THE BIG FINISH [ring] 

there it is, the seed of fear
I use to convey shock
and disbelief to the cheap seats
our violent pas de deux
winds down so I run
to the corner and climb
knees buckling
the outcome is predetermined
but the nerves are always real
I point my good elbow to the rafters
and smack it like an old TV
drop, pin, win
just like we rehearsed
I drape myself across the ropes
like a freshly laundered bed sheet
and from the canvas I feel your smile
peer through the hair matted on your face

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AUTOPLAY [mindless] 

all I have to do
is nudge the first domino
and let the computer fairies
handle the rest; only the hits
a cat with a meow like a foghorn
into the music video for "Sabotage"
into Gary Carter jumping
into Jesse Orosco's arms
into a supercut of every last out
of every World Series
of every year I've been alive
a string of climaxes
balls and bats, pornographic
and next thing I know
there's Gatorade in my eyes
there's champagne on my dick and
there's three hours I cannot account for

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FLIP LARUE'S 24-HOUR BAIT SHOP [bait] 

this one is a little longer so off to Pastebin we go; CW for gross imagery involving wild animals pastebin.com/0iBk9WUn

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A MOMENT OF LEVITY [freeze] 

this is the dad-jokiest thing I've ever written. pastebin.com/GJ1ErkZE

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PYRAMID [build] 

there's a pyramid in my lungs
with a base of chocolate and limestone
grouted with air-dried Big League Chew
each layer of brick and sandstone
etched with the ephemera of the days
weather patterns and box scores
jokes about the foreman
and every time I cough
the configurations of the bricks change
and the structure now lays on
a bed of feed and hay
but ever present at the tippy top
is a lava rock ever burning
ever shifting
warming whatever building materials lay below
radiating all

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THE ART OF ATTENTION [enchantment] 

we are here to enchant
enrapture and entertain
to fleece in good faith
and through the power of persuasion
suggest they part with
whatever is lining the bottom
of their purses and pockets
make their few seconds in our orbit
worth their while, as well as ours
live the gimmick, sell it like there's a hanging garden hidden in your nostrils
they can feel the transcendental
hover just above their tongue
so that cajon case stays a wishing well
just a while longer

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TINY BONES [frail] [cw: blood] 

I don't take things with tiny bones lightly
because chances are at the end
of those bones are knuckles
and talons and claws
muscles the size of eyeglass screws
powering jaws that can carve
through a thumb and tap blood
streaming like sap on a warm March day
hisses and wails and spits
like a hot water heater on its last legs
mechanisms to respect
fear is no good against teeth
that can gnash a steady hand
the only currency they trade in
is a soft pulsing reverence

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CATCHING STEVE DALKOWSKI [swing] 

okay, I'm taking my mulligan here, this is a poem about a minor league pitcher from the 60s pastebin.com/DGBkYDMB

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OFF THE AIR [pattern] 

but no, I stare at the pixelated fractals
until all I recall is a smear of noise
they don't even bother having
test patterns anymore
every second is crammed tight
and bracketed out
I can see every suboptimal decision
I've made reflected in the hollow ring
of an empty viewership
ASMR for the old and busted
yet the parade persists
until every iteration of quietude
is quashed, and unoccupied moments
recede further into an imagined past
and there's never not noise

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PANCAKES [snow] [cw: food] 

these are the saddest
god damn pancakes
I have ever seen
batter splayed in a splat pattern
with rumpled buttermilk skin
a skidmark of where spatula
met quote non-stick surface
table syrup because
the good shit is out of season
powdered sugar sprinkled
like an intermittent snow
the whole mess served
with a Diet Coke and a kiss
I tuck into the starchy mounds
with the fervour of a green lumberjack
and they are so fucking fluffy
and my day has been made
a few hours in

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THE BEFORE [dragon] 

scalp like a dragon's scalp
hair sprawling like cables from
the back of a server rack
psoriatic mountain ranges
peeking from the shirt collar
a thatched roof of teeth
and a stairstep nose from
a stint in Brazilian jiu jitsu
at a dojo in a strip mall
he beams like a sun god
with talismanic eyes
and a jaw that could drill for oil
he's got clawmarks on his knuckles
his ex-sensei would say
he don't have an ounce of quit in him
and why would he
the dead don't look in the mirror

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SMOKIN' [ash] 

my old man lived in smoke
the exhaust of the mines
the darts in the glovebox
in a feat of dexterity that
perplexed me as a kid
he'd ash his cig against
the cracked-open window
while doing 90 on the backroads
the world's worst-smelling magic trick
the dash coated in dirt and ash
his Firebird a miniature Pompeii
a record of habits good and bad
I was scared the embers
would engulf the car
like they did the house
and make all I had in this world
smell like a spent pack of duMauriers

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MOSS [overgrown] 

yeah this is a recycled shortie from this June, but I like it, and it fits the theme, so there laserdisc.party/users/derek/st

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DREAM #2 [legend] [cw: violence, gore, just nasty horror movie shit] 

you know how sometimes your dreams take a turn? well, this is one of those pastebin.com/KVQUfvmL

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WIDE BLUE SKY [wild] 

if you swapped out the palm trees
outside the 7-Eleven in La Jolla
where work is keeping you pinned
to the arid swirling air

for the tumbling and crunching
of maple and willow in
my eighth of an acre of wild
well past the markers of nowhere

we'd still end up facing the same direction
standing under still fireworks
puppeteered by twin winds
under the same wide blue sky

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BUYING CAT FOOD UNDER THE WATCHFUL EYE OF ST. JOSEPH [ornament] 

a poet in Montreal writing about a church? you don't say pastebin.com/3xy2Cc68

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THE SCRAP HEAP [misfit] 

off to the scrap heap I go
to find the syllables that slot together
like the limbs of an aluminum curtain rod
making the misfits fit, rummaging through
buckets of screws for those I can polish
into dime-store copper or ersatz brass
poetry doesn't beg for smooth surfaces
the allure of a large knot in a piece of plywood
or the oxydated tin where the roofing nails live
a long-empty jackdaw nest gathering dust
or an oil-smeared hacksaw hidden in the corner

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THE ACE [sling] 

poor bastard had his arm in a sling
after a botched elbow drop
off his stepdad's roof onto a disused mattress
coils springing out like stray nose hairs
but as his cousin said outside the clinic
"you only need one arm to pitch, Dutch"
even hurt he was the neighbourhood ace
he made a show off fastening the arm with the bad shoulder
to his torso with a belt he stole from the master bedroom
his sliders still danced like function graphs
on the screen of his scientific calculator

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CANOPY AND FOG [tread] 

between breaths I hear moose
snowshoeing across the lake
they know that I no longer shoot
I take the three-wheeler to the general store
once a week for my recommended
dosage of interpersonal interaction
winter's waif I inhale canopy and exhale fog
my tongue is frozen on the last couple
utterances I made back when I didn't
tell time with the sun and moon
I can't lay claim to those sounds anymore
all that's left are the tire treads
and soon the snow will take those too

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ASSOCIATIVE MEMORY [treasure] 

it wallops me like a sockfull of pool balls
I can't see it but I can smell it
locked in like an old bloodhound
it smells like a handyman's Saturday
as summer's getting it's sea legs
all lawn clippings and sawdust
enhance! dried sweat caking shin guards
and skates relegated to the garage
a treasure trove of musty old pornos
the dots of memory coalesce into a name
"Claudia Jennings, from Fast Company"
flabbergastment and disbelief
"how even do you know this shit bud"

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LAUNDRY DAY [ghost] 

you're not out of trousers but you might as well be
there's a cliff in your hamper a goat wouldn't touch
you're a few minutes shy of on time already, so make the call
the starters are absent, let's look at the bench
a bounty of fleece bottoms with worn-out crotches
and frayed hems you had no problem wearing to college
shiny white vinyl pants like the shed skin of a ghost
an embarrassment of sweats and shorts that, with a sigh,
you decide provides the least-worst options

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THE TORTOISE [ancient] 

I seem to have accidentally written a pocket fable pastebin.com/6AvxgE8M

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HOW TO TELL A JOKE [dizzy] 

say something silly and true
(or silly or true really)
in an unexpected fashion
pretzel language like a strongman
with a yard of rebar, an Atlas with
a Neapolitan ice cream wig
you'll be able to tell quickly
if you've stuck the landing
your confidants will exhibit certain traits
the face breaks, the diaphragm contracts
the opposite of apprehension
dizzying and disarming
a dose of controlled chaos
like taking a curve on a dirt road
just a tad too fast

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ALL DRESSED [tasty] [cw: food, gore] 

there's a hot dog man dancing on my plate
in a little black velvet smoking jacket
a long thin cane and a tall top hat
with sauerkraut shoes and a mustard kerchief
(i.e. all dressed)
his smile and soft-shoe stepping
betraying the knowledge that
I will be using his velour coat
to dab his juices from the folds
of my mouth, and his walking stick
like a toothpick to pry his intestines
from my giant ungainly gums
an offering to the altar of taste

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BEDTIME [dark] 

supine in the loud dark I tune
into the clatter of claws on lumber
dotted with inquisitive chirrups
I respond in kind by slapping the duvet
like a shag carpet on a clothesline
the gait goes from a trot to a gallop
and as soon as silence trumpets again
a furball in a four-point stance
makes itself at home on my chest
a fuzzy loaf of pumpernickel
an RC car motor in its neck
its closing caramel candy eyes refracting
what little back porch light
escapes the thick black curtains

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WORN AND RAGGED [coat] 

your old floral coat hangs
in the back of my closet
like a scarecrow's rags
the once eye-popping bell
pepper colouring dulled
and smudged by seasonal grit
loose buttons rattling like
pennies in the breast pocket
hangnail hems at the end
of each warren entrance cuff
I smile through every snag
every split seam, every instance
of the zipper misaligning teeth
gnawing navel-level holes
into half of my wardrobe
a rusted shield I will wear
until one of us is in tatters

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LATE BLOOMERS [ride] 

I keep my patron saints close to me
like a pack of playing cards
on each face the name of a late bloomer
the long riders of a short culture
the planets don't align most of the time
but a busted orrery is still a map
and all celestial bodies can find beauty
in the grinding tenacity of a terminte
working its terrible unseen magic
in plain sight of unprying eyes
thirty forty fifty years
strap in fuckers, we're taking the long way
the circuitous route is the ripest

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TWO MITCH HEDBERG JOKES LAID OUT LIKE A RUPI KAUR POEM [injured] 

I was in a band
for seven years
it was a death metal band
people either loved us
or they hated us
or they thought
we were okay
a lot of death metal bands
have intense names
like rigor mortis
or mortuary
or obituary
we weren't that intense
so we just went with
injured

— mitch hedberg

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TWO MITCH HEDBERG JOKES LAID OUT LIKE A RUPI KAUR POEM [injured] 

@derek oh my god Derek

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