Author Archives: bpmcgackin

Slot Machine

I put in my two cents but never know
what you’re going to spit out in response.
Perhaps I’m not welcome in this strip of
desert, my luck gone dry, hopes no higher
than your neglected brown carpet. Bright lights
and bandit metaphors can’t hold me here
forever; it’s fight night, and I never
miss the undercard, blowing my savings on
the underdog, me, tipping for the free
drinks so necessary to make it out
of here alive. Give me your hand; let’s dance.
Smile for me at least once before I leave
so I’ll have a story to tell. We may
disagree, but I don’t mind if you yell.


The poor wind-blown trees: rich in nutrients,
at least, but sea-blasted, crooked to the
roots, laying down their arms in deference
to a much superior fighting force,
hanging their leafy heads in shame that they
cannot withstand this grand oceanic
battering ram, a united front come
up from the air’s equivalent of an
icy hell——blacker than the deep-pressured
and starless night of the sightless swimmers,
their taste rudely breezed into the bark——their
horror coming more in the vanity
of not knowing how they live when we see
trees upright each day that never complain.


The waves stopped crashing, or at least the sound
didn’t make it all the way to the screen
door anymore, and the silence was a
deep layer of black at the bottom of
the Pacific, the most absolute form
of fog, and the beach was drowned, and the bluffs
crumbled and were never seen again, and
the surface and the sky and all manner
of moisture coalesced into one long
humid moment, bereft of focal points
beyond itself, outside of time, the stars
casting amateur reflections on the
plastic telescope we’d used to capture
Venus earlier after the sun died.

Massage Table

Apparently I am not able to
relax, even in allotted timespans,
even in dedicated spaces with
paid hands pressed against my stress-balled places,
even in the most serene locations,
inspiration being even more of
a burden when allowed complete domain,
total reign over my conscious thinking
processes, mind cleared of other nonsense
but flooded with plot devices and short
character studies, scene outlines and long
procrastinated fictional inner
discussions, and with nothing else to do,
I work until the relaxing time’s through.


The “N” standing not for “Nintendo,” but
“nostalgia machine,” a once fun gaming
system now relegated to the cold
task of recreating epic battles
from childhood memories, a sounding board
for discovering how accomplished your
friends were in their younger days, long before
you ever met, long before you set new
and more abstract goals, life being harder
to quantify than the safe danger of
progressing through the toughest 64-
bit levels, setting high scores, finishing
the game by beating, not being beaten,
surviving, not dying, not a real end.

Fire Pit

I’m not sure how I’d explain the ocean
to a man unfamiliar with its vast
and terrible face, except by maybe
equating it with what he’s seen of the
inner places: a wet and near endless
desert where the wind whips the blue-green
sand into moving dunes; a flat mountain
of melted snow with fish and seaweed for
rocks and sparse grass, including the ravines;
a thousand thousand rivers side by side,
a thousand thousand more as deep and wild;
climb the nearest hill and look down upon
the canopy at dusk, teeming with life
and fear and darkness. Am I getting close?


For a few decades most Europeans
had two birthdays, a byproduct of the
pre-EU ways of conducting foreign
diplomacy: do whatever the hell
you want, Russia, and we’ll clean up your mess—
chronologically speaking—later
on, when history’s forgotten how much
we all couldn’t get along. But like the
royal houses in WWI, it’s all
relative, and if the earth and sun and
stars and dust clouds and everything in
near perpetual motion stopped for a
moment we wouldn’t know it anyway,
it’s all manmade, so have your two birthdays.


I once had a pet, or an idea
that I wanted a pet, I’m no longer
sure exactly, a goldfish, I think, though
I wanted something better, grander, a
cat that looked like a tiger, perhaps, or
the largest god available to boys
of five or six, not this silent gawking
reality, but I took him, and I
named him George, and I found him a tank
to set the boundaries of existence
for his wet life, and I fed him, and I
fed him, and I fed him, and I fed him,
until he died, ’cause either I fed him
too much, or that’s all he was meant to do.

Chicken Fingers

Chicken toes. Chicken mani/pedi spas.
Chicken wraps. Chicken headdresses. Chicken
scarves. Chicken mittens. Chicken snow goggles.
Chicken ski poles. Chicken tridents. Chicken
shish kebabs. Chicken javelins. Chicken
hurdles. Chicken gates. Chicken sex scandals.
Chicken tabloids. Chicken celebrities.
Chicken world superstars. Chicken Beatles.
Chicken wings. Chicken football. Chicken goal
posts. Chicken nets. Chicken trawlers. Chicken
of the sea. Chicken mermaids. Chicken tails.
Chicken stories. Chicken fables. Chicken
myths. Chicken demigods. Chicken heroes.
Chicken fantasy. Chicken a la king.


On a rooftop in Los Feliz, at first,
colored lights in all directions, all the
city-sanctioned explosions going off
downtown blocked out by buildings; lingering
smoke, and the occasional daredevil
helicopter, be it police or news,
either way searching out the unlawful
displays, either way too close to the ground,
skirting the ceaseless show in East LA,
unbroken on the horizon, echoed
in Hollywood, Silverlake, Echo Park;
and after, on the highway, driving home,
a more personal effect, near constant
congratulation, frantic light tunnel.