At night the desert is an unknown room.
A stone moves, then another by
unseen hands leaving
small trails that dart toward
Old Indian burial grounds.
In the distance
drum, drum, drum...
the blast furnace of thunder.
My lover asleep at the wheel somewhere
between Flagstaff and Phoenix.
The last time we were together she got drunk
then stepped out of the car to flash her
breasts, a pre-packaged cure
for the modern malaise.
These days it's a school boy crush with me,
this trespassing on government property.
I stand accused, begging for an assassin's bullet,
looking into the charcoal eyes of the sun for
a promised fragment of hope.
The lure of sanity no better no worse
than the poetry in Ploughshares.
Later in the day, dust devils will
dance like lost souls from
the stolen breath of my flute.
For days I've camped by a circle of stones,
Texas Hold'em and twist off bottle caps
the only things making life bearable.
Close by parts of a wagon wheel
like history half-buried.
A buffalo nickel in my shoe to
remind me of the slaughter.
Something keeps calling out my name.
Drum, drum, drum.
Ghosts play touch football,
Somewhere else a professor echoes his belief; The first song was the Oklahoma bombing.
Half-buried nose-first off Interstate 40 are
"junker" Cadillacs hand-sprayed with
graffiti, memories of Waco just lost luggage now.
I am willing to divulge that my best friend who
believed in honor left a copy of his resignation
to the CIA on the front seat of a '54 DeVille.
Scattered showers, electric wires
like pushy hucksters wield no mercy.
Drum, drum drum---
Holding a wind blown shingle,
the two of us are a long way from home.
What's missing is my walking stick, a pancake
breakfast, a two dollar winning lottery ticket.
Red, white, of evening wine I know
very little or why short skirts stop
traffic and entice diplomatic stares.
I ask, of what use is polite applause
when some poets deserve the
offending evil eye and silence.
Somewhere in this vast universe
poetry is outlawed along
with coffee shops, obviously
a more advanced civilization.
No doubt a cashless society that
regards life as a good teacher.
To relieve the boredom teenagers
steal the family saucer and leave
behind those clever crop circles.
Maybe they think this is paradise,
they come for the beer, the crazy love,
but mostly to steal the shirts
and blue jeans hanging
out on the clothes line.
The job lost,
meager lump sum offered,
two story wooden frame
with fireplace looked at.
My father says, too much work,
needs new furnace, too much
money out of your pocket.
I stood outside looking
at this huge thing,
the possibility of renting out,
working on it myself.
The wife liked it,
the thought of spending money,
Sometimes the planets
and stars disappear,
you fall out of the bed,
none of her clothes around,
the sound of a neighbor cutting
his grass then the noise stops.
Is this how men die?
We enter life sensing a world of disbelief.
You... so adorable, curious eyes singing,
hardly anything to barter with
clutching a copy of Modern Bride.
Somehow I managed without crying
to slip a poem into your heart.
A baby cries about and at anything,
of touch so little they know.
This first hour, your first summer night
(following rigid protocol) I whispered
"don't be afraid of the unknown,"
pointed to the shiny stars.
Barely six pounds, the center of attention
you wondered what the fuss was about.
Was your smile a tease or a reward?
Anyways we shouted out with great joy
only to startle you.
We cry to be held
to be fed
to be loved
But mostly you cried to tell us you've
figured out the world already,
that you don't like to be kissed,
and I need to shave.
I am playing cards, the free lunch swallowed
in small clumps like an Emily Dickinson poem.
We welcome senior discounts and what we
wear is what we wear. Once a week we climb
into mini buses to gather provisions and
search the shelves in vain for a better life.
We are not afraid of our faces stepping out
into the world like a blue vase, the bones the
luggage of scars shown off like spring
flowers. We know the uncertain future
belongs to the young, those with ambition.
It's supernatural but our common sense has
saved us many times and we always check off the
box marked other. We think of beauty as in
kindness, the frail hands shuffling the cards,
that smile from a woman who could of listened
to dad and got married, but instead
graced the Broadway theaters.
We have our bottles of pills, the dark spots that
consume the flesh. We stay out of the rain, carry on
love affairs because we know the footpath well. We
don't open the door for the revenue boys, don't
believe anyone who says, "We just want to help."
Some people believe in ghosts,
will live in a house to confront
the departed souls that
are stuck in limbo.
I've driven to the outskirts
of town, parked on the
railroad tracks and
turned the engine off.
The moon not wanting
to be part of the story
You wanted to know
if the stories were true,
the young couple killed
by a train ten minutes
You wanted the unknown
to show you a hold card,
like in the final seconds
that lovers are embraced
believing in forever.
You wanted to know
if the heart had a purpose.
as good as the soup this morning,
as brazen as the drunk critic,
as mysterious as dark matter,
as organized as an empty purse,
as red as an orange,
as shocking as when the hero is killed
thirty-seven seconds into the movie
and we don't even know his name,
the actress shouting, who's gonna
pay the mortgage now?
If there was a poem with a split
personality disorder, cursed with the face
of Lyndon Johnson singing Pretty Woman
in a crowded elevator headed
for the penthouse would it matter
if Julia Roberts had hairy legs?
If there was a poem, a love potion
that worked, who would we read it to?
As we step up to the microphone searching
our pockets for god knows what, the
audience is already parked on some remote
hillside. Why stick around, let's become
madmen hailing taxis, let the meter run
and tell the cabie, take the shortcut
through Central Park for the unknown.
If only there was such a poem.
They were so cool, an inch
of mud harden on the boots,
a knife like a wild plum, three
sevens on a haywire slot machine
about to make some noise.
Their facial scars soaked up
our fears, they respected
nothing, could out drink
a dozen college freshmen.
We did nothing to provoke
them, didn't speak or turn
our heads to look at them.
I was stupid enough to
call one of them an asshole,
a hundred and thirty-two pounds
of amazing grace
ready to run outside
and prove to the world
how easy it is
to dodge a bullet.
Amidst the long vowels of
Southern folk's talk
there lies Southern accents
In the easy walking pace
of an aged woman's speech
any Southerner feels
endless barefoot days
finally, after the sun
she headed home, mosquitoes
buzzing, itching around her bare legs.
The repetition of "e" in
sweet tea, with it hanging
reveals a pitcher
and tumblers and sundresses
on a dock.
Ah, the simple.
Ah, the fish waiting to
be caught on a line.
Any line from anywhere.
The POP and SIZZLE
of excitement dances
from the fry-pan
that is in our children.
They cooked up today?
of the warm rain
can be heard
in the pouring
the baby's first. and the momma coos.
In my accent what
do you find?
In my excited screams
Do you see that
do you see
do you see
Do you hear that
Do you see me taking
my first steps away from it?
Will you see its
accent and hear its sights?
The richness of our
comes from a simple source:
the richness of our lives.
We live our lives down
here as do the
honey bees- we bring
back everything we can
find. We carry it with us.
It covers us.
It becomes us.
I am a walking
football game on a
ride with the windows
baseball cap with
the cut-offs on.
To know my voice is
to know the
joy of the rarest snow,
to know of its
are what we've known.
How is it that we've come so far,
From the monkey bars and tire swings
To saying goodbye?
It doesn't seem so long ago
That we first met; the memories
Are aging as old photographs,
Taken in black and white,
And yellowing with the smell of a lifetime.
This is what I've always known-
A good school,
A good home.
Now I am leaving it and so are you.
What are we to do now?
Who do we look to now?
The answer is that we must look
To what we carry with us.
We carry the cool summer nights,
The bonfires, the laughs, the warmth.
We carry rainy winter days
Filled with nothing to do but
Complaining about having nothing to do.
We carry what it means
To have grown up here.
We carry ourselves.
I would trade nothing for the time
Spent even with those of you I do not know.
For I know that in some way even you have shaped me,
Shaped this place that I will miss, shaped this
Time that I will miss, and shaped this spirit that we all will miss.
This poem can in no accurate way
Tell that story but it can capture that spirit.
It would take a lifetime to tell that story.
i'd just like
my words apart
in pieces unrecognizable,
their beaten bodies
into my spirit
they have souls
that can't be slain...
my soul has been hacked
by a man who has the skill
to decipher the secret password to my heart
all my data
revealing all my favorite places,
sites of my attentive desire.
discovering my pin numbers
the codes that open my passion,
he’s granted eternal withdrawal.
demolishing my security center
breaking through the firewalls,
he accesses the credit card numbers
with which i charge my life.
perhaps i should invest
in anti-hacking software
a sort of love insurance
insurance that will replace
my heart upon theft
just in case my heart is stolen.
i'll just take my chances...
waiting for the ticket booth to open
desperate to be the first in line.
there's only one way to get on the ride
only one way to make ecstasy mine.
take the money i toil to make
life's blood i give to earn.
to buy me the ticket to have a chance
i'm begging for joy, i deserve my turn.
give me a one way ticket
i feel no need for passage to return.
two way tickets are an easy way out
complete elation is my only concern.
don't want a ticket for the merry-go-round
(tied and bound)
reliving the circle someone drew for you.
want to ride the speeding roller coaster
that takes me to heaven or hell with you.
let's get in line to buy tickets
(go for it!)
leave no room for remorse or regret.
jump on the ride that sets you free
you get what you take and you take what you get...