I Was No One’s Servant But My Own


I go barefoot when I’m with you


When you’re away

I go to the closet

and consider my shoes





Let Her Dress Herself

She wears a moon on her vest

and a cockroach on her lapel

she’s into every­thing


She’s a hotel for travelling extremes


Her mother noticed early and

let her dress herself





Serious Work Play

I mixed some chocolate in your clay

while you were away



I was just trying to make your serious work






In December just before work I see a sparrow is the color of a tree and say, “What am I the color of?”


“Anything I’d like!”


And storm off laughing at how simple I am






Some pinecones scattered on the sidewalk

didn’t spring up as I approached


I really thought they were sparrows





snow bank

a snow bank drifted past my window this evening


i had read about this sort of thing in the movies

and seen it in books

but here?


there it went

right down Hamline Avenue

doing the strangest things


it picked up a mother


and a mail truck



right to the end






Pigs have babies, but they don’t go around bragging

or making documentaries that air on PBS named

“The Miracle of Birth!”






The dark world of guts

cut a hole

slide a hand in

the same inside

a badger or a duck





A Good Mammal

A good mammal doesn’t play games

with the afterlife,

a good mammal says nothing


Walnuts and worms


A good mammal lets them all fall

thump on the ground

and mingle




You Start the Revolution

I walk around

I share something


I play a song on the guitar

I think


Why do we wear clothes?

I don’t know – and I don’t want to know!


You start the revolution


You grow a face that knows something


I can’t do it!





Free Tibet

On a corner in Minneapolis there are two signs

across the street from each other


“Free Tibet” and “Free Firewood”


I like the idea that firewood should be freed, and not burned – but

liberated – take this wood home, please, but do not burn it!





Written on a Napkin in Knoxville

I wanted to die young

I based my whole case on it


But I fell through each crack

and kept landing on my feet


Harmed but healthy

enough to crab on sideways





The Rat’s Life

I am a rat that approves of the cat’s sedentary life

following sunbeams around on cool autumn days


Oh, to loll sleepily in my oozing pelt,

a hideous dirtball eager for petting


But the sun is the perfect distance from the earth

for the cat’s life we rats envision


One day purring under caresses






Jesus didn’t turn real estate into wilderness

Jesus didn’t turn shit into food

Jesus turned water into wine


How bourgeois of him


Think of the sentimental Indian in all of us, Jesus

so full of broken hearts


Think of me, Jesus, brimming over, staggering with pain

– if only you had bounced a rubber ball with me –

I would have called that a miracle!


Or if you had twirled a hula hoop with my little sister,

or used a telephone to call my mother when she was sick and

dying and calling out for you every five minutes


Seeds fly everywhere in the spring, Jesus, you can catch

some of them if you want to. Some fall like snow, and some

fall like helicopters. It’s fun.


I don’t care what you did, or what they say you did – just come

out and play sometimes




Melinda Melendez

Melinda Melendez was found dead

in her coin-operated apartment last week


All she wanted to do was bark like a dog

and shit outside


She lived in a quiet suburb and straightened her skirt

before she faded out





Consider the Martini Glass

A martini calls for a glass just wider than a mouth

at the top, and just narrower

than a lady’s pinky finger at the bottom


Artifacts like martini glasses surround us

and give meaning

and give us something to reach for on bad days


The wheel, the hat, Hitler’s self-centered black mustache,

all seem somewhat

meant to be





Work and Play

Work and Play were separated at birth, blindfolded

and driven in two black limousines with smoked glass windows

to the opposite ends of the earth


Where they were told by hard unscrupulous men

with a strategic plan that they were orphans

whom their mothers had abandoned


Their mother, however, knows that the earth is round

and “opposite ends” means they live in the same town,

on the same street, surely even in the same bedroom.


She sees them walk past each other every day,

one coming, and one going. She weeps, moans,

and prays that one day they will meet.