The call came in at 8:05.
It was a quiet Sunday eve.
And quiet still as the Tip Line told
that girl scouts had been thieved.

They’d stood all day in blazing sun
or rain or sleet or shine.
It didn’t matter what type of weather
just the weather wasn’t fine.

All day they’d sold their cookies
only breaking once for lunch.
Thin Mints were a favorite,
and Thank You Berry Munch.

By the time the sun was setting
their money bag was full
of cash they’d use for camps and crafts
and making Worry Dolls from wool.

But even as they boxed their boxes up
darkness was descending down
in the form of some punk-ass kid
from the punk-ass side of town.

Only a no-good lowlife so and so
could be so fucking selfish
as to grab the money and run, leaving
girl scouts stunned and helpless.

The girls described a wiry kid
Five-foot-nine and mean.
A blue cap, hoodie, and black skateboard.
used to flee the scene.

For the nightdesk editor playing Pong
the decision wasn’t tough.
The details dropped in stanza two
were breaking news enough.

The camera, George, packed up the truck.
The newsman donned his tweed.
He paused to practice somber tones
in the mirror while he peed.

The drive was an hour long
but at least they had a story.
And the morning shows still slightly preferred
bleeding hearts to gory.

The news van found the parking lot,
three scouts still standing there.
They stood awhile longer, too,
while the newsman milked his hair.

Once the scene was lit and George
had the cookie cases framed,
the girl scouts told their tale of woe
and it sounded much the same.

The day, the bag, the skateboarder
and one detail that had slipped.
One girl had given chase
a stride at leastthen tripped.

The newsman struck his somber tone
and hid his extra glee
as the center scout rolled her pant leg up
to reveal a bandaged knee.

Conversation with a Missionary


I said, “Have you ever read Nietzsche,
Beyond Good and Evil? Have you ever
read the Mahabharata, the Tao te Ching,
Plato’s Republic, the Confucian Analects?
Have you ever read Zen and the Art
of Archery? Motorcycle Maintenance?
Have you ever read the Tibetan Book
of the Dead? Have you ever read
the Egyptian Book of the Dead?
You should read Dan Dennett’s
Breaking the Spell. You should read
The Selfish Gene. Have you ever read
anything on Evolutionary Psychology?
Neurotheology? VMAT2? Have you
ever read Baha’i's Most Holy Book?
Have you ever read the Torah? Have you
ever read the Koran? Have you ever read
the original poems of Jesus Christ in a New
Verse Translation by Willis Barnstone?”

He said, “Well have you ever read . . .”

(I don’t remember what he said.)

Blue-Grey Place


every morning the same morning      the same squawk of
the ironing board unfolding      the clink of spoon against
bowl      his oatmeal like tar      sugarless      the same
voices spilling over it      midwestern dialects most bland
therefore most pleasing to that secret place where
proximity stands for comfort      repetition the golden

status quo of Good Morning America      a car bomb
rocked North Ireland overnight but first how to fold your
linen napkins into swans of origami
      and lying in bed
as the water ran      the swish of steam      his hand pressing
hard into Dockers      he’d complain to no one about the
pleats      about a woman’s work      the silence of the

house      what he wouldn’t give for a blowjob and a bagel
right now      or just a day off his feet      and down the
hall      in my dark room      under comic book sheets     
call it the shadow of his second-hand solitude      call it
prescience or longing      call it letting go      or grabbing
on to patriarchy      his villainy stripped away with my

presence      but for the first time      and every time      I
wanted to be him in forty years      I wanted his grey hair
and grunting acceptance      I wanted every day to begin
and end just like it did:      bright morning on the yellow
walls      warm steam from an iron      the day’s news a
garbled redundancy on a small screen of black and white