Reviews‎ > ‎

Tough Guys Don't Write

Selected poems from Tough Guys Don't Write, Finishing Line Press, 2011.

Tough Guys Don't Write

Posers from Hemingway to Junot
from Bukowski to Eminem have never fooled
folks with any sense, anyone who’s ever
really met an actual bad ass.

The real deal hardly ever reflects
and never in tranquility,
doesn’t take the time to find words
to express what he always finds expressible
with a fist or a blade or a gun.

I’m not saying a writer can’t be mean
and almost anyone can abuse drugs
or sometimes win a fight,
but there’s a reason writers
want you to know they once
worked construction, survived
the ‘hood, didn’t dodge
a purple heart;

there’s a reason really tough
women and men can always pull
the writer from a line-up
of purported thugs,
scars or sneers notwithstanding:

as soon as you’re ready
to write a novel,
rap yourself into a sonnet,
stage your life for all the world,
you forever after can only
posture not to care
what others might think
and feel.

(Title poem first published in the 2006 issue of Amoskeag, the Literary Journal of Southern New Hampshire University.)



She has never liked the texture, my wife,
the rubbery feel on the tounge.
It isn’t the way they taste,
but how.
I argue some cheap ones in a Wal-
Mart can can’t compare to close-
to-magical morels, buttery portabellos,
but my wife wants nothing to do
with edible fungus, figures
they’re all too close to disease,
is not a bit surprised most of their cousins
are poisonous, nor that the atom bomb
plumes a massive cloud, mushroom shaped
and fatal.


There are places with miles of mushrooms
growing underground, mushrooms sporing
on trees, mushrooms pink as puberty,
yellow as gold.
There are grey, brown and black ones,
mushrooms that stink worse than lies.
We had this one network of torpedo shaped
toadstools, with an aggressive odor
like someone else’s sex
multiply on our mulch pile. I tried
to pull them up by their stalks, but
they returned. I had to get under
the mulch where there were purple veins,
fatty, squishy bulbs. I thought I was done
with them twice, but the grey-white phallic-
faced reminders of my own mortality would rise
again, making me suddenly more certain than
my wife, even, of the evil texture
of their intent.

(First published in Karamu.)