Whoa Yeah Baby cover

Whoa Yeah Baby

Dave Landsberger

Copyright © 2010 Dave Landsberger. All rights reserved.

Natural Causes

Then Lil Wayne says that just centimeters from his rhyme-busting heart
are two bullet shards too close to surgically remove,
and before I can pluck the shot-rapper-pathos-cliché ajar
he adds "It's ok, I'll be fine…unless I move
into a magnetic field!" Which automatically renders Lil Wayne,
tattoo tears and diamond teeth—in a magnetic field—screaming his reverb grooves
in an orb of Magneto-like energy blasts, vomiting over in pain.
And I'm wondering if I'm a bit too morbid
or if this is another Harvey Pekar thumbnail that my cranium
juices sweeten on, but then I remember asking Brian this summer mid
spatula flop how he'd like to die. With a perfect burger turn he said he'd drown.
I couldn't speak for a few moments, entangled with his death squid,
drowning in his choice to drown, uh-oh, can't swim, this guy, going down,
so I sat there silly, putting on a face for which they'd award an Oscar to Meryl Streep.
Inevitably he asked me how I'd prefer to be taken down,
and I said, "natural causes," neither creative nor realistic, so we drank knee-deep
in PBR, listened to the squirrels bark at one another from the roofs of the bungalows.
Is it morbid that I can't help but think of Lil Wayne—with that middle-airplane-seat
of a ticker, boxed out by that bullet shard's bolo,
like bullies at each end of the hallway heart, or better yet, like a poster
inside that hall's classroom of the moons of Mars—Deimos and Phobos,
wild stallions of the asteroid belt galloping free in the solar system's pasture
until Mars' gravitational field tracer beamed them in—see the thing is Mars
pulls so hard on Phobos it rises and sets twice a day, an overanxious double daysleeper,
so hard it will kablooie into Mars 100 million years from now, a jagged hard mason jar
full of nickel, burning a blast radius birthmark onto Olympus Mons,
and Lil Wayne is just rapping all over the place like a crossover popstar
even though inside his ribcage there is a mini-microcosm
death diorama replica of the fourth planet from the sun; walking each day on Earth
solemnly aware he must never encounter a blast of comic book radiation gamma spasms,
which is a pretty consciously morbid event horizon to deter.
I don't want to live to avoid death, to hopscotch invisible doom like Lil Wayne,
praying to avoid some sort of space age cataclysmic cosmic ray stillbirth
that would cause his expensive choppers to drop like a piñata biplane,
his dreads to shed like floundering pool noodles on the lawn,
a death that would warrant the shatter-star solar flares of his $300,000 chain.
No, I prefer to die like Mars, mid-yawn,
a universal, celestial, drawn out yawn so huge that everyone gets a case of the yawns,
a mega-cosmic-massive-intake-no-leftover-super-spawn-yawn
whereupon the gravity of my lungs yawns
the earth into me for one last lazy shebang, the dawn of a new yawn, so good, that yawn,
it will eke out a tear.

South Beach Haiku 1

Blue jay
atop the finger of the Holocaust Memorial
—you are controversial.

Small Victories

Good afternoon gossamer. Good afternoon cream hydrangea. Good afternoon text fence holding red bubbly letters. Hey Burger King logo,
are you beautiful? There is a time for fast food, when eating becomes a chore, when overcome with a willing indifference to surround oneself with denizens unwilling to till the fields. Look at these usurping serfs, a gaggle of jean shorts, a shrewdness of belly buttons,
an older gentleman in the queue. I can tell he is not married. Never has been. It's his demeanor, his oddball totality. Envision with me a man about his sparsely furnished apartment, awkward when the cleaning lady arrives. He smiles frequently while ordering,
loneliness is relative,
and who gave birth to you, overweight and armada-invoking Burger King employee? Baseball cap teetering on her head, hiding the present—a bun of hair!—body bursting everywhere. Look at her say this to him, look at the words:
"You have beautiful eyes."
Today, Spain's Minister of Culture bestowed the Fine Arts Medal for Bullfighting to Francisco Rivera Ordóñez: eldest son of Paquirri (Paquirri, Paquirri, his name invokes ghost-legends and earthquake tremors)—killed in 1984 by Avispado—grandson of Antonio Ordóñez and the grandnephew of Luis Miguel Dominguen: the two cantankerous rivals of Hemingway's The Dangerous Summer. And look what happens: the past recipients return their medals in disgust! Ptooie! Francisco, Francisco, Francisco, is it your fault? His suitcase: a portable combination lock chapel to The Virgin Mary, San Miguel Arcangel, San Lazaro. The candles warm his face, ruin the rugs as he prays, sells watches. He is on GQ, Vogue, the face of Armani. Married and divorced to the Duchess of Alba: María Eugenia Brianda Timotea Cecilia Martínez de Irujo—
it is important to know that the outcry stems from the fact that Francisco is not the best technical bullfighter, but he is famous, mostly because of his lineage, popularity in gossip rags and good looks, and so the award is seen in the Bullfighting community as a gesture to make the sport relevant again which angers the traditionalists and less photogenic fundamentally sound matadors—
y Fitz-James Stuart! The picador's blindfolded and armored horses can sense the bull's impending doom as only animals attune. The flag daggers of the banderilleros are rigor mortis tuning forks. Francisco, the crowd agrees, your traje de luces is Beetelgeuseian! Weight on his right foot, his janky left tests the invisible waters of In-Which-This-Bull-Will-Die Sea. There is no dodging the estocada. ¡La Estocada! Avert your eyes small children! The sword up, parallel, close to face like a moth, Francisco leaps! Sword buried up to the hilt in the shoulder blades, the bull still standing. Yes, this is normal; it is not until Francisco slowly forceps the blade from its gut holster that the bull enters a seizure-like dandelion state, limbs rotating as a horror movie grandfather clock, eyes rolling as an inclined compass, tongue useless and clacking: clack clack clack,
roses are falling! Dodge their thorns matador! Today I will learn
that the funeral of a Polish president will be delayed by the ash of a volcanic explosion, that a wild African Dog will escape a Texan zoo before being tranquilized beside a water fountain, that my father held a bike messenger's hand as he died, clipped by a truck minutes earlier,
and yet amidst all this information these exhumations these jubilations there is this man in a Burger King looking at me, turning to me as if I am the person to hear this, saying
"No one has ever said that to me before."
Saffron, maybe. His eyes are saffron, tucked behind the horizontal stretched out S's of eyelids. What am I to make of this?
Yes, yes, yes, life is beautiful and disgusting simultaneously, a stomach.


The high-fives break out instantaneously like a saloon brawl.
Five dollar bill in front of the Kwik-Stop.
Surprise party patrons in paper hats crouching
underneath the dinette set. Spider web.
Bubble wrap. Kick-ass. Apollo pulling the stink of the night away
from his V-8 supercharged chariot. The stimulus check
comes in the mail! The stimulus check is cashed!
In the following weeks a careless investigation unfolds
as to what the stimulus check was spent on.
All of a sudden: soft pretzels.
Definitely, certainly, the pigeon is kick-ass,
eating garbage even when we're not looking.
O country-wide kick-assery, the away team
winning in the seven-game playoff, their hometown arena
with the Jumbotron on, the nacho guy can now afford
the new exhaust pipe he's been piggy-banking on.
A naked woman with a naked woman tattoo
looks in the mirror and there are four naked women
in this poem. Cherry Doc Martens under the church pew,
kids playing with the box the toy was imprisoned in,
Evel Knievel jumps twenty clouds lined end
to end, grandma died flipping the Mustang,
kicking ass in the HOV lane. Soft pretzels!
Anklyosaurus vs. Stegosaurus, a taxidermy caveman
neo-squatting before a shimmery paper fire at the museum.
The last piece of pizza is yours, my friend.
Cut your bangs baby,
you'll be the talk of the town. The parade
rides its rail, everyone's there for free candy, funny-hatted old dudes,
save me a seat for the late night explosions
Boom Boom Boom
maybe the finale wasn't as good
as last year, I can't remember
what I ate for lunch
but I'm full and that kid with the mop-top
and the sparkler was preeeeeeeeettay kick-ass.
Four dollar summer gas price, wave goodbye
as I take my bike off some jumps,
zigzagging debris in the bike lane. Blizzards,
heat waves, come upstairs for a drink:
inside can be kick-ass too, somebody's grandfather
shows somebody's grandson how to blow smoke rings,
nobody pinpoints the song on the jukebox,
just one moment ago everything was opposite kick-ass,
now everything's coming up
like power ball numbers on your birthday.
The Christmas present shaves its legs
underneath the neon tree, begging to get naked,
somewhere in the world right now a squirrel is waterskiing,
and there's a hammock outside
worn down just right where the head lays.

South Beach Haiku 2

Pekingese in purse yawning—
I know,
I can't handle your life either.

The Meaning of Life

In a few moments, the cities of our planet will crack the glowsticks in their skyscrapers, spindling neon spider webs that flicker when hairdryers are fired up in the tri-county area—below these colossi with infinite furnished pockets someone is ranking the greatest space shuttle explosions: a heated dispute in which saints are reluctantly getting involved—a sensei in the art of paperclip sculpture looks through an attic window, staring at the tree branches dispensing toilet paper on the Night of the Hooded Sweatshirts.
Shhh, the traffic patterns say. Shush yourself, respond the talking crosswalks.
Someone is yawning into a telephone and five hundred miles away there is resounding echo of hum-drummery—in a basement apartment, a man sips green tea from a mug of Indonesian plastic, re-alphabetizing his spice rack upon the ceremonious addition of dill.
Stop the garlic presses: the official fish of the night is the American Sole!
Down the street, a nameless yet familiar neighbor is scraping a legendary grill, preparing for a block party: the half-a-hamburger children will leave with watermelon mustaches, popsicle potpourri fingers under pillows; three piñatas will martyr themselves in the name of good times, flay their papier-mâché, donate their tootsie-gizzards, and our kissable cook will swear his golf buddy to secrecy on the whereabouts of the purchasing location of his lucky spatula.
In the garage, boys filibuster one another's opinions on the most skateboardable parking lots in town, how to effectively steal crab apples, and the bodacious trigonometry of a pop-wheelie.
The mascot for the evening is a cartoon character levitated above the animation cell's crust, gathering its windmill legs into a run.
At the Kwik-Stop, two lovers kiss underneath the air freshener—some guy buys a single can of beer with pennies—one of the lovers sighs, relieved, not knowing she will soon buy a magazine that will smell better than her date.
Downtown? Everybody's renting themselves in the discotheques downtown—everywhere I see possums. I regret nothing! they say underneath the radial all-weather tires of the family returning from the matinee—a streetlamp rubs the film of daylight from its eyes—birds check themselves out in the windshields before bed—organ music along the chimneys—faces painted for 4 a.m. photographs—an earthworm cloned by a bike tire.
And the meaning of life—I forgot to mention the meaning of life.

This is the Mötley Crüe Poem

because it's the world's most ridiculous & notorious Mötley Crüe terza rima,
a poem you wish was about Guns ‘n Roses,
a poem aspiring to get banned for life from Edmonton, Canada,
a poem about your mom in clashing Izod jumpers and blouses,
a poem twisting out of its Sergio Valente's onto the air mattress.
It's where the tercets are held together by Aquanet ropes,
& this poem may wear tight pants but it is not even a little bit embarrassed.
This poem has never died for five minutes, maimed its passengers in a Lamborghini,
but the poem has raced down a once busy 4 A.M. avenue & felt madness
in the oasis of a car, seeing visions of fiberglass origami.
This poem is locked in your frontal lobe's rotating drum set,
fine, the poem apologizes, I'm not about your mom—unless she's a groupie
& in that case, bless her & her autographed chest.
This poem needs more heavy metal umlauts:
bölögnä sändwïch, Räy-Bäns, Ïn-N-Öüt Bürgër—Ö rësplëndënt göddëss öf ëxcëss,
jump up & down with your crimped hair & side-pony as this poem peels burnouts
in the parking lot of a boarded-up K-Mart.
Mötley Crüe poem, Houdini out of your nylon handcuffs & breakout
of your form,
begin, again,
with a police car siren
chasing your cracked-window-
Become a poem
for all runaways
when you disconnect
from Earth
off the L.A. barrio's
railroad track hill.
Become a poem
for the poets
throwing their notepads
through hotel windows,

South Beach Haiku 3

My legs fit perfectly in my pants.
My leg bones fit perfectly in my legs—
shorts are for tourists.

City of Constellations

  1. The city is full of constellations. Citizens argue about their shapes.
  2. The city is on a very fast raft. It follows the moon. Once every four weeks, the city disappears like a Kung-Fu city.
  3. A long time ago, it had a baseball team. When a home run was hit, the fans would jump from the stands and chase down the ball with flashlights.
  4. That one looks like a cell phone tower. That one looks like an oncoming motorcycle at dusk.
  5. Foreign dignitaries seeking souvenirs for their daughters fall for the vials of "stardust" every time.
  6. It would be a mistake to assume the city did not like the sun. The sun is a star.
  7. A boat of astronomers with PhDs follows the city in an inflatable raft. They have long beards and the citizens throw their raccoons at them.
  8. That one looks like a boom box recording from one tape deck to another. That one looks like a CD hanging from a rearview mirror.
  9. People just sleep, whatever.
  10. Every full moon the city sees its reflection. It thinks it looks like a shelf of books.
  11. The former baseball team sports binoculars, plays bongos on the beach.
  12. Cats. Everywhere.
  13. They almost hosted the Olympics but no one could agree on the right way to extinguish the torch: dumpster of sand from a helicopter; or five hundred orphans waving electric blankets.
  14. There is a shortage of teachers, teenage boys. People who quote other people are not allowed.
  15. All the Starbucks have been uprooted and replaced with planetariums but they still have Wi-Fi and they still call them Starbucks.
  16. That one looks like a robot with a severed arm. That one looks like a fish breathing on the deck of a boat.
  17. When the city gets very old and implodes, the rest of the world will say, We really should have seen this coming.

Chicago Elegy

They said he came down the rail lines, sniffing the ghosts of pigs shuttled
in boxcars
to the slaughterhouse, and I can see that, because the ghost of morning bacon
lingers long in the kitchen,
and Magnificent mile after Italian beef joint he walked, until he
was suffocated
by North Side bungalows, flailing as he tried to perch himself on the clumsy
A.C. units
hanging off them like pimples, when, (this is where it gets good!) he was shot
—dead—by the Chicago PD.
The panicked policemen said "Tranquilizers? Pffft! The zoo's on the other
side of town!"
So they shot the cougar, tenderized bullets in all 160 pounds of him.
This happened after
I had moved away from Chicago, when it was cold there, so I put it together
with the cougar sniffing
at rabbit shaped clouds, or acting confused at the obnoxious plastic colored
playhouses in the backyards
and the children watching through lattice-worked fingers from the bay
windows, partially fulfilling
their dreams of seeing a live saber-toothed tiger; "Puma, Mountain Lion,
Cougar, it's all the same,"
the too-pretty reporter—reporting live—is reporting, maneuvering around
her long bangs.
Here, in Miami, the cold is uninvited, unshowered, sends the denizens into
a rage of scarves at sixty degrees.
There are no coyotes here like the one that settled itself quietly inside
a Quizno's,
sitting in the open cooler on 24 oz. sodas and Arizona iced teas, sick, lost;
something or other not good.
We watched along the decaled glass as the animal controller lassoed it with
his rod, hustled it to the van.
It must have been up all night howling at those toaster ovens, because
when we parted
to let it pass it was wide-eyed silent, mouth agape with terror at our pea coats
and 12 gigabyte camera phones.
No sandwiches for us; sadly, sandwiches are different in Miami, inferior.
I always explain
the Chicago Style Hot Dog to people, and these people keep telling me they
like ketchup on their hot dogs.
Nobody gets it. The joke, the silly one, the bizarre punch-line: dyeing
the Chicago River green
before St. Patrick's Day, the horrifying satisfaction of A) seeing a green
river and B) noting the artificial
color dissolve out of it each day against your green knapsack—Somewhere
in both of these cities
an older woman's darker roots are being exposed: Simultaneous panic
buttons—but back
in Chicago, the crappies in the River have three minute memory spans.
They endure the sudden cloudy
torrent of green dye, become terrified, blind, confused for a few minutes;
then the crappie brain-slate
wipes clean, and green is all that they ever knew. They will never remember
long enough to observe
the color fading out: the joke is on them, I suppose, but they won't put it
together, just as here,
where when I caught a gecko in my apartment I held onto his tail too long
before he met the shoebox—
his tail broke off and the rest scurried away, his chest pulsating, I didn't think
to put him back together,
so I stood there cupping his tail, letting it dance its death-jig in the room
my palms made.
And they did a DNA test on that dead cougar to find out where he came from:
more than one thousand miles from Chicago,
the western Black Hills of South Dakota—I can't say I blame him,
but it seems like a far way to walk,
for anything, especially death, and I think it's important to know that,
like how its important to know
that crappies have three minute memories, or how the picture of the coyote
was the background of my phone
for months and months, and that I loved it so much until I found something else
I loved better.

South Beach Haiku 4

Everyone marvels at the gondola skateboard,
and not the beautiful paddling Argentina riding it—

Quantum of Solace

sounds like the name
of a bad book of poetry,
yet, no, no,
it's an Ian Fleming short story:
the title a highly contingent algebraic formula
hypothesized by the Governor of the Bahamas
which affixes
an exact integer
to a sum
determining how a couple
ceases to care for one another.
Outside my window,
the November nimbus clouds
are moving fast and low,
another book of poems
is growing sideways out of a preposition,
and your breasts,
I can't remember them,
sort of like how James Bond
wouldn't remember,
cutting his Aston Martin's wheel hard,
exerting the machine to slither o so limber—
but maybe,
in a line's last throes,
the memory I will replay before unconsciousness
involves sliding my hands
around your back,
which is a rhombus,
a conundrum of ease,

Quantum of Solace 2

But no, no, it's not the preposition
from which the book of poems is birthed.
It's the equation:
the quantum of solace;
the meandering love-line rivers
of Arabic numbers
married to their banking and bending.
It's because a preposition
joins a phrase to a sentence
which may not need it to communicate,
but I need you.
I do—
to sever my love into a fraction
of lines and stanzas, to be a landscaped bastion
of words, not numbers.
Above my roof,
the October cirrus clouds
erase the chalky proofs
of a man mentally committing his vow.
I have lied so much.


4 A.M. 6, 7
Animals, particularly in pain (See also: Birds) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Bangs, as in hair 4, 10
Baseball 3, 9
Bicycles, especially going off jumps and doing tricks 3, 4, 6
Birds (especially pigeons) 2, 4, 6
Bullets 1, 10
Burgers 1, 3, 6, 7
Celestial bodies 1, 9
Cities (See also: Miami) 3, 7, 9, 10
Clouds 4, 10, 12, 13
Confusion, being confused 1, 3, 11, 12
Death 1, 3, 6, 9, 10, 12
Explosions, naturally occurring 1, 3, 9
Explosions, unnaturally occurring 4
Fire 3, 4, 6
Implosion, especially the idea of being imploded in death (See also: Death) 1, 9
Longing for love/lover 12, 13
Miami 2, 5, 8, 11
Nakedness, specifically women's breasts 4, 7, 12
Parties 4, 7
Piñatas 1, 6
Saints 3, 6
Sequel Poems 5, 8, 11, 13
Sex, also allusions to 4
Skateboards 6, 11
Sports Cars 4, 7, 12

Dave Landsberger

Dave Landsberger was born in Chicago and currently lives out of a suitcase and inside your heart. His work can be found in the upcoming chapbook, Ballerz, published by The University of Wynwood, and in Karate & Females, published by Blue Ox.