Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
Dave Hardin Sep 2016
Lightning Strikes 323 Norwegian Reindeer

Hunters made the discovery, stealth and *****
dabbed anoraks all for nothing not to mention
a critical downwind approach and camo blend

that rendered Frode and Jørgen or Ove and Anders
invisible against rock and lichen and cloudberry
but offered little protection against thoughts sublime.

Ove, perhaps, cursing God for poor sportsmanship,
the divine equivalent of dynamiting fish, while Anders
gave silent thanks to fortune, a freezer full of steaks.
2.5k · Oct 2016
A Good Set of Bicycle Lights
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
A Good Set of Bicycle Lights

Strap white to the handle bar
                             red to the seat post

of your worrisome bicycle
                            a fixed gear nightmare, these nighttime

streets lay in wait while I lay waiting to be pierced
           by the call that never comes
       with a bit of luck.

Old light from distant stars
                       at the edge of my
                            galaxy of fear

arrives as pinpricks a reminder
                       your new orbit free
                                of my nettlesome gravity.
1.3k · Oct 2016
Dave Hardin Oct 2016

If I were a jazz pianist I would pay
my dues in one lump sum on a tip
from some country singer on his way

down who gives me the shirt off his back
a Nudie with piping and plenty
of rhinestones that catch the stage

lights just so and sweep in reflection
across the polished planes of my 1890
rosewood Steinway Grand Modal C

a beaut with a pedigree, one I won’t fail
to mention from the stage in the second set
during the pause between How High The Moon

and I Love The Life I Live from behind
a bobbing cigarette, sharing the remarkable
fact that this is the very same piano

Mose Allison played in a two night stand
at the Blue Note in 1962.  Later I’ll work Jimmy
the trumpet player’s name into a tune and trade

winks with the guy on upright bass
the drummer slack jawed oblivious, lost
to us all in some very tasty brushwork.
1.1k · Oct 2016
Father Mckenzie
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Father Mckenzie  

Turk’s Head teased my shadow
free last evening along the arroyo

our separation minute yet
edging toward the clement lip

accruing like the thunder eggs
I keep in a jar by the door

God long since departed, drifted
away on the high desert wind

that drew us here long ago
rifled pages of the Book Of Common Prayer.

A sodden breeze from home last night
a tang of salt, a churchyard hush

low plaint of cello’s lurking around
these adobe walls for a way inside

my callow words returned to claim
their hollow sound and mouth

all that was left unsaid
an old man darning socks

in the night when nobody’s there
crossing the room to leave

the door ajar to old sermons
bible black sky pierced with diamonds.
808 · Sep 2016
Breaker Bar
Dave Hardin Sep 2016
Breaker Bar

Every now and then I get the itch to lift
The simple slender breaker bar in my hands
Snap a socket on the square pivot fitting

And go hunting for a big fat frozen bolt
One that hasn’t budged in ages, rust bound
Threads that yearn to give held fast by a split

Spiral washer, tense marriage of wedge
To pent up tension for no other reason
Than to feel the sheer unbridled joy

That comes from applying Archimedes
Law of the Lever, poised to deliver
A stunning verdict proclaimed with a sharp

Dry crack that travels through my hands  
My arms to light up some forgotten
Constellation in a dark and dusty

corner of my brain, closing a circuit
That began with the simple slender
Breaker bar, bequeathed but rarely wielded

A conjure stick to summon you back to
Throw your weight around, tip the scales in my
Favor, balanced absurdly here on the business end.
745 · Nov 2016
Draw The Lumberjack
Dave Hardin Nov 2016
Draw The Lumberjack

His toque screamed French Canadian,
Jacques perhaps, prominent nose
broken in a brawl over a woman named Suzette or
a close brush with a widow maker,
****** Niagara soaking his flannel shirt,
dripping from the delta of lines describing
a beard reeking of cigarettes and bug dope
trimmed, if he trimmed at all,
with a sliver of band saw blade
stuck fast in a lump of tree gum,
whiskers, after all, affording
a degree of protection from clouds of black flies,
one twinkling eye nesting in a profile
crinkled by wood smoke and ribald
bunkhouse jokes, widening in mock surprise
at a sour note from a squeezebox broken
on a drunken Saturday night,
fanciful elements  I avoided drawing
in a slow, steady hand, embellishment
sure to queer my chances with the juror
poised to swing a bottle of champagne
against the stern of my boat
load of God-given talent, a launch
I await patiently after all these years
taking a break from the two man
cross cut saw, smoking
in the shade of all these doomed trees.
745 · Sep 2016
Venus of Willendorf
Dave Hardin Sep 2016
Venus of Willendorf

You seemed so distant
Cool and aloof on slide
Perhaps I was projecting
In the warm dark womb
Of Lecture Hall B
A silent world but for fan racket
From the Kodak Modal 4600
Eager to please on stiff little legs
Nosing toward the screen
Where you teetered
On impossible feet
Fighting a losing battle
With gravity I found
Touching, *******
No one could ignore
A chassis built
As the bluesman said
For comfort not for speed.  
I hear Willendorf is nice
This time of year
Hint of fertility in the alpine air
Your crazy braids beckoning  
Braille to a blind man.
729 · Oct 2016
Beach Glass
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Beach Glass

Wrap your hand around
beach glass in your pocket
seafaring meteorite washed
up from another galaxy
cool lozenge squeezed
by degrees from deep
within the shoulder of a wave
eased glistening onto sand
glint of sunlight driving
a splinter through your eye  
the hollow of your palm
exquisitely matched
sculpted seed ordained
sea vast on your tongue
in holy communion
body and the blood bottled
in blown green glass
a sign cast up
from the belly of a whale
or nothing more
than a world weary
vagabond drawn
to this lightning kissed beach
fused skeletons of sand
writhe in recognition.
718 · Oct 2016
Dave Hardin Oct 2016

Snakes were here by the grace of God, but
knowing Him, He set them down while He fiddled
with an Egyptian plague, forgetting where He’d left them.

The Navy brought mongooses to eat the snakes
so they could relax and shell the sunrise coast in peace
but mongoose got to eat, as any chicken farmer will tell you.  

Spain sent Church and State astride the horse, but conquistador and cleric
dismounted to take in a sunset from ***** Arenas while the sea breeze
whispered soft and sweet to a restless stallion and his starry eyed mare.  

Ticks in the grass, indifferent to bombs, bitter on mongoose tongue
bloated equestrians each every one, blithe captives of nothing
but the cold blue Atlantic and the turquoise bath of the Caribbean Sea.  

Bored by the endless cycle of creation and destruction, inspired perhaps
to beauty or by niggling guilt, God unveiled the egret, elegant in its simplicity
with a taste for tick and a knack for lazy symbiosis.  

The Malecón sways with rhythms we won’t bring back in our carry-on’s, a drink
down the road from the old United Fruit Company dock, short stroll to sugar house
ruins, unhurried drivers nodding to afro-son, waiting for horses to make their way.
689 · Sep 2016
Medical History
Dave Hardin Sep 2016
Medical History

I believe it was Churchill who said
History is written by the victors
delivered, one imagines, dryly with

a dash of pith, an ounce or two of gin,
words clipped and formed in the space above
his derbied chalk hill dome from gathering

clouds of ominous blue cigar smoke,
veddy proper, tickety-boo and all
that rot.  A life insurance policy

after all, read in a British accent
is boilerplate made sublime, all this
as I sit in the waiting room checking

off rows of little boxes, writing
my medical history, to be read
aloud in the event of my demise

by Englishmen; Bill Nighy on
the subject of my LDL levels,
Patrick Stewart breathing life into a

family penchant for colon cancer or
Gary Oldham giving a dignified
reading from the list of male fore-bearers

who’ve toppled headlong over the pale
clutching their chests.  Perhaps Steve Coogan
or some surviving Python could coax a

chuckle at the expense of my total
hip replacement, snatching victory from
the jaws of inevitable defeat.
687 · Dec 2016
Wrestling My Father
Dave Hardin Dec 2016
Wrestling My Father

The scent of gasoline and lanoline lingers
mingled with sweat and Old Spice, menthol
Winston’s from back before you gave them up

for good persist in half-life beneath Vitalis
sheen and Listerine, waves of Bengay radiating
off red hot coals of trapezius muscles seized

inside a white V neck tee from Monkey Wards,
thin cotton canvas worked with small fevered hands,
greedy, slathering claim, leaving myself open to

reversal and the pin, sting of ancient rug burn
still gracing my cheek, palms pressed to face inhaling
what little I can of you by lung full.
670 · Oct 2016
Dave Hardin Oct 2016

Three syllables
No less pleasing
Rolling off

The tongue, yet
A soupcon

Of economy more
Being four
Letters lighter

Dense as devils food
Lacking elbow room
Between the last

Two beats
Ninety feet
Bottom to top

Odd years
Young and leaning

Our house

Leg of a timid
Giant trying
To squeeze himself

Into a moment
Ragged leafy breathing
Giving him away

English Plane
My tree guy
Says sideways so

We crane
Our necks

Up at undeniable
Quiet dignity
Where shabbiness

Once prevailed
Rule Britannia! shading  
All of our tomorrows.
607 · Sep 2016
From A Neighbors Yard
Dave Hardin Sep 2016
From A Neighbors Yard

Our house lies
at berth a liner
bleeding brass
spokes of light
that fan the pocket
porch tucked beneath
its snowy blanket
ashore to shovel out
on the trailing
edge of this storm
one eye on the gunwale
should she cast off lines
gauging my leap
through a child’s
ecstatic chalkboard scribble.
603 · Sep 2016
Durable Medical Equipment
Dave Hardin Sep 2016
Durable Medical Equipment

Standard kit; four wheels and a hand
brake, tubular construction in sober
parsons black with a lick
of chrome fittings, she’s low
to the ground and tight
on the turns with a basket
up front, padded kneeler in back,
our Mardis Gras float, I’ll ease her in
behind the Krewe of Mona Lisa and Moon Pie
while you slosh hurricane and wave
to the joyous, drunken throngs.
601 · Sep 2016
The Butler Model of Tourism
Dave Hardin Sep 2016
The Butler Model of Tourism

I come back year after year
cracked black valise, busted zipper
spring-shot lobby divans drained of color,

to press crisp bills into Monte’s hand
come up for air from the tortoise shell
of his thread bare uniform, ease myself

down on a sagging mattress
wait for the clatter of ancient bones
his creaking cart and shuffling feet

to recede into absolute silence down
the dimly lit hall, broken only by a spate
of conversation between the couple

I can just make out in the water
stained fresco above the bed
two of them lost in a heated row

as if I couldn’t hear their bald appraisals
shockingly frank in this flocked walled room
with musty corners and milky windows

disagreeing only on the degree of my
progression through the dismal stages of
“The Butler Model of Tourism”

him making a half-hearted case for
Rejuvenation, the woman straddling
the thin line between Stagnation and Decline.
596 · Oct 2016
Spice Rack
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Spice Rack

I will make eggs in the morning
coffee in the cold back room
windows on the feeders
epicenter of an explosion
of birds on film run
forward and backward
a mad scramble of egg layers
iron skillet butter crack and whisk yes
to toast salt and pepper in shakers
simple gifts a hymn to a humble meal  
yet the spice rack hums with fiery powders
waiting for the chance to ignite
the rocket of our morning  
crushed red pepper curry cayenne chili’s bristle
but alas cumin just a pinch my hand
stayed a cook wise to incendiary breakfast.
588 · May 2017
Mother To Words
Dave Hardin May 2017
It’s the letting go,
book of your hands
forever falling open,
your words on the page  
taking flight a few downy
letters at a time, sentences
learning to trust their wings,
short forays of paragraphs
you strain to read against
porcelain blue sky,  
whole chapters lifting
off as one to wheel
by their own lights,
leaving you
to slip between
these clean white pages
with a good book,
trying not to read
too much into the author’s
soaring dedication.
Dave Hardin Sep 2016
Crime Scene
(Flint, Michigan)

Yellow cordon tape hums
low in a stiff breeze off
Saginaw Bay
a norther that scatters
empty evidence markers
up and down Miller Road
eddies on Dupont Street
uncapped and droning.
Tennyson, Bishop and Frost
lost for words
this morning working
my way through a pallet of water
dead poets urgent
as blue sky box kites
specks above a crime scene
easing the truck past
houses of the common
abandoned down Whitman
transcendence, surely
for those forbearing souls
over on Emerson.
560 · Oct 2016
Work History
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Work History

I lucked into my first job
building four-letter radio station
call signs from tangled bins
of consonants and vowels.  

In those days it was
all done by hand.

Sharp corners on the F’s kept you
on your toes, O’s easy to bobble
when you got careless, “slot four,
out the door!”, a newbie mnemonic

forever lodged in my brain.  
I bided my time on the K line

until a spot opened on the W,
the graveyard shift.  It paid
a little more, the hours going
toward my Creative License.

It was the seventies. We chewed
betel to stay awake during long

classical station runs then punched
out woozy, blind in morning sun,
fingers bleeding, teeth stained red.  
Top forty, we popped ‘em out

like biscuits and squirrelled
away X’s to slip onto the ends

of freeform formats, small acts
of defiance.  I quit to avoid prosecution,
nabbed sneaking parts out
in my pants, one letter at a time,

building words, paragraphs, whole
stories in my basement.
558 · Sep 2016
A Small Autumn Still Life
Dave Hardin Sep 2016
A Small Autumn Landscape

On last evening’s walk
through a picture of town
careful to keep
to harrowed strokes
mindful of losing our way
in unresolved scumble
we had a brush
with skinning paint
how else to explain
morning coat sleeves
laden as a honeybee’s legs
Sixth past Main
a good chunk of Fourth
defaced in a leisurely smear
constellation of city lights
bled into wet pavement.
You broadcast a hand
toward a break in the clouds
tatting the rim of the moon
your pillow beaded with creamy light
a few luminous grains
still clinging to your face.
553 · Oct 2016
Dave Hardin Oct 2016

Holding things down
on my end, calibration
the name of the game
purchase gained and lost
longing for your exquisite
exertions palpable
the length of this delicate glyph
grace and menace
in equal measure
on display across the bight
floored by your gaze
play of three fingers against
your effortless pinch
my feigned contortions
leavened by a finning
hand to ward off
the snap of lesser wishes.
541 · Sep 2016
Greenfield Village
Dave Hardin Sep 2016
Greenfield Village

Henry Ford looms large
The length of River Rouge
Lower and Middle and Upper and Rouge River proper
Abraded by scars
Mouth cankered and scowling
Zug Island wrenched
To a permanent sneer behind
The kid gloved hand of his beloved Fairlane
Wandering Potemkin near the end
Head an empty lot webbed
In figure eights of snowy plaque.
We walked down the lane
From Firestone Farm
Past stubble field
Late one winter afternoon
Searching for the rope swing
In the old chestnut tree
Ordered hung there perhaps
By the old man himself.
I raced twilight
Edges dissolving
Sent you higher and higher
Prayed you would catch a glimpse
Of abiding light that silvers
The edge the world.
524 · Oct 2016
A White Man's Prayer
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
A White Man’s Prayer

Lord send me a champion
inarticulate as a mouthful
of scalding gumbo, smart

as two left shoes, windier
than a kettle of my Uncle Larry’s
chili, one who talks

tough around the silver
spoon in his mouth
sane as an *****

grinders monkey, a real
Yankee Doodle Dandy
plenty handy with the girls

honest as the day is long
in Lapland in December
an hombre who knows

how it feels to be top rail
at breakfast, bottom rail
by bedtime, big hearted

to his legions of lessors
his betters nothing more
than vicious rumor, Lord

knows my first choice
Yosemite Sam
is also a cartoon.
507 · May 2017
Dave Hardin May 2017
Years after giving up the game
for good I still dream of turning
up late to a match juggling
a chipped red racquet,

high-impact lenses,
salt tanned right hand
glove and two
blue ***** fresh in the can,

my dream court receding
down darkened halls,
a warren of identical doors,
portholes slashing avocado

carpet with watery cross ties,
florescent flickers that merge and pool,
flushing me into flat light within
a stark white cube to toe the red

service line once again only to find
my forehand serve impeded
by stacked furniture and packing
crates arranged into the crooked lane

plat of medieval Bruges.  
a game of angles
gone sadly out of fashion,

the MacGuffin in my dreams,
as it was in my playing days
when you were my true opponent,
King of Center Court running me,

stroking passing shots, methodical
while I hurled myself heedless
headlong into walls, losing on points,
nursing trophies of bruises.
501 · Sep 2016
Dave Hardin Sep 2016

A globe would be nice
By this open window
Morning pushing in on the hip
Of spring, warm from slow
Dancing against the screen
Straining the grating weave
Sifting down on the table
Settling on the milky lens of my coffee
Feathered in delicate drifts
Outline of a hand
The one I’m waving
In the air in a way
Robins might mistake
For dismissiveness
Viewed from the teeming lawn
Unaware of this imaginary globe
I spin unabashedly  
Blister of the Atlas Mountains
Scattered braille of Micronesia
Over and over, again and again
Beneath the palm of my hand
Haiphong Harbor
Hot on the heels of sprinting Havana
The world in seamless rotation
On the table of a minor god
Eyes closed waiting for you
To come round again, finger
Poised and aching above
A lonely blue planet.
479 · Oct 2016
A bad poem for a bad man
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
The Party’s Over

First Ray of Sunlight bangs on the front door,
mop and bucket, green disinfectant, God knows
she’s seen much worse.  Start with Giuliani
broom his shriveled heart, pour bleach in the dank dark
corners of his soul, load Newt onto a cart but
come back for Christie, got to watch the back.
Spray all the baseboards, maybe tent and bomb,
bag up all the empties, filthy bottles of ignorance,
butts of hate floating in the dregs.
Open the curtains, let in the light, watch them scuttle
for the drain, don a hazmat suit and head upstairs
“The Donald” lolls in bed tangled up in stinking
sheets of free media coverage, bedding soiled with a bladder
full of lies and self-regard.
The rest of us will slink out the back, Lord knows
we enjoyed the bread and circus, we love a good carnival
geek when he bites the heads off chickens.
Sunlight is the best disinfectant but this
may require gasoline and match.
474 · Sep 2016
Mose Allison
Dave Hardin Sep 2016
Mose Allison

Glottal blues sing song  
Dixie drawl behind beat, wry
as toast, work as play.
471 · May 2017
Reading In Bed
Dave Hardin May 2017
As it happens I did not buy this book
of collected poems in St. John, New Brunswick or
Charlottetown, P.E.I.  I didn’t pick it up
in Yorkville on a long weekend in Toronto,
nor was I delighted to spot it in a window display
on a stop I didn’t make for coffee in Kamloops, B.C.  
No doubt Halifax has its share of bookstores,
none of which I’ve visited on the road
to North Sydney to catch the ferry to Newfoundland,
where one imagines happening upon a salt cured,
weather beaten mom and pop clinging to life
quayside in St. Johns.  
The border with sleep lies just up ahead
where soon I’ll be borne across
on thoughts of the boats of these poems
lifted on the rising tide of the U.S. dollar,  
Billy Collins buttoned up for the night
inside a tent pitched upon the calm seas
of my chest.
450 · Oct 2016
Dave Hardin Oct 2016

Building your own coffin is
more complicated than a bread box
Spruce Goose without a wing span
a pine box to rile the neighbors

like chainsaw sculpture or
an un-ironic ark.  
If the dying carpenter/essayist
is half as good at working

wood as writing, burning
it will almost be a shame,
the carefree hours scavenging
weathered boards, whine

of the joiner/planer, heavy cream
bead of wood glue oozing
the length of mated seams
firm embrace of pipe clamps.  

I read again his thoughts
on hand sanding, how rounding
edges helps put things in perspective.

“I have loved the stars too fondly
to be fearful of the night”, a line
from a poem by Sarah Williams

what better choice
for inside the lustrous lid?
Perhaps I’ll try my hand
at bookshelves, a kayak
from wafer thin strips of cedar

but a coffin, a poem
for inside the hand rubbed lid
getting the words just right
could take the rest of my life.
443 · Oct 2016
Dave Hardin Oct 2016

Keel laid long ago, deck
where we stand at night
naming stars, worn salt
smooth and clocked
by the shadow of the mast
our ship trailing
veils of memory, smartly
parting swell, tacking
true from high up in the rigging
where I mend sails
with the thread of a tune
while you pitch
seams, humming
something old and familiar.
440 · May 2017
Reading In Bed
Dave Hardin May 2017
As it happens I did not buy this book
of collected poems in St. John, New Brunswick or
Charlottetown, P.E.I.  I didn’t pick it up in Yorkville
on a weekend spree in Toronto, nor was I delighted
to spot it in a window display when I stopped
for lunch in Kamloops, B.C.  
No doubt Halifax has its share of bookstores,
none of which I’ve visited on the road to North Sydney
to catch the ferry to Newfoundland,
where one could imagine happening upon
a salt cured, weather beaten mom and pop
clinging to life quayside in St. Johns.  
The border with sleep lies just up ahead
where soon I’ll be borne across
on thoughts of the boats of these poems
rising on the tide of the U.S. dollar,  
The Rain In Portugal a tent
rising and falling on my chest.
437 · Oct 2016
Dave Hardin Oct 2016

We were nearly back to the house
when the front end loader shattered
the silence and back filled the hole
drove off some vireos and cowbirds

amped up seven whitetail browsing
the pine break above Calusa Way.
American Spirit *******
a new moon **** of mouth

the operator feathered the lever
while gathered together we grazed
potato salad, deviled eggs, sliced ham, rain
from the Gulf over to Melbourne

soaking the operator’s boots
ducking into his pickup truck
for the long drive home to Pedro.
It hammered the tin roof shed  

out back where your tools
tarps, trouble lights, line trimmer
home brew insecticide in unmarked
milk jugs, old spark plugs

a lifetime of nuts, bolts and washers
huddled warm and dry on shelves
ball peened the tamped sand lozenge
on the ragged fringe of the silent ranks.

It’s hard to find even with a map
Calusa Way coiling through the bahia grass
flowing past stone faced theater goers
house lights up well past their final act.  

Vireos and cowbirds
even the whitetail browsing
the pine break pay me no
mind down on hands and knees

undoing the honest work
of the operator, sifting handfuls
of sandy backfill for something
I might have missed.
434 · Sep 2016
Seven Foot Sickle Bar Mower
Dave Hardin Sep 2016
Seven Foot Sickle Bar Mower

Lifeless on a patch of Wear farm swallowed
up by time marked in jimson and honey vine
milkweed to the eyes of a city boy, worse
a northerner, shoeless, shirtless, tanned but

for pale omegas of a low tide flat top wreathing my ears
white shading to blue at the temples, prayerful snakes
sleep late coiled around clutches of my nightmares.  

Oil can like the oil can that lubricated the Tin Man
brandished jail break file in the other hand
grandpa circled the scorpion striking at the lethal tail
silvering edges of serrated teeth, eyes shadowed

by the brim of his pith helmet, liquoring bushings
gone dry in the heat while I sat watching
from the open palm of the Ford NAA Jubilee tractor seat

bearing witness to the honing of blades against high grass
bearding the branch, touching but not touching
my father’s face swimming naked in the quarry
pond of grandpa in profile, angled low above

the linkage mechanism, steel on steel, shadow
against light, my hand rolling fine red clay dust
into thin snakes against my smooth cheek.
428 · Oct 2016
Dave Hardin Oct 2016

A cheddar wheel of morning sun
Grates up against the window screen
To curl in whorls into the room
Where side by side we sleep displayed
On shiny continental pins  
Rorschach pairs of papery wings
Masking luminescent sifted rind
Silhouettes nestled deep in drifts.
425 · Nov 2016
We Implore
Dave Hardin Nov 2016
We Implore

How in Your name do You do it  
night and day, day and night,
weather the whiteout of words,

scribble of mother tongue
uttered under the breath,
those heart rending howls

packing power enough to jolt
the odd celestial cat nap,
hunt You down holed up

under alias, disguised
at the wispy tip of some
far flung finger of cloud,

or, as I like to picture it,
sitting at a light draped
in a pearlescent Lincoln MKZ

with tinted windows, elbow
on the console, following
the approach of a pilgrim

brandishing a hand lettered
sign like the relic of a martyr,
silently praying for the green.
new edit
422 · Oct 2016
Birds of Prey
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Birds of Prey

All the information I need
just flew by the window
where I sit gazing at brachial trees
bare against China blue sky
Arvy’s sycamore buttered
thick with morning sun
sparrows ducking in and out
of the attic next door under
the baleful eye of the dog
lazing on the rug beside me
oblivious to a mating
pair of hawks at ten o’clock
hard at it while I while
morning away feeling
a little bit guilty
about my lack of talons
but then again a hapless sparrow
caught out
is a nasty bit of business
worth avoiding for someone
so ill suited to the work
of birds of prey.
416 · Oct 2016
Dave Hardin Oct 2016

I dreamed of trees last night, slow sunlight
liquor seeping through stacked canopy
to pool amber in low places, bending

to my reflection, look of arch surprise
fading into ******* shadows, cast
black shell curing at twilight, blanketing

the leaf wrack, pooling about my matted
autumn robe, sending me to the highest
limbs, my long arms elegant paired levers.
406 · Nov 2016
Night Coming On
Dave Hardin Nov 2016
Night Coming On

Sun going down spindled our shadows
to Giacometti bronze,  
three old friends on a standing
six mile walk, streetlights sputtering
indignation at a dismal election
more final referendum
on the Enlightenment itself,
casting us in unflattering light,
angry white men, for all you knew,
wreathed in the sour mist
of seething resentment,
bas relief of your shadowed face
a dry wadi of worry
framed with care within
the folds of your hijab.  
Desperation, oncoming night,
courage in the face of our disgraceful
descent into darkness,
God only knows what drove you
to ignore the little voice
in your head, steer to the curb to ask
directions to the community college.  
You can’t miss it, finning my hand
down Washington
in a puny act of supplication,
past holiday lights and shoppers,
past this bar where we sit
huddled over beer,
watching in disbelief,
news of night coming on.
402 · Nov 2016
We Implore
Dave Hardin Nov 2016
We Implore

How in Your name do you do it?  
Night and day, day and night,
a whiteout of words,

scribble of mother tongue
uttered beneath the breath,
those rending howls

packing power enough to jolt
the odd celestial cat nap,
find You holed up under alias

disguised at the wispy tip
of some far flung finger of cloud,
or sitting at the light

in a pearlescent Lincoln MKZ
with tinted windows, leaning
slightly to midline tracking

the approach of a woman brandishing
a hand lettered sign like the relic of a martyr,
praying for the light to change.
401 · Jan 2017
We say nyet
Dave Hardin Jan 2017
Good Nyet, Soon

Sad late night Tweets
Staged comings and goings
To and from the tower
On Fifth Avenue
Red hat, white hat, ducks ***
Hair-do, sinister Kubrickian sons
The daughter of his darkest fantasies
Pay no attention, shiny surfaces blind
Us to henchmen nominees
Foreign creditors and deals done
In the shadow of onion domes
The Constitution assaulted, old girl
****** and humiliated as if
She were Miss Paraguay or
A high end St. Petersburg call girl
No, keep your eyes on the prize
Investigations and charges
Corruption in high places
Discovery and deposition
Congressional hearings and maybe,
Just maybe, our old pal impeachment.
Dave Hardin Sep 2016
Crazy Horse Waits For Neil Young

Working their way through the Harvard Classics
half-moon reading glasses perched precariously
on their noses, dozing off from time to time
myoclonic twitches jolting hands and feet
that pine to plug in and mark time, dreaming

of that bait shop in the Maldives with a cooler
full of Bud where a man could do some combing
on the beach and wait for the sea to rise
or the pending call that sends them up the attic
stairs on a frantic search for their carry on

luggage and the worn out Converse and that  
lucky tee shirt from Rust Never Sleeps.  Never
a doubt, not one; well maybe a few but
the changes and chords will come wandering back
and the chorus to ******’ Up practically

sings itself, but in the meantime the checkbook
needs attention and a grandson’s home from Helmand
and isn’t the Lipitor running low?  
Two chapters left in Moby ****, they eye the
phone convinced again tonight’s the night.
372 · Oct 2016
Family Tree
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Family Tree

They come from far and wide
once a year to mingle and snack
on catered shrimp and small talk

in the long line that snakes around
the room to the open bar besieged
five deep, the beating heart

of the party until the string band
starts up and everyone hits
the dance floor, limbs loose,

knees high, hair down, skirts hiked
generations of farmers and drifters,
rail men and conscripts, schemers

and failures, a cacophony of native
brogue and broken English, long
lazy vowels stretched to breaking.  

The men have my nose, the women
your eyes, but neither you nor I claim
the crazy cackle coming from

a skinny gal with electric
hair or the flat, vacant gaze of
a fellow in coveralls,

hands like hay rakes, yellow
fingers balled into fists.  The bar
closes at twelve, they start to drift  

away, arms draped, propping each other
up, telling the same old tearful tales,
falls down wells, battle axes

to the head, starvation in alarming
numbers and many iterations of
pox and croup, ague and catarrh,

bilious fever, dropsy and the flux,
melancholia, milk leg and screws,
a miserable game of one-upmanship

savored by all as they disappear
into the night, fore-bearers eyeing
us at the door, polite yet taciturn,

playing things close to the vest
mum on the matter of the higher
branches of our family tree.
371 · Nov 2016
Dave Hardin Nov 2016

Let them flare against saucer blue skies
School on biting wind, rattle bones to ward  
Off waves that claw the breadth of reach

West of Spray Falls, drunk on summer liquor
Flush and masked for a night to remember
Letting go beyond them, my final act a mercy.
Dave Hardin Sep 2016
Turning Sixty Easter Morning After
Tearing Down the Old Shed

Christ and I; we rose
early, slowly, gingerly,
but we rose.
351 · Mar 2017
Dave Hardin Mar 2017

Northbound on the left hand shoulder
Even the most armored pads no match
For a glittering carpet of shattered glass
Pile shot through with steel shard, quick
Bite of burrowing wire, incongruous
As the blue cow I placed above a yellow
Felt board moon as a child, a pleasant
Memory that galls my new passenger
Dour as his spear is sharp, prodding me
Again and again as I watch the dog vanish
Behind a sweep of wall in the side view mirror.
335 · Oct 2016
Dreaming Bob Wills
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Dreaming Bob Wills

Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys performed
my life in a six song set in Tulsa
in late forty-seven.  Only a dream but they swung
through San Antonio Rose and Don't Be Ashamed of Your Age,
Tiny, Kelso, Smokey, Johnny and Herb playing it
*****, *****, Tommy crooning
my ups and downs and Bob,
who put a fine point
on an uneven performance
with his running commentary of high “ahh ha's”.
328 · May 2017
Dave Hardin May 2017
Years after giving up the game
for good I still dream of turning
up late to a match juggling
a chipped red racquet,

high-impact lenses,
salt tanned right hand
glove and two
blue ***** fresh in the can,

my dream court receding
down darkened halls,
a warren of identical doors,
portholes slashing avocado

carpet with watery cross ties,
florescent flickers that merge and pool,
flushing me into flat light within
a stark white cube to toe the red

service line once again only to find
my forehand serve impeded
by stacked furniture and packing
crates arranged into a crooked lane

plat of a miniature medieval
Bruges.  Racquetball,
a game of angles gone
sadly out of fashion,

the MacGuffin in my dreams  
and my playing days when you
were my true opponent.  Never one
for racquet sports, you ran me

stroking passing shots, methodical
while I hurled myself heedless
headlong into walls, losing on points,
nursing trophies of bruises.
325 · Jan 2017
I Do Solemnly Swear
Dave Hardin Jan 2017
Oath of Office

Melania or Barron, maybe old Joe Biden
will be standing by with a bucket to douse
the Bible left burning with a touch of evil.
324 · Oct 2016
Chicago Common Brick
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Chicago Common Brick

The Great Fire
ancient history by the time
we take our morning stroll out
Belmont Avenue to Lake Shore Drive
skirting pandemonium’s
high water mark where wails
from Randolph Street Bridge
would have rang thin as rhyme
on wax cylinder
City of the Big Shoulders
rebuilt to resist fire, lure you away
with its siren song, careless lyrics
I yearn to rewrite and sing to you
as we cross Halstead oblivious  
to Chicago common brick
prairie dun and durable
second story turrets
biding time until streetlights
render them details in a Hopper painting.
323 · Oct 2016
Paul Irving Proceeds Me
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Paul Irving Precedes Me

It’s been said we process through life
leading our own parade, fronting
our second line, wielding a flaming baton

igniting black powder twists to toss
at cheering throngs, though truth be told
I prefer metaphor with less pizazz

something a bit more staid and buttoned
down, protocols clear.  As I make my way
I wish to be preceded by Paul Irving

a stern, eagle beaked fellow,  
House Sergeant-At-Arms, a man given
to regular habits, a guy who knows

exactly where we’re headed and how
to get there.  Paul can be relied upon to
part the waters, stem the flood of

well-wishers with which I must
contend every day, dragging me by my
lapels, bald head pivoting, eyes steely,

scanning the room for trouble, alert to
roadblocks, those bent on delay, keen
to deliver me to my final address.
Next page