and the record begins with a song of rebellion
in my room, alone, wondering if I’m too old for
songs of rebellion. Looking up the subway
escalator, in the rotting wet-painted station,
I am smelling and breathing as the smallest
part of a nail clipping on the body of
this city. My guitar is all dust I’ve carried from
one bedroom to the next. Started in my parent’s
house and now it’s made it across rivers and
bridges, always with remnants of better notes
played by younger hands. At night, my credit
card takes phantom Seamless punches until
it’s black and blue. Work is meant for the
Quick spends in between the hours of 7 and
10pm. Pad See Ew arrives right when it’s
supposed to and I eat right from the cartons
in front of the window I wish I had in my
apartment. I think about the dreamers
and their fickle hold on this place, how one
night it’s a pencil novel and the next it’s
haphazardly erased. I run my finger along
the fretboard to collect a memory I saved.
The Mega: A Novel
So, this is the story of my third book, The Mega. It started as a short story on this site. I got to thinking, “what if something so shitty happened, the only excuse to fix it was to become a makeshift, terrible-at-the-job superhero?” Enter Cole Cofield: high school senior, horror junkie, gamer, fan of pulpy discount-bin comics, grocery store clerk, just waiting to break free of Harpoon, his cookie-cutter burb.
I thought about being pulled back to your hometown. Now that I’m in my late-20s, I think about Cedar Grove, my New Jersey suburb, a bit differently. I have this rosy hindsight where I choose to remember decent things rather than awkward things. Harpoon doesn’t pull Cole back in quite the same way. Actually, a weird, seemingly too-close-to-home crime spree is what pulls him back and makes him don the most homemade costume in history.
The Mega is an origin story, a love story, a story for everyone who wanted to fix not the big world outside, but the microcosm they’re living in. It’s for anyone who’s bonded over movies, who played Warhammer and Magic instead of going outside, who had to work a shitty job for shitty money just to afford a station wagon. It’s about every kid who names their car, who fell in love with a boy or girl who was way ahead of their time, whose parents were dreamers, whose best friend was too loud, who was given a nickname they hated that stuck for 4 years. The Mega is about the exact moment when you stop hiding and become proud of what you are, what you’ve been, and where you’re from.
hey! so this is a poem about falling in love on Halloween.
check me out on twitter
Banned for Life
Walking across the state of Florida,
I saw an angel with a Black and Mild.
The smoke shaped the scenes
I’d lived through, alone and
missing you. The Gulf of Mexico
reflected every lie I ever told back to
me, written clearly in heat lightning on
the blackboard sky. You told me you
loved me between the clothing racks
in a Tommy Bahama outlet store.
I modeled Hawaiian shirts over my
hoodie, hanging from plastic palm
trees in my cutoff shorts. I waved my
hand through that scene, sending
smoke to mix with the sand. Should
you be listening, I am still banned
from Tommy Bahama- my picture
copied in stark black and white.
You’re in the background of 100
stores, frozen mid-laugh with the
criminal from a younger life.
My Bus Ride Home.
NJ Transit smells like a bathroom tonight-
while my apartment is waiting on the other
side of a commuter armpit. Walking through
trash, I think how could 64-ounces of Mountain
Dew ever help anyone relax? I have a date with
binge-eating dumpings and screaming at old
episodes of NY Ink wondering why my tattoos
mostly suck. My bones hurt from stretching out,
trying to grow up but only touching fingers to
ceilings. My DVD collection reminds me of
school, majoring in Harrison Ford and getting
bombed while naming my imaginary band.
Beautiful people say things like “If I could only
get my foot in the door.” I’m a dog trying to
squeeze through a flap no one wanted to
install. The cold blows into family dinner
and it’s all for the well-being of some animal.
My mailbox is overflowing with lawyers
telling me to “get what I’m owed” and cable
television telling me to “turn myself on.”
The Best February
We were kids swept up by a perfect storm-
just a precursor to these modern, millenial
relationships we grew used to in our twenties.
You told me you felt confused and alone and
that our town felt wrong. You were a city bird
stuck in the suburban sprawl. I had this
potential that teachers called being learning-
disabled. We met on Halloween. I was a movie-
quality Michael Myers. You were Lydia from
Beetlejuice even though the drunk jocks thought
you were an undead bride looking for a boozy
groom. I was smoking outside when you said,
"Those things will kill you." Our first date was
to see Evil Dead 2, a 35mm print, projected
at the art house that shuttered its doors when
we went to college. I was twenty-four and on
my first real online date. She asked me what
I used to dream about when I was young. I
told her, the same things I dream about as
a grown man: love filling the cracks and
parts of me that I don’t understand.
She never called again.
Friday night, we were at the abandoned drive-in
remembering Mickey Rourke performances-
The Pope of Greenwich Village before his
face got pounded in. My dog, Houdini, still
remembers that trick you taught him - with
the tray on his back, carrying us drinks.
Remember the first person you told you loved,
and when they never said it back? Remember
my apartment and how John Hughes movies
made you extra sad? I was always Emilio. You
were a certain pouting red-head. You always
said you wanted your end credits to roll to Lucky
Denver Mint and I swore if I outlived you, I’d
make that happen. We made promises spanning
dozens of Fridays, from back when that drive-in
was still open. We worked jobs we hated just
to make it to a check. Forever kids wondering
about dying in epic fashion. I drew a weekend-
to-weekend story in the sand, lines for every
person who let me down. Houdini walked through
with an empty tray in his mouth. I never thought of
you more perfectly, and for a second, there was
no sand, just an ocean to heal me again.
this is a long form poem about being shitty, figuring it out, then getting better. Also my dog LOVES TO LICK THE COUCH.
extra heart valves
I wrote this for about how I was a terrible boyfriend. Follow me on Twitter if you can relate
This is true, elaborated a bit, but true… dammit.
You know, come to think of it, I never knew heart break in high school. Twenty years on the earth and I’d avoided heart break at every turn. I was always doing the dumping – in Starbucks, over the phone, in the mall, before Val Kilmer movies. I was the ultimate ex-boyfriend because I never gave a reason or cheated, I just kind of left. I was a cell, singular and without antioxidants. I felt the mutations, but never thought anything of them. I thought I was evolving but I was just using up healthy people.
On an unimportant Friday, in a November I forget, my heart first broke. My early-twenties were a waste, spent in a cigarette-box office. A cigarette-box office at the deadest end of an industrial park in Secaucus, New Jersey. At my 7pm winter desk, after everyone was home and dark, I’d imagine my poor heart. I had surrounded it with smoke, made it work harder for a pump, monitored it with a doctored-issued, blood-pressure cuff.
Thinking back on that November, it’s not important how my heart broke. I had made my career out of leaving, like a LinkedIn page with ellipses for every field. Girls had come and gone with their baggage and their faults. At first they seemed endearing, but then they became too much. Finally the faults in me were left instead of leaving. I couldn’t fold my clothes or listen to a song without thinking of every single different thing I could have ever done. If I had only stayed home, watched a movie, played guitar, I would have never partied, got drunk, fell in love.
I remembered the cell, before it craved attention all to itself. At the very top of a pile of ruined friendships and loves, I could see a vast expanse of moments. Moments that I could have never avoided, but that I’d failed in the midst of. My heart had been breaking the whole time, a product of the wear. I could see every relationship, different endings to each one, or so I thought. See, from my new vantage point, every ending was exactly the same as every other one. It was my weak heart, made up of selfish, ruined cells, that pushed horrible words out of my mouth. Determined words that would never stop until every single tie was severed.
See, the condition of your heart is not determined in an instant, it’s always on a path. I’m thankful for the love I can give now, and for the friends who took me back. I know that consequences are not karma, they’re the bricks I placed myself. I could have stopped that killer cell before it started, and because I didn’t, I’ll owe apologies forever. But you know, I threw away that blood pressure cuff. My heart murmur healed itself. I stopped smoking (for the most part). Pieces of my heart will be gone, never coming back. I’m thankful for all the love I hold, and all the pieces I still have.
the story of my retirement.
I drew you in the frozen lake behind my house.
And I could not capture your cheekbones or the
way we volunteered at the hospital -
Pushing wheelchairs through the garden and
speaking in a quiet, knowing tone. You were
beautiful, even covered in pre-prepared food.
I liked the way sweet potatoes happened to look
on you. And when I asked to borrow a moment,
you gave me an hour or two just to drive
around in my mom’s Windstar. You told me about
last summer and the way it ended on the beach.
Told me you confided in confident people whose
good nature seemed out of reach. We moved slow
through the side streets, passing our old school.
I used to mime the worst tenor sax while you were
tall and fluid on the varsity volleyball team. I used to
think, “that girl is water, and I’m the cement king.”
You still move like an element I can’t get my hand
to pass through with speed, slowed by the molecules
and every bond chemically linked. I’m sorry for the
Windstar and the distinct smell of grease. My mom
has spent at least two years on the throne as the
drive-thru queen. And a moment turned in to nights
as we came into our own. Tones became glances
at that hospital. When they asked about us
out there in the garden, I said I didn’t know a thing.
They told me to love while I’m still young and to
move a morsel in the universe just enough to
change a town, a city, a person, an everything.