Monday, July 29, 2013

"the years"

"the years"
written after enough time by jake kilroy.

you should've heard me at the bar,
breathing in years like a last meal,
memorizing political discourse
to spout out after we talk art
and donate sex to ourselves.

helpless with a trophy mouth,
i waited for the past to come back,
as if patience was the only virtue.
but then months pass, years pass,
and the only thing that doesn't is you,
as you remember the christmas saints
you thought could visit as a child
and hoped would visit as an adult.

so what of every kind of death?
you have to wonder with each breath,
every saturday night that you see the end of,
so you can write the weekly column to yourself:
an apology, a confession, a sabbath poem all in one.

oh, every poet is religious enough
to use their god complex to pen christ imagery,
and then admit that they heard a sermon from the back pew,
only to admit that they haven't gone to mass since they met you.

this is the booze walking.
this is the drugs talking.

what a spring of weddings.
what a summer of nervous breakdowns.
and then a fall we can never see coming!
before, alas, a winter to recuperate
and promise that next year will be different.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


written after a summer trial by jake kilroy.

amid the protesters and politicians,
there came a weak cough,
belonging to the inner children
of everyone watching television,
reading newspapers,
listening to the radio,
scrolling every screen,
as the news came.
and it hurt,
to be here,

literature gave us a country.
movies gave us a nation.
reality gave us a visa.

"you're still welcome here, but tread lightly.
this soil is for national parks and cemeteries.
we like to use every part of the american."

broken-hearted, mass-produced,
we were saved by the godless
not asking for a handout.

schools gave us the history,
education gave us the truth,
all while we were busy learning,
we didn't realize who was who.

we're beyond manifest destiny. we're backtracking now.
we're pulling chains across the prairie and it's quiet somehow.

we were given portraits of
barrel-of-rum-chested men
and paper-thin women,
told that it's so easy to be
but so impossible to fit in.

we were handed a past,
though we couldn't sell the present,
and now the future's so bright,
we can hardly open our eyes.
we're on lockdown,
we're at comedown,
so we're counting now,
waiting for just one more
to finally do something.

Monday, July 8, 2013

"the seamstress"

"the seamstress"
written to a tune of remembering by jake kilroy.

she was a beautiful seamstress of nostalgia,
patch-working daydreams and memories,
cursed to remember her sticky popsicle youth
as children slowly running through a forest creek
with sparklers in hand and a sunset against the hills,
but these were commercials that graffitied her summer,
selling her jeans, selling her love, selling her her own country.

then years after she breathed every color of new york
as a college student set on having her eyes exposed,
she found herself adjusting a potpourri centerpiece
wearing her heart on a sleeveless cocktail dress,
until she saw the moon coming in the bay window.

she remembered the night swims with her girlfriends at the cabin.
she remembered all the poems one lover wrote about her throat.
she remembered the tea lights. she remembered the waltzes.
she remembered what the moon above paris tasted like
when she drank enough absinthe to think she swallowed it.

and there she was, in a southern california mansion,
with a lawyer on the left and a doctor on the right,
described in the ad as art deco by a real estate agent
who had never left the country or been in a museum.

her toes curled against spanish tile instead of spanish sand.
her knuckles cracked like the poet she loved until it fell apart.
her breaths came as slow as the future was supposed to.
jesus, when was the last time she even smelled charcoal?

she wondered,
and then she untied her apron and her lips,
ready to never let go of the moon again.

Friday, July 5, 2013

"fourth of july"

"fourth of july"
written after a day of observing america and age by jake kilroy.

i shot into the fourth of july with a fresh bloody nose,
pulling muscles from my neck like this season's magic trick,
talking art with an illusionist i thought did impressionist work,
remembering a girl i caught wild in the city once,
years after i watched the san francisco skyline
sink into the road as i drove across the bridge
with hip-hop radio and two friends that barely spoke.

oh, to be young again, with pockets of drugs
and the will to live by keeping them down!
oh, to be young again, with time like a lucky coin
traveling the grooves of your newly minted knuckles!

but there, in the late summer afternoon of a backyard,
i felt my bones wear like the boardwalk of coney island,
and i read my daydream like a writer's block playbook,
diagnosing boredom with freedom and hope and spirit.

so maybe it was the smoke in my nostrils and lungs
that made me set off the fireworks in my heart.
maybe it was the scrapbooks i can't believe exist
that made me wonder if she still had the photograph
of us happy, of us truly serenely gloriously awake,
after spending a morning in bed laughing our heads off.

and then before sunset crawled across my eyelids like a tired drunk,
i recalled the lingerie list of secrets and regrets as if it was scripture,
and i dried my nose and wet my eyes and took a long look in the mirror,
trying to remember how many times i thought it was coming to an end,
only to surprise myself by revealing how easy it is to create a memory.

Monday, July 1, 2013


written after a moving day by jake kilroy.

the great turnings of life puncture like bones
twisting in the socket as the noisiest music,
a brittle, beautiful mortar and pestle,
lining up the remnants to be served up
to the starving gods in junkie worship
as they fade and beg and wail and slump.

sniffling like beggars, silhouetted in the gloaming,
they wait for the american wake of a future tense.

so i sat on a cooler as the sun went down, dead tired and beat,
smoothing out the past of a shaky hand with stabbing nerves,
as every poison spilled off the shelves in me, dripping toxic,
until i was slow in the face and my eyes could barely blink,
all while the sky shimmered like a mosaic of stained colors;
broken and smashed by the gods who snorted the powder
of humans weakening and collapsing and finally rebuilding.

ah well,
the porch was quiet,
the house was bare,
and i was speechless.

we'd come to the end,
and i wasn't sure where i'd be
when summer took its last dive.
now with boxes stacked in the car,
a carpet in desperate need of cleaning,
and one lone cigarette that glowed as sinister as the past,
my lungs felt like a smokey lounge at ballroom capacity,
and my mind was a getaway car with slashed brakes
and a trunkful of metaphors already spoiling their rot.

a breeze swooped in and the light of the world died.
our once colorful homestead looked like a dream:
white, immaculate, serene, and as empty as my head.
my tongue was salty and my teeth were sticky,
and i brushed the dust out of my thinning hair.

what years these had been, what a life i'd carved up,
what a masterful play we had penned in a blaze!
this was beauty! this was tragedy! this was glory true!

but all it took was a few junebugs choking on the warm night air
to know what death looked like, and it sure wasn't this.
so i tossed the pack of marlboros in the last of the trash bags
turned off the lights of the house, no longer a home,
and started up the car for the long, windy road ahead.