is a poet and musician born in Brooklyn, New York and currently living in Boston and Long Island. When he’s not traveling around the country playing folk songs for drunk, disenchanted strangers, he’s an MFA student at Sarah Lawrence College. He’s currently working on a book about death. He likes long walks on the beach and has a hard time taking things seriously.
For those of you who didn’t catch it or forgot or whatever. I put a record out two months ago. It’s pay what you want because I don’t want your money if you don’t have any. Lots of amazing people helped on this thing. Listen, won’t you? Little Wars by Salvatore Rex and The Dead King Choir
There is a tiny glass jar on my desk.
It is black because it holds black nail
polish inside of it. It is yours.
I wish I too became what was inside of me.
Maybe a violet or an iridescent yellow.
The acoustic is propped up on the bookshelf;
I can see spots where the clear finish was scraped away.
I remember every time I closed my eyes and hit that thing.
My biggest regret is that I’ve never written you a really good love song.
Although I don’t know if I’ve ever really heard one.
In 1581 James Douglass was executed by guillotine. This sounds rather mundane, but James Douglass was the first person to introduce the guillotine to Scotland. He said it was clean and efficient. After they killed him, they left his head there until it turned leathery. This is all to say: I want to die from the thing I spent my life doing. But have words ever killed anyone?
You bought me flowers once and put them in an empty Jack Daniel’s bottle. Do you remember? I never told you, but I think it was the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me.
I have this reoccurring dream where
I drop my phone and it smashes into
hundreds of pieces of glass. I panic
because I just want to tell you that I’m okay.
I would drive to Boston right now if I could. I could bring flowers, maybe roses. I would drop my bag on the floor and unbutton my shirt. I don’t know how to love besides doing it. It’s like teaching someone to swallow, in that way.
Hey guys, I put an album out today. I’ve spent a really long time working on it, and I’m really proud of it. I would be really grateful if you’d give it a listen:
I saw a woman picking up sticks this morning. She was standing outside of the fenced lot the phone company owns. There is barbed wire along the top. One white oak tree hangs over it, a remnant of the old pine barons on the east end of Long Island. Most were destroyed to make room for cash crops, vineyards and summer homes. Besides the one tree there is nothing but weeds and overgrown grass inside. I don’t know why they would keep people out of an empty lot. As a child I would cross the street to avoid walking near it, assuming it was protecting me from some avoidable electric shock. I still do sometimes. But the woman was there, picking up sticks of uniform length and thickness and bundling them under her arm. She would examine each as if they were slipped under the plexiglass of a pawnshop. These were precious things. As she bent to pick them up her white and grey and black and brown hair fell off her shoulder and nearly touched the ground. I wanted to help her but I didn’t; I just didn’t.
Five people stood in a half circle around the hole,
We looked like pigeons around bread.
I didn’t even know these people’s names.
The pile of frozen dirt was covered with a tarp that waved
in the wind. Behind the priest you could hear it slapping
against the rocks. Everyone felt through their pockets,
stared at the impossible February sky; we all wondered
the same thing, even the priest.
The two sons went first, picking up islands of hard dirt
and throwing them down onto the casket. The sound
was unbearable . The priest put his hand
on the wife’s back. She stared at the soil in her palm
as if it were a nail. It fell out of her hand slowly, each pinch
being allowed to say what it needs to, until it was gone.
The most terrible thing the dead do to us is leave.
I sit in the apartment and smoke cigarettes
with the windows open. At certain times of day
the plume refuses to leave; its presence tells me
that it is the type of friend that will leave only when
it is damn well ready to do so. I don’t rush it.
Your work shoes near the door cough suggestively
to each other. They wait; I wait. The sun starts to tuck
itself neatly inside the houses behind our building.
The last light bounces off the tin roofs to the west
of the city, drenches the wooden floors in a deep rotten
orange. At this time of day it is nearly impossible for me
not to think about Halloween, about laughter.
The smoke packs its things and readies itself, checks to
make sure it didn’t leave the keys on the counter. It
is a slow departure, one that says: you will miss me
when I’m gone. It is somehow always right.
Once it leaves everything is suddenly quiet like a leaf
pressed into a page or like a dead dog on the side of the
interstate somewhere. It is tragic to see something so alive
become so still. I tap another cigarette out of the pack
to bring life back to this place while I wait for you to return.
“What is there about fire that’s so lovely?”
It’s the way you kick your tiny ankles
when you’re reading with your legs crossed.
Or maybe the things that you do with your
hands when you don’t know what to say.
The way the summer surrenders itself
to the fall is the way that I love you.
I have upturned myself; my arms
always pointed in the direction of
home. Sometimes I watch you sleep and
I can feel the upheaval–the reddish light
behind the clouds. In those moments I
hear you laughing somewhere. I will spend
our lives waking you up in the night with
some ghost I created of wallpaper shapes
or the disintegration of leaves under wind.
Some days I feel I am shoveling the bones out of my
self. Bringing them to you as a gift, a penance.
I want you to see every part of me that I would kill if
I could, but I can’t. You kiss me as if I were perfect.
I have given you the worst parts of myself
and you just lick your thumb and I am