Saturday, September 10, 2016


put down at what feels like the end by jake kilroy.

you know such truth in a hot shower after a long flight home.
back in the arms of your family, as whole again as you can make it,
you breathe as if memories and hopes and schemes sludge out of you
only for stronger daydreams and harsher regrets to push their way in,
making you a silo of more than what a human is in appearance.

you think of how your bones sit inside you,
slumped over after dropping a duffel bag
to the floor of a bedroom you don't recognize.
you think of how your sleeping bag of a body aches
from a different kind of exhaustion than usual.

you dwell on how the years got away from you,
how they get away from everyone,
and how you let everyone get away regardless.

you think of the woman you exhaled for a year.
you think of the woman that was better in letters than practice.
you think of the woman that worked marriage into your lips.
you think of the woman that made love to the future
when she put on her records and read poetry in her underwear.

your muscles, more familiar in wear, creak these days
as loud as your grandparents floorboards
back when you’d tip toe out of bed
to find your grandfather making warm chocolate pudding
from a recipe his mother learned when she came to america.
you knew which planks would wake your grandmother
and you knew how you’d make it for your own kids.
but that was long before you learned how the world worked,
eons before you discovered how you really worked.

but you had to see the world.
you had to drive your spirit into the unknown
to live like the greats—or their editors at least.
you had to eat, drink, and be weary.
eventually, you'd come home
and your friends, they figure you must be lovely with bartenders.
you laugh it off, because no one believes you don't talk to anyone
and soon you realize you were better at small talk
when you were a teenage waiter
rather than an aging writer.

so you think of your early college years
when everyone was an artist
and realize you sharpened a skill
that was only a hobby for others.
and you tumble down your heart like stairs.
you miss everyone being in bands.
you miss everyone working on a book.
you miss everyone confessing their feelings
in rainbow splatters and dancing them off.

but in moments like these, you can feel every jukebox song, every pint toast,
every carnival kiss, every cigarette on the road, every handwritten letter,
every summer night swim, every holiday fight, every morning-after bruise,
every birthday wish, every dogeared page, every promise broken true,
all of that which has brought you up like guardians
who expect nothing but give everything
and wait to see what you do.

and so you write in the second person,
because it's easier to give advice
than take responsibility.
and you know that
better than anyone.

Monday, June 20, 2016

"a year of christmas lights"

"a year of christmas lights"
written with teenage daydreams playing by jake kilroy.

in that year of christmas lights,
back when i had fevers,
my heart swelled
for any girl
that would
quote dylan.
but that was only until
i learned parrots don’t make love
and realized even i botch my favorite lines.

sex is universal, but it ain’t everything,
i was told by an english teacher
who didn’t care enough,
back when i didn’t know better.
disappear into feathered skin all you want,
but you won’t find enlightenment in motion alone.
truth carried by fingers,
truth woven by tongues,
truth built by anarchists
posing as merchants
posing as priests;
it all means you get yours eventually.
nights last longer than clocks given them credit,
no matter how much you bless a bed with holy water
you sweat when your own heart makes you dizzy.

so the years came
and i welcomed them.
they became a part of me,
sinking into teenage skin
and curdling the fibers;
a recipe spoiled by
its very ingredients,
served hot for every meal
until the last one is poison.

yet in that summer of unexplainable heartache,
i remember black and gold
sparkling throughout the city
like jewels thrown from getaway cars,
sticking to the velvet that pops purpose.
but it was a darling poet's bedroom in old town,
with every color of a melting rainbow aglow,
tacked to the wall, snaking through the bookshelf
that was home away from home,
somewhere i could fall asleep in daydreams,
even when i couldn’t stand
what we talked about in the kitchen
as unpaid philosophers against blue and white country print,
each of us killing time before the world became a stage.
here we were in rehearsal for the roles we were born to play,
finding it impossible to remember our lines
while pointing out the cues of other performers.

later, in what rolled like a century,
i discovered women passed on me
because i couldn’t quote plath
and the best i could do was spark didion
but that wasn’t exactly it.
and that was the trouble.
nothing was close enough.
nothing was good enough.
nothing was “it" enough
nothing was.
and that’s all we want now,

the beautiful freedom to lose.

"better luck"

"better luck"
written with a drunkard's hope by jake kilroy.

with barely a scratch
on this double-headed coin i call a conscience,
i bounded through the south like a carpetbagger
back for forgiveness with an insider tip-off about the rapture.
i bought low life and sold high praise
before returning home to a wife
who thought i was only 
gone for the weekend.
you could be loved anywhere, i tell myself,
shaving and dabbing blood
in a ramshackle cottage
my grandfather built
with hands that worked the war machines.
meanwhile, you could be a god
if your hands and moral compass
weren’t shaky from drink.
but that takes courage.
that takes honesty.
that takes away from a spirited demise
and you’ve only got one life to ride into the wilderness.

better luck next time.

“blues in a heatwave"

“blues in a heatwave"
written with a wild new orleans in blood by jake kilroy.

when my head swam through that sapphire bar in new orleans,
my spirit dragged light behind me;
a glowing wake
from a star-shouldered stumble
awash in a pollution of hope,
proud but not perfect,
more gonzo than groucho,
with senses spun,
shaken not stirred,
dragging lines so trite you could walk ‘em back twice,
before finally getting the rug pulled out from under me
so i could fly.

“say, what’s in this whiskey?”
“i don’t understand.”
“me neither.”

fine conversation skills for a talker
who smuggled in a mouth keen on its bourbon scrub,
selling a smile as brittle as an upstart’s ego,
as loyal as a long shot, as crazy as washing machine eyes,
as moving as a poem read in an earthquake.

still, it kept pace in a nosedive tailspin,
head over heels for a drunker redhead in glasses,
snapping fingers to remember why she’s familiar
before realizing she reminds anyone of everyone
this married to the road.

glory be mayhem and music
when it’s this hard to tell the difference;
all of us with songwriter business cards
though we only got karaoke in our bones.

all of it blasts like background noise,
adjacent to the dying wish of a night,
booming love songs crashing through smoking patios,
hearing mockingbirds hum lovebird tunes,
knowing what women are in season,
promising heaven in an alleyway
delivering hell in a relationship,
and here i was talking up the waitress
about what shelters she works on weekdays.

what would you have from us beyond youth?
it’s the only thing we’re good at.
it’s the only thing we love.
it’s the only thing, some say,
begging god to go from death bed
to hospital bed to "your own bed"
to some girl’s bed you can’t name.

hot damn on the hottest night,
this bar crawl could last all life.
but here, hear a marching band interrupt the jazzinites,
old friends trying out new jokes,
always adored, always with rhythm,
them cats cut their veins by way of brass
to pour out a blue only known by
how we abuse depression for glory;
promoting the broken artist battle
while swinging the profits to get help.

so i watched hands curve around hips
like ten snakes taking post-adam eves
to the dance floor of a wilder jungle,
and i couldn’t recall how i used to
write more little black books than poems.
but then the band stopped to drink
and a blues song strutted out of the speakers
and i was suddenly home

without knowing any of the words.


written on a plane by jake kilroy.

blowing through town as mad as wind on a bender,
heels up on the rails of a city-wide waiting room,
where every artist lets the skyscrapers talk down to ‘em, 
i found myself waiting on women to touch my skull like a piano;
a cave-like church where soft presses on thoughts count
like rock art dolled up as a rare jackson pollock of daydreams.
colorful spirits still die here, don’t worry.
we just have better money for graves these days.
funny i don’t remember the funerals.

oh, what a breathtaking mausoleum for us to dance inside!
a carnival ride, the two of us, spinning colors
only seen when you get up too fast to see someone new,
here we come at the world like a tidal wave we sewed ourselves.
destiny was never only for ancient warriors.
it just makes for a less jealous audience.
all while wildflower crowns make for better use of battlefields,
we sneer at decaying lovers we only cherish
for the weapons they made us.
see, when i was young, i could hardly keep my eyes tucked in
for any new bedtime story that cracked ear to ear beyond
the two dozen good lines about an empty bed in flames.
funny i never saw any sequels.

but then my bones wore down
and my fingers slowed down
when finally i powered down,
and memories were no longer string theory.
hell, they were hardly even decor.
they became a stockpile,
making me a survivalist
in a one-man show.
funny way to throw a party.

even in another country,
alone in a splintering tavern,
i could say life came at me quick
and i held on for as long as i could
before it threw me into the sea
where i found the coast guard
and thought it was a pirate ship of mermaids.
funny way to exit the world, i imagine, 
curious, cackling, and crazy;
but always relentless,
forever sweating the truth.
at least do that.

at least die truthfully.

Monday, June 13, 2016


written after the worst by jake kilroy.

one evening,
after the day
(so broken
in color)
into bed,
and lonesome,
you'll watch
the news
with eyes
wet and still
and shower
to get clean.
it won't be the last time,
and it won't be the worst one.
but you'll shove fingers in your throat
unready for how good it feels to take action.
sounds you don't recognize will pulsate in your bones and beyond,
as razorblades pump through your veins and arteries—
because it's something, goddamnit!
and then you'll go to a comedy show in l.a. where everyone's as sick as you;
the only people left alive, all with the diagnosis and a cure so far away,
in a country nobody can name, in a village nobody can love.
we'll ask for deliveries instead of deliverance
before finding god in the same line for handouts.
we can no longer write tragedies
because truth is meaner than fiction.
what a world.
what a time to be alive.
what a way to go to sleep.
how do you rise in the morning
when your heart feels like the shattered moon?
beat on.
that's all you can do.
in your tiniest of moments,
while the world haunts its patrons,
after years of polluted hope,
hot air so thick you can't see right,
you'll start to cry.
it'll be hopeless then.
it'll be hopeless for a long time, you figure.
drool will come.
tears will rot.
you'll dry-heave until even sanity leaves you.
you won't consider character.
you won't understand time.
you won't remember anything
but this, your weakest moment,
your most exact nothing.
and you'll find steam,
a pulse somewhere,
motion adrift,
a fire incoming,
and you, a lighthouse
suddenly aglow for any transport;
once as feckless as ambient storm,
now light in every sense.
the world waits,
and you stand,
100 lifetimes ready.

Monday, January 11, 2016

My (Brief) Eulogy for David Bowie

Honestly, "Bowie" is practically an adjective to me. It summarizes a nebulas of hyper-aware mystery that I otherwise have no words for. You have rock stars that beam and want you to know they're glowing, and sometimes you have rock stars that are dim as shit and still want you to know they're glowing. What I got from David Bowie was that he shined like an alien spacecraft and shrugged it off. The dude understood identity. Bowie was a presence in the very least and a goddamn genius otherwise. And it's not just because he wrote at least a dozen songs that make my lips move before my brain even knows what we're doing. It's not just the music. It's that the dude fucking got "it." How I see things is that the world was an entirely different masterpiece to David Bowie.

He had the confidence of someone who a god explained the universe to, and he carried himself like the friend of a friend at a party. I mean, shit, I obviously didn't know the man, but I remember thinking once, "What kind of world would it be without Bowie?" Honestly, consider the fact that he wrote "Young Americans" for his ninth album. He was that good for that long, and now have you heard Blackstar? It's his 25th album and it just came out to critical acclaim. Do you understand how insane that is? He was in the music game for 50+ years and still writing on his deathbed, never repeating himself and still good at it while trying out fresh tactics. That's artistic integrity that should make your heart explode and your brain melt.

You get good music every year, but a David Bowie only comes around once in a lifetime. I feel like we lost the only alien visitor we've ever had. Bless David Bowie for being the most David Bowie he could've David Bowie'd. He made the world more curious that way.