Monday, December 20, 2010

The Walk
I walked to the end of my Square Corner
Stood at the rough water's edge
One foot cold the other warm
My bare soles waded on a bed of sharp stones,
Then under a brilliant sun I felt a blazing story:
This Square Corner as home, this sea a bed of bloody stones
I was healed round on soft sand
Headed humbly toward a rising voice, where I belong he said in welcoming tone

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Line
When I was a boy we moved to a new house
At night a freight train would race by
It kept me awake with its rumbling sound
But I was young, sleepiness faded like tired eyes
Now when a train rumbles on an awakening night, I think of that new house
I wonder, as it rolls away, is it as old as me

Sunday, December 12, 2010

i run often from a setting sun
scurry as best i can towards a waning sky
but now i see life in whole new terms:
we are each a setting sun
easy we go from brilliant red,
behind blackened earth to know life no more
so what we owe, if there is God who loves these ones, to ourselves:
a forgiveness of what we've done
to cease not so far from easing days,
but run alive as best i can with each day's sun

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The River
On a swift summer night Springsteen played for me and my girl
So that's what we did:
Went down to the River,
swam and laughed under a low starlight
With soft white towels we dried each other's skin
Made it to a mountaintop and waited for the safe morning sun rise
Those were so many years ago;
Now I stand by The River and sing Springsteen alone
Dry myself under a fading sunrise

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Reassured

I had a few hard drinks at the One Lucky and blended into nothingness. My bar stool gave out from under me, and here's what I remember: dead black eyes and the voice of Zigman Zibanski.

"Tortelli, Tortelli! Ya wake up." he cried in his old world accent.

A rush of ice water fell onto my face. Zigman lifted me up and placed the bar stool under me. The bartender, 'Beer Mugs' Moran poured a cup of black coffee. Otherwise he left us alone.

I knew I drank too much, which was unusual for me. I felt bad for Zigman who had a prediliction for worry and chasing after woman who wanted nothing to do with him. He drank himself too often into a regretful depression.

"Ya, drink too much, Tortelli," he said. "You no want to end up like me."

I stated with a slurred speech that wouldn't happen. This was just one of those nights. My head would hurt tomorrow, maybe for a few days, which would be reason enough not to turn me into a drunk. I'd be better off mostly posting blogs, I told him. This reassured Zigman. Which suited me just fine.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


It seems like so many memories are returning to this yellow post. Like people imprisoned they return to a promised land. Lots of things to unravel, to unknot, lay out straight like a long string. Sometimes with a smile and grin I'll greet these memories that seem to be me.


I got my first Chirstmas card addressed to my name, Tortelli. It came from someone I hadn't heard from in a long time. The Ghost of Charles Bukowski wished me Season's Greetings.
"Thanks, Charles," I said to the sky.

The Fight

There was a fight outside the One Lucky. Two strangers clashed. Broken beer bottles cut up each man's face. The police came, but the men had run off. Trails of criss-crossed blood were left behind. The cops questioned the bartender 'Beer Mugs' Moran, but he had eyes that went bad whenever there was trouble. The rest of the witnesses were just as blind. The policemen shrugged their shoulders and said good night to 'Beer Mugs'. With a nod he served another round.


Tonight I drive with a fallen angel in my car. I don't know her name and she wont say. We listen to music on the radio. Talk a little. Maybe she'a got too big a secret to tell. First time ever with this fallen angel, deep bruises under her eyes. I'll go to someplace where she can hide and I can drive away.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

53 years old
Sometimes there's a blindness in my mind's eye
I see darkness in a mortal sky
Rays of light turn away
Bend in this absent universe
I'll rise up like a city somewhere
But here a morning sun awakes me,
Awaits an answer from a restful eye
In desperate time I pray mercy to another day
Darkness creeping as blind as a mortal sky

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I walk alone through a rusted part of town. The last jobs and men left long ago. I turn up my collar against a raspy wind; make a weary dance to a working man's song. Thankful for a final drink--a few days away from this empty part of town.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I sit at a computer and drink cans of diet coke. Popcorn touches these salted lips. With frustrated fingers I can barely type to a yellow screen...a post seems like a distant dream; that oasis hidden by a desert storm. So I sit with blood shot eyes as an eeriness turns inside. Thunder Road plays on the radio: one last chance to make it real. It's late so soon, past 3am. Time to undress a cool bed and sleep long in this empty room.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Kiss

Johnny the Kid almost had a first kiss. A date held him tight--he felt the heave of her chest. When his lips almost touched soft skin she pulled away and moved along, shadowy as innocence in the night. Johnny the Kid instead had heart ache with a hurt deep inside. But he was too young to know she was young too.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

2 Posts

The Night
A cripple and a fat man sit at a stripper's bar. Wasting away. Wasting away. A lover's song plays. Pearly whites. The Devil's eyes in blond disguise. A young tattoo slithers and peels as snake skin. "Cheap round for all!" The fat man cries to empty chairs. In this lonely place the cripple lauds his wanting tongue: "Before," he says. "I died in a crash that took half of me." The time is late in retreat down smoking stairs. The heavy one helps the disabled's descent. A story as a stage stripped from a human page.

The Kid
Johnny the Kid had a fifth wheel inside his head. Sometimes it would get out of place. It'd get jammed and get stuck. His life a mess. He'd think:
I want winter in fall
The summer as a burning place
I haven't seen Johnny since he was a kid, but I wish him the best: that crazy wheel jammed inside his head

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wings for Thursday Prompt
I'll walk and walk on an autumn night, early winter
In between these seasons I'll stroll, alone I contemplate
This heavy coat
A wool cap pulled over my eyes British style
These hoping hands resting in lined pockets
I'll look up to points of light like gleaming crystals
At peace I'll be with my human self
Someday I wonder too about this retiring life
Where will I be when early winter turns?
With snowy wings I'll fly in peace
My breath as ghosts left behind

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


She survived on a minimum wage and misshapen men. They'd come sometimes late at night: staggering, slipping, tripping up from the One Lucky where they drank what ever cheap booze they could. She'd walk the worst of the rubber legs to the counter stools and sit them and then serve Pyrex coffee. They liked her smile, easy manner. Inside they knew she was just like them. Though it was understood she didn't drink and wouldn't want to be seen with their type in a social way. Word was she was saving up to get out of the Square Corner for good. But that word had been going around for a decade or so. In the meantime, she served mishapen men in porcelain cups and hoped for a Prince Charming on a neon night.
I sit in a chair Big and Easy, like the City of New Orleans
A friend of mine brought it from there
I never been to that crescent place
Where the French Quarter sings
A Creole dances under a jazzy moon
Someday it'll be Big and Easy, eating jambalaya in a place far from here

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Seen Fire and Ice
She's got cast iron eyes,
Ignited lips with a fiery kiss
I see her stare
Touch her hardness as red hot steel
Warm inside
Deathly eyes
Burn me, burn us, the white smoke rising
We need each other like fire needs ice

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tell Him

I sat in a Chinese restaurant and believed I was losing my sanity. Three a.m., steam rising. Hazy green tea leaves. My lonesome spirit debating this lost soul. Why am I the blogger I am? The darkness came late. Human flotsam squandered on a tiled floor. They walked from the night cold, these broken men: the bruised, the drugged, the desperate screams of DTs and spider walls. Ziggy played on the radio like an old Underwood. The ghost of Bukowski, the miasma of bad spirits on Szechuan riders. An old whore's fishnet stocking I imagined against my poetic legs. The waiters, tough like shark skin soup, barked in clipped East Asian tones. Time to go. Time to find a hardness of life in days past.

I made it to the One Lucky, the red neon sign crying in wisps of gaseous tears. The bar tender named 'Beer Mugs' Moran welcomed me.

"Long time no see. Whaddya have, Tortelli?"

"The usual," I replied. "A green pen, a yellow pad, and a tall glass of ginger-ale. Extra ice."

"Manny's been asking about you." Beer Mugs added.

"Yeah, sure. Tell him I'm home."

Sunday, October 31, 2010

I see in a mirror these macabre eyes
My face grown as a monster's mask:
sharp teeth, frazzled hair, maniacal look of deadly rampage
Oh, save me from what is inside of me
Defective reflection from far away
Monster in the mirror say I am fairest of them all
Despair of me no more, as the hair grows wildly, long on human skin
Werewolf song I commence under full moon light
Sharpened fangs ready to bite: Trick or Treat
Halloween, and another lousy Tootsie Roll to eat

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I awoke with no sense of place,
no sense of wonder
I desperately tried to find solace in a returning sleep,
but a dreamless morning was no friend
Confused, a somnambulist enemy I became: of myself,
of this place, of this wonderless world

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thursday Think Tank Prompt--Poets United

Long Walk
After the rain I walk on old train tracks
the air is damp, my breath is deep
cedars glisten in the gray sky
Along these tracks I feel no fear
the old trains stopped long ago

The Coast
Two A.M.
A last saloon nearly closed
On a curb a woman sits, head in her hands
Softly she says:
My boy is on the coast,
lost to drugs,

A bartender turns away and locks the saloon doors
The glass shakes against the wind

SC: I wrote these two poems a number of weeks ago. I made a couple of revisions to the second poem, and it fits the theme.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I'll stand in the shadow of bright lights
Move my hands, swing my arms, sing a song as loud as I can
I'm free, hidden behind this summer brightness
But the darkness ebbs slowly
Then autumn comes
I'll Fall till I sing once more, rise up I will
Freedom keeps time to these swinging arms

I was bad once, long ago
In a way I wont say
Just that once badness was my name
People were hurt, really one woman
Her heart got broke like a country song
They say being bad is a young man's game, even played once
But thinking of her is an older man's lament

Sunday, October 24, 2010

I awake into darkness
The lamp's light shuddering my reluctant eye
Like a rusted man, joints tired, I dress in worker's clothes
My belly only full with toasted bread I walk into the chill of blackness,
A courage rises as a hard step
But by midday the fight is gone, my dreams returning to a bed's desire

Years ago, when i was young,
i had a big lazy grin
It was fun, dreaming, smoking weed in the park
i hear the laughter sometimes of my old friends
Talking like a summer breeze, when time will come, when we are men
lovers of life, of women, of ourselves with lazy grin
Now I am old,
When I see these youth, I warn them to waste know years,
don't be like me, but mostly I wish i were them

What do I need to do?
Slam shut the poem?
Lock it tightly so no verse escapes into me?
Is there purpose to fight such things?
Let it be what it is, perhaps
the words as the answer, the question revealed as a strange vastness

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

There's a highway coursing through my veins
It drives me crazy on mad days, I ride too fast; out of control
The peace inside is the slowing down,
The stopping gentle in between broken lines
A valley in the night is where I'll hide
Along a soft shoulder I'll step aside

The Walk
I waited in a hospital waiting room
A wounded man walked by
He ambled with a cane, his overcoat was tattered, torn on the sleeves
There was no grimace in his face, nor pain in his eyes
He walked in pride, I supposed
I waited some more and went home, my watching people done for the day

The Dig
I put my back into my work
A shovel dug difficult into the frosty earth
Soon the winter will come, the boss says
The work will be done, the back will rest
The spring will warm my skin, my fresh hands will hurt again

Monday, October 18, 2010

Late at night, the window pulled down
I drove my father's car
October wind was cool on that country road,
the leaves had fallen, a young hand brushes autumn rain
Bruce Springsteen was on, like a heart alone: I'm on Fire
I sang and thundered some more, a father's son at home

The Hope
If your hand was untied
And I was like you, we'd be lovers, perhaps
Maybe married in the glory of our single days
All in hope are your dancing eyes, like untied hands
Follow us as we slip away

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Again (For Poetry Pantry)
I've been hobbled at times
Walked with twisted limbs, tripped on unmended soles
I've been hampered on days with the weight of worry,
bending my spirit like trees in winter wind
This snow lays cold when a weakness comes
Then I feel deeply as I struggle to the waiting Spring,
When I am fiery, strong again

Saturday, October 16, 2010

I knew a man who held up the night
From the blackness he took with evil hand: the stars, the moon, a cosmic ray
As a stealthily morning rose he stole from the great sky, our only sun
After then, a darkness came

Thursday, October 14, 2010

2 Poems for Poets United Prompt

Blue I
I dived into dark water
Swam down as far as I could go
Touched the muddy sea ground
Then rose
My airless lungs, my feet beating furious
I made it to the surface, my breath fulfilled
The sun was warm
It was good to see the sky deep and blue

Blue II
I lay in waiting
Cold Comfort eases no pain
I sleep sometimes in an old Square Corner
My stomach any empty growl
Starve me
Take all that is mine
This life sustained
An imagination as All
Like a rising heaven,
clouds turn from a Blue poet's sky

SC: These are a couple of Blue poems from the Square Corner archive. I'd forgotten I wrote them, so it was if I was reading them for the first time. A couple of minor edits, and they are new again

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Young, No Time to Listen
I watch a You Tube Video
A white wall, a folk singer dressed in black, leaning against time
The 70s like the song strumming so long ago
Why do I listen sadly when the words grow old?
When those days were never mine?
The man next door, I don't know his name
He smokes in the apartment stairwell at 3am
Sits on a step, alone
leaves ashes and burnt cigarettes behind
I don't report him to the landlord, though I don't like smoking,
nor stairs with tobacco's remains
But a man who smokes at 3am deserves his peace, I conclude
And his clouds of aloneness are gone by the early morn'
I am a confused eye
One clear
The other cloudy, blurry, out of focus perpetually and forlorn
One eye is good resolution,
the other double crosses me all the time

Monday, October 11, 2010

When a poet casts a shadow,
It's a story blocking a light
Its words resting easy by the humble shade
The breathless verse kneeling darkly under a fitful sun
The poet that casts a shadow is like a cool brook, an autumn breeze
It's a Square Corner, I think; in vanity, perhaps
No matter, a narrow shade blocks the light

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Perfect Body
What is a Poem?
A poem is an infomercial
The TV on, in the background they cry:
"Ladies, own perfect thighs!"
"Guys, walk the strongman walk!"
A poem is:
Buns of steel
Six-Pack Abs

A poem is:
Women in gorgeous bodies
Men chiseled and strong

Feel the burn, measure the waist
What is a Poem?
An infomercial, as you know: Just easy payments of $19.99
The Journey
I used to have a face
My eyes,
nose are still there
I smile easily, most times
but my face is gone
Left me in the night, painlessly like a snake's skin
But nothing remains
Someone took it, interloper stole it and wears it as mine?
I can't say for sure
My eyes,
nose and easy smile will march with torches burning
Search for my face like intrepid souls
Hopeless case? Perhaps
But if I find my clown's face, I say: "You left the best of me behind".

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The faucet leaks:
Drip, Drip,
Like a bad dream
Reminds me oddly of the autumn wind, the rain, the cold morning in chilly time
Drip, Drip,
The autumn storm has come inside, to haunt me, I fear
Awake! I say and fight the storm, a timeless drop
But no, I'll torture myself some more
Await the chilly morn'
Adorn the woolly cloth
Complain to no one, the secret well concealed
My thoughts like that leaky dream: Drip! Drip! inside my head

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I looked into a mirror, my hair had grown Old
Streaks of white like longish ghosts haunt me as songs of time
Those years past spent on a doldrums sea
Avoidance, gaps in terminable days, the delirium of youth
Supplanted by What?
The answer in growing old
Replaced by calm? At peace with this roiling world?
Someday they will come. The mocking time. The longish ghosts

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Equality (Poet's Prompt)
There was the time I saw a fight
A soldier hit a sailor with a beer glass
The sailor went down, got up bloody
Rammed a bar stool against the soldier's ribs
The grunt dropped to one knee in a groan
On shaky legs they stood eye-to-eye and threw off-balance punches
They knocked each other out
A minute later the swabbie starts moaning for his mother
I finished a beer and drank another at a bar named the One Lucky
The fight starts all over again

SC: I wrote this many weeks ago. People judge each other as enemies in many different ways: race, gender, religion, place of origin. Soldiers and sailors do it, too. Because of the different uniforms they wear.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Once I lost everything I knew
A giant wind blew my mind in two
Then I was free; No longer a prisoner of what I was told to be
Sometimes I dream of a giant wind, to lose the things I know
The Night
I am the poet
I am the Square Corner
On a dark night, the air too cold; I'll lend you a bright light
Maybe, maybe it'll warm your soul, see you through the blackness
I'll lend you all I can,
leave behind that past, leave far that old, old world
This sameness as new, it scares me, too
I am the Poet,
I am the Square Corner who will struggle for you against the night

Monday, September 27, 2010

I am stranded along an Old City's scape
Like a clock against a crumbling wall
Time suspended
Red bricks falling, falling: Twenty stories high, each a tale of its own,
From this edge I see cold breath rising
chilly night, chins tucked deep against the wind,
urban gait under neon eyes: I am suspended, stranded, alone: the clock hands turn
The old city cries in siren sounds: I shout in helpless tongue
Unheard, heralded to no one
I stand high against a crumbling wall, red bricks of time fall dangerous
The sun rises, but the Old City walks like desperate men: alone they wander under neon eyes

Monday, September 20, 2010

Shoreline (Poet's Pantry)
I am a road noir
Alone at night I drive
An old Rambler rumbles,
one light burned, the other lit dimly
Things my eyes see, my skin feels:
the gutted gas stations;
the dead inside diners;
the vacant motels;
those roadside cat houses with flesh eaten whores, hurt of body and soul
At day's light I'll touch a bleary coast,
So my hope rises to a life anew
but black oil turns to black smoke
The Rambler rumbles slowly to an earthly stop
The radio on plays an old preacher's song:
God to the Running One. This Promised Land is meant for you and me.

SC: A poem I wrote a number of month's ago, before I knew about Poet's United. Like the last poem it closes with a Preacher's Song. Something more compelling than a coincidence? I wonder.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Remember(Poet's United Prompt)
I once knew a man who walked from town to town
His bindle stick as old as time
His boots as worn as his desert skin
People say he spoke little,
he only listened to the demon voice inside his head
Then on a cold clear night he lay tired beneath God's wanting eyes
Under a thin blanket, its edges frayed, the man as time slept past morning's light
They buried him in the black, rich ground;
his bindle stick made into a cross
his old brown boots marking the grave
In huddled prayer, The Preacher of Dusty Roads remembered an ancient verse: Home at Last

SC: This isn't a memory of any one person I know. But is a composite of those homeless in the world who are governed by their mental illness. The poem is dedicated to them

Saturday, September 11, 2010

When I fall into an imaginary state,
I think thoughts of freedom, like a lungs first breath
my time on earth wanders,
my mind wonders, too,
sometimes this heart's dream is gracious and anew, a slave as me no more

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Oak I
I step out from the shade of an old oak tree
The sun burns hot, the grass is brown, the earth parched,
In the distance a lonely ditch awaits
Canteen water I pour over my arms and see my tanned skin glisten
Early morning start, a day's work ahead
I step back under the shade, lean against the tree like a worn shovel
I'll let the boss fire me

Oak II
I stood under the shade of an old oak tree
An old shovel breathed in rhythmic time
I do this to stay free, he said
Once I was afraid, mostly of myself.
So I meditate. Praise the tree above

What do you fear now? I asked
The Roots buried deep underground
I slipped away from the ancient shade, and understood more about this wandering me
I opened a weathered wooden door
Old words were found in disarray
Like a carpenter I'll build a poem someday, I thought years ago
Yes, I will. Maybe under a cloudy sky. Or when I stroll into a sunset
The party's over
The loud music is playing too low
White lights have turned softly into a tired glow
One by one they leave, alone into a weary night
We'll do it again, I forgot to say. Soon I hope
I scratch my head and go to sleep

Saturday, September 4, 2010

We got up late morning,
made breakfast together on a hot stove
The black coffee tasted fine: no sugar nor sweet cream
I scratched Willy Nelson's old vinyl song,
She went back to bed and slept some more
I heard the tired music one last time, took a final turn, and walked quiet out her door

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Summer Days
When we were boys, we played baseball
Boston baseball
Kelly Field under a noon sun, narrow eyes under young ball caps
Followers in dreams, the light of Fenway on far summer nights,
Yastrzemski as God, bat held so high
Congliaro's arm delivered us home
Boston baseball were the days of our youth
They are gone now as I grow weary
But new boys play under young ball caps, I am sure
Prayerful someday to a long summer dream
I drive aroun'
in a bad part of town
I look for the broken:
men living low
women falling behind
hearts beating alone under a baleful moon
drowned in alcohol spirits they cling somehow,
to life with wooden desires
My window down
I save them with an old car radio
When a poet is weary,
His writing stops
He sleeps
Like a broken soldier on a bed of verse
On poetic sheets of lost desire
To the last elegy of olden words, he's worn down to a fine repose
The rancour goes
The tumult ends
Weariness weighs the tired eyes
The poet sleeps for a worldly while
The writing ceases, but time will tell

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I used all the grace I could,
But I stumbled, fumbled like a man lost in the lurking dark
I must be unnerved, afraid somehow
Compressed in my blackness and space
A light is an empty tunnel
A knock
A poet was at my door,
Her eyes were broken and blue
A paper folded, was held tightly in one hand
The other a soapy bucket, a rag hung over its side
A verse for a dollar, she said.
For a dollar more, I'll clean for you
Times are tough, you know
Food will do
I took the small verse. Left the soapy bucket behind
Fed her, gave her what dignity I could
Then let her sad eyes say good-bye
I was a poet, too

Saturday, August 28, 2010

My life is a stained glass window
Light, like a church I once knew
An old Irish neighbourhood, the incense rises
Smoky to sweet, holy to the smell
Christ's blood spilled
Hard pews rest hard lives
Shawled woman in beads of prayer
Epistle, resurrection, sermon on matters of man, son, God
Sacrifice and sin, confession, the unburdened soul
The church is gone, the spires worn down
Desolate, this disbelieving one, inconsolable most times
The Son rising in truth or fairy tale, peace melding the rancorous colours of morning glass,
Sorrowful of life that never was
The shawled women whispers a rosary prayer

Friday, August 27, 2010

crammed into this second
this moment
this square corner
crammed with the lives of others,
like a can of human fish
crammed with crazy knowledge
a morning exam, smoky and burned
crammed with things:
like boxes of blog posts
streams of consciousness
poems tied together as lives unravelled like long verse
people crammed into a slow train

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Water (Poets United Inspired)
I drank water on a hot day
Finished my canteen by noon
There were miles left on my desert journey
My lips parched,
My tongue grew thirsty
I needed to drink again, to replenish an old canteen
to see a deadly mirage no more

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Economy
Late at night I watched a You Tube unwind
A man said he had no desire
He sat in a grey kitchen, dull chrome...a yellow tile floor
He sung lowly,
a song I couldn't hear
Then he spoke from where he stood
looked at the world below
they took his job
time had robbed him too
age was no more a last friend
tomorrow the home would be gone,
like his wife before
all he had were You Tube names
anonymous, to the man with no desire
If only I could hear my echo
My voice in an evening sky
I could feel the sound of beauty
Touch a setting sun
Then peaceful I'd sleep under a falling star

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Zen Rain
I ran quickly through the rain,
my heart drowning in anger
But the wetter I got, the happier I became
I laughed
My breath grew stronger
Puddles at my feet
A new suit dripping,
made me laugh some more
I'm falling over a memory
Twenty years to the day,
That train station,
a place like a photo that doesn't fade
Your voice that accent of time
I say your name, but not that day
just a a falling memory

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Coast
Two A.M.
A last bar nearly closed
Outside a woman sits, head in her hands
Softly she says:
My boy is on the coast,
lost to drugs,

I turn away to lock the bar doors
I know a wily ghost
He haunts the darkness wherever I am
outside me like a slippery heart
inside my shrinking soul
This silhouette against the night,
I hear what I can't see
That shriek of ancestral madness, the sorrow of slow time

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Shot Glass Meets Porcelain
She poured herself one more whiskey
Sweet porcelain met her glass
I watched her drink too much,
milk and sugar touched my lips
It was the 70s when a song played
Billy Joel, The Piano Man
I was lost, on a road trip to nowhere
A destination like a radio I can't find
Once More
I dived into dark, deep water
Swam down as far as I could go
Touched the muddy sea ground
Then rose
My airless lungs, my feet beating furious
I made it to the surface, my breath fulfilled
The sun was warm
It was good to see the sky deep and blue

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Years ago I was alone in another city
A cheap hotel
I sat in a shower,
Cold water washed over me
A relative was dying inside
In the chilly hours of the morning,
I wait for the sunrise
To see my breath
To see the first flakes of snow
My fingertips tingle,
So do my ears,
my lips,
my cheeks I imagine are red
It is summer now, my wait as a dream
I love those first winter days
it is like the years I've lived: cold, calm, a heaven most aging men can't see
I give no alibis
If you want to judge me
To prosecute me
To hold me accountable for what I have done,
then I owe the truth
But you owe me too:
Like the time to say goodbye
to say so long
To let my boot heels wander,
let me pass unhurt into the twilight
Hey, listen
I hesitate
I hold back
I can't help myself to get out
So I stay frozen, harnessed to nothing
I got the future in my cross hairs, sometimes
but I flinch, pull back
don't take the risk
stay where I am, who I am for now,
but how many nows do I have?
the answer pulls me apart in all directions, so I stay still
Hey, listen
But you can't, I suppose
Who can hear a poems's whisper on a windy night?

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Bug
When madness creeps along,
I try to crush it
But when it bites the poison gets inside,
I ache
I fall down crazily for days at a time
Another Street
The news was sad: Another dead woman on Alice St.
She bled in her backyard
Another dead woman on Alice St.
I unfurled a city map
Her backyard looks far away
Long Walk
After the rain I walk on old train tracks
the air is damp, my breath is deep
cedars glisten in the gray sky
Along these tracks I feel no fear
the old trains stopped long ago

like stowaways on a ship
I can't speak their names, nor say where they are
Their destination like a distant shore is mine alone

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I am the mayor of the back alley
The governor of broken lives
I preside over the dissolute, the forgotten man
Their earthly remains like turned bottles, needles left behind
I police their lost minds, their broken hearts, their last desperate breath
They vote for me best they can, when black rain invades their skin
I am the mayor of the back alley, but no one knows my name

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My life is rough and tumble
I feel it on my insides
a prowling soul pulsing through these veins
my beating heart
my skin growing flush
lips moisten
eyes well up
my lungs shallow
but I feel a strange aliveness,
like I'm escaping somehow
free as rough and tumble can be

Monday, August 16, 2010

I know men who wait in alleys
they wait for the night
for the sunrise
they wait with hunger in their belly's
with death in their eyes
they wait till the piss in their pants dry; then they don't smell so bad
sometimes they wait for drugs, or bitter alcohol, or a mother to bring them home
there are days they wait for God's Soldiers, or prayers like a warm bed
sometimes they wait on street corners, or cold sidewalks, or between lines of a poem
Classic Radio
My coming of age came along with Sweet Jane
So many years ago, before I'd stop the world
Now these songs age beside me as a melted radio turns
Modern English was a state of imaginary grace,
but Lou Reed played...Sweet Jane
Waiters don't wear cologne
It interferes with the food
he knows, he's served them all
My friend in fine dining, white cloth restaurants
tony men as silk suits, stuffy ladies as decolletage,
demands they make
the ranking jewellery behind crystal glass
he tells me, who are the ones who serve well
the dip of the hand, the bow at the waist, plates dropped softly
I admire these waiters, their lives in constant toil
But I can never be one, too much resentment are my bones

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Corona
Under a moonless sky a cafe bleeds:
arguments from inside
politics avoided
history and the character of man, nations fought some more
The Drink rises from lifted glasses
as the laughter mixes with drunken tongues, we argue on
but the skies' quiet whisper: its closing time, 2am
Come again they say and drink with us, it was fun

Friday, August 13, 2010

Why do I need this sea?
This Ocean breeze
A late sunset, magic light on golden sand
Why? A wayfarer soul I am
This walking prayer to a Godly answer I don't know
But the moon comes soon, and that pleases me
It was 3a.m. when I made some noise
I beat an old trash can like a Major's drum
At the top of my voice I sung
Tom Waits, Downtown Train
Lights went on
I heard weary yells: Shut up!
When one man cried and cursed, the Louder I SANG,
the police cars screeched, the sirens screamed
They held me down, then I slipped quietly from a devious dream

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I lay in waiting
Cold Comfort eases no pain
I sleep sometimes in an old Square Corner
My stomach any empty growl
Starve me
Take all that is mine
An imagination as All
Like a rising heaven,
clouds turn a Blue poet's sky

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


In an alley of blind men I heard voices. They screamed loud and eerily like Shakespearean souls: "Tortelli, beware. The life you own is a Blogger's lament. A figment of a fleeting mind." The blind alley told me nothing I didn't know. Just in a way that shook me like a storm. For now I take shelter in a small Square Corner. Safe for how long, I don't say.


I met an old man and asked what were the best days. He said he had no best days, just yesterdays. It took me a second to understand his object lesson. But I did. Still I wonder, how many tomorrows he could have had?


She was beautiful. She said she loved my poetry. So I heard, second hand. I had doubts about my meager manliness, so I built up my sinewy self. I tossed heavy bags. Swung weighted clubs. Stretched, pulled, expanded rubber strands till my muscles scorched like red fire. Finally, I stood strong and tall. With my lean tongue I told her I was the poet of her desire. She walked away and left me heart broken, but only for a moment. Because out of the corner of my eye I saw my physique in a shiny window. I felt better that instant, my biceps like giant mountains.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

On Edge
i'm back from the edge of time
the edges of space
from the places you have been
i speak to me only,
of the confusion that is my heart
where have i gone, lived before?
where do i see the end?
the edge of time, the edge of space is where the darkness reigns
this confusion is myself, like crossroads under a black sky,
the trip of lightness is ahead
i speak to me only, on the edge of a heart confused
the edge of something i must see

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I asked about her favourite song
She said, Tupelo Honey
She looked wanting with her sweet brown eyes
we talked some more
then a small kiss, like a Van Morrison song
I wear two pairs of pants
neither fits right
I got an old sweat shirt
sleeves are too long
woolly socks, itchy at the ankles; worn at the soles
I could dress better
shop at nice stores
but none of it would be my style
so I wear what pleases me
Sleight of hand
The verse slips for the fallen man
Hands calloused to be touched, soul mended somehow
The sleight verse is the poet’s demise; the verse is the fallen man

Monday, August 2, 2010

The End
I want to be like you,
one more time
your happy youth coursing through my veins
know again a long time
Once more feel closer to love, not closer to the end
Some nights I'll close my eyes
I'll dream in flashbacks
Colours like autumn leaves
Embers burning in red disguise
My mind's eyes closed in constant time
The seconds, the flashbacks
momentous, small, true, coloured by dreams supplanted
Those nights my hopes lay wide, seeing what gypsy reveries bring

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What Am I

I'm not surreal in speech,
nor novel in ideals
I'm just a blogger, one post churns at a time
Camera's Light
From the last picture show I leave
Alone under the night sky, stars shine like movie stars
The moon directs a man's easy walk
Each sidewalk square like an old movie frame
He moves along projected stories, silver dances with bedazzled starlets
Rides with saddled hombres, desperate men on desert horses
Sings beautiful, shoots straight on a dead end alley, dies a hero's death
The moon directs the man past the marquee of old street lights where the credits end, his story begins:
I walk the creaking steps to my turned down home, alone
Tomorrow I need the picture show
Sit in the back row, I will
See once more the screen's imagined glow

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Draw me a circle; smartest people I know
Then in common voice you may say:
Your skin seethes of rancor and sorrow,
Your eyes burn too low,
Smoke rises from your ghostly ears
Find peace, before loss bleeds your soul

I want your words, your beseeching wisdom
In desperate voice I demand this peace smart people know

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cast asides
When night falls they sleep in doorways
lay in alleys
bleed old blood under a crazy moon
they scream,
they call out names:
old lovers, new lawyers,
they plead with cops
run from their sins, their crimes, their long pasts

When night falls, so do they
When morning rises, they live behind a crazy moon

I am a road noir
Alone I drive at night
An old Rambler rumbles,
one light burned, the other lit dimly
Things my eyes see, my skin feels:
the gutted gas stations;
the dead inside diners;
the vacant motels;
those roadside cat houses with flesh eaten whores, hurt of body and soul
At day's light I'll touch a bleary coast,
So my hope rises to a life anew
but black oil turns to black smoke
my engine moves slower to a deathly stop
The radio on plays an old preacher's song:
God to the Rambling One. Like Moses to the Promised Land you'll never see.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Long Way Home
I walk along a dusty road
A desert hat atop my head
In the distance rests a clear blue pond
With a hollow cane I move near,
touch my lips to the cool water
wash myself of dust and mournful thoughts
Refreshed under the blazing sky, I feel good
But the dusty road is long and I am weary once more

Thursday, July 15, 2010

First Base
I make a pilgrimage to find an old foul ball
My bat twisted sideways under a twilight sky,
Hit many years ago, over the bleachers out of a sandlot field
I search for what I can't find
I'll make life fair, I'll hold the ball one last time
My life is a stained glass window
Light, like a church I once knew
An old Irish neighbourhood, the incense rises
Smoky to sweet, holy to the smell
Christ's blood spilled
Hard pews rest hard lives
Shawled woman in beads of prayer
Epistle, resurrection, sermon on matters of man, son, God
Sacrifice and sin, confession, the unburdened soul
The church is gone, the spires worn down
Desolate, this disbelieving one, inconsolable most times
The Son rising in truth or fairy tale, peace melding the rancorous colours of morning glass,
Sorrowful of life that never was
The shawled women whispers a rosary prayer
The Big Smile
It's all the rage, the newest fashion
But it's not my turn, years have past
I wear old clothes, the collar turned up. I grin from ear to ear

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Old Photo
I saw a lady in a Square Photo
She wore blue jeans under a hippy dress
Stars and flowers, beads in Aquarius light bent in astrological pose
This photo is like a memory of a place I'll never know

Monday, July 12, 2010

Broken Dreams
I've been dim witted.
I've drank with seasoned veterans of dead-men saloons and bucket-a-blood bars with morbid madmen breathing bourbon sorrows on crazy, cracked tile floors.

I've been pilloried and vilified.
I've followed groaning, grunting sailors into bawdy houses and lain with broken women, their bodies covered in bruises and busted kisses; their perspiring dreams; the burning heat of creaking beds; hearts torn by hands dipped in the devil's bile.

I've been held to account for my twisted sins. Never by those seasoned veterans, by those shore-leave sailors of broken dreams. But by Godly eyes at the cold sorrow of it all.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Corner's Edge
I got a blog, soaking wet
Tears of joy, tears of sorrow
Tears from a soft summer rain
I swim sometimes in an old Square Corner,
like a quarry with cool water, jagged stone walls
I dive deep down, see how far I go, then rise to a far sun
dry myself on a Corner's Edge, and pray from me as One
Answer now, I think, in a soft summer rain
The Page
Too many words hold me down
Stories, verse, turn of a phrase stitch me into time and space
Recollections like a stone bridge, cemented in then,
Weigh on me, this heaviness in words, this story a page turned

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


These rocks inside my head. This lead on the bottom of my soles. Most times I live by the skin of my teeth. But I thank God for this only blog, and the angel hearts on my fingertips.

Balls of Cotton

I walked in a maze of styrofoam and thin wire. The walls were light, easy to push aside. But I moved on till all that was me gave out. Then they took me away in rolls of cotton batting, satisfied my eyes were still on fire.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Sleep come by, lay on a bed of ice
Sleep, Sleep, Sleep
Feel the cool waves rise
Drowning Man
I got me tears inside a dream
Small footsteps like whispers, a soft summer reigns
Fleeting heart, this lover's dream

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Oak II
I stood under the shade of an old oak tree
An old shovel breathed in rhythmic time
I do this to stay free, he said
Once I was afraid, mostly of myself.
So I meditate. Praise the tree above

What do you fear now? I asked
The Roots buried deep underground
I slipped away from the ancient shade, and understood more about this wandering me

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Adventure British Style

I went to an ersatz English Pub. A man sat in the corner wearing a plastic duffel coat, his skin was made of wax. The beer in front of him was constructed of cheap aluminum, same as the book in his hands. Without making a scene I slipped away into the night. I made it to the One Lucky where I was glad to see 'Beer Mugs' Moran, who served me a frosty draft that tasted refreshing to my dry lips.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Drunk Against the Night

Zigman Zibanski got drunk in a back lit alley. He threw an empty vodka bottle at a giant shadow of himself and cursed his hard luck. His body shook. He cried buckets of tears and wailed wolf like at a half-moon. Soon the cops took him away to the drunk tank where he met other Zigman Zibanskis. All with weeping hearts, drunk against the night.


I don't want your pity
I don't want your crying eyes
your sympathy
your warm caress
I want your wealth
your money to revel in
your devilish lucre to be mine
I want you to be something once more
that wilding tigress
I'll tame you one last time
Then I'm off
To spend as I please
To find wilder cats in far lands
What I leave behind are details
Small cages of time that were ours

Monday, June 28, 2010

Old to Young

I approached her with a subtle grace
A sweet smile swept across her face
soft words, tender lips
an illusory kiss, a lover's dying wish
distant age keeps us apart

Sunday, June 27, 2010


The night is young
voice sings in burping wind
--old lips whisper

Punch line

I'm a jester, a jokester
a plastic ace up my sleeve
I'll cheat you sideways, spin your head,
make you laugh till your life is mine
See these devil-snake eyes, pearly whites, rolled back pompadour hair
bling, bling rattle like a spinning wheel
You crossed your greed with my nature, now I own you
Roll your dice,
I'll make the numbers, you make the debtor's grin
The Jesture is all mine

Friday, June 25, 2010


A Midday Sun beats on my back
A Shadow leads me ahead
Together we walk a rocky path
almost stumble on a sharp ridge, my silhouette's hands holding tight
around the corner; near the top,
closer to the midday sky a shadow approaches
it moves like a bodyguard, an aggressive defender of a rising sun
me and mine let him pass, walk nearer to the edge
we sip some water, we turn around, my shadow is gone

Small Chance

Day late, dollar short
Luck is a lousy friend

I'll buy one more ticket,
play the numbers with a slender coin
I'll win me a fortune:
a single cloth suit
call a long woman I once knew

This slender coin is like a slender chance
a day too soon, a hundred cents behind
But I'll buy one more ticket
Only if luck is my friend

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Old Photo

I took a picture I wont share
like a lover's secret,
comprised of a lonely heart
the pose that was, mirrored hall
hidden this picture is
like a prisoner compressed into time
the negative under lock and key

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Look Down

I looked into a shiny pool
saw my face in the clouds and sky above
a flock of birds swept by
My head lifted half-way
No, I said, this reflection is mine

Sail Away

I awoke from a dream as dry as the Sahara
My body and bed drowning in tears
A hole in the ceiling, the rain came in
buckets of water
sweet linen, my friend
softly I sailed away

Monday, June 21, 2010


dissonance: the sound of desperate cries
discordant wails of tongue and mind
skip, skip, stumble into haphazard wells of muddy hell
first one falls,
then another
the devil's rope as burning flesh
bones ignite into fire
soul as rising ash
yellow offering to cloud and sky
old testament, biblical story of Abraham
redemptive truth as fairy tale?
tablet of stone to thine command?
i know
i wonder
i disobey, i walk in dissonance, the sound of my desperate cry
stumble i fear into a murky hell

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Hitch Hiker

I'm waiting for a ride
My thumb stuck out
No cars for miles
No cars for hours
I prepare, though
My thumb stuck out
Hitch Hiker I am at the ready


A Rising Sun behind a Shadow Mountain
Is that Japan?
Or an illusion from years past

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Heavenly Joy

Sometimes I feel like I'm being tickled by God above
He takes a feather and rubs my belly
I giggle like the boy I once was

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Free Meal Deadbeat

I told her about the connection of words to a page,
stanzas and verse to the soul
She cried: "Deadbeat. Get a job. Get out".
I wanted to defend the poet's right to his words, to his heart
But her voice spoke firmness
She had a meal ticket in her hand
This job my fingers held: Busboy/Poet Wanted, No Experience Required

I Knew a Girl

I knew a girl with memories wet like a sponge
On sad days she'd wring it hard
Tears came out like buckets of sorrow
With a soft towel I'd dry her eyes, hold her tight
Make her feel right till tomorrow's sad day and her years of sorrow


A twilight falls
Kelly Field in Darkness
Boys drop tired baseball

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Deep swimmer
School of fish in tangled nori
Floats to the Japanese sky

Poems I Wrote at Work


I step out from the shade of an old oak tree
The sun burns hot, the grass is brown, the earth parched,
In the distance a lonely ditch awaits
Canteen water I pour over my arms and see my tanned skin glisten
Early morning start, a day's work ahead
I step back under the shade, lean against the tree like a worn shovel
I'll let the boss fire me


I got this thought inside my head,
I’m perplexed, confused about where I am, who I am, what am I?
God above, or sideways, or beside me? God as a dream, an illusion, a perplexing thought?
Questions like these I do ponder
That pay out for human suffering—when, when? The chips cashed in, life as a universal gamble, a game of high risk. A shake of the wrist,weighted dice. The days we play fixed. Pre-determined by who you are? The genes in your veins? God beside you? God as a delusion-a lonely illusion?
These answers I don’t know as I walk forlorn on Whitman’s beach.
The water’s edge. Waves crashing in violent rhythm.
This thought inside my head is a cadence now.Like soldiers singing on a long march, army of one. All of humanity, I conclude, have a thought inside their head, perplexed about what am I?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Actor of Other Lives

I am a director
A weaver of film noir
In Black and white light turns onto shadow
Details in timeless grain, the title brilliant on lit marquee
Underneath a line snakes, the crowd weaves, money in paper palms
A creaky curtain rises, the trailer begins
Ah, The Feature
Night on Night, Light on Light, Shadows on Shadowy detail
I direct them all: Mitchum, John Garfield, Robert Ryan, his femme
My life is this movie, this dream my life’s work
All the plot is me. This plot as an old poster: smoky gun, taupe
fedora, tear drop crown—brim turned down
Lights, camera, action
End credits, the curtain rises
The crowd follows, snakes home under a yellow light
I am the director, the weaver of film noir
Yes, the actor of other lives

Monday, June 14, 2010

Working Man

hands folded neatly
rest on old worker's clothes
disheveled hair falls

Sleepless Like A Sunrise

Sometimes I drive late at night
When I feel as sleepless as a bad part of town
Past the last stop sign, the jungle they are:
Street people, hurt hookers, bent-out-of-shape cops
Strongmen, now weak in the knees at the end of life
Sometimes I play a radio...loud, windows open, music Out Of The Past
Under the yellowing flicker of a street lamp are Bills posted
God's Samaritans
Biblical sufferings of modern plague and human despair
Sometimes I drive late at night
When I feel as sleepless as a bad part of town
I see the dead and dying
Alcohol streets, drug crazed doorways, torpor sidewalks cracked like screaming madmen
Who walks in?
Who walks out?
Who stumbles, rumbles, rolls like an old car in a bad part of town?
Sleepless like a long sunrise

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Shakes

It was near close time at the One Lucky when out of the blue a cheap slug swatted a barfly. He gave a slippery body blow that dropped the dipso dame to the floor. With his big hands "Beer Mugs' Moran could have crushed the little creep, but instead he used a black jack to swipe the perpetrator's head. The coward left the bar dazed and concussed.

Nobody called the cops. Not that they would have charged "Beer Mugs'. There was a rule at the One Lucky: you don't hit women, even if they happen to be a barfly. So to most everyone the bartender acted in character--stoic and righteous, the defender of the fairer sex.

But there was something nobody knew about "Beer Mugs'. When he went home at night he'd sit on the edge of his bed with the shakes. A half-bottle of whiskey calmed him down, but sleep still came hard. By morning he'd put on his mask, be stoic and righteous, once more the defender of women at a bar called the One Lucky.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Working Stiff

They defuse a ticking heart
Tick, Tick, Tick,
The aorta is green like a live wire
Tick, Tick, Tick
Cut it before the heart explodes
Into love,
sense of purpose,
at peace, in rhythm with the world
The aorta is snipped, Oh steady hands
Tick, Tick, Tick, is no more
The man gasps, a shallow breath is drawn
A working heart beats like a sad song

When I Sleep

When the sun goes down, I peel my skin.
I rise as a nightly ghost to a distant maker
We play a game of two man poker, drink some spirits
He revels in his Godly thoughts
I am mortal? ask for what I do not say
When the sun comes up, my skin has healed
I awake on a feather bed
A folded Paper readies for a night's return

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Stand Up

I've took reasonable steps against unreasonable forces and was flattened like a pancake in a cast iron pan. I didn't like it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Desperate throws
Desperate hours
Tossed minutes of frantic time, scuttled

Racing clouds across purple sky
Over the rainbow a Dorothy's dirge does sing
Wicked moment, the witches' hour--withered like western verse

Unloved, unwashed, homeless in jabbering tongue, gibbering in old man speak
Desperate throws,
The cauliflower eared, races he does under purple sky,
The haze of the desperate hour
Sings the dirge of frantic time

Rip Cord

I decided to escape, to flee the Square Corner. I bought a good pair of goggles and found some sturdy shoes. With a parachute strapped to my back I closed my eyes and jumped where a post meets poetry's blackness. But in a two foot rush I hit solid ground. Ouch! An awkward twist--my ankle turned into a swollen bump. I jimmied myself back up to the Square Corner and hobbled home, where I put a bag of icy peas on my injured pride. Maybe someday I'll try to escape again, but not for a long-long time.

Ah, this parachute unopened--as hopeful as a dream.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Bar

Matching sideburns
Coldish waiter serves
--Manx cat scratches warm beer

One Bic Soldier

I broke an old plastic pen, snapped it in two. Smeared the ink over my fingertips, painted my face in the colour of blue war. I whooped and hollored and cried out the song of battle. But when the first sword was unsheathed, the first bullet fired, I hid in blue weeds and waited till peace returned.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bruce Lyrics Inspired

I got desire,
like a multi-headed monster
I want her, her, and her
fast cars, slow sunsets
I got desire, like a multi-headed monster
No devils inside, just a hot ride
like a Springsteen song, I'm On Fire

Never be friendly

I saw a women standing on the balcony of a tall high rise. She was too old for a cougar. Far too old to rock n' roll. She wore a frayed blue bathrobe and took long drags from a cigarette. To be friendly I waved and said hello. The women in blue dropped smoldering ash onto my forehead.

"I know who you are. You're Tortelli and I read your damn blog," she cried.

She shrugged her shoulders, let go of the cigarette, and hobbled back into her apartment. I shrugged my shoulders too, and hobbled back to the Square Corner, a small burn blister on my head to remember her by.


I've been coughing up indigestion. An onerous bile runs along my throat and into my mouth. This dyspepsia is the result of hard alcohol coating my gut after drinking too much, which I do often. When I get up my head throbs. My thoughts are cloudy. I get the shakes all the way down to the heels of my feet.

This time I found my knuckles scraped with a hurt in my right shoulder and a shiner hanging under my left eye. I likely took the guy, not that I remember what happened. I'm good with my fists, but I'm aware I'm not getting any younger, and like I said, I drink too much and too often.

Lately I've been going to this bar called the One Lucky. 'Beer Mugs' Moran is the bartender. But he doesn't know my name. I drink alone, mind my own business. Sometimes I'll sit at the end of the bar. Mostly I'll find a table off to the side.

There is a regular there by the name of Tortelli. He doesn' know me either. You're probably familiar with him as the alter ego of this blog. You and him are probably surprised to see me posting here. I'll cut to chase. I hijacked his IP. I got time and money to do these things. An inheritance came my way which I get doled out once a week. So I drink, and when I'm cold sober I play with my computer and act on nefarious ideas like cutting into the Square Corner. No real reason I do these things, it's just in my sinister nature.

I'm about to get drunk again. I might not remember what happens the next morning, but I'll know to keep Tortelli posted, if you know what I mean.

The Nemesis

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Light Bulb

I shone a small light into a night sky that touched a cloud. It was eerie and beautiful and Godly all at once. I closed the light, took a deep breath, and was illuminated in ways I never was before.

Zen Wall

I meditated to a blue wall. And the blue wall meditated to me. With some practice a calmness enveloped my rancorous soul. But the blue wall was out-of-sorts. Large cracks emerged from floor to ceiling. Water shot out of leaking pipes like giant teardrops. But soon the hurt left the blue wall and I heard it laugh as heartily as a Zen master. I did likewise and we became friends from that moment forward.

Sweet Tales

Believe me, if you will. I live on a street of bubbling marshmallows and cotton candy unwoven. My life is a carnival of the mind, an amusement of a wayfarer heart.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


We all do it. We all slip in and out of reality. We all elide the truth of our heart. Deny that we've broken others, our self, the frailness of life. We all do it. Dream of better days. Eclipse the fire of yearning eyes. Staunch the blood of a needful soul.

The Old Server

An old waiter sat in a new bar and drank to the past. He spoke to those young people who would listen. “I remember when,” he said loudly over the bar’s din, the constant beat of dance music. “I remember when they played live music. I was the waiter at a bar like that.”

He knocked back another whiskey sour and spoke more of his youth. “I served everybody. All the up and comers during those days, like Adam Ant. Like Psychedelic Furs. Like Joy Division.” He ordered another drink and bemoaned the present. “Now they don’t have anymore live shows. You kids. All you got is this dance music. It’s rotting your insides.”

Some of the young were bemused. Others felt embarrassed, even sympathetic to the graying man from the 80s. But others saw him as a creature to be mocked. They laughed at him. One boy gyrated aggressively along the floor. One girl shook her large chest in a circular motion and groaned: “Why don’t you dance to this.”

Laughter hurt the man. But in him was the sustaining spirit of the big haircut and spandex. The old waiter tipped his fedora and walked away slowly. He whistled a Tom Petty song against a noisy present he’d never call his own.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Blog

What is a blog? A landing strip of the mind? A page of imaginary fate?

I Tried

I knocked on heaven's door.

"Hello, is Charles in. Charles Bukowski."

Slowly, the door opened and out popped Bukowski's head, his pock-marked skin nearly clear.

"What do you want, Tortelli?"

"I wanna know if you wanna come out and play. We can throw the pigskin around. Shoot some hoops. Play some street hockey. Go down to Kelly Field and play ball. You can pitch."

"Nah," Bukowski answered. "God wont let me. He says I've been bad. Better get back to earth and blog some more."

The door shut. I came back home like an empty hearted kid.

Purple Post: A Blogger's Tale

I'm a blogger. A flogger of broken words. A clogger of the years of lost time. I slog through the murky waters of madness.The far shore of a Square Corner is my mind.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Counting Sheep

I'm turning into a sleep walker. A somnambulist like a wide-eyed zombie. I search for a movie role, one unrested step at a time. Untested as I am in life.

Watch Your Manners

I sat at a diner late at night. A bowl of chicken noodle soup spilled over my lap. The burn was bad, but not blistering, since the soup was only lukewarm. I'd have raised my voice, created a ruckus, but the spiller was too tough. He was big and tattooed with the look of prison violence. Also, he was too drunk and growly to realize what he had done--fallen and slid his arm across the counter top, knocking aside the bowl of soup over me and my bar stool.

Lucky I kept my composure. Later that night the tattoed man had gotten into a fight with an off duty cop and stabbed a broken beer bottle into his belly. Nearly died, the police officer. They took the soup spiller away to the Big House where he had come from. I hope this time he learns some manners.

High Calorie

She wore sweet perfume. I drank sweet wine. The talk turned sugary. I called her honey and licked her all over, as tall as a vanilla cone. Her body moved with ecstasy; her lips tasted deep into my creamy heart. Our sugar rush sped fast into the night like cotton candy.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sayonara old Friends--I Read the News

Do you kill people?
That's right, do you kill people, Japan?
They are gone now, the friends I knew. The Tokyo Days
The names I see on the screen, google searched.
George, the Bronx guy--the voice: strong and deep. WWII Vet.
My Manny Weinberg--The generosity the same, the indomitable puncher
The inspiration
Pete gone too
Ohio kid. Young like me. Going deaf, last I heard. Gone so young
Do you kill your own, Japan?
Saki, owner of the English bar.
World traveller. Gentle soul. Pneumonia, they say.
All gone
I can't go back. Not to them.
Can I go back to the memories? Like a dream cursed, like life is for all.
Sayonarra, Japan
Gone, George as Manny
Pete as me
Saki the guide to Tokyo ways
Do you kill people, Japan?
Or do you let people live?
I think you do
Like the syllables in haiku

As Time Goes By

I falter some
Fight against inevitability
The soreness of body and soul
Friends gone, memories like melded voices
School days in sepia eyes
What always was, the truth now said
What could have been, what will never be,that faltering time
I sleep, I rest, I dream, I reflect too much on the inevitabilty of body and soul

Another Soldier Dies

A million heart beats
A million gasps of cool air
Breathless soldiers' blood on lonely earth
For God,
Conceit of Flag and Race
A Square Corner laments
For God?
Conceit against human time?

Haikus X3

Firefly light
A moonless Greyhound
Short Story Sleeps

Shady Tree
A caterpillar falls
I say hello

Wide hips
Greyhound slows
B.H. A$$ descends

They Caught Me

They wrote the story of my life. Made it into a movie and millions came. Then they knew it was all untrue. I had written it falsely on a matchbook and hoped it was mine.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dream Ends

I hear punk inside my ears
I play it, I do, on a giant Wurlitzer, Sid Vicious bellows in the Cathedral air
The altar sways, the stained glass rumbles
God says: Not so loud, I'm trying to sleep
OK, the dream ends, like a last bloody slam dance
I hide beneath the pews
Await till the bleary morning rises
Play punk no more
God the landlord says so

Lumpy Bed

Rusty springs
An old mattress
A motel room weeps

Graven Inspired Haiku

A Lover cries
Greyhound Bus
I-Pod Plays Graven loud


Eds note: The post I thought of at a night of fun with fellow bloggers watching Matt at Zaphods':

I fell down drunk in an old hooker's Bar. They wiped me clean, the hooker's did. They picked me up. Tossed me onto a cold Square Corner. I lifted my soul and struggled to the One Lucky, where I sought a bar stool and a free beer.

'Beer Mugs' Moran poured me a large draft."You look beat, Tortelli," he said.

I told him what happened, how my money was taken by ladies' hands. He gave me an expressionless look and walked away, leaving the dark drink behind.

A sip of beer touched my lips and I thought of old hookers and conjured a poem inside my head. I took another sip, now the heartache had gone. But the poem inside of me remained, like a Basho verse--a frog jumps into the sound of water.

Friday, May 21, 2010

God Ain't So Bad

I looked up into the sky
saw God's eye
I tipped my hat, like J.Cash
He played The Clash
Should I stay Should I Go
Ring of Fire
My tapping foot keepin' back hell

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I looked up into the sky
tried to see God's eye
But clouds got in the way
Next sunny day comes
I'll crane up to the sky,
I'll meet God's eye


I've been forlorn. Lost sometimes. Left alone with my heart shattered. Large holes in wooly sooks I wear; itchy on hot July days. I've done things to make myself better. Read books. Lost weight. Eaten apples from fresh trees. I've done things to make the world better too. Fought injustice with righteousness. Returned overdue library books on cold winter days. Read stories to orphan children. Seduced mothers into silken beds. But lately I've been forlorn. In this universe I am lost sometimes. My life a mystery, unfolding in ways that it never should.

Sugar and Eggs

I ate breakfast at a small deli. I had two eggs, both fried. Salami with home fries instead of hash browns. The toast was whole wheat, the coffee decaf. Behind a glass counter I saw giant slices of strawberry cheesecake. Each slice wrapped in wax paper. Of course, I wanted one. But I said nahh to myself. Too many calories. High in sugar and fat, which is bad for the waistline. Rots the teeth too. So I resisted with success. Funny, though. I think of that slice of cheese cake constantly as I while-away meaningless hours in an airless library. As far as the Square Corner goes, it is less important than channelling the ghost of Charles Bukowski. But human obsessions are what makes the world go round. I wonder if that cake would have tasted as good as the eggs?

Archive Haiku X3

soft breeze on red-white flag
powder blue sky on lazy day
outside archive window

no task, office cries
government man on idle pay
blogs to pass time at archive job

dead files, a lively heart
archives air, stale--dull sleep
man blogs on citzen dime

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Haiku X1

Baseball drops
Boy's error
--first game at Kelly Field

Basho Haiku

Ed's note: A masterful haiku by the Japanese poet 'Basho'

Spring rain
leaking through the roof
dripping from the wasps' nest.

Haiku X3

Rainy shoes
wet soles
--black ink runs

Silver bird
Hawaiian landing
--strips of sugar and tar

Compound fracture
Funny bone
--stand-up cries

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Busker Haiku X 3

Guitar case opens
Busker sings
Quietly a coin drops

Numb fingers
Busker sings
Cold air rises

Strings strum
Busker sings
Pick falls--like old song

Sake Haiku X 3

Floating waitress
Sake summer
Last Call Tokyo

Doors close--3a.m.
Sake Summer
A Heart's drunk

Morning Rises--6a.m.
Sake Summer
A hangover cries

El Toro

Barbecue Pizza
Bloggers heartburn
Sipin' beer
Sometimes cryin' inside out
One more Corona
Good for the Haiku soul

Greyhound Haiku X 3

Goodyear tires
Greyhound bus
Gideon Bible turns

Rest stop
Greyhound Bus
Dharma Bum sighs

Carburetor fire
Greyhound Bus
Black smoke eyes

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dress Good

I found a canvas suitcase. It was filled with designer sweaters. The labels said the best of Europe, handwoven in the greatest of fashion houses. They fit me fine. Perfectly I would say. But one-by-one I gave them away to those homeless men I knew. The alcoholic. The souls who jabbered into the night. The blind man with a dying heart. Together we laughed. It felt good as we mocked the world. For even a man with nothing should dress fashion-wise at least once in his life. Puts a smile on his face.

Broken Line

I'm on a road without a destination
A lonesome highway on broken lines
a shot up sign,
sunken motels
Neon bed sheet lies
No place is a lost home
This moonless highway on a broken line
I drive slow as a sunrise

Loud Talk

You whisper so loud
It crashes into my ear
like a big bass drum
Talk soft, as gentle as a word
like notes soft as a breeze

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sky Country

I awoke from a broken dream
Doe eyed
teary, like Crazy Glue drops
Into a slumber I fall
Busted up limbs land from the sky,
like a purple haiku said backwards

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Fighter's Lament

He was an old fighter. Spent. His fast jabs and footwork gone. Alone he drank at the One Lucky. Sometimes he spoke of the love he never had. Most times he boxed against the hard scrabble of a barroom floor.

Like a Jim Croce Song

I walked along a beach, a northen breeze washed ashore a note in a bottle. It said:

"If you are Zigman Zibanski, come home. I love you.
If not, please find him for me.


I tossed the bottle back into the sea. Shredded the note in my hands. No one, I thought, leaves my blog so easy and free.


They put him in a cage. In the back of a pick-up truck. Rode him around town, through neighbourhoods of deformed, misbegotten souls.

"The Geek's a Freak," they cried.

Misshapen men threw rotted fruits. Unseemly women spat with a feral ferocity. A youth crashed a bottle against the cage.

The shards of glass cut the man. Thick blood flowed over his eyes, blinding him in a rage. He screamed in high anguish against the rancor of the crowd, but no one heard his pain. So he wept against the deadness in their hearts. His only defence in a Square Corner gone mad.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


I sat atop a billboard
One eye closed
Smoked a joint, drank a whiskey
Advertised my soul to odd cars passing by

Up in Space

It has left me now
That manner of speech
Those thoughts of old
Gone up like ether
Like spirits from a dead heart


I got a memory tied around my neck
Like a strangler's rope
Squeeze tight, time has left


Night falls
I cast a light
Heaven in the stars?

Falling Down

Clumsy heart
Lummox feet
Trip over a blog
Get up, scraped knees
Blog once more
Sometimes the dumber the better

The Circle

I've sold bibles and holy books and collectible Penthouses to nuns and seers and adolescent men with thirsting eyes
Prayed to God for forgiveness
Whet my appetite for flesh in salacious ways
Prayed for forgiveness once more
Bible in one hand
Bukowski poem in the other
The prayerful circle always broken


I've drawn false conclusions from profitable angels. Laughed heartily in their mythic faces. Dropped paperless money through holes in side pockets. Mourned and maligned lucre's lure in the lives of Godless men.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


They took him away
The man next door
red lights,
screaming siren
An ambulance came
In a hurry they wheeled him on a gurney
Tilted it on its side, heave-hoed it into a small elevator
I heard him gasp, saw his head move side to side
He looked delirious, in a torpor of sorts
Word was he was an old loner, drank too much
I guess
I barely knew him but to say hello


Who am I?
Who am I?
On a long road trip
Pissing into a soda bottle
The miles,
The seconds,
The years pass by
like trees along a fast highway
Like brothers,
old friends
The years pass by
like pissing in an old bottle

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I'll take on the night
I'll fight the starless sky
The dark alleys
The shadowed men
The drip, drip, of a faucet in an unlit kitchen
The drunkard laid out in a dead apartment hallway


I got more options than I think
lay low
stand tall
sip a cold coffee and send it back


I wrote me a resume
Made the whole thing up:
acrobat and lion tamer
singer in baritone,
car racer and Nobel stunt man
action hero on roids,
bon vivant and backroom gambler
doctor of high art
I wrote me a resume and made the whole thing up,
just like a stage for a restless soul

Ferris Wheel

Took myself to a Carnival
Early summer night
Rode some crazy rides
Twirled beads of cotton candy
Winked at the bearded lady
Arm wrestled the strongman for a dime
I Stretched high in a hall of mirrors
Then sang along with a giant stuffed doll:
Three tries for a dollar
It's your's, to a droopy kid
Droopy just like me

Monday, May 3, 2010

All Thumbs

Grayhound bus ticket
Runaway hobo
I'll hitchhike instead


A friend called, 2 a.m.
Hadn't heard from him in years
Said he just got out of prison
Nothing to do, he cried
Teary eyed we walked to a bar before close
The One Lucky
Two sabre-tooth cops stopped him with gargantuan flat feet
Stepped on his toes
Frisked him like eager beavers in the night
Then planted drugs on his person,
Kinda glad
In a hurry he was one bad hombre


L.A. Flop House
Whiskey Bed Sheets
A pussy-fuck groans

Sunday, May 2, 2010


I got no use for poems
I got no use for poets
I got no use for anthologies of verse and stanzas, except for one thing: to stand on my head and feel the blood flow

Contact Lens

Burly men
Bum's rush
Drunken eyes on concrete

In Uniform

I saw a fight
A soldier hit a sailor with a beer glass
The sailor went down, got up bloody
Rammed a bar stool against the soldier's ribs
The grunt went down groaning
They both stood eye-to-eye and threw off-balance punches
They knocked each other out
A minute later the swabie starts moaning for his mother
I finished my beer and drank some more at a bar named the One Lucky
The fight started all over again

Burning Inside

I got a burn of the 3rd degree
It bubbled from no flame, no fire, no supernatural heat
I can tell: a chili hot meal against a cold aura
Ed's Note: Over the past 48 hours I have unfurled a large number of short poems on my blog. You may wish to scroll down further than normal to read them all. Along the string of mediocrity you may find a pearl or two, so I hope.

Wanna Be

What are the teenage years?
Who are the awkward and pimply faced?
Furtive lies of the young man's surging heart
Unfulfilled hard-ons and boners unleashed

John Garfield

Alone, a man stands
Old fedora
Tear-Drop Style
Long trench coat
A man stands
Mournful, steely-nerved, survivor's eye
Screenplay mist
A man stands--alone
Grey as grainy film
A Film Noir Past

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Inside Out

Scales of white skin like dry Elmer's Glue
Am I coming apart?
The Monster's Ball within

Blue Above

One life stops
Another life starts
Clouds touching in the sky


A dream cried out in my sleep
Like a tree falling in a forest,
Someone there to listen?

Bad Choice

I thought you'd be a beautiful long time
But you walked out
High heeled gait. A fishnet stocking inside a torn heart


If I could, I'd will me a new time, a new place
I'd will me a new past
If I could, I'd will me a new picture, retouch it with the photoshop of my mind

Money on Ice

I've got a pocket full of change
I'll drop them blind into a vending machine
See what comes out
A fortune cookie with a crazy man's poem


It's nine o'clock on a Saturday Morning
I'll write poetry for the day
Notes of paper left behind

Friday, April 30, 2010


You don't get lower than an old drunkard's bottle
Drowning in cheap booze and the ass-spittle of the spirits
Haven't been there my self, but I know guys who have

Power's Out

Sexual Healing
Marvin Gay on the Radio
Joy Division
Love Will Tear Us Apart
Utilities go down
Bills unsung like an old song
I blog in darkness
No rhyme in the battery of my soul