Saturday, June 02, 2007

Tea on the Tombstone


Tea on the tombstone
Crumbs in your hair
The blanket crushes chopped down grass
Scones are piled with care
You don’t drink
You don’t eat
You just watch and smile
Until I put you
Back down below
And leave you for awhile

Peter Joseph Swanson

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

things grow


The vine climbed the drain
It wanted to hear the man play Bach
The man finally died of old age
The vine, it stayed, and the stone silence
Turned it yellow and cold

One day punk rockers moved in
Squatting there to be Zen
The loud punk warehouse
Got on some of their nerves
The vine revived to the vibe
Of their vibrant vegetarian vibration
Until the kids tore it down to hang from
In a mass punk suicide

Peter Joseph Swanson

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

it's dark down there


Take your vitamin D pills now
You who toil all day long under pillows
The sun hasn’t touched in you a decade or two
And your bones are softening into velour and glue
Take those little pills and then go back
And breathe the fine dust just under the floor
Only those with new money can see the bright of day
The hot beach is for those afraid of dark toiling

Peter Joseph Swanson
and visit me here -

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


By Peter Joseph Swanson

book one

There should be more tales for the darksiders. Capes get lonely when left on wooden crosses. A gate is creaking to open for a witch with prosthetic eyeballs. She is bringing Little Red Riding Hood sticker-books for all the good children. Lightning flashes and lights up the stained glass lilies - and lights up the blood on the floor that has clotted to red rubber, until a cape passes by and smears it into shapes that tell bad fortunes. In a year’s time, the castle will be left entirely under lake water. That is the tale until the next poetic chapter. That is the tale until the spreading of man’s new bat wings. They were grown in a dungeon cauldron, but I’m digressing. There should be more tales for the darksiders. A ruby ring from your treasure chest, or a beer, might buy one for you.

book two

There should be more tales for the darksiders. The garlic on the town gate will stop the drinking. So the nervous lovers go to the crossroads for beer and kissing. The hearse is pulled through them by two white horses. They are nervous vapor and don’t feel such large cart wheels. And there is a tale from all the mortal mad passion. Leather boots and fat cod pieces close with laces done forcefully. Black lace bodices blow from the branches in tatters. The moon shines like the skin of the wicked. The mist covers the orchard’s naked apples. That is the tale until the next erotic chapter. That is the tale of the lovers six feet under. A love ballad still leaks from their blue lips. The tale ends with no hope for reconciling.

book three

There should be more tales for the darksiders. The dragon keeps the man from his silk sheathed scepter. The fountain gushes up milk and honey in the Land Of Milk And Honey. Tattoos cover up more than the rubberized fashion. Patrons line up but there is no leaving the city Sodom. Art openings run out of boxed wine at midnight, both red and white. The tale goes from one warehouse to an older one. Beer cans are crushed. A China doll wig was left in the rain on a doorstep. The tale says her lopped off head was still snug within it. The rest of her is for critical appreciation. Her fit torso shows a tattoo of a man and his long dragon. That is the tale until the next symbolic chapter. That is the tale of art imitating slam dancing. The tale is also about a new place for cheap drinking.

book four

There should be more tales for the darksiders. But the plague came and ruined chances for blooming. An official war replaced angst with false glory. The battles were all about who had the sharpest elbows. The tales are about who got the most attention. The pretty man in black lipstick sang to no one. But the throng who sang back was an urban sprawl choir. Tales for the darksiders were lost in the layers. The tale is encrypted until much excavation. The accurate digging won’t happen for a hundred years. For now the press is content looking eastward. The seven knives to end war will be uncovered. But they are donated to the white marble museum. Other tales are told in audio tour headphones. Creative people still hide under the floorboards. Cheap beer is remembered with odd fondness.

Friday, February 09, 2007

me me me me me Peter Joseph Swanson

Sunday, February 04, 2007

we only remember the art


in 1978
the super-8 movie was bought at K-mart
it clanked through in 3 minutes and then was done
that seems brief, but, at the time it did impart
more in my head and a new dream had begun

I flung myself off the hill, the model ship had tipped
with the shocked passengers, I was one of the losers
no one knew what I was playing so they couldn't nip
and shame, then pound me into a masculine bruiser

skinny boy that I was, I wanted to be Shelly Winters
she seemed nicer than anybody else that I knew
but such longing caused odd mental splinters
and the parts never did undergo a rendezvous

is it sad that such memories go off to no place
and sit until they're rather distilled or forgotten
if we can only go back and somehow improve and replace
stupid old ideas with something more intelligent or Zen

the super-8 is worn out, it wasn't made to last
I no longer want to be tumbling like Miss Winters
I know now that even if real ships did tip over
finding all the exits in time isn't the end of a story
there is no end to any story, there is no story
and I now remember it as rather unimportant

I lay on the side of the hill, head down
only pale grass and a creek are below, drying
I'm trying to listen for a consequential sound
The ungrounded feelings are mystifying



that one on a pole looks like a piece of Las Vegas
not half as good as that car dealer sign, "Don't Egg Us!"
but it's put in a gallery so very expensive
we all peek and creep away inordinately pensive.



When your head is chopped off, how long do you live
far from your lungs, there is still air in your brain
for a few minutes, maybe, thoughts will detain
far from your heart, can you feel emotive
do you remember the time you got lost on the train
do thoughts splash at you like real sips of champagne
do you feel combustive combative compulsive
do your eyes creak open to see the mob so destructive
do you think hard with your cheek on the street
or will there be such glory in your immense defeat
will there be a final silent minute for complaint
or do you just black out, abruptly, in a dead faint

and that time that you were on a train and got lost
you couldn't see, your windows thick with your frost
you were running from feeling and reputation even then
even then you lived feeling short of some pure oxygen
falling down the hallway was enough to almost exhaust
with fire on your head, pounding your own Pentecost
but the fire didn't bring God, only a final amen
losing your confused and bejeweled diadem



Jane Jane had her head
lopped off under a truck
The fireman bagged the thing
along with pounds of yuck

was she drunk, sold to a carnival
or was she brainlessly buried alive?
No one really knows - how can they for sure
but we do know Jane Jane couldn't drive.

some people work so hard to be famous
they have no real trade they can do
they can't do anything but hustle themselves
but the marketplace will tolerate so few
of those butterfly creatures to idolize
most don't give a flying-flip-flam at all
selling shoes at the mall is close to glamour
but it isn't cobbling so it won't scratch
the high that some people need so they're
irrelevant to the nations with cold numbers



Joan Crawford is anxious
she chewed the lens to bits
because it showed a line from her eye
where the ends cease to convene
because Father Time gave the role
to a new generation
a bright blonde missile
from the other side of the tracks
like herself pure doubt
pure ambition
elbow grease
and forward marching

the plastered creature looks goddess
on white sidewalk posters for desiring
the paper texture has a lovely smooth grain
in a stencil the shapes feel eternal
even if it should stain in city rain
her glare is violent bullet hole suffering
languid martyrdom during attractiveness
and will burn an ache through you
at 24 frames per second
the pulse on her face is enough
to glow like a vision of divinity
diaphanous fan manna breadstuff



Joan had a lifelong crush on Bette
a lifelong crush hotsie and bad
so sent gifts to show she was horny
but unrequited hots make one sad
so she also plotted Bette's doom
revenge is the same word as love
you'd think she flew high on a broom
there was nothing she was above
I read this gay twist in a book so smart
full of gossip that could not be mistook
irony hits here as kerthunk as a dart
Crawford's MEN was the title of that book


Marlene Dietrich at 75

snip tuck snap tape
staple pinch strap
pull pin tape again
white fur, yellow wig
vodka bottle - friend for pain
tug pull lift squeeze
tweeze paint draw again
white pills - friend for pain
yellow green - friend for day
blue blue - friend for night
two marble bolsters
cold pallid pillars
barely propelling
strap encase wrap
swaddle sheath in stardust
encase strap wrap again
icicle bauble winking stars
jewel glass shimmer
barely pulsing
barely infected
shimmering tourniquets
famous legs



Babs was too young to play Hello Dolly
unless she hitched as a lil pip
killed her husband by ten (a famous diner by then)
so the all waiters sang big for her tip.

Vanessa Redgrave had a perfect role
as a fashionable Camelot queen
she's spoiled then pampered
bitchy then hampered
always decorous in the decorated wide
wide wide wide wide screen

Madonna was good in Evita
although the woman can't act
but posing without chat is where it's at
and mere posing makes a star diplomat.



tell me talent ain't true blue sky
it's just something to finagle and buy
the way to market how a shopper should think
is not art but reminders that we like a good wink
then a singer can make lots of glitter and money
but not be rich in singing genius or funny
but we keep our eyeballs glued to the screen
asking ourselves what does this glitz mean
if you want art then listen to Bach
if you want the hips and a junk food shock
then jump up and down at the bar to disco
pop and art
is like extra virgin olive oil
and Crisco



the clergy aren't remembered
beyond the old ladies who
caretake kitchen table altars
until they and the flowers die.
It's a fact, beyond my being a brat
name one pastor Bach played for
hum a Bach tune, you can, even
if you think believing in belief is dumb
even atheists and satanists love Bach
Bach thought he was in a stupid place
and went to jail for cracking the
pastor over the head with a stick
it's a fact beyond my being a brat
it's all in the German public record
that's what happens when you go to jail
the name of the victim is also there
but I bet you don't know who he was

we only remember the artists
we only remember the artists
we only remember the artists
remember that



Dick: I'm too hung to move
Liz: My liver just popped out. Can I name it Jeff?
Dick: How did this entire bottle get up my nose?
Liz: But is it empty?
Dick: Get the yogurt
Liz: My cheek is glued to the floor
Dick: No, it's your wig - you've been mopping with it for hours
Liz: If this were a drinking game, the entire Russian army would be dead

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Peter Joseph Swanson



leave me on a melancholy plate
even if it is paper and has a crease
from being folded in half for the pocket
leave me on a quiet plate
nowhere near a loud buffet
leave it all behind and go where
a sea of dirty pigeons walk
with heads down
I can drink beer under a tree
and keep cans in a neat pile
like an aluminum bouquet
my only possession
and your only possession is
your all-you-can-eat

empty cans last longer

my garden I uprooted with my stubborn pig snout
sowed, weeded, and plucked with great heaving
was an entirely fanciful garden, leaving my mouth full
of pink tinker fuss dust, after nobody wanted to
buy my phantom daydream wares at the super store
Most people today spend so much
of their money in the warehouse
sell it very well in bulk
it’s very fresh
but my little patch of
stale la la
was oddly overlooked
time and again
it won't ever be
on a superstore shelf
so you won't see it
I have very odd ideas why



Dirt for sale. Dirt to heal. Dirt is always the much better deal.
Clean and fresh, slather your flesh, dirt from the floor of your Temple. Medicinal dirt, mystical dirt, dirt to heal all that is simple.

Dirt that is red to keep you not dead, consumers will see it and cherish. Dirt for your gold to keep you not old, dirt that is gaudy and garish.

Jump in it, roll in it, squeal like a pig. Pray in it, stay in it,
when cured, do a jig. Parade in it, wade in it, try to give birth.
Stomp sacred circles, eat, consume the Earth.



The yellow leaves are blowing over the dead body.
The dead body breathes. The dead body chews leaves.
The pulse is as dry as strings in the air.
The black cat steps on the arm of deceased.
The dead body breathes. The hand closes to squeeze.
Cat strings pull tight to chime harpsichord release.
The witch throws garlic on the mad screams.
Fangs fall out and succumb to disease.
The witch wakes up in a pine box.
In and out of rows with the profane.
In and out of the earth with the same name.
Mad screams, splinters and scratches.
The hot blood disease stops her cold clock.
Another one of her very bad patches.