The L Joint

On the roof of this five-story building is a forest of tar, softening in the summer, seeping rain in the winter. Pigeons roost there. Not in the tar itself, but in little areas where vents pop out above the forest. There is one larger vent, a two feet wide tube, that makes its way straight down to the bottom floor. At the bottom floor there’s an L joint, where the tube zig zags before turning back down, making its final destination, the extinct steam broiler in the basement. That L joint is exposed in a retail shop.  

Occasionally, pigeons fall down the vent from the roof, even if the top of the vent is roofed and fenced to stop them from roosting. Pigeons must roost. Since it’s a vertical drop and pigeons can’t fly like helicopters, they get stuck in the L joint. There’s no way to get to them, unless you take apart the pieces of the vent, shaped sheet metal, in sections, painted over in decades of lead paint. This, to the best of my knowledge has never happened. The pigeons scratch with desperate claws for a few days. Then silence.


(Next week, a hole will be cut in the side of the L joint. A little sliding metal door will be fixed to its side. Inside the vent, countless skeletons and feathers of numerous pigeons. Their remains will be placed to rest in respect. Now, when the scratching of claws is heard, I will take a very tall ladder and slide open the little metal door.)


Binary Stars – The Kid And I

The kid comes in, snaps a few photos of a living clutter, the retail store.

“We don’t have anything like this.” The standard review, spoken by the parent of the kid who shares the photo on Instagram, Facebook, or some other app.

The shop sits on a tilted, bottom floor, two blocks from the Willamette river, not wanting to budge from its spot.

The rest of the shanghaiing office building was abandoned long ago.

The old offices, upstairs, real ghosts, shades of what they used to be.

I write receipts in illegible handwriting, transfer them to yellow, college-ruled paper for inventory, translations of the ancient product.

There’s a million means to be misunderstood, just as many to understand. Two sides of love I recognize.

If there is a dead spot in a day, receipts rest. I read Dante’s “Inferno”.

Crawling through levels, until you reach something frozen, eating away, without regard

to what’s around it, all attention spent upon what is being chewed. Virgil and Dante crawl down/up the leg of the Devil, out of the ice, a double paradox.

“This must be a dream job.” The parent speaks again while buying the kid a logo T-shirt of the shop.

The kid looks hopeful, if he moves here, there’s a chance to reach paradise. He can go to college like his parents want him to, live the lifestyle he’s always dreamed of, get away from strip malls, advance placement classes, bullies, lovers, and parental expectations.

He has been misunderstood so many times. He desires to reach understanding. Two sides of love I recognize.

I smile, showing all my missing teeth and think of Virgil as I write up their receipt.


Kiss (Portrait 11)

The streets at night shimmer under the emerging, movement of streetlights. It’s the tree limbs that cause their action. Above them, wires stretch into an evolution of light and dark.

Of course, that’s where we kiss. Where else? And it’s a damn good smooch. One of those that fits like two pieces of a puzzle, like it’s meant to be.

That’s when I hear you say, “These streets are like our bones, drawn to one another, making a map, an illuminated grid.” You get a scared-like look on your face, as if you said something weird. You did, but I like it.

Then chaos……… the shots ring out. I’ve heard them all my life. Some people live their lives to be snipers. But this bullet is no different than the others, hitting me in the head, the heart as well. I know what they’re made out of, nothing but misdirection…….yet…still…..tonight……..part of me lies dead on these living streets.

We’re looking at the body, my body. I don’t deny I’ve been hurt….hurt for good. I carry my death around. Always have……… I say, “Bury the body.” We dig deep. Our purpose is ……no one will find out this dimension is a drive-by shooting, quick, violent, darker than irony, lighter than a paradox. For tonight, we kiss in the streets.

I kiss you again when the gunfire is but smoke and I swear the streets turn luminescent. Bullets are cold compared to us. I feel as if I will climb the streetlights to string wires. When the sun rises, I will invent phosphorescence. Tomorrow night, we will kiss in the streets.


You’re a traveler for the sound of wings.

Its organic, magnetic, comforting flutter

Eases you, resolves you, melts you into consonance

Whose song sings the thing, that lies…. within

The rhetoric of freeways,

That stripe of sound

Dividing you into directions all around


Off-ramps, like arms,……reach…..

Fail to catch your ass into neighborhoods.

You’re yelling at deafening speeds

Echoing,……you count mileposts like seeds

Destinations are blurred and blaring

Definitions are judgments on maps……

As if the sound of your voice wraps………..around

Where you’re from.

This must be who you are

That’s why all ask the near and far

Where are you going?

It is….

…”Here”, you always say

To break the silence


You ask when you’re going to be done, done, done…?

With the stagnation of quietude…?

That very thing that mirrors you…?

You want yourself to be outside of self

A tune….. someone else can hum

The sum of mangled mum,

To patch the latch

That locks the song,

That finds the flutter,

the ripple of touch

A Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah moment

That merges the lanes…of….

The freeway that guts the city into glitter

With the sharpened knife, full of jitters

You think sound cannot be quelled

It is silence that must be felled.


Carpool lanes attempt to sort things out

Engineers search to create

Cars that do not grate

While the engine da doo ron rons.

No one can stop the transmission

Of your travel, the unravel amongst the gravel

You’re too fast to be unheard

Too certain to be burdening the rewording of

The sound you peep… so neat…it squeaks

It’s a power, an achievement

Of gaining that smidgen, that nudge, the fudge of meaning…

Modern meditation, the mediation of the autobahn Om

Rolling grooves into the sound soul syndicate of one, benumbed  


Silence waits for no one

Why would it? Why should it?

It’s always there, bare.

When you think you are disabling it….

It, actuality, is disabling you,

Gabba Gabba hey

Your mouth seeks control

Shaking beyond, vibrating soul

You are in the age of yelling

Fuck listening, it’s not selling.

You’re traveling with headphones on

By the time you’re here, you’re gone

You force cracks in the sound continuum

Silence must be held to a minimum.

Then, all perception you can collect

Is understood like the Doppler Effect

Signified by unstable frequency

The flutter who always has to fly 





(To the future quiet ones,    

Look back to this poem with silent praise for those who had shut the fuck up before you. May the daily clash of clatter, twisters, tsunamis of the tongue, find composure in your blogosphere. Silence is not understood by the living. The dead understand it well. The universe understands it better. Looks like “we’re” outnumbered.)

Dedicated to the architect. Who, most likely, has no idea who he is, but knows the sound of his own voice.



Present Day List


  1. Reality is the root of all problems. Stay away from it at all times.
  2. Dress neatly for virtual interviews and dating sites. Remember, it’s all upper torso! It’s a blouse, blouse, blouse world. Think of the money you’ll save on pants!
  3. Food should be delivered to you. It’s too dangerous to cook. You might burn something, like yourself.
  4. Sex toys now come with USB ports. Eww, flesh. That’s nasty.
  5. Procreation is coordinated by the NSA. Anyone of child bearing years will be asked to donate sperm or eggs through the mail system. Just look for the pink or blue bags in your mailbox! And there are rewards! Every donor will be cordially thanked by a computer-generated yearly birthday card that comes with an assortment of coupons for important items like cat litter, toilet paper, spaghetti sauce, shampoo, and frozen pizza.
  6. Never establish a relationship longer than a tweet. Be careful of verbose internet chatting. Overt, lengthy conversation could lead to meeting in person, which is shunned.
  7. Buy a gun in case you accidentally come in to contact with someone knocking on your door.
  8. Birthday parties, baby showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties must all take place in Google Hangouts or an equivalent. No more cleaning up afterwards. No more embarrassing drunken scenes from that one guest you didn’t want to invite, but felt obligated.
  9. Get your morning coffee mailed to you by (A dollar off if you use your credit card! You will be penalized for using debit.)
  10. Never brush your teeth, just have them bleached. Bad breath does not exist.
  11. All your bills must be paid automatically, so you never notice how high they are getting.
  12. Play a game more than twelve times a day. It’s important to stay stupid. Questioning is in bad taste.
  13. Babies will be delivered via UPS. It will arrive in a shipping box full of bubble wrap. If for any reason, you are shipped the wrong child or receive defective merchandise. Simply return it for a full refund.
  14. Send your kids to on-line school, known as distance learning. Its motto “stay as far away from learning as you can.”
  15. Remember, as long as you stay connected, everything you experience is the truth. If it’s not the truth, then remember everything you experience must be true. If it’s a lie, then it’s the truth, especially if the source is questionable. That’s the way it works.
  16. Hey! Get out there, have some fun! Join a Facebook group!
  17. Filter out pimples, freckles, blemishes, and wrinkles. The object of life is to be as mundane as possible, while pretending you are the most exciting mundanity that can possibly exist. Figure that one out and your followers will increase tenfold.
  18. Elections will be settled by virtual voting, so you have more time for more important activities, like making up an I-Tunes playlist of political songs that are mad about the political situation you find yourself in.
  19. The second coming will feature tweets directly from Jesus. Like, “Me and Mary Magdalene getting down at the club”. Plus a “Selfie from Golgatha.” #Secondcoming #Jesus #Savior. #Crucifixion
  20. Cute animal videos have been banned. Find some other way to steal other people’s posts.
  21. Newsreels of other people’s pain and oppression are expressly provided for your entertainment. As a matter of fact, other people’s oppression is your entertainment.
  22. Emojis will soon replace written language. Just think how great it will be when you never have to conjugate a verb ever again!


kalemba by William Santiago
kalemba by William Santiago

My eyes can only look outward.

They seek, witness, and search

No singular thoughts of their own

Catching movement and color

Concentrating on sound sources

Sorting light and darkness

Outside binary restraints

Transmitting their way

into an inner vision

Processed with thought

Mixed with a wrinkling of the brow

A flutter of lashes, a blink.

These sights compacted

Into image decisions, imagination

Facts and fabrication

An arrangement of details

Strings of incidents

Missed, found and realized


So much have I entrusted

To their capabilities of capturing

Life into a collection of slides

Time squeezed into perception

Frozen cubes of memory

Distorted by the recurring frosts

Floods, and droughts

That have passed before them…yet

I am one with their innate faculty

While I’m aware

They swim in fluidity.

I am dependent upon

A constant act of focusing


I ask if you trust my voice

With such eyes as I have?

Can I tell you of beauty?

For my representations

Can only amount to

An anthology of my own



Now, as I have before

Watch your lips move

As the sound of your story

Reaches my eyes