Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Socrates and John the Baptist--Infection by Shane Guthrie

Socrates and John the Baptist got in a fist fight

Socrates with his leading questions

John pouring a jug of wine on his head

Nothing major, you see

Just a misunderstanding about the tab

That they'd somehow rung up

Neither would cop to the expense

After they had both fallen on the floor

And forgotten how they'd gotten there

They walked out the door as friends

The wait staff collecting the dirty clothes

And scribbled pages

They'd left behind

And sold them as holy relics

And grand philosophy

(the tab must be paid somehow)


They breathed fire

The mist of saliva and everclear

Igniting like a firework

Melting soul-patches

While everyone cheered

It was the night of their life

Immortality proven by survival

The music was loud enough to wake

The Peterson's next door

Neither hearing-aid turned on

But the vibration enough

To shake them from their adjustable bed

When the old man yelled

Vainly into the night

For quiet

He imagined how respectful, reasonable and upright

He had been 'at that age'

And went back to bed

Swung wildly

The crossing-guard stop sign was no match

For the speeding SUV's distracted momentum

The children were fast

Or bounced

But that old man with the reflective vest

Crumpled up like a mosquito

Against the radiator

Over the wreckage

A woman with coffee spilled all over her

Finally hung up


Pulled beards

Were no help

The only thoughts that came out

Of such deliberation were:

"I have a nice beard"

So the silence went on

Each one of us hoping

That someone smarter would speak up

"Very interesting"

Someone started

"I agree"

"Quite a problem"

"Well, the only thing to do about it

I suppose, is to ascertain the Will of the People"

Which was quickly seconded


And removed from our concerns


Shouted and screamed

I love you

Sounds more like a command

Or a curse

Sounds just like

I hate you

Kicked up a dust storm

Dancing in the desert

So fast and so hard

Like it would bring the rain

Threw off our clothes

Like they would become animals again

Let our skin burn

Like burning was a penance

Like our whiteness, exposed

Could become something else

Something better

We touched like it was forgiveness

For sins we've committed so casually

And with such industry

It doesn’t feel like anything anymore

When the night came

And we lay down in the sand

It got so cold so fast

I thought we'd die

And that we would be sink down

To become seeds

For some grand forest

When morning came

We saw the mess we'd made

And hurt from hung over eyes to broken toe

We drove home

In total silence


That was seen for miles

And this was only seen through the keyhole

I would not expect you to know it

The day the buildings fell in burning ruin

I was just trying to write a resume

Trying to get myself into a job

And I knew

That things were not going to get easier

St. Peter broke the fight up

Using his key like a sword

To smite them both to the ground

And deliver a famous line

From the gospels

Which was the moral of the story

I suppose

Though most of it was fighting

Not found in the bible

In the movie

He was played, appropriately

By professional wrestler

The Rock


John the Baptist had a bloody nose

Sloppy washing after the beheading

But she didn't mind that

She didn't need the souvenir

It was for her mom anyway

Though she had to wonder

How a head was worth

Half a kingdom

And Socrates lost an ear

When the bust hit the marble floor

With a great crack

In the silence of the museum

Docents came running

Like it was Murder

And I put my hands up

Not sure what they'd do

But they rushed to the broken ear

Sending everyone away

While I apologized and apologized

Two weeks later

You couldn't tell the difference

Sometimes I think the artifacts

Are mostly glue


Swallowed whole by the locust eater

One less hungry mouth

In a wave of billions

Not enough

Never enough

But the beak keeps picking them off

A smorgasbord

While it lasts

After all

The famine is riding their heels


After the fight

I never thought I'd talk to him again

Never thought we could see each other

And not immediately start up again

Knowing how wrong he was

How stupid

But somehow when I saw him on the bus

We nodded warily

Mentioned the weather

And never brought it up again

Which, being men

Should not have been surprising at all


Socrates heard crickets everywhere he went

Some defect in his inner ear

I suppose

That's why he was always getting into trouble

Asking what? Why?

Couldn't quite hear people

They thought he was mocking him

At least

That's what I read

On the internet


Quit his philosopher job

At the help desk phone bank

Asking Socrates questions

"Is the computer plugged in?"

"Have you turned it on?"

"Have you tried reinstalling?"

And got a job in voice-over work

For cartoons

And corporate training videos

If Jesus came back today

He'd be the first apostle

And became an exterminator

Of roaches

Of ants

Of mice

And became a consumer

Of donuts

Of pizza

Or hot-dogs

And forgot all about




Finally, becoming nothing but

A few numbers

A large, soft corpse

A small box to keep it in

Friday, October 24, 2008

Diane Party of 3 (Maltby Cafe: Abridged)

[here is a revised version of a chapbook borderline poem]

Saturday's my mom and aunt Diane meet for lunch at the Maltby cafe
out in the sticks of Snohomish county: not quite Woodinville, not quite Bothell.
The cafe is in a basement, it's not a secret and it gets real crowded.
The wait is routinely 20 minutes

I am hungry 20 minutes feels like I'm on a hunger strike,
one of my top 5 fears, most the others are in American History X;
whoever thought of curbing must of felt a lot like God did
when he created spitting Cobras.

Chris Cornell signed a poster up on the wall,
huge good food, right next to Bob Nelson from Almost Live.

Stephanie party of 5
Stephanie party of 5

The girl across from me is wearing great big movie star sunglasses.
Is she hungover or possessed by the wandering spirit of Roy Orbison?
We're in a basement for God's sake, and outside the sky is slate gray.

Stephanie party of 5
last call for Stephanie party of 5
come on people!

The two old men next to me reminds me of my Grandpa
who thinks the Communists infiltrated the Democratic party in 1968 and that
there is a giant computer somewhere in the Netherlands that controls everything,
I mean everything: global warming, elections, sports and the cost of cereal.

The old men are talking about Robert Gates,
bald one says oh yeah, he's a spook, all of them are spooks
part of a secret organization.

Skull and Bones?

No, Free Masons.

Mike party of three
Mike party of three

I am picturing my order in my head
mushroom, bacon, sausage and onion omelet
drenched in cheese and a cinnamon roll.
The Maltby Cafe makes plate sized cinnamon rolls
dinner plate size, big dinner plates,
I'm guessing Chris Cornell was talking about the cinnamon roll.

the middle-aged purple-fleeced woman to my left
is reading the Everett Herald,
Couple gets 8 years a piece for boys starving.

I wonder if that boy would have cried
if he saw a Maltby Cafe cinnamon roll in front of him
floating in a pool of gooey frosting.
My lunch just became a memorial.

Diane party of 3


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cold Clear Days

These cold clear days
when the trees argue about what season it is
coughs linger and chimneys feel at home

We'll throw the football and pretend
it's January under lights and camera flashes
with the game on the line

We'll walk over dead leaves
survey the landscape and wonder
where Bob Ross hid his secrets

These cold clear days
we'll miss things we never noticed before
doughnut shops, rope swings, smells and laughs

These cold clear days
there's gold under foot every step
we may forget, but it will stick with us
cling to the bottom of our shoes
until we need to be reminded.

Tucker Strikes Again

I know all of you, my loyal readers, were wondering what periodical hasn't published Jake Tucker. Well that short list just got shorter. I've been publishing in http://gloomcupboard.com. Check it check it check it out y'all!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Out the Window

Vern Fonk Car Insurance
Burger & Teriaki Stop
two girls on a swing set
the sunrise
downtown Everett
a gray van, with no windows
a billboard that says "TV"
Mt. Baker
fog rolling through the Snohomish valley
my car
a faded American flag
gray haired man in over-alls, digging

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

That Type of Guy

[this is a lot different than what I normally write, or at least that's how it feels to me]

I'm not the type of guy
to know what type of guy I am,
but I have lots of theories.

I'm the type of guy
who thinks he's listening
but is actually thinking about

I'm the type of guy
who thinks he's skinnier in mirrors than pictures
distrusts cameras,
consequently subscribes to wild conspiracy theories

I'm the type of guy
who wonders too much
about convergent zones

I'm the type of guy
who wishes he had a castle,
hatches secret plots
to take over Wales.

I'm the type of guy
who pretends he's sniper
in Vietnam as he's falling asleep
hidden deep under covers.

I'm the type of guy
who cried the first time he watched First Blood
didn't cry at Schindler's List
cried watching Bridge to Terebithia
publicly disdains crying at movies
still cries when he watches the Lion King.

I'm the type of guy
who only seems functional
secretly thinks he's a psychic
wears ties with short sleeved dress shirts
wishes he was a flying squirrel.

I'm the type of guy
who thinks introspection is whoop-la
but does it
usually when he should be listening.

I'm the type of guy
who stretches to make connections
that only make sense to himself
but tries to explain them anyways.

I'm not the type of guy
who knows when to

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Jonah and the Whale

[super old one]

Jonah was swallowed up by a whale; I wonder if there is a story about a whale being swallowed up by a dude in the whale bible.

I have a skinny friend that thinks he may die of wonder; I wonder if anyone has. I wonder what the doctor would write on the death certificate, I bet it would be something like “died of acute neurological meanderment.” I wonder if doctors ever make up words just to see if anyone will call them on it. I mean if a doctor says I’ve got a bruised left tribono, who am I to argue with him? Personally, I would hope that a doctor with all those years of school would come up with a better word than tribono.

I wonder if the whale that swallowed Jonah went to see the whale doctor because Man… how would you explain that one?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Pink and Baby Blue

[this is an old piece, but i changed the punctuation. tell me what you think]

Gas can in hand
he watched the flames
with a smirk on his face,
his wife trapped inside.

He imagined the flames
shooting from the master bedroom
pink and baby blue,
the colors his wife painted his den,
along with everything in the house.

She was unconscious and burning;
chloroform and fire
make for clean breaks.

The only thing to come out from the flames
was black smoke and a golden lab
named Pickles,
his wife named his dog.

Now the dog’s name would be Bear;
he and Bear were going for a drive.

Old Man Hank

Old man
tells me most poetry
is terrible.

People who got
nothing to say are
writing books and books
of terrible poetry.

They work hard
at something they won't ever
be any good at.

He's got a sparse beard
covers deep acne scars,
he's absolutely hideous.

I tell I'm going to write anyways,
I tell him he's hideous.

The capillaries in his nose
have all burst.
He takes another swig of his Heineken.

Poetry should come out like a hot beer shit
when you finish you should look down
and see it all out there.

I shake my head
push harder,
little comes out.

I'll be back in an hour
to finish up.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Maybe Even a Conversation

Our friends all went out to smoke.
So we were left alone,
we hadn't known each other fifteen minutes.

She had on a black beanie
held in place with a black bobby pin
tight black jacket and a pair of lip piercings.

Said she like liked it here
didn't have to worry about
what people thought about
what she looked like.

I agreed. I was wearing sweatpants
and hoody I bought in the 7th grade
so I felt particularly genuine.
beer and sweat pants
usually have that effect on me.

She asked me what I was doing up here.
I paused a minute to decide which story I'd tell,
I said I was going to school to become a minister.

She asked if I was religious, I said I was
she paused, then told me that was neat
then looked down at her beer
while I sipped mine

We sat at in our booth.
She avoided eye contact
while I tried to think of something:

an off color joke or drunken story
something to show that I'm still cool
not like those other people she's met
or seen on television

or go the other way
actually try and explain
maybe even have a conversation.

I wanted to say
but didn't,

just sat there
listening to the jukebox
waiting for our friends
to finish smoking.