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Oct 2016 · 615
Norman Rockwell Weekend
Norman Rockwell weekend
Faded baseball gloves
Slick stones off the water
Fishing for lost loves  

Boathouse Road revival
Rope swing double back flips
Red serape twilight
Rolling back for night dips  

Adirondack north woods
Boy Scout jamboree
Telling age-old stories
Felling age-old trees  

Back seat back road banter
Front seat small town blues
Lukewarm diner coffee
Corner TV news    

Swearing off old demons  
Swearing at red lights  
Chasing down old crushes  
Long into the night    

Headlights on the highway
Headlamps in the mines
Mountains in the rear view
Main Street on my mind  

Norman Rockwell weekend
Corduroy on wool
Campfire snap and sparkle
All-nighters to pull
Dec 2015 · 427
Seeing Straight
His left eye
Always gravitates
Toward the constellations

Even though
That prom night
Falling star

First breathed life
Into the weird concrete carport
Down by the water treatment plant.

His right eye
Always gravitates
Toward the earth

Even though
The Great Water Fountain
Out west

First taught him
How to truly
See the sky.
Dec 2015 · 382
Cadence Queen
‘Tis a Norman Rockwell evening
In a Norman Rockwell town
As Kaleb reads aloud a timeless novel
His vocal chords ring rustic
With the scent of Christmas jazz
And at his understated throne we grovel

He speaks of Major Majors
And of minor minors too
And the gentle prose goes down like Sunday stew
As on each word we balance
Like seals on rubber *****
Anticipating each new line to chew

(Popcorn lights in trees!
Pizzazz on every breeze!
Pass the three cheese pizza, if you please!
Serenade the stucco!
Speak well to the wall!
Bludgeon deep the deadly High Street freeze!)

Summer is for picnics
And the springtime speaks of luv
But in winter our pal Kaleb paints the scene
In every shift of color
And in every twist of voice
He is our regal upstairs cadence queen
Dec 2015 · 315
Ship Coming In
Fixing his eyes on
The purple horizon,
He waits for his ship to come in;
Gazing across
Empty seas at a loss,
Anxiously scratching his chin.

The spray of the waves
Against his worn face
Reminds him that hope has grown thin,
As clouds drifting by
Can hear a soul sigh,
“Will my ship ever come in?”

But just then the winds
Off the starboard begin
To fill flapping sails overhead,
As gazing straight down
At boards, and not ground,
He sees that a deck his feet tread.

“All of this time,
For my ship I have pined,
And searched near and far for a sign;
But such was in vain,
For now it is plain
That I’ve stood at its helm the whole time.”
Dec 2015 · 455
Smoking Sage Bandits
Thanks for breaking me out, pal
Thanks for breaking me in
Got no reason to pout, now
With the stars on my skin
‘Cause the moon through the windshield
Never tasted so good
And the moon whispers louder
Than the sun ever could

Let’s forget the stale glories
We dreamed up in the day
You’re the king of the night, now
And I’m the queen of LA
(Yeah) I’m a modern day Bonnie
And you’re a latter day Clyde
Never mind my kid brother
He’s just along for the ride

Fire up the Comanche
And gather up the debris
Strewn across the cracked vinyl
Holding down the front seat
Let’s shoot south for El Paso
Then whip hard to the East
We’ll make Denver by morning
Or Grand Junction, at least

Tell a lie to my left ear
And I’ll lie to your right
In the bed of the pickup
On the floor of the night
Here’s your pistol and pick-ax
Where’s my chisel and stone?
We’re the smoking sage bandits
Throwing fate a fat bone
Dec 2015 · 420
The Midway Queen
The midway queen
And her glossy posse
Flutter in formation
Up and down the B-29s and the AN-24s;
On the prowl and on a mission
To drop the bomb on Bobby
As they swoop past his snow cone cart.

They call themselves the Wing Women.
They call themselves the Tail Gunners.
They call themselves the Shotgun Girls,
And there’s powder residue in their curls.

Tail Gunners haunt the midway strip at twilight,
Feasting on the fiddle music
And old time pedal steel
That haunt a country boy’s heart.

But the sun has already checked out,
Along with Bobby and his shop pals--
Slipped off in granddad’s Cadillac
With a jug of John Henry
And a bag of M-80’s
Billy brought down from Decatur.

They’ve headed for the low country;
Toward the clinking of green glass,
The hollering of the swamp hounds,
And the flannel sheet warmth of the river folks.

Back on the midway,
Shotgun Girls peel off one by one
Like petals from a flower,
Pedaling back to rose scented spreads
Garnished with chlorinated pools and garden parties.

But the midway queen pilots on;
Around the Stewart’s root beer stand,
Through a cloud of Blazing Swine smoke,
Past the kind-eyed ice cream lady,
And into the seedy underbelly
Where clown grins lurk behind balloon tosses
And rebel flag trailer curtains lace the landscape.

Understanding her defeat,
The midway queen retreats
To her own suburban sprawl,
Places her crown on the dresser,
And gazes through open windows
Into her Georgia sky,
Wondering what it’s like to be a constellation--
Wondering if constellations come up with five-year plans--
Wondering if she should do the same.

The midway queen quivers
In her new found old time way,
And drifts off into a glassy sea
Of crackling Tammy Wynette records
And broken heart banquets.
Dec 2015 · 1.0k
Fiona's Fair Weather Flat
****** Mary sunset
Soft tequila sigh
Ivory teardrop tumbler
Disregarded sky

Street breeze through the window
Kettle on the stove
Chopin in the parlor
Empty pack of cloves

Resonance of redwood
Essence of the earth
Shrine to Mother Mary
Sacred ****** birth

Portraits on the table
Gazing toward the floor
Cobwebs in the dresser
Tucked behind closed doors

Violins descending
From the upper room
Dissonance impending
Lost in worry’s womb

****** Mary sunrise
Flower pillow sigh
Alka Seltzer tumbler
Halfhearted goodbye
Dec 2015 · 364
Turquoise Tides
Now I lay me down to sleep
To slip into enchantment deep
Where roving mermaid colonies
Inhabit warm Calypso seas
With coral calls and starfish smiles
Crisscrossing uncharted miles

And from the waters wild but fair
We gaze at prowling ships up there
Rolling o’er our rippled sky
And peering down through plastic eyes
As if to draw us up by hooks
Into their lair of thieves and crooks

But no, among the waves I’ll stay
Until the harsh rays of new day
Consume this world of rare delight
And force me far from dreamy night
(Until another day subsides
And draws me back toward turquoise tides)
Dec 2015 · 442
The Missionary Tree
We were weeping by the missionary tree
In the company of wiser men than we
On the border of the black sand and the sea
As the sunset sighed an island reverie

From the fire bed a thousand sparks did rise
Upon the crooked laughs of spirit guides
Above the dewy wingspan of our eyes
And down into the swirl of shifting tides

Distant echoes bled forth from the graves
Of sailors buried deep beneath the waves
In coral tombs and ruby studded caves
Enshrining both the hero and the knave

Regardless of the folly of our thrills
In spite of what the clergy called our ills
Those crystal stars beat back Pacific chills
And forged a bond upon the bamboo hills

We were harnessing the missionary tree
In the company of duller men than we
Sweeping through kaleidoscope debris
As the sunset smiled upon our revelry
Dec 2015 · 461
Aunt Clara's Ballad
The last of six children
You made your way late
Through the humdrum of life
In the Volunteer state
Strapped to the hollows
Where your daddy and kin
Pulled coal from the mountains
And mine shafts within

The hum of the smokestacks
And the fog of the earth
Wore at your senses
And questioned your worth
While the cracks in the family
Like the cracks in the hills
Were as easy to slip through
As fortune’s goodwill

So you took to the bottle
And you took to the boys
With a thirst for the throttle
And the late barroom noise
While your mama and daddy
Sat at home by the phone
Sendin’ prayers for their youngest
Toward the gold plated throne

The folks down in Loudon
Remember too well
The night you rolled through
In your dust caked Chevelle
And the way it spun out
On a stray slab of ore
And careened down the *****
For the cold valley floor

The dirt in those hills
Never merited much
Beyond the black rock
Buried deep in its clutch
But the same soul that sprawled
Beside granddaddy’s grave
Was the same soul consumed
By the soil that day

When the April rains whisper
Their song to the pines
And the distant train whistles
Its lonesome steel whine
Deep in the thunder
Behind the grey hue
Your memory glistens
Like the late morning dew

The last of six children
You made your way late
Through the humdrum of life
In the Volunteer state
Pining for something
Your voice could not name
A dream and a dreamer
Too restless to tame
Oct 2015 · 491
The Back Catalog
When the fire bed no longer spits out sparks
When morning’s rays refuse to pierce the dark
When the rivers of the brain have turned to dust
When ambition’s metal hinges start to rust

There’s always the back catalog
There’s always the back catalog

For in the chilly nights of winter’s touch
A cryptic cloud drapes down a morbid hush
Upon the once fair meadows of the mind
Clouding out clear vision from behind

But there’s always the back catalog
There’s always the back catalog

I’ll moan about this fog, yet see it through
In hopes of springtime’s early dawning dew
Upon the buds where revelation blooms
And melts away the dismal no-muse gloom

Then the back catalog can go away
Till the next dark night of the poet’s soul
This always was an acoustic gig;
A wood and wire affair
Steeped in the fresh folklore
And worn wool
Of our little streetlamp operas.

Our voices would ring rustic
(And rusted like tarnished brass)
Out open windows,
Through the rustling of haloed leaves,
And down into the streambeds of romantic recollection.

Our coffee was stiff;
Mixed with chicory
And spiked with shots
Of sure-footed tomfoolery—
But richer than our years should have allowed.

All the goodhearted ladies
And all the rye bottle boys
Would smile warm, backs reclining,
And sing out for all the years.
And we knew our songs well;

Our highways west blacktop ballads—
Our San Joaquin sunset sonnets--
Our arms-around-you-till-the-end tunes—
Our songs for new companions—
Our eulogies for our dearly departed.

Yes, this always was an acoustic gig.
But there’s no sense in penning an epilogue
To a story that’s still alive (though wounded).
So let’s continue the tale, friends,
And usher in another folk revival.
Oct 2015 · 516
The Missionary Tree
We were weeping by the missionary tree
In the company of wiser men than we
On the border of the black sand and the sea
As the sunset sighed an island reverie

From the fire bed a thousand sparks did rise
Upon the crooked laughs of spirit guides
Above the dewy wingspan of our eyes
And down into the swirl of shifting tides

Distant echoes bled forth from the graves
Of sailors buried deep beneath the waves
In coral tombs and ruby studded caves
Enshrining both the hero and the knave

Regardless of the folly of our thrills
In spite of what the clergy called our ills
Those crystal stars beat back Pacific chills
And forged a bond upon the bamboo hills

We were harnessing the missionary tree
In the company of duller men than we
Sweeping through kaleidoscope debris
As the sunset smiled upon our revelry
Oct 2015 · 342
Office Break Room Rally Cry
"Trudging the plains
Of the day-to-day grind
We drag through these grasses
Embittered and blind!

The land of beyond
Yet beckons, it’s true
And gone are the golden
Days of our youth!

Those marble cathedrals
Have crumbled to dust
And lie as cold rubble
Upon the earth crust!

Yet, sacred the soil
Remains on these hills
And hallowed the call
Of old fortune’s goodwill!

So gather the clans
And sound the ram’s horn
For out of the ashes
New soil is born!!

Our race is not finished
Our song but half sung
Though light may not tarry
The Day remains young!!!

Now everybody back to work."
Oct 2015 · 262
Mind's Eye Winter
(The) secret snows
Of mind’s eye winter
Cloak the oaks
In ice and cinder

Crystal columns
Cracked and broken
Meditate to
Spells unspoken

Twilights rise
And angels fall
As frozen fogs
Through caverns crawl

Night creeps through
The hush of hands
Stretched toward heaven’s
Distant sands

Cottage fires
Laugh and dance
Across a sea
Of trees entranced

Voices whisper
Tales of magic
Conjuring
Both bold and tragic

Hot spring waters
Foam and glisten
Passing pilgrims
Pause to listen

(The) secret snows
Of mind’s eye winter
Still the land
Yet glow like glitter
Oct 2014 · 646
Queen of the Coffee House
The queen of the coffee house
Sips away at her hot drink,
Looking quite royal as she banters
With her equally regal girlfriend.
She sports a Greek goddess armband
And the dress of a Spanish gypsy.

The queen of the coffee house
Wears a pendant of gold
Which rests halfway between
Her belly button and her chin,
Nestled neatly among
Curly locks of sunshine.

The queen of the coffee house
Reclines on hillsides at sunset,
Stretched across Persian linens,
Eating pomegranates and vines of grapes,
Whispering sonnets into the wind,
And strumming French folk tunes on an antique ukulele.

Actually, the queen of the coffee house
Appears to be a business major,
With such words as “stock” and “invest”
And “income” and “finance”
Bleeding across the room from her table.
So much for the whole gypsy thing.
Turquoise rivers flow
From the frozen heart of the mountains
Along the road that stretches asphalt arms
Upward and upward toward the sun.

Tourists savor cans of beer
In the turnoffs.
Some of them are jerks,
And decorate nature with their trash.
Some of them are not jerks,
And put their waste in receptacles
While going “ooh” and “ah”
At goats.

Glacier is a place
For dreamers,
And fools,
Like me.
Oct 2014 · 1.2k
Eye Parts
The iris of your eye
Is the iris of the field
Ticking to the tock of the tire swing’s
Strawberry lemonade hypnosis

The pupil of your eye
Is a pupil of the universe
Breathing in all the wisdom and the heartbreak
Like a little black hole sponge

The sclera of your eye
Is the blinking white lights of the Ryman
Illuminating Hartford’s most exquisite fiddle solo yet
Projected down from the great riverboat in the sky

The lashes of your eye
Own the sliding boards at dusk
After all the children have heeded the dinner bell
And the rains roll in from the west

The tears of your eye
Remember your dancing days
Before the war took its toll
And youthful drops of dew still rested upon the irises
Oct 2014 · 7.6k
Camping Lantern
Camping lantern
Swinging to the sway
Of the labyrinth pine tree breeze

Camping lantern
Bobbing to the throb
Of the great grass firefly seas

Camping lantern
Beating off the hordes
Of forest ghouls until morn

Camping lantern
Flickering goodbye
As the first rays of new day are born
Oct 2014 · 549
She Sits Cool
She sits cool
On a lawn chair
In her dad’s garage
Blaring old cassette tapes
Of small town psychedelia
Regretting the years she squandered
Climbing the community college social ladder
When she could’ve been here
Sonic surfing with the boys
Making waves
And riding them
All the way in
To the local
Top ten
Neighbor Jon has come
to grace my flat
with hollow body guitar meanderings,
working the old rocker
like waves at the seashore.

Big chords come at high tide,
washing up under the boardwalk
as we board the haunted house car.

Small pluckings roll in at low tide,
when we take the little children into the breakers,
breaking them in to the concept
of salt water sea foam
for the first time.

Neighbor Jon
is the upstairs patron saint
of guitar tides.

A position he is about to accept.
Oct 2014 · 560
I Wrote You a Folk Song
I wrote you a folk song, sister.
Think I’ll call it “Caroline,”
after your mama’s mama
and the way she’d
slow smoke a brisket
for fifteen hours,
slapping away at the jaw harp
and kicking chickens.
Man, she had heart.

Nate and I still swing down by Early’s mill
on these summer days away from work,
and hack our way through the rushes
with that Congolese machete
Daddy gave me for my tenth birthday
(the fringes remain intact).
Nate ran into trouble,
and is back in town
for a while.

I’d say it’s about time
we rosin up the horsehair
and saw away at some old gospel staples,
the same way we did
at the fiddle contests
two lifetimes ago,
when the mountain tunes lingered
in the morning mist
far beyond breakfast.

Back when the AT through hikers
crashed at our place and brought stories of the Great Trail.

Back when my daddy wore bellbottomed jeans
and could scale a rock like some sort of deity.

Back when Nate smashed Grammie’s mason jar
of flour all over the road
and got a good whoopin’.

Back when we’d dam up the creek
and dream up images for the trees.

Back when your mama’s mama
prayed to Jesus on our behalf,
and the stars still came out most nights.
Her redwood rosary still dangles
on the mirror by my Hank Williams shrine.

Yes, I wrote you a tune from the heart, sister,
where the memory wells
flow with water from a living rock.

I hope you like it.
Oct 2014 · 1.5k
On a Rainy Friday
On a rainy Friday
My students are more pensive than usual,
Pushing their pens
Like little philosophers.

They are wiser than their teacher,
And older souls than the ghosts that float
Up and down these ancient corridors
When all the lights go black.

Children see colors in puddles
That we too could see
When we were nine.
Oct 2014 · 876
Coming Back Around
When April falls
And the rains roll in
We haunt our old haunts
And taunt our old taunts
With curly fries and Coke

The booths still boast our hopes and heartbreaks
In pocket knife etchings and cigarette scars
From an era since surrendered to
The rocking of the river
And the imagery of time

Somewhere along the line
We abandoned those shrines
For new ones built out of sticks and sand
But those towers could only stand
As long as the wind would allow

So here we are again
The old motley crew
What’s left of us
Doin’ just like we did
Not so many years ago
Oct 2014 · 1.2k
Backseat Sheetzburgerz
Backseat Sheetzburgerz
Care not for all theze
Rave tunez blaring out of the front side stereo

What burgerz understand, and can count on, iz Zeppelin
Perfect for air guitar
At this time of night on this stretch of asphalt

All the defunct amusement parks have infrared cameraz
Well, shoot
What iz there left to do now but roam

Up and down roadz with namez
Like Spooky Nook and Crooked Crook
Until the sun darez to invade our rubber wheel realm once again

The front side disco spinnerz
Would like to go home
But the back seat burger boyz are ready to roll on

Into some sort of surreal horizon
With a cotton candy ending
And haunted housez to greet us for breakfast
Oct 2014 · 719
Autumn Falls
Autumn falls
In sheets of creek breeze
Creeping down into town
From the valleys of the north.

We sit on Pappy’s porch rocker
And rock the night away
To the slapping of the bass fiddle
And the six string’s lullaby.

Days go by.
Years, even,
Though time is frozen still.

We walk the same hills we walked
When our days were young
And there was magic in the dusk.
But the magic is still there.
Still here.
Resting in the shadows of the mighty oak.
Crawling down the old main drag at midnight.

Autumn falls on strong yet delicate wings.
We rise, we fall.
We live.
Sep 2014 · 892
Incident at Waterloo
You shot my horse at Waterloo
And ditched me in the streets
Left to drag my bleeding heart
Down to the corner Sheetz

The pay phone took my quarter
And the Fryz girl took my pulse
But in the end you need a friend
Who understands your loss

The sky was extra black that night
And the moon a cup of cream
My sweat met with the grassy dew
And brewed a brand new dream

Of kinder girls in Bennington
Or out in Battle Creek
I’ll leave behind this trail of tears
A new campaign to seek
Sep 2014 · 8.8k
A Saturday, Slow and Sleepy
A Saturday, slow and sleepy
Unfolds like old attic linens
And drifts along
Like pipe smoke through the reeds

On a Saturday, bleak and weary
We just can’t get our act together
With hollow talk of book nooks
High seas back road voyages
And pints of Casey’s best bitter

On a Saturday, slow and sleepy
Taking action is hard to do
So slip into a daydream
And meet me out on the fringes
Where the sun and the moon fade from sight
And time is no longer real
I heard a man
In cowboy clothes
Singing songs
Of life and love

His dazzling sequins and heartbroken stanzas
Boasted mythical tales
Of peyote drifters, hickory winds
And moon-studded shrines

Shrines in the woods around Waycross
Where the words of Flannery and Faulkner
Still drift through the purple swamps
And offer up penance to the moss at midnight

Shrines in the neon river
Of blinking Broadway lights
And the way Hank’s ghost
Yet graces the Ryman stage every dusk

Shrines deep in the desert
Spiraling up in the smoke
Of the cowboy’s last lament
Toward that great gig in the sky

(His ashes sinking like broken glass
Into a horizon
Illuminated by the City of Angels
One hundred miles to the west)

I heard a man in cowboy clothes
Back in my younger days
He stirred to life an old time sound
Within my homesick soul
Sep 2014 · 651
In the Morning
I’ve seen you in the morning
With your hair spilled on the floor
Drinking drops of sunrise
Seeping through the door

Staring at the ceiling
With satin in your gaze
Dreaming of tomorrow’s
Amber yesterdays

Last night you said something
About the Hoover Dam
And running with the clouds out west
Beside the ghost of Gram

You always were a dreamer
The dark romantic kind
But it takes one to know one
So don’t leave me behind

When you tame the wild ponies
Along the windy coast
High above the breakers
Evermore to boast

Of albatross wayfarers
And gypsy lullabies
Peeking through the sunset’s
Smiling bloodshot eyes

— The End —