Prop Comic

Wearing a plaid flannel shirt and bright orange wig,
My father, who looked a lot like Carrot Top,
Confronted me on stage in the middle of my act
And said enough is enough,
He was canceling my allowance.

“Dammit, Gallagher,” he said,
“Six years in stand-up school,
You’re still a prop comic?”

Right then and there, adding to the tension,
An audience member, the dean of a local clown college,
Popped a weasel, my favorite balloon animal.

Now I play the role of a normal person
With regular adult needs and I’m dead

Christmas Party

Last night everyone
At my adults-only
Christmas party
Got a stocking stuffer

I let Jill inside my man cave
And she destroyed it

Three couples tried to mount
My Peloton bike built for two

Five cocktail servers crawled
Around on all fours with cherries
In their mouths behind the wet bar

Six or seven hot
Yoga instructors
Taught each other a lesson

I saw eight chicks
Eating finger foods
With nine dudes
In the closet

Ten of Sven’s top eleven
Twelve-step friends
Spilled eggnog on the sofa

I’m glad I called Merry Maids
To disinfect the whole house
From top to bottom

One of the new girls
From Poland
Got so excited
When Santa came
Down the chimney

She sprayed Windex
So hard and so high
She hit the ceiling

Daily Reminders

Be normal
Be kind
Of normal

Don’t kill
Time just
Maim it

Make mistakes
Big mistakes
Over and over

Get a grip
Go for a walk
Gather stones

Say a prayer
Recite a poem
Express doubt

Split hairs
Throw fits
Skip stones

Take a chill pill
Better yet
Take two

Pet hares
Not porcupines
Count sheep

Shake a leg
Dodge a bullet
Carry a tune

Make mistakes
The same mistakes
Over and over

You can’t
Be normal
You’re a poet

Wish Me Luck

My name isn’t Chris Truman but I am Chris Truman
A character I created in college and wrote a lot about
To pass the time and make my professors think
I’m a real genius

Chris Truman is me poorly disguised
On purpose for dramatic effect
To poke fun at myself and my depression

For legal reasons I can’t share my name
Because I’m submitting this poem along with three others
To a contest run by a famous magazine called Rattle
And on their website under Submission Guidelines
The editors say to keep things fair
Don’t put your name on your poems

They can’t know my name until they choose this poem
Or one of the other three for the grand prize
Which I know they will because I’m a real genius

I’m getting ahead of myself
They haven’t read a word of this yet
It’s self-indulgent I know but I’m depressed
I need to focus more on myself

Rattle rejected me twice already this year
OK they didn’t reject me they rejected my art
And I’m worried about failing
To impress them again

Jean-Paul Sartre the famous writer said
In the end the loser wins which I believe does happen
For example when poets like me destined to fail at life
Use their pain and frustration to make beautiful art
They win people’s hearts and minds
And sometimes awards

In 1964 Jean-Paul Sartre won the Nobel Prize in Literature
But he declined the award for reasons I don’t understand
And somebody called him a loser

Chris Truman never won anything in fact
One time he submitted four poems intended for a contest
Into the Regular Submissions category
And the editors laughed so hard
The earth shook and he died
Alone like Jean-Paul Sartre


Mike Tyson said
Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth
And I’m thinking did Robin Givens know before she met
And fell in love with professional boxer Mike Tyson
And married him that he would punch her in the mouth

What plans did she have for her life
Before he punched her in the mouth
That first time
What hopes and dreams
Was she forced to abandon

My abuser hit me a lot too
And I learned that when I tried to fight back
This made him more determined
To hold me down

I want to punch Mike Tyson in the face
For hurting a woman I’ve never met
But I know deep down
I’m just displacing anger
Reserved for my abuser
Onto a former boxer
Whose quote about everybody having a plan
Until they get punched in the mouth
Reminds me that my abuser’s plan
To break my spirit failed

I’m making a fist he can’t see right now
Reserved for his face

Sundae School

Every Fourth of July here in Two Rivers, Wisconsin,
my dad, Pastor James Baskin-Robbins, picked cherries
with the Butterscotch boys from sundae school.

One day last fall after caramel nut class,
the Butterscotch boys, hopped-up on chocolate sauce,
mistook Dad, hiding behind an old oak tree,
for a giant woodpecker and went bananas.

All hell broke loose here in Two Rivers, Wisconsin,
where the charity Fight Lactose Intolerance says
the ice cream sundae was invented in 1881.

This Fourth of July, as God is my witness,
I saw Dad kill a giant woodpecker
behind an old oak tree.

As for my testimony, Your Honor,
I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth,
and nothing but the truth will set me free.

Poetry Today

“The desire to write poetry is a precious thing. It turns into a need on the one hand and a habit or practice on the other. If we were making a list of reasons to stay alive, and it seems we keep needing to do so, poetry would occupy a cherished place on the list.” —David Lehman, The Best American Poetry 2011

Sadly, what passes for poetry today is nothing more than politically charged chopped-up prose written by and intended for professionally trained poets lacking—among other things—humor, humility, and rhythm.

Politically Charged Chopped-Up Prose

Sadly, what passes for poetry today
is nothing more than politically charged
chopped-up prose

written by and intended for
professionally trained poets
lacking—among other things—
humor, humility, and rhythm.


“When we fill the jug, the pouring that fills it flows into the empty jug. The emptiness, the void, is what does the vessel’s holding. The empty space, this nothing of the jug, is what the jug is as the holding vessel.” —Martin Heidegger, Poetry, Language, Thought

“Whether the stone bumps the jug or the jug bumps the stone, it is bad for the jug.” —Carl Sandburg, Harvest Poems: 1910-1960

“Some jugs are bigger than other jugs. All jugs are beautiful.” —The ten-year-old boy alive and well within me

Trauma-Informed Therapy

It’s the tension to release
It’s the burden to unburden

Not the speed, it’s the direction
Not the speed, it’s the direction

It’s a quiet voice that listens
To a body speaking softly

It’s the forest for the trees
An open mind. A field of vision.

Not the speed. The direction.
Not the speed. The direction.

God Must Know

I’m not sad anymore
I’m angry at God
For making us human
For making us suffer

If we are human
If we must suffer
God must know
What it means

To be human
God must know
How it feels
To suffer

Poetry Might Be Defined

On his podcast in 1934
Stand-up comedian
(And part-time poet) W. H. Auden said
“Poetry might be defined
As the clear expression of mixed feelings.”

That’s a misprint. Auden said
“Poetry might be defined
As the clear expression of mixed media”
When he got his master’s degree in mixed media art
From a university with a funny name.
Oxford. I think.

Wrong. Auden said
“Poetry might be defined
As the clear expression of mixed martial arts”
And he said this at a bar. No.
He wasn’t drinking that night.
Auden only drank ocean spray.

That’s nonsense. I read on a blog
On the internet
That when he was around eleven
Auden said

“Poetry might be defined
As the clear expression of mixed episodes”
To his dad
Who was bipolar
But not when he played
The bassoon.

Wrong again. Auden spoke very little English.
He was raised in America
Having moved there from Britain in 1939
Before the war
Around the age of 32.

Freud’s Blackbird

A young Freud danced
In the shadow of his blackbird.

Freud’s cigar smoke
Ruffled the feathers
Of his blackbird.

When his stethoscope broke
Freud blamed his blackbird.

When he lost his temper
Freud swore like a sailor
And flipped off his blackbird.

No one tested Freud’s patience
More than his blackbird.

Freud’s mother fainted
Once in the presence
Of his blackbird.

All animals are fallible.
Freud was infallible.
Freud loved his blackbird.

Suffering exists. So did Freud.
So does the essence of his blackbird.

One day the sky was blue
But not the whole sky.
Freud looked everywhere
For his missing blackbird.

Proving he wasn’t a magpie
Freud gained the trust
Of his blackbird.

Freud’s blackbird
Sang show tunes.

My therapist said
Don’t overthink it.
I’m Freud’s blackbird.

Afraid I Don’t Remember

Have I written
This poem before?

I’m afraid
I don’t remember.

Shall I go on?

Go on.

With this poem
Or my life?

Whatever you do
Go on with the bad
And good.

You mean
Go on with the bad

The bad and the good.

So you’re saying
I should know
The bad and the good?

Know what you mean
In a poem
And say it as well.

I don’t think you mean
What you think
You mean.

I don’t mean anything.
Like this poem.

Do you like it
So far?

It depends.
How does it end?

In silence
I’m afraid.

Protect This Inner Light

The sole-ness of my soul.
The essence of my essence.
There is deep within me
An indestructible source of light
That never fails to protect me.

I must protect this inner light
That never fails to protect me.
I must protect this inner light
Within the people I love and let
Their inner light shine through me.

The sole-ness of my soul.
The essence of my essence.
There is deep within me
An indestructible source of light
That never fails to protect me.

Twenty-Four Lines

The dreamer
Wide awake
Within me tells
A figure of speech:

“The dreamer
Wide awake
Within me is
A figure of speech.”

The dreamer
Wide awake
Within me is
A figure of speech

In a poem where
The question
“Who am I?”
Has no answer.

It has four stanzas
Four lines each
No wait five stanzas
Four lines each

No wait six stanzas
Four lines each
This one here makes
Twenty-four lines in all.

Thirty Lines

The dreamer
Wide awake
Within me
Tells a figure
Of speech:

“The dreamer
Wide awake
Within me
Is a figure
Of speech.”

The dreamer
Wide awake
Within me
Is a figure
Of speech

In a poem where
The answer
To the question
“Who am I?”
Is in question.

Here you’ll find
Four stanzas
Five lines each
No wait now
It’s five stanzas

Five lines each
No wait now
It’s six stanzas
Five lines each
Thirty lines in all.

An Indestructible Source Of Light

My singularity: the sole-ness of my soul. My singularity: the essence of my essence. No one can touch my singularity. My body may be harmed but not my singularity.

There is deep within me an indestructible source of light. There is deep within me a light I cannot see that nevertheless focuses its “I” on me.

I must protect this inner light that never fails to protect me. I must protect this inner light within the people I love and allow their light to shine through me.

The sole-ness of my soul. The essence of my essence. There is deep within me an indestructible source of light protecting my singularity.

Writing Saves My Life

I feel the need to explain myself to myself. I feel the need to analyze every aspect of my (inner) life. Why am I thinking the thoughts I’m thinking right now? What do my thoughts say about me? If I’m being hyper-critical, how am I responding to my hyper-critical thoughts? Am I challenging my hyper-critical thoughts, or am I using them to support irrational beliefs that I’m inherently weak and irrevocably damaged? Why am I writing—again—about my thoughts?

I have so much to live for, so much to look forward to. Still, when my overthinking goes into overdrive, I find myself returning to thoughts of suicide. I don’t have any plans, just a vague sense that death is easier than (my) life. When these thoughts arise, I hold on to my life. I think of at least one reason to stay alive.

For now, I must be patient. Healing takes time. I’ll keep writing because writing saves my life.

Fast Asleep

It’s cold in my flashbacks
It’s midnight all the time

Remember when I let
The monster stroll right
Through the front door
Of my childhood home
How wide he smiled

The heat went out
Midnight froze in time

I refuse to live forever
In the past I can’t move
Forward looking back

Slowly falling fast asleep
In the corner of my eye
I will build a bed of straw
Light a candle tip it over

May my memory be eternal
May forgiveness rest in peace

First Date

Well, since you didn’t ask,
Depression feels like this:


Wait, you’re leaving?

Too bad.
There’s always
The internet.

Everyone’s kind
And porn is free
On the internet.

My Life Is A Meadow

My life is a meadow
And I am its breeze

My mind is a river
And I am its flow

My brain is a wave
And I am its ocean

My heart is a pulse
And I am its beat

My voice is a song
And I am its chorus

My hand is a surface
And I am its touch

My eye is a mirror
And I am its gaze

My life is a meadow
Time passes through

Right Now

Right now is Batman chasing robins?
Is Joaquin Phoenix doing stand-up comedy?
Where’s Ralph Waldo Emerson?
Is Walt Whitman shaving his beard?

How many Willows are weeping?
How many Eves are falling?
How many Adams are splitting their pants?
How many Jacks are changing flat tires right now?

Of those Jacks, how many know a jazzman?
Of those Jacks—who are changing flat tires
Right now and know a jazzman—
How many only date girls named Jill?

Is Forrest Gump too busy to save Private Ryan?
Is Tom Hanks telling Matt Damon it’s not his fault?
Good Will Hunting is my favorite movie.
Ben Affleck was in it before he played Batman.

After The Beep

If time is money
If talk is cheap
If gas is not
If cars brake
If websites crash
If cookies crumble
If hunger sucks
If mouths breathe
If jaws clench
If minds open
If thoughts race
If words flow
If ink dries
If pages turn
If books are red
If poetry’s dead
If songs rhyme
If lines repeat
If lines repeat
If knock knock
If who’s there
If dads joke
If jokes bomb
If clocks tick
If time is money
If greed is good
If money is sacred
Why do I still
Own a landline?

Fun Facts About My Altered Egos

Charles B. Snoad was born under a full moon in 1980,
Ten decades before his time. His father wanted a girl.

Charles Beatrice Snoad is her name.
The girl his father wanted.

Charles Bader Snoad is a hand model.
Charles Barkley Snoad travels a lot.

On his blog,,
Charles Baron Snoad lists
Fun facts about his altered egos.

A nice guy, Charles Bronson Snoad will kick your ass.
Sadly, Charlie Brown Snoad is allergic to peanuts.

Charles Be Snoad wrote, all by himself,
The screenplay to Good Will Hunting
Under the pen name Matt Damon.

Charles Bentley Snoad drives a 2007 Honda Civic
Once owned by his mother, who only drove it
To and from church at a low speed.

Charles Byron Snoad is loved.
Loved, loved, loved.
He loves and is loved.
We all deserve to love and be loved.

Seneca Lane

When I become a garbage man
I’ll dump out each garbage can
On the ground and toss each
Empty garbage can into the back
Of my garbage truck and drive away.
I’ll be driving the truck
A blue one
And I’ll hang off the back of the truck
At the same time.
I will pull up to the red house
Over there on fire with the deep basement.
The kid who lived there
Thirty years ago ruined my life.
He could own the whole fucking
World today for all I care
But not this poem
Never my rage.

The Door To Eternity

Ultimately, yes, I became my father,
A man learning to forgive his father.
Face it: my father won’t return tonight
Or any night called tonight.
Last I saw him, on the day
He was about to die, I survived
Long enough to hear him say:

“The door to eternity is open now.
I must be going for a walk, a brisk walk,
Among the ruins of a city built by sons
Who worked hard but nevertheless failed
To forgive their fathers.”

It takes courage to admit
My father won’t be joining me for dinner
Tonight or any night called tonight,
Even if a door out of nowhere
Opened and forgiveness herself
Walked through and said my father
Is well. Dead, still. And well.

Personal Day

Chuck is down.
Up, Chuck!
Down Chuck!

Who is this
Down Chuck?

I heard he’s taking
The rest of the day off.

Where is he taking it?
How far?
Is he gone?

Perfecting A Poem

Depression = Anxiety is too exhausted to end Anxiety.

Mania = Anxiety is up for three days. Perfecting a poem about Anxiety.

PTSD = Anxiety hurts Anxiety. Anxiety blames himself for creating Anxiety.

This is how
My day begins.

This is how
My day goes wrong.

This is how
My life bends.

With a whimper
And a bang.