A Dryness Hollering Out for Death


Last week, while I was struggling to think of something to write for this blog, I put it aside for a moment and began a new novel. The novel has owned me pretty much every day since, and I’m sure it will own me for the next few years at least, but I’ve vowed to do something I didn’t do on the two previous novels I wrote – Fortuna Berlin and Ramblin’ Fever – and that’s take lots of breaks from it to write on this blog, and write poetry, and draw, and hopefully figure out how to work with paint. In the meantime, it’s the second day of Spring, and it’s snowing here in Berlin. It’s not good snow. It’s the false kind. The kind that melts the moment it touches earth, and makes everything look wet and soggy and halfsuicidal. Perfect writing weither. But I won’t be doing that today. Today I am with my son watching cartoons in German and getting jumped on and trying to get through Light in August, by William Faulkner, which is humbling to say least. I’d only read a few short stories of his before. Never knew he was this good. Must’ve been all that Southern whiskey he drank.

Here’s a poem of mine that was published in Gyroscope Review a few months back.

A Dryness Hollering Out for Death

Men that I have known
who once had the strength of the mighty
Pacific in them, with backbones
made of molten organ pipes, and minds in torrid
to see them now reduced
to the echo of an empty conch shell,
to husks of long-departed
insects, thinning, dried-up,

Men that I have known
who once were brimming with wild
stories and undiscovered ferocities,
washed-up now,
longing for long-gone
days, trying to subsist off songs
and culture the world had long since drawn
the spirit out of.

Maybe you’ve seen one
standing in line at the supermarket,
or mowing his lawn, or driving in the car next to you,
this angry, decomposing,
pot-scraping infertility,
a dryness hollering out for death,
a stone-gray shadow.

With nothing left to say.
With nothing left to be.
With nothing left to give.
(The worse tragedy of them all.)

The men I have known.


Just Touch the Harp Gently My Pretty Louise

Berlin518 053

Just Touch the Harp Gently My Pretty Louise

I see no reason to stand
in the glaring
streetlights of certitude. I’d rather keep
things androgynous,
with a hint of plum
and vanilla in the ruby red varietal.

I prefer mystagogue
liquid dancing
with the Queen of Sheba and Spanishing
the handorgan
while you play the human heart.

I don’t want to know about
or the wingspan of the griffon
vulture and its breeding practices in lower elevations.

I want to love you
in parables
and string theory; to disorder the principles
of your priceless

It’s your thighs miles to which I aspire.

Thrashing sea clouds and harlequins d’amore.

Rainy Day Madrigal


In the soft gray light outside my window, the bare trees are dripping, the brown leaves in the garden lay wet and curled up in the mud, and there’s a crow perched on a water-logged wooden post in the corner, its hoarse caws rattling the air. In the distance, behind a network of thin, spidering branches and soggy evergreens, there’s a pale apartment building full of unlit windows and empty balconies, and the clouds hanging over everything, and the trains traveling to and fro around the city, and the noises of delivery trucks and cars and minivans, their tires splashing through puddles and over the wet streets, circling the Siegessäule, anent Unter den Linden, the sky drowning in itself, the ghosts of World War II wandering
Sankt-Hedwigs-Kathedrale and the Elsenbrücke and the halls of the Alte Nationalgalerie.

And the people in the cold and the rain and the soft gray light, the people bracing against the elements as they move along the damp pavements, their faces buried in their scarves and collars, the pain in their eyes speaking of the dumb-felt misery and melancholy of the day.

I walk upon my bed and reach up and close the curtains. I jump off the bed. Shadows dance on the walls. Tea lights. Electric eels. CrankshaftsandthecumbustibledragonsofLowerMongolia. Rachmaninoff’s Trio élégiaque No.2 in D minor, Op.9 wheels and rages through the air, and for a moment I am seized with euphoria. There are hours ahead of me. To write or to drink and to be inside myself. To be locked away from the rain and the cold in the soft gray light, from the crows cawing, from the brown wet leaves curled up in the mud, and from the people.

Anima Aria

BerlinNov2011 103

This poem was published a few months ago, in a slightly altered form, in Gyroscope Review.

Anima Aria

She’d turn up just enough
so you couldn’t forget
she existed
and disappear as quickly as she came.

And then you’d go looking for her
with helicopter
searchlights, high in the Rwenzori Mountains,
by midsummer fire, along opulent murmuring
in abandoned old insane asylums.

“Where’d you go?” you’d mutter to yourself.

And just when you were about to give up
you’d see her elegant shadow
in a hallway
of Veronese marble; or she’d become the taste
of strawberry milk or ripples on an ocean glittering
like dragon scales.

“Come over here and stay
with me,” you’d say, your voice cracked
with desperation.

But then she’d be gone again,
and you’d be left again
to your phantasms and vagaries,
or whatever you’d spent all your life chasing,
knowing but never admitting the end was futile,
the chase
was beautiful enough.

Diary of a Superfluous Man (in a Supermarket)


About a year ago, I was in the check-out line at a supermarket I occasionally go to, and went to pay with a debit card that’s connected my bank account in the States. The cashier, a middle-aged woman with short auburn hair, asked me for my passport. I didn’t have it on me, so I showed her my Florida driver’s license. As it turned out, she too was from Florida, somewhere near Orlando. We then had a short, but very pleasant conversation about Florida, and Berlin, and our love of living abroad and a few other things.

After that, I packed up my groceries, and I have not talked to her since, though I’ve seen her several times working one of the registers. There’s usually about three or four open there, and something in me – I don’t know what – won’t let me go into hers and reacquaint, even if the line’s much shorter. I guess I prefer to remain anonymous while shopping. I don’t want to get emotionally involved in the thing, on any level, even if it’s just thirty seconds of niceties and small talk. I can’t risk it.

I was in that supermarket again yesterday, my basket stuffed with milk and beer and Old El Paso Mexican food, avocados and bananas. I walked toward the check-out lines with some hesitation, looking to see if there was a crop of short auburn hair sticking up over the registers. There was. My Orlando friend was in #3. I went to number #4, the one her back was facing. It was safe there, no niceties, though the line was a bit longer that all the others. It was worth the extra wait. But while I was waiting, I began to realize how ridiculous I was. Still, nothing was going to change my idée fixe. I would continue avoiding her.

What would I do though, I wondered, if I’d come here and she was the only cashier working? Would I put my groceries back and sneak off to another supermarket? There were several nearby. Or would I force myself through her line and face the music? If I did the latter, would I pretend we’d never met before? It had been a year. She’d probably long since forgotten about me, and would never recognize me. Yeah, I’d probably do that. I’d probably give her the debit card from my local bank and pretend to be a German, keeping my words to a bare minimum so my accent wouldn’t betray me.


Myopia Blues


The past few weeks I’ve been doing revisions on my novel Ramblin’ Fever, and have gotten out of the habit of blogging, which is kind of like getting thrown off a horse. Excuse the weak analogy. I’m only trying to say that I have so much to say that I can hardly say anything because the momentum has shifted and moved into another direction.

I’ve been through three major hurricanes in my life. After one of the hurricanes, the town of Boynton Beach was in such shambles with all the felled trees and downed powerlines and inoperable traffic lights that you began to see things you’d never seen before, and knew you never would again. One aberration I saw was a garage mechanic from Valero standing in the middle of Federal Highway directing traffic as if he knew what he was doing. Well, I feel about like him right now, trying to redirect my energy and hubris back to the blogosphere. You see, I have this mental deficiency. My mind is horribly one-track, worse than anyone’s I know, and it’s been this way for as long as I can remember. I was 10 when I had my first girlfriend, if you can believe that. We never kissed or anything. I couldn’t even look at her when I was around her I was so shy. But we would talk for hours on the phone, and we were in love with each other. But I had to break up with her. Baseball season was coming, and I couldn’t have both love and baseball on my mind. It would take up too much headspace. Something had to get cut and I regretted it for years.

This same phenomenon exists to this day in many aspects of my life, the most obvious to me being writing. If I am working on my novel, I can’t write, or think about writing anything else – not a blog, not a poem, not an email I’m supposed to return to someone, nothing. I must be hyper focused on the task at hand. This also holds true in my reading. For the last several years, I would juggle several books at a time – a novel, a book of philosophy, one on politics, a poetry collection, and so forth. This works in spades for my goombah extraordinaire Herr Bryan Ray, but for me the result was that none of the books get finished; instead, they end up in my ever-growing pile of unfinished books, and I’m never be quite sure if it was I who failed the author or the other way around. So my vow this year has been to go back to many of those discarded books, and read them one at a time, without letting any other book nudge its snout into the fold and disturb my constricted vision. So far it’s worked. In the past month and a half or so, I’ve finished two books that I’d previously struggled with: Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, and Kafka (The Metamorphosis and The Judgement auf Deutsch). I also read The Complete Correspondence of Flaubert and Turgenev, Moravagine, by Blaise Cendrars, and a book of short stories by William Saroyan. All these books were great. I highly recommend them all, but if it weren’t for my new line of thinking (which accords with my old line of thinking in my 20s when I was a voracious reader), who knows how many I’d have finished? I feel better now. The moral: if you have a one-track mind like mine, go with it. But don’t let it come between you and your other important loves. There’s a balance in everything. Find it.

Babylon Berlin

The other night, I was watching the 3rd part in a really good 3 part German miniseries called Unsere Mütter Unsere Väter (2013).  The main actor and narrator of the series is Volker Bruch, who I’d never heard of but looked strangely familiar for some reason. Finally, I did a Google search and found out that last summer he worked on a film that I am an extra in, Babylon Berlin.

Babylon Berlin is a German period drama television series based on novels by Volker Kutscher. The series takes place in 1929 during the Weimar Republic and follows police inspector Gereon Rath, who has been transferred from the city of Cologne to Berlin, and aspiring police inspector Charlotte Ritter.

I vaguely remembered Herr Bruch from my day of filming. It was in a hedonistic 1920s bar and he was at the other end of the bar playing an inspector with another inspector. I was picking up women in the background, doing really well actually. In the three or four scenes I was in, the director set me up with three very pretty Frauen. I was usually talking to them or escorting them somewhere. Hopefully this can be made out in the film and wasn’t left on the cutting room floor.

Anyway, as I was Googling ‘Volker Bruch Babylon Berlin,’ I found this pic of him with my head in the background, leaning into the glowing white orb.

babylon berlin

When I first saw this, I wasn’t positive the head was mine, but I was almost positive. Then I showed the pic to Erica, my girlfriend, and she said there’s no way it couldn’t be mine. She said I have a uniquely square head. It’s like a box, she said. No argument.

I will stop here for now. We are leaving soon to watch Union vs. SV Sandhausen – a soccer game – in clear blue skies and a 19° chill factor. I will write about it later. I’m running way late…



Nexus Stage Left by M.P. Powers

This poem of mine was published today at In Between Hangovers.

via Nexus Stage Left by M.P. Powers

Nexus Stage Left

Soon enough, it’ll all be over.
This play, the dim-lit stage
with the cardboard angels and painted sand dunes,
the green dragon
and the coronation of vinegar.

Soon enough,
the rockfish will sing its swan song,
and the prophet Ezekiel
will come back
as a bulb of elephant garlic
in the Garden of Earthly Delights.

Soon enough,
when the wild Clydesdales of the sun
give birth
to cassava
and a jew’s harp, locusts and oil fires
will inherit
the Sinai Peninsula.

Soon enough is happening already.

Already, the queen bee is circling the pomegranate
to inspire some kind of
magic cosmic revelatory bias.

cactus fur
in Damascus,
and history’s opening its hands.

It’s the old story of The Fox
and The Crow, retold
from the point of view
of a piece

It’s stones
and roots and gaudy
struggling to be fire.

It’s a spastic fly trapped in the belly of a light fixture.

On Money


I prefer to write at home, but because it was sunny the other day, and sunny days are rare in winter in Berlin, I took a long walk with my laptop in my backpack and ended up at a café in Kreuzberg called Betahaus. Betahaus is a four-story workshare space and hub for startup companies, freelancers, programmers, graphic designers, videographers, bloggers, layabouts and so forth. I ordered a café crema and sat alone on a sofa chair in the back. Then I tried to write. I did write. I wrote the blog I posted three days ago, but not in its present form. I wrote a pale and sickly version of that, the precursor to several other pale and sickly versions, and sat there between sentences listening to some 20something American at the table across from me talking business with the two girls sitting by him. I could only hear dribs and drabs of the conversation. He was doing most of the talking. People have this notion, I heard him say a couple times. And, from a technical perspective. And, target market. I could tell he was quite intelligent, but there was something disappointing in his intellect. It seemed almost entirely constructed for and directed toward apprehending the obvious. Show him a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, I thought, and he wouldn’t see it; play Mozart’s Turkish March for him and his eardrums would deflect it; read a poem by W.B. Yeats in his presence and risk being called a pansy. I sat there listening as he prattled on. This is mission critical, he was saying. And I started to think about all the people in the world like him, super intelligent, but with personalities that got lost in the pursuit of money, knowing, as they did, that with money, that Protean Mephisto, came women, luxury, fancy meals, vacations, toys, status, reputation, approval, everything that was supposed to make a man happy, and did, sometimes, but when it came at the cost of your whole personality, I would say not. The most miserable people I’ve ever encountered were the rich that came into my dad’s store to buy patio furniture. I worked for him in my late teens and early twenties, and have known ever since the ill-effects of too much wealth and falling for the American Dream. Which is why I’m in Berlin now, happily poor.



Berlin in February, buildings of lilac-gray under radiant clouds, Italian madrigals leaking through half-open windows, the dark grumbling alleyways, centuries-old stone cathedrals, sun on the Quadriga, graveyards deep in shadow, the sweet smell of honeyed baklava drifting from a Turkish bakery, and the roar of underground trains, old men telling cock-and-bull stories in the dim-lit kneipen, advertisements in neon, sadness in a bordello, the ecstasy of the dance, thoughts of death, murderous desires, Kafka’s immaculate laughter groping through hallways of Portuguese marble, the sultry dread silhouette of a beautiful woman in the fragrant twilight, the earth under you spinning and the feeling of being fully alive.

This is why I write.

I do it because there are things in me – impressions, nuances, reveries – things I can’t express in normal conversation or in any other way, but they’re so alive in me, something would die if I had to keep them inside.  Sincerity, as I said in an earlier post, is a goal. But sincerity is only one feather in the pigeon’s breast. The rest is the play of language, the creation of vivid images, of mood, of atmosphere, the accurate transference of emotion, cultivating the perfect lie, the perfect truth, lyricism, the slowing of time, the flowering of eternity, the flower in mid-blossom and just out of reach.

It’s the reaching for it, that’s why I write.