Friday, June 13, 2014


Every four months she cuts my hair
Scissors, tattoos
Her name starts with an A
One of those newer ones
Allyssa or Allison
Not Agnes or Alice

She's young
No wrinkles
No marks of divorce 
or bad credit

We talk
The work
The weather
I tell her I'm going back to college,
that I'm getting grayer 
One here, two there
It's all there:
The worried lines
The bad marks
The average credit

"So, how old are you?" she asks, her fingers pale.

I tell her
Her face doesn't register anything
She's seen me before
She's done her own math

"You look ten years younger."

My folks had me young
Too young
In L.A
Maybe that had something to do with it
I don't know

I wonder how many haircuts I've had
The buzz cuts
The feathered jobs
And how many more I'll have
When it's all over
There will be a number
There always is

That motherfucker had 106 haircuts
He packed for Yosemite 17 times
He drank moonshine 3 times

She runs my card and I sign
I take note I've been spending
a lot of money lately
Piling more shit around me
She sees the tip and thanks me
I was a waiter
For years
Dropping off burgers and butter
I was young
I remember

"Thanks again," I say. "If you make it to Yosemite do a little hiking. See the park. Don't just get drunk and feed the squirrels."

Saturday, June 29, 2013


A small radio was playing on a crowded bookcase. 70s music. Love songs. Reminded him of growing up in L.A.

He was just in the old neighborhood. Looked smaller, but prettier. His eyes traced the trees and cracked streets back to when he was a kid. Rattled. Quiet. The spider in his hand.

“What do you think?” he asked her, taking in her profile, the button nose. The skies were gray, the trees green and brown.

“It’s gorgeous,” she said, the scarf around her neck wrapped around his memory.

“It is,” he said, pushing back the bad memories and pulling in the good. “It really is.”

Sometimes stories and lives are told in thousands of words. And other times not so much.

Monday, May 13, 2013


Back then I used to eat figs
I was already gone
Purple fingers
A cat in the window

There was a tree back there
Behind that nightmare
Dead figs
Flies and tiny black ants

Back when I used to eat figs
my father drank 
Wrecked the car
and slashed his ear

How they say to not look back
Sure to bring a heart attack

Back when I used to eat figs
I called him Jesus
Begged for semblance
Begged for solutions 

That year Jim died
and St. Helen blew
Gone, the staggering fisherman
Gone, the lake
Handful of spirits
covered in dust

Back when I used to eat figs
my mother cried
So did the neighborhood
Under the smog
Under the gun

How they say the things you lack
Sure to bring a heart attack


As it turns out I jog by where it happened. When I heard about it on the radio it didn’t hit me that it was that indoor swap meet. The glass building that’s on the corner. I bought a pair of shoes there once. When I was a kid my uncle would take me to a swap meet way out by the mountains. He was always drunk, kept a small bottle in his back pocket. He’d buy tools. Hammers and nails. Once he bought a box of chicks, saying they were going to give him scrambled eggs. I don’t know if they ever did. I loved him. He died when I was a kid.

“If you want to stay the weekend you have to work,” I remember him saying, a trapdoor spider crawling over his thick dirty hand. It was early morning. His face was alive. “Got to pick my worms.”

The radio said he was a local man. Married with a kid. They got the guy that did it. They found the knife. It doesn’t look good for him. It doesn’t look good at all.

They must have got one of those pressure washers to pick up the blood. There’s not a sign of it. You wouldn’t know anything happened if you didn’t know. There’s a little shrine on the side of the building now. I guess he just bought some candles, prayed to one of those saints like my father.

“He was a victim of mistaken identity,” the voice on the radio said.

It also said services will be held this Saturday.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


The two stinkbugs found some seats at the bar. They already had a good buzz going, their antennas floating lazily in the cool air. They ordered a couple of beers. Mr. V’s was the happening bar in town. Nice crowd. Cute bartenders. The kitchen was great, made a hell of a philly.

“You can’t break up and go back,” Pete explained. “That shit leads to regret. I know. Just move on.”

“She said she changed,” JC said. “And who said anything about going back?”

“Oh, god. Houston, we have a fag on our hands. When was the last time you talked to her?”



JC couldn’t get her off his mind. Jodi. Jodi Hoff. Crazy ass. Big tits. A dynamo in bed. She came into JC’s life and worked him over. She knew the game. He didn’t. She got his pecker, then his heart, and then everything else that came with it including his wallet. By the time she was done with his sorry ass his savings account was dead and stinking, his confidence was shot out, and his heart was sick and barely alive. And worst of all: he was in love.

They played some pool. Pete was a good pool player. Something his dad taught him. Just one of the two things his father passed along. The other was having bad luck with women. In Pete’s wake hung long, sad pictures of failed relationships. Memories that weren’t good ones. Sometimes it was his fault. Sometimes it wasn’t. Didn’t matter. It was all him. He was born under a bad sign. He was born on the wrong night. Something was amiss.

Pete’s last girl broke it off because she had to move out of town to take care of her sick father. But her father wasn’t sick. Nor did he live out of town. In fact, he was in great health, doing yoga, eating tasty salads, and living it up in a gated community right down the road from Pete’s apartment. A month after she packed up and moved he ran into her at the dollar store with a basket full of miscellaneous shit. Fortune cookies. Candy. Two Jesus candles.

“So, did you even move?” he asked skeptically.

“You’ll never believe it,” she said, raising her eyes. “It was a miracle. He’s fine. But I’m still moving to Riverside in a couple of weeks. I have a job lined up and everything. I’m so excited.”

Then he ran into her at the movies. By this time he heard she had a boyfriend.

“How’s Riverside?”

“You know how things go,” she said glumly. “The economy. Hiring freeze. Maybe next month.”

Pete and JC stepped out into the hot desert night. Stars swept across the black sky. A grasshopper was passed out in the middle of the parking lot, one wing pointing up to the moon. A group of ants were playing grabass trying to rip each other’s legs off. Pete’s phone rang. It was the new girl. She was pretty, newly divorced. The only problem (he recognized) was that she was a Gemini. He knew better. He’d been down that road. But he was too high to heed the math.

“All right,” Pete said, stamping out his cigarette, trying to get straight. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t.”

“I won’t,” said JC, ready to jump in the fire once again.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

i should have written you a poem

you were right:
i should have written you a poem
scratched something out
in that notebook full of traffic
and bad dirt

put out a few lines
sneak in a rhyme
declare my love,
tell you thanks
and that it's all right

tell you happy birthday
tell you

(as you walk away)


i should have written you a poem
called up a siren
put it in stone
talk of flowers and fame
talk of staggering and grace
and the fall of white lace

talk of shine
of yours and what's mine
talk of paris,
and of lives wrapped up in vine

you were right:
i should have written you a poem

next time i will

Monday, February 18, 2013

Atticus Morales

Baby, let’s have a son
We’ll name him Atticus
Atticus Morales
No, not after that Atticus
But the other one

And we’ll love him dearly
Feed him fried beans and indie TV
We’ll open up fat books
And songs with hooks
We’ll train him right
Tonight and every night

And you can show him chick shit
The zodiac
The Oprah
And I’ll show him football
And fists
Rusted knives and beer

And he’ll be captain of the team
The lead guitar player
Banging Kelly, Shelly, and Sally
And the gods will smile and say his name
for all my brothers to hear:

“Atticus, you kick ass.”

And we’ll feel blessed
And we’ll say it’s so
As roses fall from the sky
Over our shoulders
Passed our trampy street
The envy of so many it’s fucking sick

So what do you say, baby?
Atticus Morales
Half Mexican and the five
or six things you got going

Atticus Morales
A/tti/cus Morales