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Lee Bob Black reading his poems

All of the following videos are at YouTube.com/LeeBobBlack

Afraid To Remember


Inside you, you have

          all power,

          all wisdom,

          all compassion,

          all confidence,

          all worth.

Sometimes though,

          you forget. 

There’s nothing

          wrong with



          with remembering.  

Who you are

can't be taken

or destroyed, only

temporarily forgotten. 






when I hear you speak like


it makes me think that you

don’t know me, that you

don’t want me to

feel exactly and intensely what I’m actually feeling

at this goddamn moment,

but instead

you want me to exist

in some kind of


where there are no late fees

and the subways aren’t

jammed with junkies or yelling Holy Joes 

and we always have enough

time and energy

before work

for loud rigorous sex


But there’s an Idiot In Chief

in the White House

and millions of us are behind

some eight ball that we

can’t see

and barely any of us

have friends who

have quality fulfilling relationships

with their parents


And one of the main reasons

there isn’t enough time

for authentic love

is that our lives are padded

with Crucial Transient Things


Insignificant Yet Essential Tasks

That Paradoxically Must

Be Done

And Eaten

And Purchased


And if we don’t conform then

we’re just labeled bums

or unfocused

or wastes of space


What I want to know is,

when did

the words

slow and quiet

become negative?



In the following video, I read four of my poems:


“Excluding Reality”


“You can only get to what’s possible in your life when you look at your life to see what’s missing”

“The Reinventionalists”



Excluding Reality

Excluding the facts that . . .


One, I suffer paralyzing stage-fright

even in front of small crowds, and 


Two, I’m tone deaf, and


Three, that I can’t play any musical instruments


. . . I’d be a superbad rockstar



The road to hell is paved with good intentions 


The road to heaven is paved with good intentions


I can’t remember which one is correct


They both seem like they could be


I suspect that the following are also


The road to hell is paved with evil intentions


The road to heaven is paved with evil intentions


You can only get to what’s possible in your life when you look at your life to see what’s missing

The possibility of powerlessness. 

The possibility of power. 

The power of possibility. 

The powerlessness of possibility. 


The Reinventionalists

Two skulls. 

Two souls. 

Two sex drives. 

Two musos. 

Two muses. 

Two longfound/longlost lovers. 

The mistake is hoping this is forever. 


The wedding beginning. 

A paintstripe separates then and now. 

Permanent impermanence. 


This didn’t begin with cafés. 

This didn’t paint itself red upon a blank black canvass. 

This didn’t shout nude from mountain tops. 

This didn’t bow down to our inner lights. 

This didn’t express itself via our words.

Lights, Idiots, Intimacies

Some old and cheap cars only have

one “communal” warning light. 

When this tiny red light in your dashboard

shines and blinks,

it means:


Your brake fluid is perilously low

and your brakes might not work

and you might die! 

Or it means:


Your engine’s overheating

and your car might explode! 

But how can you determine the light’s actual message?

You can’t.

The car’s “brain” monitors

dozens of different things, but the

light only

warns you that something’s wrong, not what.


These are called idiot lights--because

you don’t have to be a mechanic to

know that something’s wrong;

even an idiot can understand that.


When the idiot light flickers, you have options. 

You can pull over and tinker under the hood. 

Or: You can drive straight to a repair shop. 

Or: You can drive on, and turn the radio on,

and stick masking tape

over the problem--the light itself.


I’m a lazy son of bitch. 

But I enjoy

inversing this self-negative

by claiming that I’m not indolent, that I’m really

just a risk-taker. 

I’d rather roll the dice and risk running the car

to within an inch of its life

than service it. 

“Preventative care” for my wheels? 

Not bloody likely. 

I don’t floss. 

I walk across streets with my

headphones blaring and I’ve never

had health insurance. 

And what if the idiot light is winking red

because the car’s “brain” is a hypochondriac

and it merely believes

there’s a (nonexistent) problem? 

Maybe the red light’s telling me that the

gas cap

isn’t screwed on tight enough.  I mean, who fuking cares? 

Some so-called problems don’t need fixing. 


In my relationship with my girlfriend,

the idiot light occasionally comes on--


--and I know, goddamn it,

that I should shut the fuk up,

that I should disengage from the argument,

that I should breathe deeply and

return to a centered state. 

In those girlfriend-boyfriend moments when I

intuitively know/feel that something’s amiss,

even though I can’t put my finger on it, I know/feel

that I’m at a crossroads. 

I can go left or go right. 

Or: I can choose to continue or choose to stop. 

And I’m not just talking about that particular argument. 

I’m talking about the whole relationship enchilada. 


When the relationship idiot light

blinks red in the corner of my vision, I know that

I need

to be compassionate to myself and to her,

that if I

escalate the fight


push how I’m right

and “demonstrate” how she’s

not only intellectually irrational

but she’s also emotionally irrational,

then I’ll just get

more frustrated and angrier and

become more of an




and something untoward

will happen, like

I’ll throw something, maybe a fist or two

into a door or

into an otherwise gorgeous girlfriend’s face. 


Sometimes the relationship idiot light

tells me that

I should stop trying to disprove her points, that

I should stop dissecting her motivations and explanations, that I should leave the room,

down a glass of cold water,

go for a quick dash-walk ’round the ’hood, and

listen to the Eagles of Death Metal

with my headphones on full blare

and walk across streets

without checking for oncoming traffic

and I should fantasize about headlining in

classy women-positive

Babeland-endorsed porn

and I should

reassure myself by

telling myself

sweet nothings like, “It must be hard to

be a woman.  I’m so glad

I was born with a dick.” 


But maybe I’m completely misreading the

relationship idiot light. 

What if I believe that it’s shining and blinking

because something’s wrong with her,

but it’s really on

because something’s way wrong with me?


Maybe it’s urging me to admit that

I’m sorry. 


What if it’s got nothing to do with right and wrong,

but that there’s something

new to learn here? 


What if it’s actually a relationship intimacy light? 

Might it be trying to tell us that we’re

rubbing up against

our vulnerabilities? 

What if the light’s reminding us

that we can be sensitive and merciful here, now

What if the light actually means that if I

stay here with her, then our relationship might be fuller?

What if it’s on to specifically reject the idea that

this particular argument should be interpreted as an

emotional problem

or an

emotional end,

that instead it’s shining to tip us off that this is an

emotional opportunity,

an emotional start?