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 kiss...like 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