it gets so stupid at times that a man  
has to lie down in front of a moving  
school bus to die 

the dogs are downstairs  asleep 
the neighbor is running his lawnmower at the speed limit 

I have the tv on for paid company 
telephone is off, unplugged, sitting in a clothes closet 

she took the guns & all my knives  
her purse is full of high grade steel & lipstick 

there are books to read 
there is nothing to read 

if I had courage 
there would be a daydream 

it isn't the overdose I worry about 
it's the hospital bed 

someone is going to have to feed 
those dogs tomorrow 

for all those knowing faces &  
beautific teeth 

that's a body next to me, alive & asleep 
on a mound of dead junk mail 

she's dying faster than my caffeine heart 
I like the suicide slow & comfortable 

there are bullets I want to see 
faces my eyes can't forget 

the smell of burning flesh 
doesn't wake me anymore 

nor do screams 

the cocky face of a sure idiot 

outside the grocery store was a homeless man & the homeless dog 
I bought the dog five pounds of dog food & a couple cans of wet 

the man got a small handful of change 
he looked up & said, "man, the dog got more than me" 

& I said, "I like dogs more than you" 

he reached in my pocket & tried to get to my cigarettes 
I grabbed his hand & said,  "the dog don't smoke" 

the next person going into the store gave him a smoke 
another popped a bill into his glove 

the dog lifted his leg on a shopping cart & pissed 
the man had been doing that to himself all day 

there is no magic in this moment 
not even a good color picture of humanity 

I could pick out the dog in a kennel of thousands 
but the man is a leaf in last year's pile 

not a drop of ambition in the  
whole damn man 

I hate coffeehouses, 99% of most poets, 
& I'd rather listen to tv static than a spoken word performance 

the writers are too full of their own beauty & too empty of scars 
their words remind me that I need to change the oil in my truck 

they are daring lil bastards when they talk of pussy & drugs 
risky when they write about guns & blood & snot running down 
     a mouth 

I want to know the last time they had a toothache 
& didn't have the money to see the dentist 

deal with the pain 
deal with the pain 

agony doesn't have an applause 

I won't give them one either 


(c) 1998, by Bill Shields 

ZC Poetry Page