What was the first thing you ever wrote that exceeded your expectations?

In high school, I used to write essays for a friend of mine so we could skip gym class. They were 300-500 word essays on a particular sport -- racquetball, basketball, rugby or something similar. After a time, I realized that I was writing them for 4-6 other people and starting to get paid for it, about 5 essays per person. I made about $650 that school year. The fees ended up paying for about a dozen of trips to Disneyland to chase skirts. Only about a third of those trips exceeded expectations.

What is it about poetry that appeals to you, both as a writer and a reader?

The thing is men and women see poetry differently. And I've only written poetry for two groups: women and me. If a man gets the poetry, fine. But, men just aren't wired for poetry. We're wired for muddy cleats, eye back, two minutes for roughing and trying to sneak a peek in the "back door" when she's not really noticing and hoping she approves a full look. So, as a writer, I'm wanting to say something that's danced around my skull and hasn’t been said 10,000 times that day in news, on blogs or by someone else to those audiences. And, ultimately, I want to connect with it when it's spit out. As a reader, I'm seeking something fresh; something accurate, brief and clear. Something with broad shoulders or swaying hips that knocks me off my feet after the last stanza. We all want that from everything and every bit of entertainment we consume. The problem is that 99 percent of what we consume is sheer crap. And 98 percent of that done by people creating it, including me, is crap. So, ultimately, on both sides, I want to rub the G-spot, hit a home run or find the perfect little black dress that'll make the others women sad they even stepped out the door that night. Sometimes you know when you do, sometimes you don't.

At what other point in history could you see yourself thriving, and why?

There are always points in history where you think, "At what point were humans most freaky with their clothes off and their bodies on? I mean like 'walk up to a woman, bend her over, shag and smile walking away' times?" But then the reptilian brain goes to sleep for a while and the mammalian layer takes over. And that usually leads me toward something right brained. Something before the industrial age and the crush of corporate necessity. The latter part of the renaissance probably would have been fine. Maybe post-WWII United States. However, this is a pretty good time as well. I’m no Bear Grylls, so anything where I’d have to make fire, spear a Buffalo or fish would be unrelenting suck.

If you could get drunk with one poet, living or dead, who would it be? Please note that you wouldn't actually be drinking with a corpse, but rather some sort of time transference would be involved.

Depending on the poet, drinking with the corpse might be a better time. And since my familiarity with the “Ten Best Poets to Drain a Guinness Beside” list is short of data, so I'll pick you. Should you decline, I’ll take a dead guy: Ben Franklin. He liked whores, ale, didn’t give a damn about much and he took the time to rewrite "Want of a Nail" so well that Todd Rundgren and Bobby Womack made it into song.

What's the strangest dream or nightmare you've ever had?

Most of the nightmares are sleep-borne anxiety attacks. People you love hating you, ignoring you and all that in the dream. You wake up wanting to kiss whoever you’re next for acceptance and conciliation. Also, walking around in your underwear. The "needing one more class to graduate high school and not knowing how to get it" dream. Other visions like that can also be induced by sickness. And I usually don't remember dreams, though I once dreamt of a girl in high school I had a HUGE crush on. It was very real and I almost approached her the next day to ask her out, but by about noon, my head cleared and realized how dumb that move would have been.

If God asked you to fill in for him for a weekend while he took one of those promotional trips to Vegas where you get the room and the show and the continental breakfast, what would you use that time doing?

Wouldn't I have to get through the PowerPoint orientation, get keys to the washroom, get a network password/email account and find my way around the pearly gates in that time? By the time I got around to smiting, "eye for an eye"-ing or figuring out why burnt offerings, he'd be back with a showgirl on each arm covered in those cheap plastic beads, toting a cup full of nickels and handing me my temp pay check. However, somewhere in between the password failures and machine reboots, it might be helpful to reorient living beings into some sort of harmony and get everything made of plasma, carbon, energy and matter in the universe a Facebook page to chat and get to know one another. And I would cancel "Kath & Kim," and smite both actresses.

If you had the time and resources available to you to go away and create your masterpiece, what would it be?

My daughter's 3 already. But I'll use the "can't include something so awfully sappy, it rots my teeth and make my stomach turn" mulligan on that answer. So, let's go with graphic novel, written and drawn by me.

Can train travel ever regain its romantic aura of by-gone eras?

Gas prices are back below two bucks. Auto makers are curled up around the big warm dog bowls awaiting another serving of kibble from Uncle Sam. I'd say 'No' but Warren Buffet just bought a boatload of train and rail interests across the globe. So, if he did it, then I'd be looking for "I had the time of my life" commercials for trains soon. Unless Mr. Buffet goes away for a weekend while he took one of those promotional trips to Vegas where he gets the room and the show and the continental breakfast.

Can blind people ever be truly comfortable playing the lottery? Seems like there would have to be an inordinate amount of trust involved throughout the process...

As Chris Rock said, "It's just a stack to Stevie. It's just a stack."

What's the most frightening thing that's ever happened to you?
Cancer almost killed me. Surprisingly, not frightening. Got shot at in a helicopter over Baghdad. Surprisingly, not frightening. So, I'll go for lying in a moment of weakness and getting caught.

Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?
Well, just like me, they long to be, close to you.