Mighty Mike McGee

featured poet

is a well-traveled stand-up poet from San José, California, but he’s hobo’d his way around the United States, Canada, and throughout Europe since 2002. McGee has performed comedy and poetry in thousands of cities and towns for millions of ears. He was appointed Poet Laureate of Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley) for 2018 & 2019. He is one of the best known and liked people in the world of chatty writers.


In The Kitchen Of The Foxy House, East Vancouver

In a home where the walls are enough to keep out the constant mists of rain, but cotton enough to welcome the cold, I am dying. In this old kitchen, I am dying. While my drunkenness gives birth to my sadness, my diabetes leads me to the dancefloor where my disorientation and my blue shadow are conspiring to slow murder me. In this kitchen where I have danced and slept. Like the edges of all the windows, doors, and counter drawers, all my layers of paint have been knick-ed and ding-ed and are now vividly unconcealed. Let us go to the moment in this room in which I have died. It looks like suicide, but since part of me is still alive, it must’ve been murder. Had I wanted this, I would have ensured it. Who were we in this kitchen where I have conjured potions and feasts? In this home where I have made armfuls of love. Where I have rerouted rivers of poison into my marina and tried to swim away with the circus. There was a rage tonight. Dishes thrown. Words pummeled. I watched it all happen as I lay dying. I birthed a forsaken son from my throat. It will say that I don’t want her to feed me anymore. I will feed myself. It will look like I am trying to be a hero by setting the house on fire. It will start in this kitchen. The room where all the fires I’ve started were to keep us warm. Tonight, my disease has established its hold. I will have to choke it out. But tonight, I have built a wall, only one, that moves with my vision, staying ahead of me. An unclimbable, destructive goal—one only sadness and meals can penetrate. She will try, though. Goodness knows she will.

On The Eve Of All Those Saints

Maybe I am a foolish old man
Might seem younger because I bike around town?
death can’t catch me if I keep moving

Maybe there was a moment this evening
when I was pedaling faster than I ever have and yet
my eyelids got too heavy and so
I gave them permission to close
Maybe my machine and I came off the curb
my body lifted up into the nothing above the street
Arms hugging a ghost too tall
A soaring slow-mo waltz
I am certainly not waiting to land
I do not wish for it in any way
So I sleep into it

Let’s say you are me in this moment
The breeze you force yourself through
cools the tears and sweat
that are cutting through your eyebrows
insistent glaciers passing over your eyes

You are unintentionally serenaded
by the voices of kids leading their parents to the
next house where candy awaits
voices that seem to have forgotten the last house and will
eventually forget this next one and
likely this night

You’ve had forty-one of these nights
You are lucky to remember seven or eight
But you remember the night your aunt and uncle took you and
your brother to Los Gatos for rich people’s candy
You never forget full-sized chocolate bars for kids and
beers for the grown-ups for doing
god’s work dragging these little shits out for candy

But they were cool, young adults who
hadn’t yet gone to prison or hell

You once had a sweet tooth, but
it shattered on a $6 pearl from a 25¢ oyster
at a $12 buffet in Vancouver
sitting across from the sweetest thing
you’d ever abandon
The fragment of tooth that will never leave your jaw is
an accomplice to diabetes

You were a great zombie
Before all this zombie shit
You were a kind clown
A sweet cowboy
You deserved all that candy, every year
because you went door-to-door and you asked for it so sweetly

Right Now is all in for whatever down means
Once zenith is reached, it makes sense to fall
to come crashing down
Like just before bed on November 2, 1987
with such little candy left outside of your body
Where the hell’d it all go!? Your mother will ask
Just lie to her, tell her you simply have no clue
Be a good kid because now we focus on Christmas

As for tonight we fall and
we see the ground coming up to meet us, but
instead of seizing every muscle in your body
you expand outward
every one of your molecules moves away from each other just enough
to make you bigger, looser
you may not be controlling this part
this may be simple universal coincidence and
gravity just happens to be at the end of its handshake with you, losing grip
And you realize, so slowly
That you are not falling
because everything is always falling
No, you are simply racing the world to see
who gets older first

Grown

The day my bike was stolen from my front yard
twelve years old felt fully grown
I had no more room to expand
the weather was exactly perfect
I only wore a shirt out of respect for my neighbors

It was the same day I finally understood what it meant to be
Californian why people out of state would hate us
kids running through the sprinklers
kids on skateboards
kids laughing and making noises as familiar and as natural as birds
             chirping in the trees

I had yet to feel betrayed—betrayal was not possible in such a perfect
             kingdom
no summer before had ever wilted into disenfranchised autumn

Whenever we came back from the store, we simply dropped our bikes on
             the law
we did it thousands of times, yet there
never seemed to be time for a kickstand
my bike would be fine on the grass because that was the only place for it
             there was no other option

My mother sent me back
we’d forgotten an item on the grocery list
the time from the lawn to the living room and back was negligible
unremarkable

The first thing I felt when I realized my bike was gone
was that my brother had just played the best and fastest practical joke
             on me
the look on his face when he understood the situation a few seconds
             before I did
the purest sense of empathy from a ten year old who’s loved you for
             ten years
the cursory search around the house and our block
that walk back to the store, four eyes in four directions looking for the
             wrong person on the right bike

I’ll have to finish growing up so this doesn’t hurt so much
this must be what becoming an adult is
fight back the anger, rage, tears, sadness
get a newer, better bike
my loyal steed has failed me

Recreating Dawn

               for JDH

Were I better with my hands
and clay
You are the breathing reason
I would wake up
To pull a moment of you
out of a mountain

I would melt every metal I could find
and pour you out of it

Countless roosters and hens
have awoken and fed me
I have gone 12 rounds with alarm clocks and
chased time around a race track
So that could I show and tell
any and all open eyes
that I once saw you

And here
Here is what those seconds looked like
Let them hear what you taught me, what you took
How long my breath went missing
along with the sun

Orchestra is a strange way to spell heart
But mine beats and pulls and winds
it timpanies and trumpets
conducting itself because
these vocal cords are not enough

There is a limit to how long
my voice can sing
I long for it to match
your tireless
willing love

Armistice

Be the first to drop all weapons
The last of your blood to draw blood

Your sole defense is your own will to let live
those who gnash their teeth or
use them to smile in the shadow of their own awakening

Let us break bread every night with someone learning
to be someone who is always learning
Even when it means sometimes breaking bread alone