Tuesday, September 18, 2018

My coworker the accidental poet (overheard at work)

Had a couple of whisky drinks yesterday
Made me feel strong!
Now I'm tired

Thursday, September 13, 2018

I like goosebumps

I like goosebumps
I like chills
Know where I can score some endorphins?
I went on an all night sleep bender
Now Let's Rage

Look at the sky

Parent meeting
I feel like a student again
not a feeling I enjoy
The teacher is at the front of the class talking
I'm sitting in a tiny chair having trouble concentrating
"We need this form signed, and a volunteer to coordinate these events..."
My mind keeps wandering off
She stops... "I'm sorry but, look at the sky."
We look out the window to catch a fantastic fall sunset swirl of blue, and pink, and grey
I am filled with joy at knowing my daughter has a teacher who will interrupt herself to point out a beautiful sky

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

9/ll memory

Driving on the freeway, everyone going exactly the same moderate speed, nobody passing, very little lane changing. I'm crying. 
I look to my left and the driver of the car next to me is staring straight ahead, also crying. 
I look to my right, same.
In this broken hour we function perfectly, like a precision instrument.
I arrive home and park against the curb on the busy, three lane road where my apartment sits. The spell is broken as I open my door into a bicyclist. The car door makes contact with his pedal. 
He yells "Fuck you, asshole!" and flips me off. 
I yell "I'm sorry!" because I am, incredibly, but I also want to yell "Thank you!"

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


Vote for me
I've been lonely
Vote for me
I've been lost
Vote for me
I don't know what I'm doing
Vote for me
I'm helpless
Vote for me
My rent is late
Vote for me
I once ate at a Chinese restaurant with my last four dollars and when I found a hair in my food, I kept eating until I was almost done and then went and got my four dollars back, with my belly nice and full and I bought a wonderful cup of coffee and felt fine about myself.
Vote for me

Monday, March 06, 2017

Max in the window

In the backyard
with a leaf blower
Life is loud, sweaty, dusty
Hard to breath, hard to see

There's a knock on the window
and looking up, through squinting eyes,
There is my seven year old, Max

She is waving at me
She is grinning
a huge silly, happy, smile
Life is a miracle

She is inside, I am outside
but she can see me
I am in a storm of swirling leaves
and a racket of electric noise and wind
And she is in a still, quiet bedroom
and yet we are right next to each other
Life is a miracle

A thing called glass exists
to allow us to coexist
in separate worlds
she's heard it's made of sand that's been heated
a magical process that facilitates this joy
she isn't thinking about that now
just celebrating the moment
Life is a miracle

She is done waving and off to create worlds
I am back to my chores with that grin
bigger than the universe
enveloping me
making me remember
Life is a miracle

You Can't Fire Me Because I Quit

 there's this guy I know
and I can't stand him
I think he's a hypocrite
and a prick
and just so full of shit
And the last thing I wanted was to continue being his friend
But he decided to stop being my friend
before I got around to actively not being his friend
And instead of appreciating the favor he did me
and the trouble he saved me
How dare he!

I honk at cats

I honk at cats
as I drive down the street

They jump
They arch
They his
They spit
Their hair stands on end

I honk at cats
and I terrify them

They run
They panic
When a safe distance they turn
They stare
with huge saucer eyes betrayed

I honk at cats
when they're near the road
because there are things in life
one should be afraid of

Friday, December 04, 2015

Please listen carefully as our menu options have changed

Press number 1 to continue in English
Para Espanol, Oprima Numero Dos
Press number 3 for a general sense of malaise
Press number 4 if you're on the verge of committing a violent act
Press number 5 to try a free sample of our newest non dairy cheese spray
press number 6 if you feel like you have to get out but you don't know where you'd go
Press number 7 to be placed on our do not call list
Press number 8 to pull the plug
Press number 9 to be connected to a living person with compassion and understanding
Press number 0 to be disconnected

American Exceptionalism

I was late to work again
because I couldn't find my shoes
How am I supposed to save the world
when I can barely function

I can't sleep at night
waiting for someone to come for me
because I know
someone should be coming for me

Not being a bad person
Takes so much energy
not being a bad person
takes so much discipline

Can I be one of the good guys
and still afford to have my cracked tooth fixed
How can I be a hero
When I require expensive medication not to shit blood

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Ad Copy


Thursday, September 26, 2013


A poem is a joke that isn't funny.

Left over

She tried to throw away the left-overs
They were only one day old
I stopped her

The next day
They were a day older
I tossed them

Not all Superheroes wear capes

Monday, August 05, 2013

Turn Off, Tune out, Drop In

She was sitting on the still wet ground outside of Peet's Coffee and Tea with several backpacks, a garbage bag filled with clothes and one of those silly plastic skateboards with roller blade wheels and a hinge in the middle. I figured her to be the child of working class parents. Maybe her folks were assholes, maybe they were very nice people who missed their daughter. They could even be both I suppose.

Her hat was flipped up and on the bill she'd written "Tune in, turn on, drop out."

I wanted to tell her "Hey, the guy that popularized that saying had a fucking book deal! And a nice degree to fall back on. Don't listen to that trust fund asshole."

Then I thought of her peers, most of whom were probably studying subjects they didn't care about on their way to work jobs they hated as they watched the years race by at amazing speeds.

So, I bought her something warm to drink and shared more practical advice. "Hey, having this drink in your hand they have to let you sit inside where it's dry and warm."

She said "Thanks man." in a really sincere voice that made me want to give her a hug. I drove back to my shitty job. Fuck Timothy Leary.

They're gonna send a car

I have a day job
That I don't do
But they don't fire me
I don't know why

I'm gonna be interviewed
on basic cable
they're gonna send a car

I can't pay my bills
without this ruse
consolation prize?
They're gonna send a car

You may think I'm failure
I get older and older
I still have this day job
but they're gonna send a car

love of my life
I know it's hard
but they're gonna send a car

we'll get there
we're on our way
they're gonna send a car

(And when the interview is done
the car is gonna bring me back.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Brown Colored Glasses

But master, the student whined, Why strive for enlightenment just to see that the world is shit?
"The world is shit"
The Master, whose real name was Frank, repeated
as he flipped an order of hash-browns, extra crispy, on the grill.
"You ever scratch your ass
and then pick your nose
and then wander off wondering why everything smells like ass?
Blow your nose
Wash your ass
Quit being such a party pooper
Bring the man his hash browns, and then lets go suck the nitrous out of the whipped cream canisters in the walk-in
Life is good."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

That Smell

It's during those moments
When I'm grappling with a loss
and you're the only comfort
That the smell bothers me most

You hold me, and I am glad to be held
and it's just what I need
but the damned smell is there

The smell of rich men selling cancer to the poor
The smell of your life growing shorter
and our quality of life being degraded
The smell of stale cigarettes infused into your skin
overpowering the wonderful smell that should be there
and adding it's scent to our best moments

Monday, September 14, 2009


Driving home from LA and I see the first fall colors
a few touches of that lovely Halloween orange here and there
a tiny field of dry beige corn surrounded by still green trees
I cheer like sports fan at seeing Fall's first peek over the horizon.
All alone in a van on the interstate, I'm cheering and then grinning ear to ear
So excited because this is a fall I'll never forget.
This fall I will meet my daughter.
It makes it less painful to remember the other unforgettable Falls because gone is the anxiety that unforgettable falls are only behind and not ahead.
And I make a commitment to my daughter and my wife that there will always be unforgettable falls


and ahead.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Brand Loyalty

I sold my soul for a profit
It says "Drink Pepsi" now, across it
It is hoped that I'll reach heaven
And God will thirst for the product

But I'll probably go
Down Below
And the devil will know
I cashed the checks from Pepsi Co
But I always drank Coke

Monday, January 15, 2007


I see the sullen teenagers walking through the mall
I'd been sullen once
Adults would say to me, "Cheer up.
It isn't that bad."
What did they know.
It was that bad,
of this I was certain.

Now, as these sullen teens pass me,
I do not want to tell them to cheer up.
But I have that foolish thought
that they could benefit from my wisdom and experience...
"Hey, don't worry guys,
eventually you get used to it."

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Mayans

I was taught by Miss Shepherd that The Mayans were extinct.
But here they were.
Short, stout people, selling silver trinkets to tourists.
"My silver is not plated." they all repeated as you walked by their booths.
Pause in front of any of their tables and you'd be treated to the same joke.
"For you wife." as they hold up a silver necklace, "Not plated."
"For your girlfriend" as they hold up a pretty pair of earings, "Not plated."
And the punchline, a giant machete, held threateningly, "For your mother in law." delivered with Henny Youngman inflection and a big silly grin.

Many of them spoke no English beyond these lines and you were forced to conjure an image of the traveling salesman that sold them these plated trinkets and bad jokes. Hell, he done more for them than I had or would. He'd certainly not cheated them as badly as Miss Shepherd had.

Step into a tent and you'd see that there were worse things than extinction.

The Mayan gods, represented in sculpture, fucking each other, doggy style, sixty-nine, missionary, wheel barrow. You'd pay extra for the threesome, sculpted in rough red clay, you know, to make them really authentic.

What should have happened

We were all gathered around, five generations present when you counted the elderly gentleman who had asked us all here.

"This is what should have happened." He began. "And don't take offense that if this had happened you wouldn't be here. You're all the product of my cowardice but you're not the punishment for it, you're the only thing that makes it bearable. The potential I've wasted is still alive in all of you, so please, don't fuck it up."

And here began the tale. The long twisted story of every orgy, every fight every suicide. He told of dying over and over, starving, fevers, he told of sweating, fucking, kicking. He talked of roads, roads that led everywhere and never took you to the same place twice. We all listened attentively to his tale of madness and gluttony and sweetness and indulgence.

When it was over the old man stood, and walked out of the house as we all stared in silence. He went to his room where he spent a few months reading and slowly losing his senses. When he died he didn't seem to even recall who he was.

It was another few months before any of us spoke of his story. Odd to discover none of us heard exactly the same tale. I seemed to have gotten the craziest version of it. My brother caught more about meditation and prayer. Maybe that was in there, though I hadn't heard it, but I'm quite sure my niece is wrong in thinking that the old man shared recipes with us, though I must admit the bread she started making was delicious, unlike anything I'd ever tasted.

Was it a peculiar magic the old man possessed? Or were we, his many descendants, just really shitty listeners?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Random Bad Thought

On November 30th I had the following random bad thought:

If I was going to go on a crazed killing spree, I'd probably go in to the co-operatively owned health food market, guns blazing. When the killing was done I'd climb behind the deli/bakery counter and eat healthy vegan cakes and cookies until the cops brought me down.

If you love something

If you love something
Set it free
If it comes back to you
It's probably hungry and confused
If it doesn't
Something else probably ate it

Monday, October 30, 2006


Bryna unwraps her presents slowly
peeling each piece of tape
lifting and smoothing out the wrapping paper
each present offering a strip tease
the dance of the seven veils
the veils in this case made up of paper
covered in candy canes and wreaths

I have tried this technique
I have endeavored to savor the unveiling
I peel one piece of tape, slowly
until I hear a rip and
crumpled, discarded, the box upside down, the present revealed, and the next gift sought madly, to be consumed in a similar rush until at last, I'm done, out of breath, out of gifts, and

Maybe this year I'll let Bryna open my gifts for me.

I will enjoy the winter

This year
I will enjoy the winter
Not just the fall

This year
I will enjoy the winter
beyond the nostalgia of the first cold winds

This year
I will enjoy the winter
the city continuing to hum hours after the sun sets
the hats and gloves and coats
the sting on my ears as I pedal my way to work
the soups, spice cakes, pots of hot tea
and the warmth of your hand in mine

Sunday, September 17, 2006


"Yeah, where do you have raisins and babyfood?"

"They're not in the same place."


"The raisins are in aisle 11, the baby food is in aisle 15, but you know, you can't feed raisins to a baby."

"Yeah, they're for me. I don't have a baby."

"But you asked for baby food."

"Yeah, I need some, aisle 15, thanks."

"Okay, it just seems weird, you don't..."

"Look, the baby foods for me. I'm shitting blood alright!"


Monday, August 07, 2006

The Socket

Six years old
a rare moment of solitude
a brief window of privacy

I unplug the lamp
sit on the floor, with it in my lap
unscrew the bulb and set it gently on the carpet

I extend my pointing finger
look at it
right there in front of me and then
I start it moving
toward the lamp
toward the socket

I know it's unplugged
and unable to hurt me
there's nothing to fear
but I'm afraid anyway
and I love it

I push past the fear
inching, slowly, closer, closer
at last my my finger is floating in space
inside the socket
not touching, just resting in the middle
my eyes close involuntarily
as I push that last half inch
the cold metal connections against the tip of my finger

A charge rushes through me
a charge of exhilaration, panic, ecstasy.

The bulb is returned to the socket
the lamp placed back on the table
plugged back into the wall
and I get ready for bed

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Death Envy

I felt guilty
for getting jealous at the funeral
But why should the deceased get all the attention
So many nice things they're all saying about him
What about me
You can start with, "Keith Lowell Jensen, he really knows how not to die!"

Monday, June 12, 2006


I hadn't fought with you in some time
I had a good reason to now
it seemed

You'd gotten mad at me
I hate that

So I pretended to be mad at you
I went through the motions

I acted out the way I thought I should be feeling
making up for the fact that I wasn't feeling much

you of course didn't catch the game
responding with real emotions
the kind that don't go away when I want to stop playing, wrap around you and go to sleep

Poetry Weather

The wind is blowing like it does when winter is coming
It's a delightful tease as we've already felt the first hints of the coming oven that is this city's summer
I'm sitting outside and I'd put on a jacket if I had one, but I'm glad I don't
I drink my tea and eat my brownie
A small bird is having a rough day
The weather has tricked him and he's out in the cold
nobody is around to share their sandwich crumbs with him

"Sorry buddy, this wouldn't be good for you.
Ah, fuck it. It aint good for me either.
You can decide for yourself."

The wind blows under the blue sky and I sit sharing a brownie with the small bird.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Rain

The Rain is beautiful
and it's beautiful when it stops
everything is clean
it all smells the way it supposed to
like it's alive
even the bricks and the concrete

If only it weren't so cold
I'd run out in the downpour
I'd open my mouth
I'd let the rain wash the blood from my insides
I'd feel alive and right

Saturday, December 24, 2005

God Saves

I'm on fire
I'm on fire
for the lord

I'm spending money
I'm spending money for the lord

God saves
Leave the saving to him
Don't save your money
just have faith
Have a little faith

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Name Tag

I have a little plastic nametag
On my shirt it sits
"I'll take the x-large, Ben" he says
Ordering as he's reading it

I did not give him my name
as is custom among friends
but I'm not offended by the yuppie
my name isn't really Ben

Monday, December 19, 2005


"My friend died" I tell Danny
It's a strange thing to share with a casual work aquaintence
but Danny's been around
and managed to maintain his innocence through a hell of a tough life

"Death is the enemy" he answers

Monday, October 31, 2005

The Hallmark Moment

A beautiful, cold fall day
a good day to not own a car
walking with my sweetie
a big pile of leaves
and she
can not

She shoves me
and using kung fu
learned from sunday matinees
I whip around
and she
lands in
the pile

Her laughter was expected
His siren was not
The would be hero
stepped from his black and white
"You're lucky she came up laughing." he tells me, threateningly

Since she did
couldn't you have just smiled
and enjoyed the fall day?
I think to myself, but I don't say a word
Her and I stand
and stare

He gets back behind the wheel and leaves
taking our perfect Hallmark moment with him

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Novelist

I have an unpublished novel
I can sit and drink coffee
one more cliche filled

Product of an urban environment

Exploring a cavern in Belize
stalagtites, stalagmites
complete and total darkness
This is like Disneyland."

I took off my hat

I took off my hat
And walked to work in the cold
as the sun rose behind the clouds
It was glorious

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

On Oprah Today

On Oprah today one of us was seated on the couch
She was there because
One of THEM heard her songs
And recorded them
And now she’s being welcomed into the fold
She says "I can’t believe I’m here "
And THEY both laugh, remember when THEY were us
And we feel that if she could be there, we could be there

But we can’t
And we won’t
The beautiful singer will will not laugh at our shyness
Oprah will not cry with us
Some day we’ll die
And our songs will be forgotten
Somewhat slightly quicker than THEIRS will

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Light

I shout
to the unapproving stares of relatives
as my grandpa lies dying
Don't Go Into The Light
I've seen moths do it,
and the results are not desirable
And besides there will be time later,
the light aint going anywhere
The light has always been and always will be
So take your time and haunt this world
Never mind the well intentioned living,
who urge you on
They'll have their time

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Alex has been calling me lately, or rather his voice mail has.
“Hi, this is Alex. I’m calling you through my voice mail.”
His voice is calm and soothing.
I probably owe him money.
I don’t know because I always hang up.
It’s a policy and one must stick to policy.
The United States of America does not negotiate with terrorists
And I don’t talk to machines

Sunday, September 25, 2005

True Romance

She farts in public
I say "sorry, excuse me"
and I take the blame

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Comedian's Creed

My humor will not cater to the lowest common denominator
My act will not be made up of one-liners and cheap segues
My take on improv is that it’s little more than a cheap parlor trick
No fat girl jokes

No shock jock, morning radio DJ humor
No political, topical, hot button ha has
No fart jokes

I can’t stand comedy magicians
I won’t do impersonations
I do not juggle, I have no props, I’m not wearing a costume

Knock Knock



I’ll write you a love poem

And I’ll manage to contain

My excitement

And refrain

From calling you from work

And whispering sweet words

Just out of earshot of coworkers

I’ll leave it on your pillow

And let it start your day

With a reminder, that I am so thrilled


Because you are my girl

Pants Don't Fit Me Right

As my head sped toward the concrete

My life flashed before my eyes

Just as I’d heard it would

But the scenes were not of my first love sitting in an empty apartment wearing white

Or of the pain as she drove down that ally for the last time

There were no scenes of the hirings and firings that had dragged me up and down the ladder of human accomplishment

Not a single image scrolling past held the face of my dear sweet mother

I was confused by image after image of various tailor shops I’d passed

My cloths, hairline and posture reflected the decade

Taylor shops have always looked the same

Friendship tailor on 16th, Alterations while-u-wait in Los Angeles, The Tidy Tailor in Portland Main

I would never have believed that in one lifetime a body could have passed so many tailor shops

Some I remembered, having walked past them many times in my daily grind

Others were forgotten shops I’d walked quickly past, my thoughts not on my hem-lines

I inquired into the strange collage of tailors passed when I later had the opportunity to chat with The Creator

Though I suspect he was more of a department store Creator

On of The Creators “helpers”

Like Santa, he has many

He told me that the great slide show of death shows the dying only the defining moments of their life

And as I stared into his steel gray eyes I didn’t need to hear another word

Understanding flooded into me

Pants Don’t Fit Me Right

I never had the figure that pants on the rack were meant to adorn

Nude, I did not appear particularly unique

It was all a matter of inches

My ass started an inch to high

My pelvis tilted forward the slightest degree

I was a body in need of a custom fit

But I had not considered myself the tailored type

I’d aspired to transcend the vanity of those who spend their time and money on getting the perfect fit out of their trousers

My energies were spent on attempts at bettering myself

I read the important books

I watched my diet as best I could and jogged whenever I’d been seduced by a pint of Ice Cream

I worked hard and kept my eyes open to opportunity

Men with a better fit shot past me toward the executive offices

I turned my attention to my extra circular activities

I wrote my stories, and poetry

But I was never the darling of the café scene

Those with mannequin-like physiques stole my adoration

Men who’d developed a friendship with the Friendship Taylor had better adventures to write about

They’d been invited to taste of more passion,

had been let in on the secrets of every bar, beach and dark ally

Women, slave to the Darwinian impulses that govern us all had not been able to get past this defect that they were not even consciously aware of.

The sloppy way my pants hung, unevenly from my faulty waist had advertised to all “UNSUTABLE FOR BREEDING”

A bright neon sign, flashing on and off, all my life

If only I’d known

My Girlfriend is Gorgeous

My Girlfriend is gorgeous

With long luscious hair

She wears tank top tees

With low slung pajama pants

And she makes Iced Tea


Every time someone dies I get a jacket
I’ve got more jackets than I can ever wear
From uncle Joe’s corduroy to Grandpa Eddie’s leather

If they go to heaven I pray it aint cold there.

I’ve been to my fair share of funerals
I’ve seen my relatives aged and bereaved
And though it makes me feel guilty
I’ve eyed all the jackets I’ll soon receive.

I Love Your Face

I love your face

When I can’t sleep

I’ll look at your face beautiful in sleep

When I wake up

Yours is the first face I see

I look at your face beautiful in that half dreaming morning daze

When you talk

Your full lips telling me of your strange nocturnal adventures

Your eyes widening

I look at your face beautiful in that state of wonderment

When we lay together in the afternoon

And your eyelids are half closed

I run my finger along your cheek and across your lips

I look at your face beautiful waiting to be kissed

(for Bryna)

I have an abnormaly large forehead

I have an abnormally large forehead

I’ve heard all the jokes, like;

“That’s not a forehead that’s a five head”
six head

seven head

Eight head ha ha ha

It’s been this way since I was a kid
In those days I looked like some kind of freak and people either thought I was one of those brainy child prodigies or they figured I was retarded

As an adult people just assume I’m balding
I preferred being a retard.

I Don't Go To Parties

I don’t go to parties
I only like large crowds when I’m on stage
Well lit, with a microphone in my hand
I know what to say to them
I know what they’re looking for
I give it to them
or I don’t
Either way, they leave
I go home
I don’t go to parties

Three Line Poem

How wonderful that
You’re caring for me and treating me sweetly
Has given me a sense of nostalgia for colds and teeth pullings

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Fucking Neighbors!

I had not heard the neighbors having sex in some time
Late last night
Or maybe early this morning
Something woke me
I was startled
At hearing any noise
So close
While the world remained
So dark
But then I recognized that wonderful happy sound

I listened for a moment
And then turned to press against your backI wrapped my arm around you, kissed your neck and fell asleep smiling