Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Million Dollars In Jewelry

This time wasn’t staged.
This time was real.
A real 13-year-old boy
was shot in the back
by a real 9mm pistol
and for once
it wasn’t just a flesh wound.

He won’t be getting back up.
He won’t be coming back
bathed in white light
Via satellite from Heaven
to reassure you that everything
will be okay as long
as you follow your heart.

His mother will
receive no
Best Actress Award
for her grief.
She will give no
acceptance speeches
or wear a million dollars
in jewelry.

His father won't
go on a rock ‘n roll revenge spree,
tracking down the killer
with lame puns
and long action sequences
set to techno.

This time there won’t be
artistically redeeming.

This time
the credits
will be

And he didn’t have any
Grand epiphanies
before he died.

He just kind of died.

Just like you will
Just like I will.
Just like everybody.

The real world
isn’t concerned
with plot arches
or dynamic characters.

will get blood
the perfect shade of red
every single time.

Your Guardian Angel

It’s true.
What you heard.
All true.

We tapped her phone.
She calls him during her lunch breaks.
Just to talk.
He doesn’t mind.

We bugged her bedroom.
They haven’t done everything

He’s a decent enough guy.
You might have even liked him

Yesterday at work
she rang up a customer 
who smelled just like 

After he left
she took her fifteen-minute break
and cried in her car
The whole time.

Just thought you’d like to know.

The Preacher

You can usually find him
inside the old downtown
train tunnel.

At his feet will be
a jug of water.
In his hand,
a Bible.

He won’t rant to you about
the end of the world
Or ask for your money.

This preacher will just stand
in his tunnel
with his supplies
and express a love
for Jesus
in an honest,
Almost touching way.

he sings hymns
which I’m positive
he’s making up as he goes.

Other times
he baptizes staggering tourists
as they pass by
on their way to the
Little Nugget.

(That’s what the jug of water
is for)

There’s a fanny pack under his
protruding gut;
its bright yellow color,
a relic of the 1980s.

No object,
article of clothing,
or hair dye
will ever be manufactured
with this
reckless shade of yellow
ever again.

The only thing in the entire
physical world
that shares this fanny pack’s hue
are the lights
lining each of the casinos
here in Reno.

And that’s when it finally hits me.
This man.
This town.
They’re made for each other.

It’s a leather-bound Bible
with whiskey-stained pages
And more quotable lines than The Big Lebowski.

It’s a jug of holy water
with a gallon full of hope
And a blue Save Mart label on the side

It’s a tiny yellow light
That blinks like Crazy George
And replaces all the stars in the sky.

It’s a preacher
who doesn’t want to save you.
It’s a town
that doesn’t need saving.


You stopped being my brother
a long time before
you took your own life.

But for all the shit you pulled
that might be the only thing
I can't forgive.

And I can't wait
to go decades
without thinking about you at all
once these nightmares
finally stop.


My supervisor
sits me
down and
says that
some of
the managers
have been
talking about
me and
they think
I'm a
good worker
but I
don't seem
to care
and I
think about
my brother
and my
grandfather and
my mother
and all
the people
I've known
who died
who have
reminded me
what's important
what's trivial
like this
and how
when my
grandfather died
it was
the only
time he
ever shot
his rifle
he got
from the
Marines and
when he
went out
to the
shed he
told my
grandmother that
he was
going to
get a
movie and
after so
many decades
of marriage
the last
thing he
said to
her was
a lie
and I
hate it
when I
lie so
I'm trying
to be
as honest
as possible
so I
look at
my supervisor
and I
tell him,
They're right.

My Sister

My sister
is the strongest
I've ever known,
though she would argue
she is the weakest.

In truth,
she is both.

She is
a record breaking
so fatigued
her gold medal
weighs her down.

My sister
is the one
who calls the funeral home,
who makes the arrangements,
who touches the body
to make sure it's cold
to make sure it's happening
and it's real,
so the rest of us
don't have to.

She is
a world famous
whose voice strains
to endure the
burden of its own beauty.

My sister
is the one
who combs through the pictures,
who cleans up the mess,
who picks out the music
that will play
while I
say good-bye
to my mother.

She is strong
and weak
so that I
don't have to be.

She is my sister
and she has always
been there for me,
kept her promises,
told me the truth,
and forgiven me
for all the ways
I fail
to be more like her.