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Poem: The Stink of Zen 

never had much to say
about my
black and barren


“it was an
act of god.”

his lip quivered.
i didn’t believe him.

he exploded with
delight and

(rat bastard)

in a blizzard
of ashes
in my own
ghost town

who would be
my pinup hero

loath to be alone,
i sought refuge
at the tabernacle of the

but she was there
in all of her
volatile glory,
mercury running
in her veins,
putrid daisies in her hair

her smile a twisted secret
she was an old school
masquerading as a friend,
in on the joke
from the beginning

she ordered
on kosher smaltz.
I looked away
as she paid with
two dollar bills.

what is that fishy smell?
she asked, sticking her nose
into an underarm.
it’s the stink of zen,
she said,

i gave her a sniff.
it’s everywhere these days.

master of
bait and switch,
she deftly, easily,
substituted her concerns
for mine
in the mirage of
our conversation

with nowhere else to go
i sat, sipping her
mercy and favor
from a dirty chalice
a stubborn lipstick smudge
from the last customer
mocking me

she pulled a late model
luxury soapbox from her pocket
and climbed aboard.
“by the way,” she preached,
“thou shalt not

i sucked hard
on my vodka gimlet.
her admonishing rant
me toward
desperate for its
shallow promises

a belligerent parrot
caged nearby,
echoed her
condescending manifesto.
“thou shalt not
micromanage god...

how long had i been here?
my watch had stopped
during the blizzard.
imitation rolex
ain’t what it used to be

i performed the only
sleight of hand
i knew.
forged her signature
on the check,
and slipped out
through a hole in
her argument

  • with nowhere else to go i sat, sipping her mercy and favor from a dirty chalice


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