Mailman + Dog

Rowdy the dog
just stared
as the mailman
walked into
the liquor store.

“hey bud,”
said the mailman.

Rowdy just stared
and watched him
as he delivered letters
to the liquor man
behind the counter.

there wasn’t a single ounce
of liquor in the bottles
that swayed even a bit
while these two polarized forces
of the universe
meandered a shared space.

but the mailman left
and Rowdy was put at ease.

it was okay.

they both knew
what they were taught to know
about one another
by history
stories passed down through time
but they didn’t have to be those stories.

we inhabit strange spaces
with strange company
and if we can let our guard down
we don’t have to tell the stories
that they expect us to.

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Kansas City

somewhere in kansas city someone might be saying these words

my friend sarah is locked up in alberta
the bars are birch trees
they surround her
and day after day she draws them
these spines that spring from the earth
she draws them
as if maybe she can work her way through them

she draws her lover beside her
and she draws us again in denver
or together in the birch trees
she draws them as if she can conjur something
or someone
to another place

lost in conifer
i walked through an endless field of evergreens
and miles deep into my head
playing a long tricky game of object impermanence
i stumbled onto this great field of birches

holy
and unbroken
i stepped into them
and i was not there
i was with sarah and her ivan in alberta

sarah asks me
do you believe in time travel?

somewhere in kansas city someone might be saying these words
and there is a currency too valuable
to knowing that my breath has traveled as far east as it is west
into the mouth
of a stranger
that i met in another life

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Rodolfo

so i just disappeared
i took off to vegas in a yellow pair of aviators
i changed my name to rodolfo
i grew out my mustache
and i disappeared into a cloud of cigarette smoke
and bottom shelf tequila

sitting fat
at some slot machine
i chugged at the handle
like a trucker on the horn
and i watched my play money disappear

rodolfo
king of the strip they’d call me
in the gutter
asking for change

rodolfo
with a pregnant girlfriend in reno

rodolfo
flipping a chip in his knuckles

and meanwhile in denver
they missed me

my friends
my family

they slapped my face on the sides of milk cartons
until the milk went bad
and then they held a vigil for me at cheesman park
just a hundred or so candles

he just disappeared
they said
swallowed up by some sort of sinkhole

and they talked about my poems for a minute or two
said how i changed them
how i influenced their lives
but they were still alive
and they cared
but there were bills to be paid
weekends to be planned
life just keeps on without you

meanwhile rodolfo was in deep with some cardsharks
a few bad bets
and now he’s being thrown around some back room in old vegas

my mustache swallowing my entire upper lip

you can reinvent yourself
i prayed into the rearview mirror
down highway i-15
into the mouth of vegas

you can be whoever you want

and then i, rodolfo,
probably said some more stupid things
and they hit me over the head with a hammer
they buried me in the desert
and no one came looking because i never existed

i don’t know where i’m going
but i like my name
brice
it’s got a nice sound to it i think

and the vigil might have been small
but a hundred candles or so
beats being nameless in a desert
pouring your heart out
into a big gulp with a hole in the side

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Date Night

halfway through dinner they took off their rubber masks

the cannibal & the vegan

he chewed on the blood desperate for her flesh

she snapped carrots in her teeth like an anxious neck

forks clanking against plates while hip bones went unbruised

when the check came, it didn’t move

they both wanted to eat, but neither person wanted to pay

 

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Phil

my apartment was extremely empty so i escaped it
threw on my jacket threw my hands in the pockets and walked
for miles and miles down south broadway towards downtown

and in streetlight i walked by a man who asked me for a dollar
and i said no sorry man i got nothing on me
and he asked me how i was doing and i told him and he told me

his name was Phil and that he was kicking himself because he
spent his last dollar on a beer and now he had to walk home
and it was a pretty cold night and i told him i was sorry

we walked beside each other towards downtown like some
strange manifesto on how strangers could be friends too
and he asked me if i had a cigarette he could have

and i said no sorry man i don’t have a dollar and i don’t
have a cigarette all i’ve got to offer you is conversation
and he said oh that’s okay that’s better

i went into the seven eleven and i got some cash out for him
and he said he’d better hang back so the cops didn’t think he
was panhandling and that made me realize something new

that we’re all humans but we have these weird bad rules as
as a world where we can classify people to treat them differently
but the truth still remained that we all were just people

and Phil reminded me of that fact because we just talked
and sometimes he didn’t hear me and sometimes he slurred
and it was hard for me to capture what he was saying but

i still felt it

i still felt that there was a human being beside me and we both
were lonely and walking towards the city we loved and it was a
little too cold but the difference was i had everything i needed

Phil and i ate a couple taquitos as i walked him to the bus stop
and he asked for my phone number so i offered it to him but
he didn’t have a phone and i didn’t have a piece of paper

and part of me thought we should walk back and get a piece of
paper but our walk was over and i wished Phil all the best and
as i walked away he said God bless you and i said God bless you too

because i’m no atheist but i’m close enough sometimes to know
that we all have moments of believing in God and that the world
wants to tell you what that means but God is whatever you think

and for me God was whatever brought me out onto that street
and for me God was Phil and was a brief moment of real humanity
and then i had to let God go and he had to let go of me but it’s still with me

it’s still with me

i still feel it

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Bust

when i die
i want to be made into a bust on a plinth
thrown through traffic
and then put in some arthouse
on display
my bald head
and my grizzly beard for all to see
all this so in turn the top third
of this bag of flesh may be eternal

we shadowbox through time
but turbulence is a bitch
faces get marred
black road rash
deer blood on flailing canvas
teeth leaving a mouth in slow motion

you already know how this will end

you already know
the triumphs turn to rubble
the defeat
floats up into the sky
on fire
like chinese wishing paper

in a museum of heads and faces
everyone is watching everyone
everyone is scratching at the surface
trying to break through
brick walls behind thin paper
thin paper behind stale air
stale air behind a dead gaze

seventy sets of eyes

forgetting to breathe

trying to remember what it’s like
to be a human being

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We Pretend to Be

here
nearing perfect form
do i pretend to be
something of gentleman

top hat
ascot
lovely pocket square
monacle
long tailed coat
newly shined shoes
i do look the part so well

and beneath
classic human skeleton
blue veins
red muscle
tendons fibers skin
hair nails eyeballs
i do pretend to be

and watch me walk around
the party

watch me
as i
looking across the ballroom
(wood floors, glass windows
chandeliers, fire, wax, wick, etc.)
spot a female
flowing long dead hair
large breasts
red dress the amalgamation
of ten thousand machine-placed
sequins

watch as i approach
muscles pulling leg
tendons working in conjunction
the cardiovascular system
in tandem with the human heart
it all moves footstep by footstep
in newly shined shoes
across the wood floors of the ballroom

and now we
meeting eyeballs
engaged
pupils expand
let in chandelier light
a legion of cheek muscles active
and we talk and smile
we pretend to be
something

and we dance
to mathematical sound
recognized by ears as pleasant
dancing
we
two human beings
in sequence through time and space
until the song
the mathematical gathered sound
ceases
and then more

and more and more and more

and we pretend it all

watch us as we pretend

and then no matter the trajectory
of following hours
eye balls rest
beneath eye lids
automatic breathing
automatic bloodwork
and we believe we somehow changed

we believe we somehow not what we were

and maybe we believe wrong
but we believe
what we pretend to believe
and that’s nice

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2017

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To a Crooked Old Man

the past
dies slowly
sometimes

it clings on

its nails
buried deeply
in skin

desperate
to find a strangle
hold

through wind
and weather
it lives on

but in slow due time

it will die

starved for attention
it shrivels up
and sinks
into the waiting mud

there is no funeral
for the death of thoughts
that never should have lived

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2017

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Ambulance Song

i am hungry and restless and full of fire

the trees outside are dead
not seasonally dead
they are chopped down
the trees outside are brick houses
and grumpy people at a bus station
and ten million ambulances

there are so many ambulances that come down lincoln avenue
so many heart attacks and strokes and so many states of emergency

i’ve learned to sleep to the sound of them
to close my eyes during never ending catastrophe
cuddling up with a baseball bat

because the ambulances just keep dancing down the line
like some weird concrete form of synchronized swimming
the most efficient and expensive taxi cab you’ll ever take

it’s fascinating to think that i might ride in a hearse someday
and never know

or maybe i’ll be elsewhere
picking apples off the heaven tree
stealing third base with Eve
in the shade

and peeping down through the marshmallow heaven clouds
i’ll say hey – i’m riding in a hearse
and i’ll say hey – now these fuckers care about poetry
i’ll say hey i never said that! i didn’t even like that guy

because everyone is best buddies with a dead poet they knew
everyone is thick as thieves with the man in the casket

i do have to say it’s worth it
this life
if only for these moments
a grilled cheese sandwich
a first orgasm
sleeping in when you’re a bitter shithead adult
and pissy at your inability to live the life you want

you could drown in it
you could down it like whiskey every day

life is a love song for the hedonist
death is a parade for the realist

margarine is butter for people who think death isn’t real
a grilled cheese made with margarine is like a sad handjob

i’m euphoric for the opportunity to live each day
i am blessed and kind to be in this dream
the protagonist scrolling across this 4k television
i will live hard and eat the things placed before me
but you bet your ass i will burn the fat off my heart
i am holy and desperate and full of moonlight
i am hungry and restless and full of fire

i couldn’t sleep for shit last night
i just tossed and turned

i closed my eyes and died in psychedelic bursts of raging color
like spirits in the river styx reaching out their decaying hands
death is the final revolution and most definitely not televised
i closed my eyes and saw a ballerina dancing on a lake of fire
she floated across the flaming pond but did not succumb to it
bulletproof to the heat she moved in rhythmic time to a song
to a song that i could not hear for it was not my song to hear
she heard something i did not know

i couldn’t sleep for shit last night
i just tossed and turned

and caught up in headache i pulled out the old timey calculator
and i tallied up my problems one at a time cross-categorized
and i dug in to see what the algorithm was numbers floating
strange algebra and cosines and lines of best fit floating through
the air i realized i had a metric shit ton of problems and then i
counted my blessings

and i got too caught up in the poetry of my blessings
to care about the math of my problems

i couldn’t sleep for shit last night
i just tossed and turned
i guess i’ll sleep when i’m dead

COPYRIGHT BRICE MAIURRO 2017

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