Poetry Slave

A poem!
A poem!
screamed the damnable wretches
as if I could open my hand and
one would fall out like candy
A poem!
Their words tore at me
determined as they were
to force my soul out
drop by inky drop
What could I do, a
poor slave to the masses
so I tossed them this –
and it passed

Dad

Up early
instant coffee
cigarettes
to work
hard work
cigarettes, Winstons
home
dinner
cigarettes
Korean war vet
bit of TV
to bed by eight
repeat
weekends
to the
library and
the dump
sneaking a few Schlitz
on the trip
to avoid mom’s angry fits
listen to the race on AM
fall asleep on the couch

That was dad

Old School

Will there be anyone left who can read a map
when the grid collapses? Those creased
accordion sheets of
codes
colors
lines
and
numbers
once free at every gas station
and motel
I kept one from
everywhere
in case I found myself
in some faraway
there
unexpectedly
I would know where to turn
without a disembodied voice
telling me

Silence and Shadow

Silence and shadow
hold all that is essential
for a soul to know
yet the propensity of man
is to avoid them both
Preferring what is easily seen
over the noiseless source
of all things
stumbling drunkenly
through this chaotic dream

Midnight Ride

Some evenings the sound
of a westbound train
escapes the constraints
of time and space and the
clack
clack
clack
tears from the track
thru my back door
thru my chest
taking my soul aboard
roaring fearlessly backwards
150 years and I smell
the prairie grass and
see the
Sioux
riding
free

Friends Forever

Some fifty-five years
I have known the sun
We’ve grown up together
the two of us
Wherever my roads
have led
he has followed
yet he won’t care
when I’m no longer here
All of my years
barely appear
a speck
a passing second
the bat of an eye
in his immeasurable life

Quest

Down a winding river
of asphalt past untold
dead does
limbs akimbo
and bloated
Deeper still
into dense
winter woods
to get the goods
To an old shack
out back of a farm
To a dusty shelf graced
by three mason jars
of liquid gold
Raw
unfiltered
sourwood
honey
and I gave him the money
Slipping away
quietly smiling
at my clandestine
score

Uh-oh

Recent delving into my ancestry
yielded a sobering discovery

Death runs in my family

It’s definitely genetic
Mom dad and brother
all came down with it
and not only that
It runs as far back
as I can track it
So
the big splash I was
set to make in 2128
will have to be slated
a bit sooner

No Prediction

I saw a wooly worm today
Not the correct term
but that’s what they were
growing up
You know the ones
Orange and black
and the color
of their back
is some exact
portend of
the coming winter
He was mostly orange
Heading east
at least for a moment
then screeched to a halt
and turned north
Was he going back
for his overcoat?
He didn’t say
It’s better that way –
not knowing what may come

Funeral Director

The wind came today not at all pleasantly
but swirling and cold I’m told with
coffee in hand standing inside
it appeared funereal and efficient
Nature’s mortician rearranging the
dead arms of departed bitternut hickories