneath a pyramid of
your own heartbreak

you start
to realize that
not everything
is as black
and white
as films
(once were)

you’re gonna break
the strings

you’re gonna be
out

in nowhere
in requiem

and realize that
you
should be locked down
in eulogy

you should be
you should be

let this world
tell you more about what
you are

let this world
continue to chisel off
your personality

til you’re sculpted
perfect beautiful
adonis angel silhouette
of great america
of pride of esteem
of wine aged to the day
of parade
of vast portrait
hanging
delicately above
the fire

when you
play the violin
so hard
the string
breaks

you are left with
three strings
a patient audience
and a lethal dose
of reality

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016

THEODORE ROOSEVELT ROWING FURIOUSLY ACROSS LONG ISLAND SOUND

my rhythm is theodore roosevelt rowing furiously across long island sound-
back and forth and back and forth in endless need to push back and forth
and to open the floodgates of america, the world once more and let in
the endless bloodstream of the human spirit, that which does not stop
all coffeeblood and widepupiled i rush out into the world and with such fervor
do i rampantly push through the hole that fills the life-long sentence of
“i’m   sorry   but    that   simply   is   not   going   to   be   a   possibility,”
but i slip through the hole in the o and i loop my western lasso from one t
to the other tee and i build a fortress and i barricade the spaces from any
slinking zombie thought that moans that there is not hope alive in the sentiment
of doubt; that there is some construction of a power too powerful to be fought.

do not forget. sometimes the man at the top of the mountain has been at the
top of the mountain too long – and he has forgotten what it means to climb.
what it means to step after step against gravity against will against time itself.
and i do encourage you to look around at the view as you climb as you step further
and farther away from the city of your reality, now a distant cloud, a pencil drawing.

climb and climb and row and row. theodore roosevelt. push westward even moreso.
and at the top of the mountain lasso the stars and walk cautiously across the tightrope
in space and realize if you for a second look down, you very well may lose your balance
but keep your spectacles set off into the distance and you will not fall. the body follows
the heart and the heart wants what the heart wants and row and row and row.

row furious. row like the broken heart of theodore roosevelt across long island sound.
row sore-armed and hollowheaded treading molecule after molecule of holy water
behind you until all you have left to realize is that there is only you, and a million miles
of ocean, influenced up and down in constant reminder that nothing is ever dead.
nothing is ever dead and no one person insignificant enough to not cause ripples that
may expand through not just liquid or air or soundwaves but they can push like anxious
oars through the familiar foundations that we so often refuse to acknowledge may just be
impatient graves ready to take us under. they are always ready to take us under.
so why not rise up against the coming looming deadly tide?

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016

BUKOWSKI AGAIN

oh holy poetic father
your long skinny soul
scrawled across the backs
of thousands of naked spines
and how each drop
of battery acid
dripped from the dots
in the eyes
and the holy crosses
across the t’s
that hung suspended in time
to reach out like
hands with holes
just to barfight my liver
just to curbstomp my stomach
into submission
has helped me sift through
the madness for the word, the
line, the way

but here we are
at the end of the way
and the bottle wasn’t bottomless
i’ve seen the bottle
dropped off the building
and smashing against reality
a fist of misogyny
an inability to step away
from the drunken typewriter
to never grow
(as did the flowers you loathed)

there are two many great poets
who pot shot the page nightly
but never stepped out
of the square ring
to see the round earth desperate
for a pair of rugged hands
to build the cities they dreamed up

in their dreams unrealized
unrealized dreams are the worst nightmares
and bu kowski
sweet devil bukowski
you are the worst nightmare

the victim flower that cursed the fiery sun
for trying to keep him alive

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016

REQUIEM FOR A BRUISED EGO

for a minute there
it sounded like you thought you did it

that you opened your mouth to speak
and out flew some grand butterfly

for the world to grasp onto and worship
as it fluttered through the poetry of their existence

but when you opened you mouth
what came out was two elements of oxygen

to each singular element of carbon
and a promise to do the best you can to not fuck up

because that’s it, poet, isn’t it?
to try like all hell to not fuck up

not to be a savior but more not to be the bomb
the one that comes bursting into the corridor of the building

exploding in great gaseous fire as you see the eyes
of ten thousand scared patrons fleeing from your monster movie

screams captured in the dissonant frozen frame of memory
if you draw your box too small, it’s easy to be on the wrong side of history

or the debate – or relevancy – or to channel some dead asshole
who talked a whole hell of a lot about buddhism and alcohol and misogyny

your idols should have killed you when they had the chance
now you’re stuck in a web of netflix and your front door is locked from the outside

you default. back to chinese takeout. back to endless newsfeed.
back to the giant post-modern commercialist womb of nonexistence

what they don’t tell you is the insane amount of energy that it takes
to be a good person. to burn the fire you could have saved for warmth.

there is no field day ribbon.
if you’re doing it right, there’s barely a thank you.

but it’s a whole hell of a lot easier to sleep at night.
and it’s near impossible to dream if you don’t close your eyes.

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016

UNFORTUNATELY HONEST

drunk on caffeine i escaped out into the night
hands in pockets i began to walk through the forest
of my fingers into the clearing of my palm
where i looked up at the great ether of my own
two eyes above me
and therein i saw something calling back
the shadow of my own giant looming over me
but the anxiety still called so i kept pushing it out
through my feet
and i moved through the blood in my arms
down its red path
until i came to the great stonehenge
of my dismantled rib cage
white stones torn asunder i sat beneath
the tree of my gut
and there i climbed in and waited
until the poet left the home in my heart
through a little red door
completely naked and covered in paint
he danced like it was someone’s birthday
and me in peacoat and dress slacks
and pinned in with belt and exhausted
i jumped down from the tree
and with my great long scarf
wrapped around my hands into fists
i swung the fabric over his neck
and there in the moonlight
that poured in through the hole in my throat
i strangled the poet lifeless
and i was so sure what it was that would happen
i was sure i would ring out some great eulogy
from the lips of the dying poet of me
and i was sure they would cast into the dome sky
of my internal organs and radiate from my bigger body
like caffeine
but the poet said nothing
nothing was said but it wasn’t quite silence
and then it was over

i didn’t bury the poet that was me
nor did i say grace for the fallen stars
that he cast from his dry heave mouth
dim shining with the looming reminder
of the guilt
the same guilt he carried with him
and now i
but now wordless
just kept walking off the caffeine drunk
but the headaches are so bad
and when you can’t sleep all you can do
is walk and walk and walk and walk
and hope that somewhere out there
is the magical monster you’re after
that after all is just you hiding in a peacoat
and dress slacks
or in some poem that you wrote
when you remembered that’s something you do

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2016

AMNESIAC

are we so quick to forget
what happened yesterday?
we walk
right foot left foot
one behind the other
in swift reverse
after each step we take
the broom and dust pan
and wash away
our footprints from
the dirt

we take bleach
and ammonia
and we wash the blood
from the carpet
we scrub vigorously
at the vivid reminder
of that one time
that we blacked out
and did some shit
we shouldn’t have

we got so drunk

wouldn’t you hate
for us
to get drunk again?

a contraption!
a mirror put behind
our backs
so that when we look
behind us
all we can see
is the future

terror
is the pill
of the future

it’s what
we wash our mouths out
with

it’s what
lulls us to sleep
beneath the sound
of

well, you know
you can hear it

if you just know
that you could die
at any minute

so where
are we?

who
do we now
pretend
to be?

where
can we go
when we live
on the hollow point?

we dip
our calloused feet
into
an acid bath

we bingewatch
the deathclock ticking

now packaged
individually

priced to sell

i forgot what we were
talking about

must have slipped
my mind

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2015