Monday, August 10, 2015

Abiding Oak

“I cannot say how bad it hurts
not to have you around anymore”

(could anyone make more plaintive of a cry?)
(no, probably not)

days return
like a typewriter carriage

each waiting for the bell;
waiting for the bell to ring out
“I miss you”

Saturday, August 8, 2015


hey now
does the world win
in the spice of life
race of grace
for a two-bit shoe shine medal
given for heroic kicks
at a patch of earth beneath your feet?

hey now
if the world could win
we'd never know
what things above
what things below
and the spice of life
face chase
would just hound us 'til we're dead
no way to live
no home, no bread

hey now
the world can't win
as the world might like
as the world might hope
when life has got you on the ropes
but the spice of life
jerky derby
all peppered, kippered
and dried to a twist
to a twist and a wrinkle
(even a pucker)

that jerky derby all spiced of life
(just the rind that truth spits out)
the fatty rind all soap-cake white
all tremble-licious, salty rind
of fat and blood
(don't ever mind)

hey now
did the world win
in the hand-me-down moon race?
patching baling wire and duct tape
patch your craft for outer space?
baling as fast as we can
to keep the waters – the rushing flood
the rushing tide of inner space
at acceptable levels
in your neighborhood

just low enough to keep our ankles wet
and then the world can't win

Monday, July 13, 2015

Saturday Morning, Davenport Post Office

I told you your mother wouldn't like that -
she wouldn't like it if you lied -
lying about that dollar and a half -
the money I wouldn't give you
as I only wanted to buy you lunch.

If you'd told me what you wanted
was a dollar and a half for booze
I might likely have obliged
and helped you tie one on.
Honesty goes a long way -
longer than a cheese sandwich.

So I told you your mother wouldn't like you lying,
and to make her happy you should tell the truth.
So after I departed
it was the next fool who came along
who gave you the money
for the 64-ouncer
that you took home to dear old mom.

You never got that bottle back to mom,
to your dirty old flat across the tracks
right next to the place run by nuns.
You never got to hear her say
“thank you so – my good and truthful son.”
You didn't spend the afternoon with dear old mom,
getting tanked and smoking cigarettes
traded for food stamps.
You never saw her smile at you like she always did
because the meth lab fire next door took out the whole place,
and the truth came out,
and the truth came out.
And dear old mom wound up behind bars.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Ras al Khafji and Beyond

Pete the Marine
lost in time again
says “who am I?”

Dredging from his unkempt mind
like so much half-remembered sand
a foreign land
a foreign tongue
a foreign time
when he was young

Leaving his office on a Friday afternoon
and a half-baked desert hobo lets out a yell
and Pete the Marine jumps and turns
no friendly fire
no warthog's screaming shells
to flash and burn and burn like hell

Keep coming back.
Keep coming back
in half-forgotten stories he was told
by that kid who wanted to sell him cassette tapes
cassette tapes in a foreign tongue
keep coming back
like the burning sun.

So Pete the Marine
might not know
might not know today – not know at all
just who he is
“just who I am”
without the sand
without the sun
without the stinking diesel-soaked dust
and smell of burn
and stink of death (baked-on, bloody death)
on a long, dead, stinking highway mile of death
or hear that sand
or foreign tongue
when he was young.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring Evening on Glen Armil Park

salmon-stained cloud smears
in an ocean turned upside down

all the air smelling of puppy breath and cheap tortilla nights

chairs and boxes and hubcaps
covering the shit-thawed lawn
in the neighbor's gladiator coliseum garden

no longer frost, not yet buds --
a raised-bed tarmac for air-bound summer dreams

roundball pang! pang! pang! in the concrete gym

neighborhood kids make good use of daylight hours
and the newspaper headline on my doorstep
reminds me of another shooting
with no arrest

Monday, October 13, 2014

All You Got Left

hijacked stares
and high-jacked stairs
looking for all the world
a loss

given to sucking his teeth
and malt liquor power shakes
wrapped in
fish-bone dyepaper
lost as a thousand
underwater lamps
shining on the path to atlantis

wrecked and wreaked
roped and doped
shelling the high heel goddess
man-sized artillery
shells and canister
super male vitality
satchmo nacho
give it quick and don't look back
wrap around the clock

he trips
he sneers
he quips
he tears
and a coal-black
(what is coal anymore?)
coal-black jacket
coal-black face
coal-black trousers
coal-black heart
hijack the goddess
and look for all the world

a loss

Monday, October 6, 2014

Jousting in Time, Again

at times I think we looked
like brother and sister
but then I come unglued
and the world begins to look
like a watercolor

I once said it was a feeling
like trying to swallow
too much under-chewed beef

it gets caught in the chest
but the lump in the throat
pays no attention to the glass of water
and I have to cough and spit
and cry out your name

and remember how gone you always were
and how gone you are right now

if I thought I could cry out
for your spirit to return
I'd probably have a crack at it
and see if your spirit
could edit a few pages of text for me

and chew the fat

and laugh

and make me believe

I have a sister