Glycerine Queen

Image by Mstyslav Chernov. You stole your fascination from another temple.
Deserving idolatry; taking more in reflection,
Hiding chapel paintings from yourself this time.
Words pouring from heaven: apocalyptic horses. 
Send plague after plague against all who offend.
At the feet of your throne, kneeling cannot succeed.
So turn down the sun, ‘til your sight is ice clean.

Can you even tell yourself the truth?
Porcelain surface, onyx soul, eyes of death:
Is there anything behind the mask? (What mask?)
Is it too bible black to let the shadows pass?

Body of Christ just to get through the night,
Just your frustration; ne’er your damnation.
Eternity is another lie: desire only passes time.
Go stone the heretic you lit on fire.
Like the hard beating heart of the angel you ate.
Blood doesn’t taste on your cobra tongue:
You had to lay the impure soul to waste.

When your ghouls have lashed away the flesh;
When there’s nothing left, nothing to replace:
Where will you hide your shame? (What shame?)
On that same devil’s name do you still place your blame?


On the Margins of the Margin

Image by Jaci Berkopec. She was twenty-three
when I met her by chance
(drinking Jack and ginger,
with eyes as dead as the evening.)

I said “hello”,
but those words echoed through her ears.
She focused on her drink,
stirring it, hoping for something.

I ordered a Maker’s Mark neat,
sipped a couple of casual sips,
put a coaster on my tumbler,
and stepped outside for a smoke.

She stepped outside and asked for a cigarette—
we talked about Oakland A’s baseball,
about how life is hard when you’re born
with your back already against the wall.

Her neckline dipped a little bit,
into a valley of light, cinnamon flesh.
It wasn’t a full-on exhibition,
but a man could get an idea of what he’s working with.

Her body was a road map
of scars and varicose veins.
A temple of bruises
and debauched sensibilities.

I went inside to tend to my neglected drink,
leaving her to her own devices,
while I tended to mine.
San José is something when you’re on the margins of the margin.

©2013 José-Ariel Cuevas


Meth and Madness, or: An Ordinary Evening Walking Past St. James Park in Downtown San José

Image by Infrogmation.The evening rages on,
like a kegger along fraternity row
near San José State University.
Well, the sun barely went down,
but the lunatic parade at the first hint of nightfall
makes it feel everlasting.
Meth and madness,
or: an ordinary evening
walking past St. James Park
in downtown San José.
The wind reverberates all along South First Street—
sounding sad, distant, discordant.
Bus after bus whistle past…
faces beaten up by life,
kicked by consequences,
spat upon by reality
adorn these windows,
while hipsters and modern day hippies
drink barley wine at a vegan shop.
Smoke from hand-rolled cigarettes
mingle with hipster-y talk
about Apple products
and revenge porn.
Bros and bros with ties
stumble out of a craft brew pub,
smoking Dunhill Lights and regaling
each other with their tales of conquest
and who has the largest expense account
(everything is a pissing contest with them.)
The evening rages on,
howling like a feral wolf,
or like the warbling
of the typical racist on Twitter.
I walk past it all
with a mind burdened by
my own tribulations,
dulled by moderately-priced beer,
piqued by natural, menthol cigarettes,
bummed by the current feeling
of being a man without a flag,
or a sympathetic ear
(beyond my circle of friends.)
It’s 9:37pm,
I am making my way to the bus stop.
My heart has nobody to beat for,
however, time is my current master.

©2013 José-Ariel Cuevas


A Cantankerous Deity with Plenty of Time On His Hands

Image by Håkan Svensson. Nostalgia: A rosy picture
painted by a mind
dealing with the inevitability
that the present didn’t unfold
as previously planned.
That all we are
are just grains of sand
sinking down the hourglass,
thrust downward by other granule realizations
that their dreams are stillbirth.
Perhaps that explains
why every step I take
feels heavy, or as if
I am trudging through a bed of
quick-drying cement.
Some might say that the future
is a blank slate,
that there is plenty of time
to dictate how
things end up.
But I trudge along,
weary, worried
that my slate is being filled
by a cantankerous deity
with plenty of time on his hands.

©2012 José-Ariel Cuevas


Cinema Vérité

Life before my eyes
unfolds like a cinema
of the absurd
and (self-)absorbed.

The plot lines seem
jagged and crooked,
as if the city has given up
spending on its infrastructure.

Love is born, and then it dies,
all the while,
traffic lights turn from green to red, to green again
(life goes on, whether you want it to or not.)

I observe all this,
self-conscious of
being a bad actor
in someone else’s movie.

©2012 José-Ariel Cuevas


Remembrance of Future Passed

My friends and my lovers, I ask you this please,
Do not sanctify me in deaths cold release.
Neither sully my name, nor embellish and lie.
Recall me the same, as you knew me to be.
My sins not forgotten, nor trespasses forgiven,
For I shall not forgive those who trespassed against.
As a sinner I lived, I shall remain when I die,
No flames of cremation can cleanse blood from my hands
Nor should my departure steal flaws from your minds.
Scatter my ashes o’er the land of my youth.
Let the wind guide my course, as it did in my life.
No more shall I protest, no longer cause strife.
With no maker to answer, nor judgment to face,
No blissful salvation, nor eternal damnation,
Freedom will at long last be my final peace.
Dance not on my grave, nor tread light on my name,
But, please, my dear friend, recall all is the same.
For while you remain, there’s still more to gain,
And mourn not for my passing; do not whittle your time.
Life is never a burden; more reward for a crime.
A life lived as mine, was full worth the cost,
So carry on, carry on, and continue to run!
There is still plenty to do, and little time left,
When your sunset comes night, leave behind no regrets.

Theological Casino

Image by Paul GlazzardAt times, I stand at a crossroads—

belief in the pre-ordained runs north and south;

belief in life being a series of coincidences running east and west.

I find myself here whenever I ruminate

over where I have ended up

(usually with a pint of Guinness.)

Is it all a consequence from walking this crooked road,

or is it a Jobian trial?

And for some reason, my imagination leads me

to this Christian parlor room, where more and more,

Pascal’s wager is becoming an attractive bet to take.

©2012 José-Ariel Cuevas


A Picture of Poo

Image by Pogrebnoj-Alexandroff. Happy Thanksgiving. 

The holidays are about friends, family, and all the things that make people living in the 1950’s happy. Your wife makes a turkey, the man kicks his feet up, everyone around you is white. The perfect world. To be totally honest, I would love to be a white male living in the 1950’s. I could beat my wife, I could…

Oh wait.

Back then, all of us had to participate in the war. The men went to war, the women stayed home and worried about the kids. There were rationing programs that helped people understand what our soldiers were going through. Everyone was supposed to make you feel bad if you didn’t go out of your way to help out the people fighting for freedom.

I guess that back in the day, everyone had a role and didn’t want to complain about it. And when the war was over, people looked at each other and figured out that we are all in this together. Your girlfriend or wife supported you in the ways she could. Imagine Paris Hilton letting her sex tape be published with *your* face on the guy banging her. Or what if the phone she picked up while getting fucked was from AT&T… and ALL THAT MONEY WENT TO THE CAUSE.


I’m probably rewriting history, but back in the day, everyone came together in a totally fucked up situation. And a little bit after that happened we had the 60’s… and the 70’s… and the hippies… and the civil rights movement. You had all [uhmm… some of the] white kids back then showing respect to all the black kids. Women started showing up in places they weren’t allowed to be and all that was wrong in the world could be fixed.

It could have…

Click to read more ...


The Sky, Reflected

Image by bortescristian. The sky, reflecting 
and refracting,
seems like a vast,
celestial wasteland.

(That is what I see
while I wait patiently
for my coffee
to cool down a bit.)

An ocean pushing time
back and forth,
forth and back,
vertically and horizontally.

Here I sit holding a one-man congress,
while my near-and-dears
are leading important lives
(that is how it plays out in my mind.)

All the while, the well-to-do
that pass by me like errant cattle
look at me with that look they reserve
for the ones they hold with disdain.

Click to read more ...


Electric Shepherd at the Hemlock Tavern

Please don’t send me twenty five options for dinner.  Why don’t we just eat by the Boom Boom Room? Ok, 1300 on Fillmore looks good.  You’ll meet me at work?  Perfect.

Why does it take thirty minutes to find a cab in this town?  Yes, baby, I know that there are hotels and restaurants that way but I usually find a cab over here.  There’s one.  You were right again baby.

1300 on Fillmore looks rad!  Where do they put the bands?  Behind the curtain?  We should definitely check that out sometime.  I wonder what “twenty minutes extra wait” for fried chicken means in a half empty restaurant on a Tuesday.  Manhattan?  Yes.  Good wine too.  Chicken is okay, but your fish is amazing.  You always know what to order!  It is nice to just sit here and shoot the shit.  Excellent and friendly service.

Boom Boom Room is just up the block.  Looks like those guys are rolling a joint in broad daylight and not even trying to hide it.  Cops in this town will probably light it for them since they only have matches and it is windy over here.

Franziskaner is out?  Ok, let me taste the Arrogant Bastard.  Whoa!  As bad as I remember.  What about Stella? Out too?  Is it a problem with the CO2 or something?  How about Negra Modelo?  Thanks.  Yes, I got introduced to this beer by my cousin who likes it because of the name.  Yes, I’ve told you that before.  Good beer.  Not as good as Bohemia though.

I wonder which guy is Justin.  He said that he “might” be wearing sunglasses because his onstage persona demanded it.  I’ll go talk to the band.  Oh yes he’s in DVO.  I’ll go ask those guys.  Thanks.

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me!  It is so cool that you founded  Did you live in New Orleans?  Chicago huh?  Nice!  We want to visit.  You have equipment for a podcast?  Perfect!  We want to get that going again.  We should meet again to talk video and not be rushed, I agree.

What a long sound check.  NVO does sound really good though.  Hate to run, but we have to catch Electric Shepherd at the Hemlock.  They played Brick & Mortar Music Hall earlier this month and had a nice write up in SF Weekly.  Always easy to catch cabs here, another reason to love the Boom Boom Room.

Hemlock Tavern, Interior, Night.  Me:  “Who’s up next?”  Doorguy looks at lineup on wall.  Shouldn’t you just ‘know’?  I mean you have one job here man.  Yes, we’ll take earplugs, this place is crazy loud.  I’ll get beer.   I can’t believe that there is no one here and we get to sit right up front!  Great band!  Awesome set!  Really glad that Electric Shepherd are SF locals.  Want to see them again.  and


…As He Waits for the Sun to Rise

Image by Fondazione Cariplo.A man without love
is a man without a flag to fly,
a shiftless phantasm
in this waking, moving world.

He is an incomplete puzzle,
a riddle waiting to be solved,
a boat without a captain,
adrift in choppy, turbid waters.

He is a lone wolf
howling at the distant moon,
a solitary figure staring down at the city
from a barren mountain above…

So close, yet so far,
his heart, squirming underneath his skin,
beats for, what is now,
beyond his extended reach.

A man unlucky in love
sings a song of optimism,
reads a book of romantic prose,
as he waits for the sun to rise.

©2012 José-Ariel Cuevas