You're Not You, Part II

A Poem About A Couple Of Supermodels Or Something

A party, ‘n an apartment, dimly lit,
Four people, social peers, have made hellos.
Two women and two men, behind whom flit
Another guy: with them th’ girls’ vision goes.

One of our party’s men takes note of this
(This guy, by th’ by, is by Joe Pesci played)
”What spy you,” Pesci ponders, getting pissed,
”Are we not good enough, us two displayed?”

“What, now, you’re supermodels, you two husks?”
He fumes, a scowl acreep across his pate,
And, bowing deep, he teases, “Pardon us!
Big supermodels! Gee, that must be great!”

His friend with urgency takes him aside;
Into th’ apartment’s kitchen they retreat.
”Eat you this Snickers,” doth his friend prescribe,
”You get quite angry when you need to eat.”

Joe Pesci takes the Snickers, takes a bite,
And instantly his presence is transformed.
He’s just a guy again now, temper light,
Reverted by the snack back to the norm.

Two men return to talk to these two girls,
But one (Don Rickles now!), “Hey losers,” hurls.


Here’s the original commercial, if you haven’t seen it:

Lauren Lapkus is in this! And, yeah, also Joe Pesci and Don Rickles.

I’ve been hungry a lot lately. I’m trying to lose a couple inches around the ol’ waistline. Hunger has been my companion. I’m finding that I get hungry right before lunch and dinner times, which is obvious, but also finding comfort in the constancy. The regularity. Not the hunger, but the routine. I used to feed that hunger immediately. Now I see it coming over the steppe like a wild dog and I know it’s going to walk alongside me on my journey until I get to the next scheduled meal. That dog used to freak me out so I’d give it Pop Tarts right away and watch it withdraw. Now I’m trying to get used to the dog. It’s not tame. I don’t want it to hang around all day. Just a wild animal part of myself that I’m growing used to, if not terribly fond of.

I really really hope I’m not becoming a thinspo tumblr blogger. I still like beer and cheeseburgers, folks.

Anyway, thanks for reading.

This is Phil.


I'd Like To Make A Friend

A poem about my shy kid taking a risk

“I’d like to make a friend today,” she says
This skill, the making friends, she’s working on
And so I let her go, her in our stead,
Around the plastic rock, to th’ slides beyond.
Three sisters, maybe cousins, as a crew
Storm through the tubes, wrong-way the slides en masse.
My kid, outside their orbit, cannot do
This roughness; lets them miss her, lets it pass.
Turnover. Now those girls have left the field.
I play as monster to indulge my kid,
But playgrounds draw an e’er-refreshing yield,
And now a kindred shy girl’s com unhid.
Without a word exchanged my daughter climbs
Behind her new subject, on platform shared,
And down the chute and up a dozen times,
They silently take turns and keep things fair.
Until the time, my daughter in the lead,
Does not receive the other on her tail
And peeks around the post so furtively
Why this reciprococity has failed.
Turnover. Even this kid has to go,
And actually, since it is getting dark,
I make my daughter exit even though
She’d rather starve than leave her precious park.
”I’m sad I didn’t get to say goodbye
To my new friend,” she openly confess.
“But aren’t you glad you made that friend?” I try.
She shrugs and eats a Cheerio. “I guess.”


Kids, am I right? This is a true story, which I hesitate to say because the tick-tock of it is so banal, like of course it’s true because who would make this up? Anyway after the events in this poem the other kid came back to the playground as we were leaving and my kid did get to say goodbye to her playmate and everyone was happy. I didn’t put that stuff in the poem because I’m trying to make you feel something, dammit.

Anyway I guess the point is you can get along and work closely with someone and feel like you have one of those relationships where you don’t even really have to talk, and you think that’s all well and good until it’s over and in your idyllic silence you forgot to even say goodbye. This is a crazy world. We’re not getting any younger. Hold your loved ones and tell them you love them, yes, of course, that’s well-worn advice. But also just say goodbye every time you go. Just in case, right? God forbid you ever get in a situation where you get the terrible news and you ask yourself, “Jeez, what even was the last thing I said to that person?” You don’t want it to have been something like “rice again?” or “these fucking politicians, man” or “just finish up on the potty so I can get out the door.” You want it to be a nice goodbye. Be generous with them.

Anyway, I’m rambling. Thanks for reading.

This is Phil.


Image by Markus Spiske

Nature Will Not Care

A Poem About How We're Killing Ourselves And Who Will Mourn Us When We Finish The Job

The children, first, will protest. More and more will fill the streets.
Foregoing school, and dropping out, they'll broadcast with their feet.
Protecting their inheritance, the burden of the heir,
Demand a clean supply of life, but nature will not care.

A general strike, machines shut down, there's half of us at least
To think and fight and tap the brakes, to try to tame the beast.
It's not political, we'll say, but this will lead nowhere.
The other half just wants a fight, and nature will not care.

A chance to win has brought us here, a chance to be the best,
To stand as a Colossus o'er the world, our treasure chest.
These meek would have us lose; for what? An extra polar bear?
The short game always beats the long, but nature will not care.

The wizards working overtime, prolonging the decline,
Will tuck away our carbon, taking nibbles, biding time.
Let's try to feed the fattened hordes with light and moving air.
Too hard, too late; what made us wait? But nature will not care.

Your family won't have any water left; you'll pack your bag,
And drag your children over to the border; there's a snag.
There aren't any papers you could show t'admit you there.
Go pitch a tent on asphalt, kids, but nature will not care.

How can it be that we won't feed each other, as a rule?
How can a class, a nation, race, give food to just the cruel?
We'll count the ribs on every screen that can remain on air,
Pitch in, kickstart, donate your name, but nature will not care.

How many stones have to be thrown to call this thing a war?
If losing this means going back to starving, dying poor
Why would we ever stop? At least let's die to get our share.
The haves have all the bombs, alas, but nature will not care.

It's time, some time, and some time soon, for even they, the rich,
To feel the pantry going dark, to feel the dusty pinch,
To look around and notice their employees aren't there.
They've took the big vacation, boss, and nature will not care.

How many hands have built the bombs, how many watched the lock?
Who watches when mountain burns? What soldier checks the stock?
Which rogue will take one and abscond, and send it through the air?
How long before the world responds? Well, nature will not care.

So long, so long. All minds are gone, but has the world been lost?
The boiling oceans, will they cool? If not, is there a cost?
With no one left to notice whether we can't breathe the air,
Can we consider this a death? Well, nature will not care.

To care is human, so is health, so is the use of words.
So's thought, so's peace, so's war, so's time, so's everything you've heard.
The genius of ourselves, the stuff of brains, the desperate prayer,
To miss them would be only human. Nature will not care.


Did you read that story about how there are 3 billion less birds in North America today than there were in the 1970’s? The one where the scientists say things like “this is the loss of nature” and “nature is unraveling?” When I was 20, 25 years younger than I am now, back when I didn’t think things were urgent yet but it turns out they actually already were, I figured if it came to some scientists saying things like “nature is unraveling” that’d be like a worst case scenario. That’d be against a backdrop of impenetrable smog or, you know, 3 billion birds all dropping dead and falling out of the sky.

NATURE IS UNRAVELING

What an arrogant thing to say. Are we running out of food and room and air and water? You bet. When we go are we going to take NATURE ITSELF down with us? No. No! This is nature itself. We’re the worst. We can’t keep big-H Humanity alive because we can’t quit meat and cars. Massive things will continue to bend space. Light will still move pretty fast. We’ll exist in the time we always existed in, and we won’t exist in the time we didn’t make it to because we couldn’t keep the game going because we’re greedy assholes. Thanks for the memories, no one will be left to say.

Anyway, go out and strike today. I recognize that I come off like a nihilistic detractor. I’m not optimistic. If it ends up changing the minds of the elite, that’ll be great. Tell me if you see any nature out there.


Image is by Johannes Plenio

Digging Under The Floor

A Poem About A Major Quote Unquote Repair To My House's Plumbing

Some seven seasons past we put a new
Half-bathroom in downstairs, atop the slab.
New plumbing, walls, a coat of paint we threw
Upon the cozy space, a fine collab;

Alas! A leak was found beneath it all,
When drainéd we the kitchen sink upstairs
The water bubbled up behind the wall
From out the very ground ‘neath our repairs.

A house has drains, waste water has its home;
It might seem unimportant, but it’s not.
When done with water, where then does it roam?
To oceans, rivers, pipes beyond our thought,

Unseen and pouring, flushing, ‘less it leaks.
A hole carved in a pipe might bite, betray,
Beweaken your foundation, so to speak,
The years its ally, dripping disarray.

Exhaling, houses think their systems clean,
Designed with heartbeats, pushing stressors out.
Unhealthy, then, defective in its mean,
We found the hole, and fixed it roundabout.

Some seven seasons let we leak the house
Into the dirt on which the thing was built;
Unhurried, lazy, scared to trace its routes,
To call a plumber with a plumber’s skills.

When finally they came to fix the crack,
It took the house by storm, its order thrashed,
A hole in the concrete they hammered, hacked,
And dragged concrete to the garage as trash.

The house entirely with dirt was smeared,
And overnight a pit was left downstairs
As if a gopher might at night come peer
Into our cozy half-bath, unawares.

Such tumult, discord, necessary strife!
So later, newer pipe was buried in
And underneath a patchéd slab, new life,
New drains to drain our house, complete again.

Some seven seasons suffered on our home,
Unseen to us, unknown what harm it did,
Its buried dross, we couldn’t just have known; 
Didn’t know how bad things were before the dig.


That photo was actually taken in my house last week. If you’re wondering what’s under the bottom of your house, I can tell you from experience it is dirt. We had a nice little home improvement project going. We put in a little half-bath and were going to refinish this whole big room, which used to be like a mother-daughter half-kitchen, into a play room. You can see the toys in the photo. Fresh paint. Deep pile carpet. Somewhere That’s Green-level shit. Then, the leak.

This poem is also about other stuff, of course. Frost’s ulteriority, and all that. Last week I contracted myself a cold and I took a sick day and did some capital-J Journaling. Soul-searching on paper. I wound up digging through a lot of stuff that was on my mind that I didn’t 100% recognize was on there. You have to dig through a lot of mind stuff sometimes to get to heart stuff, when you’re journaling.

I think i figured some stuff out. BORING ALERT.

I’m driven mainly by two motivators. A high purpose and a base purpose. My high purpose is to delight people. Bring some joy and light into this darkened turd theater we call life. I think I’m good at it. I make my wife and kids laugh. My coworkers, my friends. I just try to be delightful because I really think there’s no higher purpose than making other people smile.

Then there’s the base purpose. I need to impress everyone, is my base purpose. I particularly focus on impressing people who I, myself, am impressed by. This is good if you want to play the game and run the rat race and learn a lot of worky things like JavaScript and Powerpoint and Dressing Like A Square. It’s gotten me pretty far. But, of course, of COURSE, I see that it’s not as pure an impulse as delighting people. It scratches a more selfish itch.

But then also I make people laugh and if that’s impressive to people who I think are super funny, that can feel like the ultimate goal; impressing those funny people with my own delightfulness. And then also there are ways to apply any halfway impressive skill I pick up toward the end of making people happy. I work at basically a puzzle factory, is a good example of that. Really, essentially, I work at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

So I want to do more things to make people happy. I want to step back and ask myself if the things I’m doing are just to impress these people I perceive as mentors, and if my doing them is bringing any light into someone’s life.

Also I want to finish this goddamn play room.

That’s some of the stuff i wrote down in my little journal.

If you’ve read this far, I’m frankly amazed. If you like the poem, share it around, please. Or share any of the poems from the backlog. Recite them on street corners; I don’t mind.

Thanks for reading.

This is Phil.


King and Queen With Swift Nudes

A Poem About X-Rays, I Think

These juggernauts composed, their shoulders cliffs,
These things are known, their natures, depths and widths,
Unmoving, ever there, asleep, awake,
Know them thyselves, and can each other make.

Across a, what, a chasm, table, aisle?
A look. A vessel. Cold. A scowl. A smile.
A tunnel carries, what, a knife, hello?
What’s in a look, to know? To never know?

And, naked, ‘tween them, ‘tween itself, ‘tween all,
Electrons make their way: a waterfall.
These nudes, unnoticed, known but not discussed
Pass unacknowledged by them. Crucial. Dust.

The atoms, though, we’ve seen, their nature known.
Each year a deeper theory’s overthrown.
Between the blocks, between again they find
A newer spark, the dark they’re in defined.

These two have looked for ages, seen so much,
And ages hence each deeper pearl they’ll clutch
Will swim forever by; the river groans,
Forever deep, unknowingly unknown.


Marcel Duchamp was a big science buff, and right around the turn of the century he started learning about atoms and subatomic particles and x-rays. And so that’s what he painted.

If you have the day off, I hope it’s a good, lazy one. If you don’t, if you’re having a day at work, I hope it’s a good, lazy one anyway. Damn the man. It’s Labor Day.

Thanks for reading.

This is Phil.


Image: King and Queen With Swift Nudes by Marcel Duchamp

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