Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Adventures in Tutoring

Hi. I haven't posted in a while. Sorry.

So, I've been tutoring this kid for a couple years. The other day I was encouraging my student to do some writing, so I decided to write with him to teach by example and keep from distracting him.

So I asked him to give me a prompt. Now, he has learned that Batman is kinda my favorite, because . . . well, he's the Goddamn Batman and he runs around Batmanning the hell out of Gotham City. What's not to like?

My kid though, he's a Spider-Man fan, so he tell me I have to write an essay about how Batman sucks. Here it is, reproduced in its entirety for your enjoyment (Warning: leave your rational brain out of this, please).

Sunday, October 2, 2011


It's been a while, but Yellow and I are back.

If it begins, it begins with a letter. And if it begins with a letter, the letter should look like an "A" but sound like a "Q" with a speech impediment. So here, where it begins, I ask you: When these thoughts cause pause for plosive stops, how is it you ignore the tremors but ride out the aftershocks? Are we only safe in the aftermath, a line of taillights waiting for guidance from someone in a reflective coat? But then question comes, is it the fabric reflecting, or the person? Representation or consideration? The questions, like the letters, are out of order and cannot be trusted. So for now I'll flip the "B" on its side and wear it like coke bottle glasses and swim these troubled cees just a bit longer. The cipher lies in the "A," because we must always start from the beginning.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Today's things that don't make much sense to me

1) A Time magazine editor was suspended indefinitely today for calling Obama a dick on live TV. During the suspension, the editor must eat all his lunches in the principal's office, and is not allowed to go out to recess for at least a week. Do you remember where you were the day you realized that most adults still lived by the rules of the playground?

2) Charlie Sheen admitted to using steroids during the filming of Major League. He said it got his fastball up from 79 to 85 mph. My first impulse was to say "so what," but then the absurdity of it all set in, so now I just laugh. Apparently he hadn't learned of the benefits of tiger blood just yet.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 30 - the end

Here is a taste of what I'll be up to now that poetry month is over. Thanks for reading the past month, it's been fun.



the pieces come from different places you know

but right now we’ll just pause on one

and let it breathe

because this one deserves forgiveness.

give four people the same photograph of this street

and ask them to crop the image any way they’d like.

take them[1] and immediately put them in an envelope.[2]

for now we’ll consider this collecting evidence,

but remind me about it later

because it won’t mean anything

until we make it unfamiliar.

[1] but avoid folding them and cutting them into snowflakes. The point is not that each image is unique, but that the choice meant something different to them than it did to you.

[2] This is how I want you to think about possibility.

Friday, April 29, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 29

We were overdressed
in the shower,
giggling at the blood
stains on our jackets.
*Two hours before
I said you had a choice
to accept the situation
and enjoy yourself
or whine about your hair.
**I spent ten minutes
trying to assign you
the significance
of this image, but
I'll just accept it
and say thank you.

*Unsatisfying ending
**Sentimental ending

Thursday, April 28, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 28

We'll leave it at this for now
and what it looks like tomorrow
after we've got a little sleep
behind these screen-burned eyes.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 27

I'm thinking about empty threats
and how many times I'd have to use them
as we surveyed the northern border
thirty-three feet at a time
just because some king felt
like drawing a line.

Speaking of lines, I read a poem
on some website today, found it
thanks to StumbleUpon.
There were three on the page,
I dug the first one and got bored

But that's beside the point,
which was the comments section
and some guy lambasting the poet
for writing banal sentences
with arbitrary line
breaks and calling them sentences.

It'll be days before I can get that comment out of my head.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 26

"Days Without a Serious Accident"
on Highway 2
sign stood at 3 today.

my girlfriend
gave a witness report
to some ridiculous
accident involving
a car going the second way
on a one way street.

This was all at dinner,
while we contemplated
silverware in a soda
and farting out our mouths.

Monday, April 25, 2011

National Poetry Month, 25 - Live: Collecting Thoughts Through the Day

If you catch this blog early in the afternoon today, you'll get to see this post evolve. I want to see what liveblogging a poem throughout the day is like. I'm just going to write little snippets as they occur to me.


I've always thought of a Tea Party
as a place where children go
to make things up
and learn how to gossip.


The greatest thing
-- by far --
that imperialism
ever gave the planet
was Freddie Mercury.


Am I crazy to think
there's money to be made
selling spammers access
to your accounts
in half-hour increments?


A woman wanted for stealing
a styrofoam banana
from a Wisconsin gas station
while wearing a gorilla suit
will not be charged.


While washing the dishes
the coffee mug asked me
"What if the Hokey Pokey
really is what it's all about?"

I'm okay with that.


I had to stop myself
from making faces
at what this chick was
doing to her sandwich.


an object
can be

the thought
of which
whelms me.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 24 - Tanka

no one feels too bad
when they scream at the asshole
driving ten under
on a Sunday afternoon
if they're running late for work.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 23

Godzilla is
the true king
of jelly beans
playing in the
ball bin of life
until an article
about bacteria
startles him
into setting
alarm clocks
and carpooling
on snow days.

Friday, April 22, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 22

let's remember for a moment
the token machines
the tickets
and the prizes

first the baseball card stores
went out of business
then the arcades
now finally
the rental stores

all the bands I grew up with
are putting out
20th anniversary
of classic albums

and I learn that nostaliga
only comes on
when nothing
interests me
about the present

Thursday, April 21, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 21 - Happy Birthday

Tonight we're going to scream the secret word
and flinch at the pinch of a parakeet's feet.

We're going to sacrifice the ducky for the sax
and steal your brother's toys while he's at school.

We'll count these photographs as prompts
to help maintain the few memories I have left

but until then let's chase the chocolate cake
that you've been spiriting around the room

and keep you alive by never letting it land.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 20

Have you ever seen an interrogation room without hi-contrast lighting, where shadows hung over eyelids like the upper deck at a late afternoon ballgame? Cigarette smoke cuts the air. The camera starts wide--that way you can see the back of the interrogating officer--and slowly zooms in. The Witness has long, greased, curly hair. His pinstriped purple button-up cradles a couple modest gold chains, and just as he's about to start spilling it he lifts his right arm, takes a drag, and props his elbow on the table so he can use the hand to gesture while he talks. Just once I want this scene to play out more like absolute nonsense.


"Does it work?" Frank exclaimed from beside the urinal. "I got her to confess to shit she didn't even do!


I feel like the elements exist in a simultaneous state. I've caught myself trying to explain from three different points now, and each time I realized that's not how the story really started.


We'd moved back to the city. For me it was back, for her it was the first time. The new place was on the hill, and we were on the fifth or sixth floor, and I remember understanding the places on the floors above us were much nicer, and that our landlord had been hesitant to show them to us from the minute we walked into her office.

No, see she was going to commute three days a week. Somehow we were fine with that. I mean, I know I was fine with that. This girl I had on the side, this blond chick, that's usually when we'd hang out. Chick had this wonky scooter thing with a bad motor and practically no brakes, but for some reason she liked it when I towed her around town on it.


But I haven't even brought up the Russian. That was the building next door. The entrance felt more like a hotel though, with a doorman and everything.

Can I explain why I was there? No, and I couldn't to the doorman either. But he knew.

"Here for the Russian, huh?" This guy was big, by the way. Maybe he was more of a bouncer than a door man. "Take the elevator. Corner suite to the left."

I asked him which floor I should take, and he laughed.


That one time at her place we got careless. This shit hole abutted an offramp, one of those windy ones. One day some crooks were driving a stolen semi truck (who steals a semi?) and they tried to escape the chase by banking down this ramp. They took the corner too fast, and crashed into the side of the building. But this was years afterwards.

I just remember us lying in bed, and that for some reason she got the urge to look out the window. I looked with her, just in time to see a man drop his camera and peel out of the parking lot.


Did I ever see the Russian?

You know, I think that was just something different altogether.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 19

I spent the day scouring for "I could probably write about that" moments.
In other words, I disengaged a little from the world and snuck meaning
onto its plate while it admired the flat screens above the men's room urninals.

Monday, April 18, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 18

somewhere on the crayon farm
the ghosts of all discarded, unfinished
seventy-two kits turn upside down
and clack against the plastic guards
in a waxy melody of adjectives.
the red and blue japanese robot
I'm pretty sure I got at the swap meet
(i just remembered that I used
to go to these fairly often as a kid)
links to a memory of a comic book
with the devil stabbing a voodoo
superman while the real one gasped.
i wore all these things out years ago,
but only one of them winked at me
today from across the cyberscape.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 17

tonight I heard a different song from yet another movie.
I don't know if they still do this, but you remember how
in the late 80s/early 90s they would make certain songs
specifically for certain movies, and the video would just
be like an extended commercial with cross fades?

This was one of those. I got it in my Easter basket
before I'd ever even seen the movie, maybe that's when
I got the book too, so by the time we finally saw it
at the second-run super save theater, any sense
of wonder was replaced by familiarity and cynicism.

do you remember it like me,
the first time you bit foil?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 16

Do you like the way the soundtrack dates the movie?

For me this song was a drive across the state

to visit my sister with a couple friends. Between us

we didn't have too many cds, and this one

found its way into the rotation. We liked the part

where the whole song sounded it went underwater,

if I remember right. The trip itself was lackluster.

It's not a good song. We knew it then and ignored it,

and yet here I am feeling nostalgic for the fucker,

or at least the memory we attached to it.

Was it that trip or the one we took to warped tour

where I kept pretending to get sucked out the window

and does the tape of our trip to Canada still exist

which I know was a different trip but the same era

and which was the time I declared that a burning

ball of gas billions of light years away was pissing

me off right now and why did we hold on the phrase

for so long afterward, as if that lazy quip was some

sort of great revelation that would somehow define

our future journeys? We lose the highest pitches

as we age, but I can still hear a muted television

from the other room, and I can still hear the wind

beating against the truck's open windows

as we tried to stay awake on the drives home

every time someone plays this song.

Friday, April 15, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 15 (halfway)

but of course we can't forget
the drunk girls walking home in clusters.
If you've lived in a college town, you know.
But tonight I was walking home,
and I overheard a conversation
between two of them crossing the street
in front of me. "I'll say this," she began
(no, it wasn't quite like that. That phrase
sounds way more like my own voice),
"but my ass has gotten way bigger
(your ears perked up there too, huh?)
after I started jogging every day."

Thursday, April 14, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 14

I was working, but I saw you knock on the neighbor's door through the window.
I figured you must have been one of their fathers, but then you came to my door next.
I was working, but I thought maybe you had backed up into one of the cars
in the parking lot, and were trying to find the owner.
That's happened before, though thankfully it's never been my car.
Turned out you were a Witness,
and you wanted me to come celebrate Jesus' death day
with yourself and the gang.
You seemed terrified of me, eager to move on to the next door.

Which is why I have to say, on sales points alone,
the Mormons have you beat. A couple years ago
my friend and I were watching Cannibal Holocaust and drinking beers.
The movie was homework. The beers were necessary.
He got a call from his girlfriend, so I paused the movie.
I heard someone knock on the neighbor's door, but no one answered.
I looked out my peephole, saw two kids in white shirts and ties.
They knocked on my door next.
I took off my shirt, opened the door,
and draped myself seductively in the frame.
They asked me if I knew about their lord and savior Jesus Christ.
I said I did, but that I had a better mustache than him.
Surprisingly they agreed,
then they handed me a pamphlet,
and walked away.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 13

every spring the incoming sophomores
would take a field trip to the high school
to tour their future gossip grounds.
I want to say we got out early that day,
but maybe we didn't. I was at rehearsals
so I wasn't actually there to see this
but these guys I know had a catapults,
water balloons, and walkie talkies.
I understand they set up near the track.
A scout lurked in the courtyard above,
waiting for our vice principal to lead
the new kids into the shooting gallery.
The scout signaled, the balloon team fired,
and the vice principal took the first shot
directly in the chest. Though I wasn't there,
I can slip between subjective perspectives
like bullet time in an action movie
you may have seen in the last ten years,
but the viewpoint I usually take
is the freshmen, because really I think
they had the best story to tell.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 12

if first hashbrowns don't stick
you've got yourself an omen.

fire lemon speed
and count down the hours.

Monday, April 11, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 11 - Can We Write a Viral Poem?

(READERS, PLAY A GAME WITH ME. Below is a generic news story. You've probably read one before. Below that is a comments section. You've probably read one of those before, too.

RULES: Read the story, and then add a comment. You're playing the part of generic commenter. Maybe you really hate the article's subject, maybe you love it. Maybe you can't spell for shit. Maybe you're 13 and just learning social discourse, or maybe you're 60 and skilled at social discourse but lousy at computers. Whoever you are, play the character and comment away. It doesn't have to be "poetic" at all. Talk how your person would talk. Here is a sample comments thread.)

"Pun Before the Comma, Actual Story"

In a recent development, [a person you frequently read about] has been involved in [pick from a list of controversies: sexual deviance, political scandal vomit, drug/alcohol abuse (and its subcategories: DUIs, angry voicemails, and nip-slips (see also sexual deviance))].

When [website's name] tried to contact [the entity in question], we could not get a reply.

This incident follows a long history of similar shenanigans. In 2003 [entity] made headlines when [filler information], which was of course followed by the infamous 2007 incident where [filler information] and they couldn't talk the monkey out of the cage for weeks.

But who are we to judge? [website] wants to know what you think, so hit the jump and check out the comments section below.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 10

The skydiver pulled out his disposable camera
(you remember those)
and was just about to snap a shot when a bird collided into him
and the 24-shot little instamatic camera fell from the heavens
(he would have forgotten to develop the pics anyway).


One time my then-girlfriend and I were in Prescott
arguing with the windows open in my beater Honda
trying to find the freeway when we heard a ringing sound
and she flinched
and either yelled or half-wimpered,
and reached up and pulled
a sliver of metal out of her hair.


Do you think that skydiver - like ten years later -
thinks about that camera at all,
or does he spend the time
wondering about
that poor bird's family?


Another time we were at Disneyland
sharing a table with some family from Minnesota
(I've tried writing about this before,
but it hasn't worked until now)
and they were having a terrible time,
or at least the dad was. And as he recited to us
his laundry list of this abomination's offenses
(i.e. - the parking, the prices, the lines,
the walking, the heat, the noise, the whatever.
Thank god he didn't bad mouth the churros,
because I would have had to slap him.)
and just as he'd reached a perfect froth

a bird zipped by and shit on his bald, shiny head.

To this day, I've never seen a man look so defeated.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 9

1. When confronted with a choice to go out or stay home, what do you usually do?
a) that depends. Was it an RSVP on Facebook thing? If so, I'll totally click "attending" and then not go.
b) depends again. Was it my idea?
c) reject the situation, find the elusive third option, and support peoples' suspicion that you're really just a jackass
d) not applicable. I've burned bridges with most people who would invite me out anyway.
e) I guess I pull out my smart phone first and look at my calendar. Still perfecting the art of looking like a jackass.

2. Assume you do go out. What's a conversation like with you?
a) well I probably didn't start it, and really I'm more likely to be clinging to the one or two people I actually know. Screw having a conversation.
b) eye contact is out, and my drink goes fast.
c) look, this is all just recollection okay? If I picked this answer, I probably picked 'd' in the previous question. (If I didn't pick 'd,' it's strange that I'm picking this answer now, considering the self-awareness of it all).
d) do you ever wonder how many people pick a, b, or c just to avoid having to read too much?
e) you know that "Puck Man" speach Scott Pilgrim gives? That, but with a hint less hipster.

Friday, April 8, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 8

We all noticed it.

The champ was unusually naive
about so many things at first

that it took a while
for anyone to notice

that subtle shift of expressions
as his face collected the weight

of things he's still surprised
life gave him the chance to see.

A couple of us tried to pinpoint it,
that last grain to tip the scales.

One claimed to have seen it,
that it was late spring five, maybe six

years ago tops, that they were
walking home, more or less alone,

and he just stopped for a second.
The guy said he'd kept silent too,

trying to figure out what was wrong
but eventually the champ sighed, said

"We took it too far tonight, didn't we?"
Then he laughed, kind of exaggerated,

got the other guy to join in,
and eventually they kept walking.

"Thing is," the guy said, "Nothing
special really happened that night."

So now I think that we'll never
realize it in the moment, that

last grain, because it's really not
like the weight wasn't building.

It's just that one day you get tired
and just let the weight drop,

and I guess that's not so bad.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 7

I've lived in Bellingham for about two and a half years now. Since that time my Seattle friends and I have stayed in relatively good contact, though my presence has seriously dropped off of late. It's not the distance - 85-ish miles is really nothing - but rather my work schedule. I work weekends, and they all have normal people jobs.

Anyway, we often run e-mail threads with each other throughout the day to keep ourselves entertained. I hadn't gotten one in a while, but today this limerick showed up in a thread:

There once was a guy named Choppy

Who no one could ever copy

But he lives in the shire

And cooks with a fryer

Where the fuck is Chazz Hoppe

Clearly I had to respond with something, so this is what we're going with today:

Jake Edens, I'm terribly sorry,

but your rhymes are played out like Atari.

'Til you learn how to spell

my first name (what the hell?)

I'll stick with the Mon Calamari.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 6

forgive my cruelty


watching fat
people lose weight.

they take them out
on a party bus
to a fancy restaurant
and feed them
"temptation foods."

some of the fatties
fall for it and dig in
and I just want to
jump up and say

"Eat Fatty! Eat."

no matter what,
the fatty weigh-in
never disappoints,
watching that fucking
scale start spewing out
red digital numbers
like its the time circuits
in the DeLorean

and then oh wait this is the best part because they're about to get to fucking commercial break so they gotta make the cuts quicker and show out-of-context facial expressions on the different couples so you really don't know if the news is good or bad until you get back from commercial and you know you're waiting through that fucking break. You've come this far, for god's sakes.

and what's more confusing is your realization that the person you the most is the one you want to see at least make it to the top 2, like you want to see them stay on the show just so you have someone to hate and while that realization is an upsetting one the next is worse when it clicks that you've now watched this show enough to even develop opinions but


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 5

I've been concerned lately about a conversation I had several weeks ago with someone whose tastes in music I respect but who doesn't seem to respect mine. Really you wouldn't believe how many insightful things I've thought of to say to him were we to ever have a similar conversation anytime soon. The problem though is that I can't think of any of those great insights right now to give you an example of what I'm talking about. It's kinda like when you're browsing for movies at a rental store and you knew there were tons of movies you wanted to see but now that you were confronted with so many options your mind was drawing too many blanks. But now I wonder if that's even a good metaphor anymore, you know considering all the rental stores are going out of business and everyone either just rents from those little boxes at grocery stores and gets the shit mailed to them and really it's pretty damn convenient. But yeah, the metaphor. It'll speak to our generation, but the next won't have an idea what I'm talking about. Kinda like how you and I remember going to restaurants all the time that had smoking sections. That was a pretty common thing at one point. Hell, I even remember sitting in the smoking section in high school. They let us smoke, but they knew we weren't 18 yet. And really, that was pretty great. But how do you explain anything to someone who didn't grow up around the same time as you? It's like we've all time-stamped, branded with Cartoon Show X, Cult Kid Classic Movie Y, Video Game System Z. But that shit changes like every 5 years, and depending on where you come into the conversation, you think the previous 5 years before you entered the conversation were absolute shit. My time stamp dictates that I hate Guns 'N Roses and love Nirvana, and just today a coworker roughly my age asked me why I wasn't listening to Nirvana on Kurt Cobain's "Suicide Day" and I laughed because that's the sort of date I used to remember. And really it's not that I don't like Nirvana anymore, it's just that it's hard work to listen to them without that giant rock-star myth swallowing the whole thing, and no wonder kids five years younger than me can't get with it. They didn't get a chance to separate it from the story.

Monday, April 4, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 4

I got sick today. I remember this happening last poetry month too. All I have for you is an inverted haiku:

If a "before and after"
shot showed a decline
we'd lose faith in commercials

Sunday, April 3, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 3

The neighbors know her best for that time

she climbed onto the park bench on the fourth

and announced to the crowd on hand

that animals are just monsters we got used to.

So now whenever they pay her out

for babysitting their four-year-old daughter

they never fail to remind her that to them

she'll always be that little girl who thought

she knew something about monsters.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 2 - Lyrics

This is my attempt at a ballad/pop song. Haven't done one in a while. Also wanted to take a shot at Decemberists-ish storytelling, though I don't know if I pulled that one off.


I want to watch the curtains closing
and strike the stage for the next act.
so I can retreat to the green room
and plan a way to win you back.

I'm not jumping
the shark
in front of you

So we'd been going through the motions,
but I'd kept my dignity intact,
it's just that slackening of tension
that's made me slowly come off track.

I'm not jumping
the shark
in front

What difference between plots twists and betrayal?
Your seat lies vacant as the lights dim overhead.

The orchestra replays the themes
the intermission sets the scene

An hour left to go tonight
I can only hope I end it right.

Friday, April 1, 2011

National Poetry Month, Day 1

The few of you who follow this blog regularly know that I haven't been posting much since the oh eleven started. Sorry. I've been busy. Thankfully some of the busy was writing, but a lot of it was editing. I'm getting some free time again, however, and just in time for National Poetry Month.

Like last year, these will all be sketches. Some of them won't be good, but the cool thing about blogging is that it allows the readers a glimpse more into the process of writing. One of these days I'm going to collect my favorite pieces from the past couple years, maybe polish them up a bit, and release them as a book. Hopefully a few of these new ones will make it in.

Finally, I'm always a fan of the interactive process, and would love suggestions. If there's a subject you want me to cover, a form you want me to try, a restriction you want to give me, a time limit you want to impose, etc., let me know. I'll do it.

Also: nachos.

"Scroll Over. Seriously. Otherwise You Won't Be Impressed."

Thus I was sent with a thought.
I agree, and all words don't have a storage time limit
while some others are rejects.
I'm at that time when an argument depends
on whether you are disappointed,
and you think that you don't get angry,
and with simplicity you thought you were able
to still prove anything to somebody,
do you make mistakes about the sense
of the justice that you got?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

90s Off - Catchup

Yay, more 90s off. Not only have I missed posting here recently, but I've also missed my favorite method of time-waste. So, to recap:

Hoffie, with Everclear's "Strawberry"

Hoffie again, with the Eels' "Climbing to the Moon"

These happened over a month ago, but today the Bearded One chimed in with Dr. Dre's (and covered by Ben Folds) "Bitches Ain't Shit"

I was inspired, so I went for the Fugees' "Mista Mista"

Fun round all in all. Me approves.

Friday, January 14, 2011


She tried on the red Korean high heels
and put them on the small worn suitcase
doubling as a display stand walked
to the front door with the bell

and I looked at the handle worried
that I'd pull when I should push

but she stopped before I could find out
looked at me like she needed permission
tried the shoes on again while I tweeted
something she said earlier about her
wardrobe being too full to hold Narnia.

I bought four records and ten movies that day
and one of them was Batman's sex tape.