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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.
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.
Dave Hardin Sep 2016
Algoma Guardian

She’s bound for Toledo riding
low with grain, slipping through
fine blue capillary that splits
the difference between Belle Isle and Windsor
Canada keeping a low profile
to the south forever
confounding us.  

N   A   I   D   R   A   U   G      A   M   O   G   L   A

emerge one by one from behind
a clump of trees in the middle
distance, tidy Canadian houses
gobbled like so many pills
hull bleeding rust
I stand witness
to silent progress
her steady down bound passage.
Dave Hardin Feb 2017
All Your Secrets

What better time to tell me all your secrets
sitting by this window on the old dowagers
across the street, sure hand of dawn lifting
charcoal night to block in shapes of snow
covered roofs wreathed round by neural
bundles of trees piped with winter plaque,
ampules of porch light casting amber cones,

flare of first rays gilding eaves in gold leaf,
a shared delight to set the mood and loosen
your tongue, elevate the conversation beyond
soft intimations of endless settling, muffled
tick and creak from places deep within
you and me, distinctions blurred over time,
walls that could conceal brittle yellow

broadsheet reporting bi-partisan opposition
to the League of Nations and fears of a second  
outbreak of Spanish influenza, a foundation
balanced lightly on the head of a buffalo
nickel pressed into place by a superstitious
man who needed the money or a time capsule
rolled in oil skin tucked inside a copper box

packed in rock wool caged behind lathe,
curious secrets that sleep on while mine rouse
to internal revelries and emerge glistening
from fold and cleft to form up for the march
to the front, keeping cadence as one voice
faint but unmistakable, a sound you dismiss
as nothing more than wind, as friends will do.
Dave Hardin Mar 2017
Hand Built House
(anniversary poem)

The foundation we dug by moonlight  
spooning when shovels were scarce,
working from plans drawn up in sand
at low tide, layout recalled from a dream
one of us had in which the other tended bar,
a place with a fresco so inviting the dreamer
stepped in and beckoned the barkeep
to distraction, to abandon, to drift off
humming a work song, one we still sing
from scaffold, balanced on beams, writing
our grandchildren’s names in wet cement,
work that never ends, a labor of love.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dave Hardin Oct 2016

Father was a quarryman, hands at home
On a welded wheel, fingers stiff waiting on sun
To clear the lip of the pit, an artist is his own right

Content to read the grain through an emery palm
Leave the rest to rain and wind.  Mother on the other
Hand was a chiseler with a syncopated mallet

No stranger to fluter and veiner, fine dust felting
Her coffee, laboring late, ankle deep in drifting flake
Humming as she whittled to the quick.  

One morning, seeing my chance, right hand freed
In the wee, wee hours, I hacked out feet and a face
Only a mother could love, raking footprints clean as I left.
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.
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Brief Affair

Word was things had grown  
Stale between them
Sleek as she is
Him handy in a tight spot

But the other night
When I flipped
On the bathroom light
I found them trading

Tangent points on the vanity
Bristles deeply meshed
Handles lightly touching
The envy of those two

Coffee lovin’ Joe’s in the kitchen
Spotted later side by side
In the sink, rims stealing
A figure eight kiss of infinity

Sharing a bit of undergarment
Gossip, a rumored stowaway
Discovered fresh
From the dryer burrowed

Within a pair of my own.
Hell, I wore them that way
Who am I to judge
Their brief affair.
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.
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Cake Lover

Icing peaks a pillowed top,
shingles this creamy carousel
layers press and oozing
awaiting my trailing finger.

I blow out your candles,
licking each one clean
to the wick, rising wishes
mingled with smoke.
Dave Hardin Oct 2016

Eternal summer spent back peddling
on your lofted rocket
through leafy canopy
teeming careless at the ragged
edges on slender stems, chastened
by autumn pooling gold while I wade
gloved through swirling eddies
engulfing parked cars
losing the ball against chalk
white skies stricken with dripping
black lattice, misjudging
the parabolic frown while robins
hawk spring like it was something
new and improved
snagging the ball
on the run, in the webbing, at the curb
sun spackled and off my stride
for the return throw
taking time to plant my feet and read
the Braille of stitching
your farewell note
with post script
to tell me you remembered
to pack your glove.
Dave Hardin Sep 2016

We’ll order cava in smallish glasses
from the café with wispy tables on
the plaza pocked with sunburnt bullet holes

sprayed from the hips of passionate men
sporting snap brimmed hats dipped low on one side,
veiled arched shooting eyes righteous, unblinking,

dark slots that screened smoke from hand rolled
cigarettes, great-grandfathers perhaps to
our waiter and the fellow seated

at a table for two embroiled in a lilt
pas de deux that seems friendly enough to
a pair of short term expats who don’t speak

the lingo but savor it’s tuneful swing,
the parry and ****** of slender hands, pairs
of small deft birds winging this way and that

until one brace breaks off with a flourish
to nestle beneath a tray of smallish
glasses that lifts and soars, borne off on the

salty breeze while the other two alight
around a beaded glass of cava and
a lazy smoke, time marked in wispy whorls.
Dave Hardin Sep 2016
Cemetery Beautiful, Avenue Love, Row Paradise

Coordinates given by poets
Will take you in circles
Business forgotten in the search
For words to compare a rainy afternoon
To a blue boat with a white sail
Best all of them chose
Cremation in the end
Ashes scattered to the four winds
Like milkweed in spring.
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.
Dave Hardin Sep 2016

A shoulder of clay cut with runnels
set to music, round notes, fat plucked

chords sustained in eternal cascade
from the concertina of the spooling Manistee

above Red Bridge, blue blazes worn
smartly by these still, mute sentinels,

their averted gaze twining into
graceful arches that usher us from one

moment to the next, fine capillary
weave stretched over rib of stabbing light

that illuminates slick kaolin veins,
a surgical tent to conceal rending fingers

plunged into the wound, our faces
smeared, the trees thrilling to our howls.
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.
Dave Hardin Dec 2016
Strong Man

Sleep sound and dream sweet dreams
A strong man at the switch
Trouble no more, all peaches and cream
A strong man with an itch

Head for the mall, work on your tan
A strong man has your back
When things go south, he has a plan
A strong man, toward tyranny he’ll tack.
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.
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.
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Degas’s Shoulders

draw the eye
to rolling landscape


blue tree line or
interrupted by
crenellated hedgerow
daubed with a satin butterfly


to dry her wings
before clearing a rise
of clavicle
countryside set alight
where I wander
lost amid familiar landmarks.
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.
Dave Hardin May 2017
We first laid eyes on you over drinks
and a late dinner in the Latin Quarter,
a short stroll from the Spanish Arch,  
its historical significance gone
in a heartbeat along with expectation
of ambush by austere beauty
on those wind swept stepping stones
Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer.

The River Corrib rushes
beneath Wolfe Tone Bridge,
grainy and black as your liquid
image on the screen,
countless heartbeats of moonlight
mingling quayside with the sea
in a salty embrace that stings
my eyes and seizes my throat.

The windows of St. Martin’s
frame the timeless river.
Chamois cloth of morning
lifts the stubborn tarnish of dawn
from its braided embellishments.  
We tuck into our full Irish and drink
the watery coffee while you float
outside of time in your brackish sea.
Dave Hardin May 2017
We first laid eyes on you over drinks
and dinner in the Latin Quarter,
a short stroll from the Spanish Arch,  
its historical significance gone
in a heartbeat along with all
expectation of ambush
by austere beauty
on those wind swept stepping stones
Inishmore, Inishmaan and Inisheer.

The River Corrib gleams
like vintage vinyl beneath
Wolfe Tone Bridge,  
grainy and black as your liquid
image glowing serene on screen,
countless heartbeats of moonlight
mingling quayside with the sea
in a salty embrace that stings
my eyes and seizes me
by the throat.

The windows of St. Martin’s
frame the timeless river.
Soft chamois of morning lifts
the stubborn tarnish of dawn
from its braided embellished tales.  
We tuck into our full Irish and drink
watery coffee while you float outside
time to the rhythm of the tides
in your small brackish sea.
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Dirt Daubers

They float in and out all day
long on low interest wings
cramped toes of abodes
accreting like tamped syllables
compressed into lines, bellow
bad things about the mothers of their
fellows from laced lattice work
**** like champs in the bushes
hip sprung and hands free
while I ignore the noise and hunch
over muddy simile, worry
concentric rings of rhythm  
into pages of imperfect tubes
just waiting for habitation.
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Drawing 101

I wonder if I hung
onto that self-portrait from
my first college art class

peering into a mirror
contour line in pencil
student grade sketch bond.  

Dave Barr
would have to be what
in his seventies by now?

my first acquaintance
with a practicing artist
one with a studio and ideas

that woke him up early.
The twist I recall was
to render one’s face

forty years on
warts and all
as they say.  

As if by magic
I’ve arrived suddenly
at my destination

one I predicted  
using only line to map
sagging jowls, face etched and a nose

grown to epic proportion.  
At least that’s how
I remember it

a masterpiece of draftsmanship
that captured the soul
of its subject, a man rendered

in short hand, gaze
bewildered when I was going
for bemused detachment.
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.
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”.
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Driving In Ireland

Try buttering toast with a tulip
on horseback.  Skittish nag, twisted chaps,
flogging a slice, reins in your teeth,
waving a battered Black Parrot  
heading a slow parade.
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.
Dave Hardin Nov 2016
Edgewood Elementary Spring Review

Richard Bryant played The Boy with me
in the role of The Father
inspired casting in the months following

The March On Washington
For Jobs And Freedom  
The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing

I recall Mr. Conti’s stage direction:
remain silent for one full minute before speaking.
Richard at my feet, flour in my hair.

Richard who lived
north of the plastics factory
in the colored trace cast

as an inquisitive child
to my detached adult
asked questions like

Why is the sky blue?
Which came first
the chicken or the egg?

My character puffed
on a prop pipe, hid behind
The Detroit Free Press, replied

I don’t know son again and again
conveying laconic vacuity
through clenched teeth.

I recall laughter when Richard
telegraphed my punchline
Son, how are you going to learn anything if you don’t …

Perhaps Mr. Conti
would have revised the script
had he any inkling of the uprising

that would consume the city
in three short years or written
new dialogue fifty-five years later:

A grave father explaining
survival to his wide eyed son
in an enlightened age.
Dave Hardin Sep 2016

It’s a habit of mine to pause a beat
to dwell on the egg, the essence
of ****, before I crack one ker-whack

on the yawning lip of the cast iron skillet
broken promise of shell a favorite
metaphor of poets, embryonic

and otherwise, pop and sizzle sunrise
of yolk a buttery shorthand for brains
hopelessly scrambled, fated for plating.

East Egg or West Egg?  The courtesy bay
glitters in the moonlight as I huddle
with the rest, slumped in thin tuxedos, eggs

balanced just so on shifting feet, poaching
ourselves advantageous angles, the light
on Daisy’s dock green as Seuss’s vile eggs.
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.
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.
Dave Hardin Sep 2016
Felt Board

In Sunday school we strained

     to hear sandals scraping stone
             snap and crackle of kindling

     echo of gospel songs sung
                             in three part harmony

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego

     overlays free floating
                    smiles all around, fronting

    a fiery furnace more
                    beehive than crematorium  

Nebuchadnezzar scowling

     from the soft verge of his velvet palace
                  hush of orange aloe leaves

     licking the plush pink
            feet of an angel hovering over

the muffled din of a passing July morning.
Dave Hardin Sep 2016
Forgotten Printmakers of the 19th Century

Scent of wet leaves
sharp signpost leavings
on every rock and tree
from here to The Women’s Club turnaround
expectation of another stale treat
from the sidewalk bin at Café Muse
sheer ecstasy of your kind on leash
in numbers enough to banish
any thought of Sir Francis Seymour Haden
not to mention Adolphe Marie Timothée Beaufrere
and that unabashed vulgarian Louis Legrand
from the soulful clutter inside your head.
Edgar Chahine and Paul Gavarni
even Achille Deveria
are absent from my own
this autumn afternoon
still swimming with the artless
death of my mother
grateful on this end of the leash
to be led back home
in such agreeable silence.
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
Free Range

Insurrection or some dereliction
a latch left dangling or machinations
long in the works, The Salt Lick Plot

perhaps, freed you from *******
tyranny of the **** cup, cold
hand of Big Ag, you were left

ambling wild eyed and stricken
by the world’s delights and horrors
delivered wholesale at a stroke.  

Watching you in the rearview
engulfed in my dust, enameled eyes
white as roadside diner crockery

I had a moment of envy green
as new mown hay that evaporated  
with the mighty pull of the barn

headlong return to your contented
ways, well-worn confines for me
the path back a song I know by heart.
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.
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.
Dave Hardin Sep 2016

So proud you never killed
anyone driving drunk as a lord
in my car on school nights
late on weekends after tossing
your filthy apron and clocking
out ripe and sloppy on wedding
screwdrivers gulped on the sly
engulfed in great gouts of steam
issued forth from the big Hobart
a purification ritual that rendered
you invisible until I could melt
away into the sober night
make good my escape yet again.
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.
Dave Hardin Dec 2016
Strong Man

Sleep sound, dream sweet dreams
A strong man at the switch
Trouble no more, all peaches and cream
A strong man with an itch

Head for the mall, work on your tan
A strong man has your back
When things go south, he has a plan
A strong man, to tyranny he’ll tack  

Blow it up, the whole things broken
A strong man lights the fuse
The will to fix? You must be joking
A strong man wins, we lose

Feel free to retype and add a verse, or write new verses using the same title and pattern.
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.
Dave Hardin Mar 2017
Hand Built House

The foundation, we dug it by moonlight
spooning when shovels were scarce,
working from plans sketched in sand
at low tide, layout recalled from a dream
someone had in which the other tended bar,
a dive with a fresco so inviting our dreamer
stepped into it and beckoned the barkeep
to distraction, to abandon, to drift off humming
a work song, one we still like to sing
from scaffold, balanced on beams, writing
our grandchildren’s names in wet cement.
Rooms of small betrayals best forgotten,
foyers of words we can’t take back bricked
up and hung with samplers of forgiveness,
load bearing walls of faith that defy formulae,
infinite hallways of hope, the door to nowhere
that never fails to amuse when we need to laugh
to keep from crying.  There’s a window stuck,
won’t you take a look?  I’ll see to that shingle
before it rains.  Work, it’s never done, walls
that won’t paint themselves, our labor of love.
Dave Hardin Oct 2016
“He also saw the cook’s cat which could do somersaults.”  

At least that’s what the cook said,
a claim the cat, shapeless sack
of snide, deigned neither to confirm

nor deny, content to ****
long afternoons in desultory

elongation, stationed
on the window sill above
the blackened eight burner Garland.

Once, when the cook stepped outside
to smoke, the cat, mood sour,

expansive, airily confided
the corpulent cook could climb
stairs on his hands while whistling

“Parlez-Moi d’Amour”
then spat in the soup, dispelling

any lingering incredulity,
his stomach duly nailing
a flawless double backflip.
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.
Dave Hardin Sep 2016
I Posed For Matisse

He uncoils me like a skein of yarn
Paying out behind beach glass lenses
Scouring the remains of the day
For watery sifted light

His hand spry as a piper through
Twisted Hamelin streets
Spavined fingers confounded by buttons
Quick and nimble once again

Fat bolt of graphite swanning
Around an empty dance floor
To strains of a silent waltz
While my skin pools in goose flesh

Bobbin spun free, hip, *******, neck
Described in a dearth of line
God struck mute as I slip
Demurely behind the screen.
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