Saturday, February 28, 2009

Wave Robber

The clean arcing curl held there
for a brief eternity before crashing
into itself just as you might throw
glass houses at stones
to reason with a force of nature

I’ll have a drugstore on the rocks
all lit up in cool fluorescent flames
like the samurai of forgiveness
or the angel with
              nine pound plum blossom wings
                              & an iron halo
staggering across Ocean Street
in the rain

the aztec radio’s tuned to a tragic
misinterpretation of Baudelaire
& there’s nowhere I’d rather be than
halfway there

Friday, February 27, 2009

Going Gone

like a shadow game on the
slow side of a cloud
              nerve dance narcotica strings
                                                pump the sonic interlude
                              w/tombstones & chainsaws
in 6 different dialects
              plus one more that resembles the
negative of a rasta sandblaster

but me I keep those drumroll confessionals
in a chainlink tequila bottle
              & measure the getaway scooped out of
                                                the inner sanctum echo chamber
                              as if that rip of melodic resolve
might flutter like a pearl ferris wheel
              when your eyes turn to smoke

Thursday, February 26, 2009

John Keats Sheds His Full Metal Kelp Jacket

A dumptruck full of rain is
rumbling up the coast
highway & I’m nailed to the
kool-aid cross
thinking of sliding down the ladder
of a true believer
before the light changes

              In Mexico there are tears so
                                                thick the rain can’t
                              wash them away
              while here we just stand on the
                                                                cement beach
                                                scanning the horizon
                              thru a coke bottle telescope

Twenty years later
the rain snaps the sky in half like throwing bricks
into an empty mirror

              & we’re still balanced on the
                                                business end of a machete
                              studying a psychosomatic
                                                                map of paradise
                              tattooed on the surface of a puddle

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pardon My French

You could be tuning a harp in a
drizzle of moonlight when the
TV fries your heart like a hamburger
& all you’re left with is a pair of
Hawaiian shoes & the epic cluster-fuck
fate has woven into the details

so much for the drunken boomerang
& the tide book with missing pages
rippling in the backseat
as you comb the pavement powdered
with medieval footprints (relics
of a place & time somewhere between

terror & lust & the parking lot at
Zuma Beach

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mysto Reef

No sea sweeper w/floating plum blossoms
bigger than a shipwreck
in a spoonful of the China Sea
(out at a place I call Tres Hermanos
because it’s marked by 3 big beat-up cypress
trees huddled together down near the sand
There’s a sweet break out there when the
swell is right but don’t tell anyone about it
only me & a few sharks & pelicans know
the place (the sky there thicker than water
& damp as the pages of Neptune’s address book
when the offshore wind sips the last breath
excavated from a thousand summer vacations

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A light dust of mist filters the glare

Morning got tucked back into a
bloodred sheet of sky
tilting down now over the rusty streets
& behind yr eyes so calculated
The Cantos, News From Niman Farm
Mexico City Blues, the rainwet pavement
shimmering in the smog light

thunder riding in with the waves
to be folded in the sand there
Cisco Pike, 1971

We could be anywhere I told her
but it wasn’t true, we were here
& the smooth resistance of her thighs
rode the ripple of steel clouds

The Maximus Poems versus
The Pleasures & Pains of Opium

The lost city of the Incas
in a silver locket on a silver chain
that hung down between her breasts

Pictures from Brueghel
The Bridge
Scenes of Life at the Capital
Two-Lane Blacktop
Vanishing Point
The Long Goodbye

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Beneath the Undertow

Forever isn’t such a long time to wait
if you’re dealing it out in the lull
or running a finger along the concrete slab
curving back in one fluid rush

the transition leaves a crease where
your mind used to be & the lit-up grid of every
city you ever stumbled thru is left to burn
like a wildfire in a kelp grove

The mythic siren call turns out to be an ambulance
as you in yr sharkskin wetsuit
sweep in across the incandescent legacy
of scarred glass

Friday, February 20, 2009

Scorched Earth

Turning back in a near Biblical
manner glancing over your shoulder
into the eyes of a drive-thru sunset futurama
a few days older than that god of the Israelites
& what you see that split second before your
tears turn to salt scattered by the cold wind that
rides up off the surf carrying the distant echo of a
primordial doo-wop refrain
fading into the burnt matchstick palm trees
that line the street where you used to live

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Don't assume I'm listening

Gray-black palm tree shadows in mist.   Far away, flat against, I can list & label as well as anyone but the exercise is without merit & the kickback is way too shallow.   A system of belief, however fragile & ill-conceived, might float the iron feather but I get my news from the carved abalone shell (sky).

[I would expect living it ahead of time as anything is drawn down to attention suggests that words presuppose the identify theft manifest as “The Poems” since narrative’s just another way to nail the ritual of nonlinear permission which lyric inherent will score the measure of, provided our poet is an open window.   The nature being that of practice, a practice, the practicing poet, as such a discipline with nothing to prove but a kind of tentative existence shared, that mere threads in the weave would argue a pattern or shape.   A presence there derived as one would be susceptible.]

A two/four beat on the submarine strings of a glass stratocaster.   Sure the cartoon implication deflects the canned halogen but I drink from the bottle.   Complications indulged, unlaced eucalyptus seabreeze static entering sideways off the gray-green geometry of ocean waves.   This is where I am, when I surface.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Road Flare

The zig-zag loop hidden in a straight line
that cuts clean to the heart’s house
                              & her necklace of fingerbones
              bleached by the moonlight
                                                & scarred Mexican blossoms
in the rain

                              as far as we could go with it then
falling between tears in Salinas
              the breeze dropping coins in the rearview mirror
Don’t worry the ocean’s still deep
& wet
                              & the message buried in lipstick
explains less than her easy thighs
when I’m gone gone gone

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

126 Wipeout Ave, Nada Cruz, California 95060

A minute of silence where the rain slants in
& I’m hauling her eyes around inside a damp mirror
as the evidence drains from the tangled seaweed notebook
(my manual & talisman

& further inside we’d ply the wet strings of the tide
tuned to the wake up call of swampwater platitudes all
drizzled & bent to be returned as light in the windchime
out along the tinsel resolve of your breath

A day & night of it so precisely stained, fingers, lips, the
slight limp in my step as we take to the sidewalk
where I still keep pace w/my father’s shadow beneath the
underwater sky like burned-out neon

Monday, February 16, 2009

Slow Boat to Voodoo Street

We all have our demons
& such a short time to dally amongst them

in cut-out pieces of rainy
afternoon light lifted from the
concrete tide

Your heart gets lost in the details
like a cheekbone dagger & the jangle of
loose harmonicas before the flood

broken on the intravenous highway
where you’re all lit up like a winter’s
night & I’m still etched in sand

at the water’s edge

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Long Walk On A Short Pier

The rubble of this brief
wrought in blood like iron

live acoustic rust
in technicolor
on a half-shell

drifted a while there
like it would
make some kind of
sense if you had
the ticket stub

but all of it swept away
in the stutter & stomp w/a view
when the sun peeks in (as it
does right now

thru raindark clouds

& the pin drops like
a piano
into the splashdown surf at
Nada Cruz

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Solar Winds

Flood Light
I took her with me
out into the sunrise
where we could learn to stutter
like the heart

Total Eclipse
Her sunglasses
are the same color
as her eyes

Laying back, her legs lifted,
ankles held high so that
she might dip her toes in the sacramental
blood of sunset

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Motel of Loose Stars

Out of the chainsmoke lounge
the desperado tango
              on the whalebone balcony
in three time

              the same tempo that rattles your
                                                intake manifold

                              to be left like a stain on the
              velvet wallpaper when the
                                                temperature drops
              & the veins of memory
                              perform their balancing act
                                                                on a piano wire
                                                that runs the length of your
                                                                                        incidental shame

One elegant high surf advisory & I’m
              ditching euphoria for a plate of nails

polishing rainpuddles in my sleep

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Carving the Heartshaped Tiki Valentine

Wrapped around a neck of sand
with plastic suicide bottles & 41 days of
February playing out in half that time

never win, walk, swimming in puddles just
a block or so from the beach (an honest deception
warbling in the rushes

looking inside or not as we would speak in
a kind of gothic elizabethan spanglish
an homage no doubt unrepeatable

True lovers unfold that way their own
witness to be parked in the foglit lagoon
their breath tangled in whispered threads of spun


Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Somewhere never so close as the distance
(as far away as possible)
life & death & in between
whatever escapes from the reflection only
briefly seen as it dissolves

& where we’ve been explained away
as rain pelting the windshield
inside the tattoo brands that have chosen us

brothers in the word

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Quick Cutback Across the Reading, the Radio & the Soul

So I met up w/the Great Nettelbeck Saturday afternoon at The Avenue Bar on Pacific.   Pitchers of Bud while talking “The Poems”.   He’s a solid poet heart & mind & a devout alcoholic.   Brother poet.   It was good to at long last meet & run the tables of our souls.   But then Nettelbeck insisted upon tequila which okay I said one, which multiplied into I don’t know how many, & somehow I made the short drive back home without getting popped by the cops.

Felt rocky on Sunday morning trying to get my balance back while reviewing the short set of poems I had prepared for the reading.   At 3pm Pamela & I head out to the Avenue to meet up w/Nettelbeck & his lady Billie to prime ourselves for the set.   All’s well, though I’m still battling the leftover tequila & Nettelbeck’s got a slight buzz buzzing as we walk up to the gallery (on the way I ducked into the liquor store for cigs & a sixer of Tecate).   We get there just as folks begin straggling in & meet & greet Jim who set the reading up under the auspices of his New Cadence Reading Series.   A good kid, w/”The Poems” in his eyes.   I meet Stephen Kessler, S.Cruz poet, & long ago compatriot of Nettelbeck from the 70s & 80s.   He’s everso slightly bemused.   But some dude from Moss Landing (I got a boat—Do you live on the boat?—No, I just sleep there) pulls out a fifth of Knob Hill & Nettelbeck’s tipping it back & an “uh-oh” floater floats past my otherwise amped & distracted singular mind.

Soon enough Jim intros me & I’m up there letting it go the way it should go, locomotion style, picking up speed, inside the lines, where I live, & it all works, to my ear anyway, which is all that we can ask of the Muse when we find ourselves so nailed to the mic.   I intro Nettelbeck who staggers up & the previous flutter of “uh-oh” is a 10 ton crash of metallic debris as he starts off cool, working the strings of “The Poems” but quickly implodes before the 25 or so sets of eyes watching, dropping his poems twice (the second time tipping the makeshift podium) the white paper splayed across the floor like a lost message from the buckshot wings of the Muse, as his syllables tumble into disconnected diatribes that last three quarters of an alcoholic second, a collapsing veil of bronze-tinged never that submerges the word at last at last, as it must, & fuck if it ain’t.

A distraught Dennis Morton emerges from my helpless witness to whisper me outside where he lays it down as I knew he must—“I can’t have him on the radio tonight, I mean in the state he’s in now, I mean I can’t” etc, & I know & I know but I don’t want to hear it.   (We had set up the radio gig months in advance, The Poetry Show, KUSP FM).

Nettelbeck finishes & is roaring, or growling, as he bumps thru the ragged scene now & I’m sleepwalking the howdy, I liked your work, you should have read more, tiny dance of confetti that falls around me, as a paltry few books get sold or stolen & Nettelbeck weaves like a boxer who refuses to stay down for the count.   I’m trying to move all this along now, get outside as Nettelbeck is pissed off at the gallery owner for some reason I know not of & fuck yous rain & somehow we’re outside where Billie says we got to get away the guy’s calling the cops, but then dear Billie is blurred w/the buzz as well.   I tell Nettelbeck that the radio show is out, but it glances off several times before it takes, as Pamela drives up w/the Jeep & Billie climbs in along w/Moss Landing & his Knob Creek & Nettelbeck, pickled & fried, but we can’t find the motel where he & Billie are staying & I gotta piss like a racehorse & Billie keeps repeating Knight’s Inn, Knight’s Inn, & Nettelbeck rolls from nowhere to nowhere in pinwheels of disintegrating logic & sad time spilling beer.

After forever we pull into the Knight’s Inn, rumble into the room (me straight to the john to piss) & some other whitebearded lost soul enters from the reading & Nettelbeck’s still pissed at the gallery owner & asking about the radio show & insisting I have some whiskey but I’m sticking to the cerveza although Pamela takes a couple swigs from a big jug of some kind of bourbon & we sidle out into the damp drizzle of night eventually & back to the house to grab a snack & nap for an hour or so then all in a rush to the radio station to stand outside the locked door waiting for Dennis who drives up after a while & we get inside.

Who am I anyway & what the fuck as the kind lady arrives to work the board & we’re on-the-air like they say.   Dennis is a good soul, a steady even mind of kindness & we talk some of Nettelbeck’s work & swing around to some poems.   I read a few Nettelbeck poems & some of my own lines & banter in some fashion that drifts past easily like we’re sitting on the edge of the pier fishing & bullshitting, so I doubt I made much sense at all but it’s only “The Poems” that matter & nothing.   It’s all lost in what I probably never got a chance to say, but painless enough so that there are smiles & regrets & a kind of slow shuffle thru the pages of the heart.

We got home as it started to rain once again, I drank a last beer & dropped into dreams only to awake at 4:30am w/flu-like nausea which Pamela also had.   I don’t know if it was a 24 hour virus or maybe the reheated meatloaf we ate the night before was tainted, but a lousy sick day of lowgrade fever & the runs & fasting perhaps to pay off the lopsided Muse for our loss.

Poem by Michael Price


Old habits return
to remind me death
will never go digital

As I stare out
a Sunday morning
the cat in the window

A guy walking by almost
stops because he has seen
me fall before--

Isn't it a return always?

A street in some small town
Some nagging question
The chance of snow--

The three kings of ignorance
Habit, Sloth, & television
all feel too familiar & inside

Everyone -- it's funny,

I stared down that guy walking by
to the point of awkwardness--
then wrote this poem

                          -Michael Price

Monday, February 9, 2009


The afternoon sunlight
dropping off the silver side of
your shotglass disguised as worship
on the dial & me with my cement-bound
tidewater hymnal waiting for the
night to ride in & take it all away
shimmering in the hollow like
the Muse hanging 10 on Shaolin pintail

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Reading the Water

Just rolled in from the beach at Sleazeville
where the seaweed had eyes that were
green like rust & blinking in the sunlight
It was rough trip back but with my left hand
tied to the steering wheel & my right
sliding up her thigh the road folded in on itself
like bad dream

I was thinking of reinventing
the Mariana Trench while strumming the
latitude & longitude of a crooked smile
              as though it might cure the common
yearning love leaves in its wake
                              as we’re still learning the shape the sky
              takes inside jagged cumulus smoke-rings
of haze & broken shadow wings that
rake the sand

Against the rippling glass of her monsoon palace
I wish a language that can’t be spoken
& a city of concrete sliding into the sea

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Elvis Island

                        for Noel Black
A knock-kneed stagger across the
stage-lit linoleum
to the refrigerator
in Japan
& an offhand aloha
to all them bikini dolls
their ricepaper souls so carefully

Twenty-five dollars later I’m
sitting alone

the cement sky opening up
like a bloody nose

Friday, February 6, 2009

Steel Pier Freeze-Out (9 & 14)

Broken waves displace the tide
              & the sun tightens up like a fist
say whatever you want it’s all true
                                                even when it’s not
                              & there’s 20 miles between you & your
              mind (a distance
                                                you’ll probably not cover today

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Couldn't Even Say

Sunlight drinking coffee like
striking matches in the dark
when neither of us really want to

A spit of blood & a somersault across the
sidewalk with those ping-pong eyes
racking up the numbers.   You should

just get the tattoo & book the difference
as etched in the near-death hangover index
stutter of faulty wiring short curcuit sparks

I wanted to wreck my eyes on a clear
morning sky where threads of crystal hum
the strains of some antique doo-wop

w/you up there doing the chainsaw twist

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

February 4, 1956

It rained that day & the next
flooding Venice Blvd
My father floated the truck out
& up to the expectant hospital
so I’m told & ever since my
eyes have been ocean not sky colored
awash in the runoff of an eternity
neither my father nor I would ever
comprehend paddling back in
time as my mother will tell it
there’s very little you can bring
back with you but tears
which are themselves a rainy

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Adrenalin Waltz

Trapeze clouds strung from morning
to dusk with the cigarette girl caressing my

A disenchanted native offers me a silver-plated
tomorrow but there’s always too much fine print
& my eyes aren’t what they used to be
              having seen what they’ve seen whether that was
real or imagined I guess doesn’t matter in the
                              final final eager to be shoved past a
              hallucinatory indulgence that
                                                strips the paint from the walls
                              of your soul

& waiting for the music of a velvet rockslide
to crush the fingers that should feel the changes
before they happen even (one last toke to
carry you through or past
                              expecting it all to rattle down like
              moonlight in the sand

Monday, February 2, 2009

Darkside Floater

A transitional like
building cheeseburgers in the temple
only sleep can pump the arc of breath
outside the walls of rushing water
that brought you here & will take you
away (someone I loved maybe
on the slow train to the Hollywood Laundromat
& after in a ’64 belch-fire El Camino tooling
the coast highway we could skim
the bliss off our inherent failures like
mist sheering the sky from the pavement

Sunday, February 1, 2009

In the Hollow

He called out.   He flew away.   The
dark not unlike the mechanics of these
leaves of poetry or hydraulic
lifters.   The ocean sings beneath
it all.   Inside.   Surround sound.

Does it rhyme with the asymmetrical lights
that emanate from the liquor store at
midnight to breathe inside the pavement
when there’s a cold wind cutting down the alley
& stars ping in the night sky like

with digital precision that cracks the screen
of your i-phone & tests the pulse of
spanish guitars that sleep in the palm trees

There are gods that are so old they can’t
remember their own names.   Vengeance
that caves in on itself like a rotten Buick.
Broken windows inside waves that
no one has ever seen.

The hero practiced an ancient form of
junkie acupuncture.   Why did I
always cling to this ragged shoreline?
Left a piece of my shadow there so that
I’d never find my way back.

That’s how I got here.   That’s why I’ll
never leave.