Connie Sue,

I try to remember which New Yorker I used to crumble up the ganja inside.  The portrait of a Black man on the recto page.  At least another pipeful there in the gutter.  Short term memory loss or just too focused somewhere else?  An article I got bored with.  I was listening to the rain.  The downpipe from the gutter spout is gone; that sound tells me volume.  Once I re-remember something, I won’t forget it.  Years later—total recall, like stars in the firmament.      Why does that weekend in Salem keep repeating?  We weren’t married yet. You danced in the pub with the man in the wheelchair.  I even remember where I parked the car and the old-cigar smell of our smoker’s hotel room, the name of the cab driver—Ken—who got lost.  There is an album of those old mental newsreels of you.  They honor your memory by refusing to fade.

Missing Person

she worked the blocks between somewhat and very

(& why did you suspect that of her?)

because every story has a story 

                                            Just the facts ma’am

and bottled in bond    whatever that means.


she had the soft face of a savage     Gun shots

down the block East 3rd   someone shooting

from the jazz bar’s roof at someone in the

                                            street shooting back.

Closing time   East Village.


Joey’s advice?     Pretend not to care

till you don’t.  There was one all-night diner

where when the weather sucked they all

                                           flocked as witnesses

and suspects combined.     She wouldn’t be there.

Cities I Have Walked This Way

(looking for sense in the time map)

Catherine Buchanan

Buffalo, Boston, Manhattan, Dublin, London,

Frankfurt, San Francisco, Copenhagen, Berkeley,

Charleston, Portland, Honolulu, Venice,

Bozeman, Paris, Stockholm, New Orleans,

Hong Kong, Chicago, Apia, Suva, Seattle,

Sydney and Townsville and Auckland, at least


Take it to the wall again tonight, bro.

Finish the bottle and the cigarettes.

You’re not there yet. Take it to the streets

long after midnight. At the market

women are sleeping beside their taro.                                       

Taxis are taking the last whores home.

Take it to the waterfront where always

everywhere men are awake with their

cigarettes. Walk it past the police station,

let the back street dogs bark at you.

Take it back to your indigenous city jungle,

walking like a ghost that casts a shadow.

Take it back, reclaim your birthright—

lost nights on the street like a swollen

scabbed-over fist, a bad cup of coffee,

a woman in your brain driving you crazy and

a long walk home where you don’t want to be

because the words won’t begin and

the bottles are empty and the bed

is a succubus. Walk it off, shake it off,

city boy. Disappear in an alley way,

walk through that wall to survive.


IRIS Connie Payne

I am typing this journal not writing

it under pointless protest, but right

hand can no longer control the pen.

I’d much rather be looking down at

a warm used page than be challenged

by this robot’s quicksilver face. 


Anyway, spring is just whispering here

everything in the garden stiff and brown

waiting, still frost shy, surprised at

having survived another winter.

The Getaway

If forgiveness was forbidden, nothing would be different.

Everything would age at the same rate. The end would still

be always in the mail and the river ice not thick enough to

cross at night to the other shore, full moon on ice in spite

of the fact that forgetfulness has been taken out and shot.


The relentless past.  Listen, let’s go for a ride somewhere

up, away from the river. The keys are wherever I lost them.

Blood hounds howling.    Did you ever let them catch you?

Just bring the bottle; leave the rest behind as evidence.

What is a life but a litany of chances to fuck up?