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spysgrandson May 2020
two of you,
on my green turf, at play
this sun-drenched day

squirrels courting? or plotting to gnaw on my trim
on a whim, it seems, since my trees have left you
ample acorns and plentiful pecans to fat your bellies,
sharpen your teeth

my neighbor has trapped and drowned a score of you  
a dreadful thing to do, many would contend--though I cannot pretend, I’ve not called about a trap

but alas,
I could not watch you writhe wildly
and gasp for breath, without recalling the ancient paddies
and those in my sights whose play I ended, with the fast flick of a switch and easy pull of the trigger, on another sunny day
Aug 2018 · 756
full moon over Dallas
spysgrandson Aug 2018
93 million miles Ra’s rays travel
and light your cratered face

as you rise between monoliths
where janitors man buffers

and ambitious white collars sit by crumpled fast food wrappers
devouring data, dreaming of their own ascension

while you climb ten floors a minute

tomorrow, our wide world will shave a corner from you
in a fortnight, you will be a white whisper

though surely as our stone spins, you will again
become gibbous--then regally full

inside the scrapers, the buffers yet buzz,
the aspiring giants yet yearn for more

while you remain, silent light in the night,
unperturbed by their folly
Aug 2018 · 682
spysgrandson Aug 2018
the surface, frozen
in the depths, they rest
suspended among ice

we can't see through
the crust, though we
know they are there,
for simple hook and bait
wake them

within the fine folds
of their brains, the
accumulated wisdom
of a half billion years
guides them to the catch
the promise of full gut

they don't see us through
the ice, we two legged novices
in the kingdom--jesters who lull
them from Cambrian dreams,
to the white light of today

they snap the lure
they flap about on the frozen pond,
we witness their death throes, unaware
what the gasping future holds
for the wretched species
to which we belong
spysgrandson Aug 2018
I saw him,
halogen haze
never days
a child I thought
no, a man,
tiny, with
a quick gait
to outrun
or an imagined
pit bull
a white
football helmet
he wore
he waved,
but always
he was mute
I was
close enough
to see his face,
a smile
behind which lay
a secret
no modern
alchemy could
make him forget
a code
no white coat God
could decipher
a Mona Lisa smile
when I was expecting
a Munch scream
why the helmet
from what
was he fearing
assault--the asphalt?
stones cast from
the heavens
he saw only
under cover
of night?
I heard his mother died;
then he disappeared
perhaps she yet
laced his shoes
before his nocturnal
and strapped
the helmet on
his head
I look for
him, and
other night
walkers, though
his once upon
a time is
Aug 2018 · 3.8k
the serpent and I
spysgrandson Aug 2018
the green grove a magnet to my eye
on these sun baked plains

I enter the glade to take shade with the cicadas
and vampire mosquitos

then I see it, Eden’s villain, coiled and rattling,
red ready to strike

I raise my staff, I too programmed to survive, do to what millennia
have taught

still we are in this staring standoff—silent save its rattle, deaf
I am to the chorus of insects

neither of us moves for an eternity of seconds, until the snake lunges at my feet

where its fangs find a field mouse, and devour it while I watch, an unwitting witness to expiry other than my own  

I leave the copse, whole, content another creature has, for today, taken my place in the bloodletting
spysgrandson Aug 2018
drought dry only a fortnight, and no trace
of the swimmers--not a bloated bass or a skeletal carp
only a few lily pads burnt russet by the sun

all else, perverse interlopers from modernity:  
bullet banged beer cans, truck tires,  
and the ubiquitous bottle water plastic
waiting patiently for the next ice age

no sign of one fish that emitted a last gilled gasp here

deep beneath the bed though
progenitors rest, theirs and ours,
antediluvian, Permian, as permanent as the word allows
my footfalls above them today
tomorrow silent where they lay
Apr 2018 · 1.0k
gone, this wake of buzzards
spysgrandson Apr 2018
a roadkill feast, this doe that met truck bumper the black night before

now in the Texas sun, talons and beaks make easy work of eyeballs and entrails

the asphalt a convenient griddle, slow cooking dead deer, while the ravenous birds dine

somewhere in the brush, a childless mother, with no incantation to bring her baby back

this creature without words only senses a void--******* no longer gnawed and ******

what mourning for this loss, now attended to by buzzards fast filling their guts

until I come upon them, my own bumper approaching at warp speed

my metal beast to avenge this desecration
with a twist of my wrist, a turn of tires

fast from the red road a flapping of blue-black wings--all but one escapes my wrath

he took too long to take flight, unaware my grill could **** with such impunity

a simple twist of the wrist, a bump, a thump, and one less vulture feeds on the dead

above him, his brethren wait, riding cool currents -- my execution but a brief deterrent to their wake
Apr 2018 · 800
memory number three
spysgrandson Apr 2018
I found you, in a stack of photos:
the 2D you, I can't touch, taste or smell

the first thing that came to mind was sharing a joint with you and spilling the chocolate ice cream cone on your skin-******* shorts

and sneaking into the Woolworth bathroom, and our freaked frenzied scrubbing of fabric with nimble fingers and pink powdered hand soap

and how we couldn't stop laughing
until a woman older than time caught us
before we could consummate

which we did after running the entire
200 yards to my van, wet white shorts in your hand, with me looking over my shoulder for imagined narcs and other freedom snatchers

when we finished, we shared my last Winston, blowing smoke rings in the gathering gloom

your shorts were dry, and our high
had worn off--you didn't kiss me goodbye when I dropped you off

between your pad and mine,
I hit a black mongrel pup wandering on the dark asphalt

I scooped him off the road
with my hands; lifeless, light he was...

I found you, in that stack of ancient
photos--that was the day we conceived a son, one you had shredded in a doctor's office for $300 in illegal tender

I see the messy ice cream, your naked nineteen year old flesh,  smoke rings disappearing, the poor mutt dying

though not for lack of trying, I can't see the child you had executed in utero--without trial, judge or jury, save an elusive dream
of freedom

Albuquerque, 1967
spysgrandson Apr 2018
I had one of the first--a clunky chunk of modernity in my 1984 Beamer,

no speed dial, no contact book, and Bluetooth was as far away as the moon

but boy I was cool yapping while cruising down the PA Turnpike,
my Lab on the seat beside me, eagerly eavesdropping and slobbering in equal measure

he got to witness the end, the news delivered over the airways:
she was dumping me because I was too needy

too many flowers, too many calls and unannounced visits; affection morphed into the smothering mother it was

I exited the pike with the news lumped in my throat, looking for a place to hide

a roadside stop with a view of farmed fields--the sun too bright

I dialed her number at least thrice, but never completed the call;
the connection would have been dead or dying anyway

in the distance, I saw their carriages:
a procession with the clopping hooves of obedient beasts, the laughter of children, and monogamous men and women who didn't know the meaning of "co-dependency," "neediness," or "smothering"

and eyes that would have stared in disbelief if they saw
the ****** cell phone
Apr 2018 · 495
dark visage
spysgrandson Apr 2018
there was no power

from my Mumbai hotel I
could see the stream of people
in the narrow street below

a cart carrying the dead listed
and nearly toppled over

the ox pulling it did not stop
dragging the askew carriage along

passersby steered clear of the primitive hearse
knowing it carried the curse, the fever felling the denizens
of this muggy megapolis

a plague harvesting souls
quicker than they could be burned

the Mithi was thick with their ashes,
diluted only by tears of the mourners
who harbored fears they would be next

I was there, a helpless healer;
a doctor turned detective, running
a race to find a cause, a miracle cure

all my potions impotent,
all my staring at slides a lesson
in limitations, ignorance--a discovery
of crawling creatures too miniscule
to be dissected, too beguiling to be

my eyes were tired of looking
at the tiny death moguls and their victims
my ears weary of the entreaties for relief
from suffering

yet I stood and watched, one wagon
after another, carrying carrion for the pyres

I prayed the power would stay off,
for light would have shone on me:
a curious survivor, unworthy of whatever
grace kept me from the heaps of lifeless
limbs bound for the fires of the night
Mar 2018 · 752
in his back yard
spysgrandson Mar 2018
the third day of spring, pear blossoms fall like snowflakes
then disappear in the new grass

this blanket coming green after a russet winter
during which the old man took shovel to earth
to bury her last Retriever

the runt of the litter, yet it grew strong
and outlived her by only a fortnight, after sniffing her dormant beds, lying at the foot of her lawn chair

as if the canine divined where he last saw her:

lounging in the yard, reading Dickinson under early March light,
sipping a mint tea, scratching the pet's ears;

she passed there, under the same trees, winter's survivors
not yet in bloom

though full of budding promise, unrealized, unseen, but there even as they lay her in the ground
Mar 2018 · 317
this shirt
spysgrandson Mar 2018
this polo shirt,

on a man who
never played polo, and only dreamt
of riding stallions on open prairies

will one day be on a rack at Goodwill
then on the back of a stranger, for the
price of a fast food meal

unless I decide before it's too late
to not allow it to become part of my paltry estate

and use it as a rag, to scrub scratches
from my German made ride

insults left there by anonymous walkers who came too close, or tread flung rocks
at freeway speed

this shirt, bequeathed to the belly of a bin, or sturdy enough to be worn again, will not be mine

to know its fate may be divine
or matter not one whit
Mar 2018 · 318
snow melt
spysgrandson Mar 2018
the barks of men silenced
the hunt over,

the sun driven drip of water from pines,
a petty pelting on my shoulders

a grand distraction--this season of minutes, hours
when white becomes invisible

until its ghost dots my cloak, streams down my rifle barrel
and falls again onto blood drenched ground

this patter of sound, such a docile dirge
to the slaughtered

the daybreak tracks the doe made now gone:
victim of a rising sun, a warmth she will never again know
Feb 2018 · 1.5k
ode to a brick
spysgrandson Feb 2018
I found you

lone brick, of a million, one part of a mortared whole

your brothers now buried by time, without benediction  

progeny of clay, shale, you were born in a kiln as hot as all creation

dragged to this plain by spoked wheel and mule--sweat of the honest illiterate

long before the dusters blew the crops to hell, and Tom Joad's kin to the promised land

the mason who laid you in a proud straight row is now in the ground too

not a mile from you, where the county put him the hot Friday a man set foot on the moon

the bricklayer’s days with the trowel long past, his memories of you, your place in all weathers interred with him  

I found you , and you are the man’s legacy, he yours
Feb 2018 · 123
the saurian king
spysgrandson Feb 2018
on stone throne above me, in silent dominion
over his kingdom of cacti

this royal reptile knows I am here, prostrate--a simian cast
to the hard earth by a snake stung steed

this lizard saw the serpent strike, and my ten foot fall,
long as the length of sinful history

spine broken, all life's labors lost; no limb can move me
from this ground

the only sounds: my shallow begging of air and the mean symphony
of desert winds--their howling to be my dirge

the saurian monarch will be the lone child of God
to see my eyes close a final time  

perhaps this king will preside over my wake,
lapping at the feast of flies
On my bucket list is to ride a horse alone across open prairie or desert. According to all my equestrian friends, given that I am inexperienced, doing so would be ill advised. Perhaps the tale of the lizard king would be my fate if I did...
Jan 2018 · 275
sometimes the trees
spysgrandson Jan 2018
they are snow laden, silent
save the gurgle of the brook

no leaf is left to stir in the breeze
though they make soft bed for my boots

I come upon the fawn, fetal curled,
felled by winter's white bone

where is the doe who left her here,
far from hunters' easy squeeze of the trigger

what perverse tilt of the earth brought
her forth out of season

and what reason was there for me
to stumble upon her--still, frost painted

hungry beast will find her,
fill its belly, bury a bone if that is its custom

her only dirge the fading sound
of my footfalls receding in the wood

though the trees will stand sentinel,
patient though not penitent, awaiting
the sprout of spring

summer song yet a dream
inspired by Liz Balise's photo of a winter wood
Jan 2018 · 332
garden of the early dead
spysgrandson Jan 2018
children all, in this field of white stones:

a thousand twin sons from different mothers

all is math, though here subtraction reigns supreme

I take four numbers from four, and am left with nothing

minuend deaths, subtrahend births

whether the difference is nineteen or twenty-nine, both now equal zero

zero years to return to a mother's desperate loving arms,

zero years to marry a sweetheart, raise a son, or again hoist a flag

for now the baneful banner is folded neatly,

for those whose numbers I tabulate

in this garden of the early dead

where errant weeds are slaughtered

lest they blaspheme the chosen grasses

kept neatly above the chosen ******
"garden of the early dead" is a phrase from Cormac McCarthy's Suttree. Verse inspired by my trips to VA cemeteries
Jan 2018 · 264
malediction for the rodents
spysgrandson Jan 2018
not rats--he revered them, at least those sans hydrophobia

mice much maligned, though not condign; feral and farm cats kept them at bay anyway

both species took the rap for rodents

his curse he cast on the squirrels--rarely hunted, always chiseling, chipping away at his redwood trim

the spell he cast was whispered; nor did his rifle bark at them

only a few fouled words, imploring birds to dive bomb the *******

and poison placed here and there: allowing him to imagine them taking the fatal bait, skittering off to a favorite hole, writhing in death pangs

sensing some greater god than he could see, and deliver his own malediction to the world, with murderers of squirrels granted no special reprieve
Jan 2018 · 393
dirty thief I was
spysgrandson Jan 2018
on the puke and blood painted
walk in front of a Juarez *******
sat a blind mendicant,

his cup half full with pesos, pennies
and a grand FDR dime or two

beside him a cur loused in lassitude,
perhaps the personal, impotent Cerberus
for this den of five dollar iniquity

sixteen I was, an acute expatriate
from a drunken El Paso house home

free to roam the streets of old Mexico,
so long as I didn't wake any Policia
or **** on the wrong curb

an empty belly and nascent love of drink swung my moral compass
from wobbly to dead down

and I filched the eyeless beggar's blue tin

he couldn't see, but the jingle jangle of his coins sliding
into my pocket filled his old ears

"ladron, ladron, cabron, " he screamed

thief, thief, *******

his words trailed me down the alley into an avenue of neon noise,
until I slipped into a bar, nouveau riche

my ***** was better than a buck so I ordered two beers
and a double tequila

feeling fine until I smelled the dung of the dog,
scribed penance in the grooves of my Keds

olfactory justice for stealing from the blind; a small price to pay
for the riches of drunkenness, the sweet taste of oblivion

(Juarez, Mexico, 1965)
Jan 2018 · 458
the hawk and Matilda
spysgrandson Jan 2018
I took rest on the river road
by the big Platmann place,

two stout stories, white pillared and regal on this prairie

envy ate my gut most days when I passed:
a fine car, servants and the like

today though, was curiosity stirred in me
since what I happened to see, was a giant
red-tailed hawk, splayed and stuck to an outbuilding, entails dripping

an avian crucifixion, I was told

after the raptor snatched up the Platmann's tabby

the pet was not saved, by prayer or the screams of the young lass who called the cat Matilda

though a handy shotgun brought down
the bird before it reached the stand of trees

(where it would have had its furry repast)

only winged and not shot fatal
the hawk was dragged back to the shed

where a knife slit its gut, and a fire forged hammer and three penny nails did the rest

the skies did not darken, nor did the sacrificed call out to an invisible father

'tis not the way of hunters, nor their prey

I did tarry a while and wonder, if a child's eyes saw this rapacious red reaping,

or knew of the dumb desperate need for a blood cleansing
Jan 2018 · 484
still (a two minute* poem)
spysgrandson Jan 2018
proud buck
froze, close,
heart in my
cross hairs

I squeeze
the trigger

except birdsong

as if
they know,  
a doe was saved
from widowhood

by a mystic
*a two minute poem--two minute poem has no guidelines other than it must be written in 2 minutes or less--editing is permitted, but no words may be added after the initial 2 minutes: "inspired" by my walk in the freezing drizzle a year ago today
Dec 2017 · 337
pop art
spysgrandson Dec 2017
passionate peach, the cream acrylic on their wall
filling the textured grooves the trowels had left

almost pink in morning light, taking on the color of
the fruit at eventide, when incandescence reigned  

when fireplace flames flickered, the wall became a fickle facade:
gray in shadow one moment, pale peach the next

his favorite chair sat there, where she thought it looked best,
a worn rocking guest in a room filled with modernity;  

that is where she found him, slumped over, eyes agape
blue metal gun in his lap, where it had landed

after the dead journey from his mouth, after he had
squeezed the trigger but once

painting the flat wall behind him with hues of crimson,
cherry, and bits of white  

what queer shape this scattering had made, she thought;
surely not a visage, though it appeared so  

as she watched in paralytic silence while strangers
washed the gore from the wall  

leaving but a black hole where his rich red legacy
had left its beguiling design
spysgrandson Dec 2017
the old woman stopped crying

though she knew the tears would return
like the prairie winds, without warning,
from some place she could not see    

soon they would come for him,
place him on the gurney
cover him in white shroud
wheel him through the door:

a horizontal journey,
like the vertical one he had made myriad times before,
on two strong legs, to and fro the pastures and pens
where he did sweat honest work  

she leaned over to kiss him a last time
in evening's fading light

she had honored his final request and turned him
so he could face the open window--his old eyes then toward the red barn, the gray fences, the ground his livestock grazed  

past all this, to the flatland that seemed to go on forever
spysgrandson Dec 2017
thirty years
since Mark gunned you down
thirty years, passed
like a long sleepless night
that ends with taunting morning light
no brilliant sunrise grandly pronouncing
a glorious new dawn of man
although that would have been your plan
with your entreaties to give peace a chance
and imagine, imagine, imagine

now I kneel in this rain gray park
like a reject from some holy ark
a pilgrim in doleful disappointed pose
after seeing what your earthly brothers chose
was not to imagine a world of peace and love
but to wear reality like a cast iron glove
making mockery of your martyred chants
proceeding like a billion scurrying ants
deaf to your childlike pleas

across the soaked soil where your ashes lay
yesterday and today…and tomorrow
I feel the soggy sorrow
that you would have felt
if you could still see
all the rage of humanity

(written 7 years ago on the 30th anniversary of the ****** of John Lennon)
Nov 2017 · 304
orphan's journey
spysgrandson Nov 2017
of a million paddies fed by Mother Mekong, one he knew best

one where he waded knee deep at noon, naked except for a **** cloth

though double wrapped in pain, after the ****** left his family frozen in black

only a mad night before, in a war his dozen years could not comprehend

he still heard them calling his name from the razed ville, the muddy waters

where he sloshed in half circles, aping a reverse arc of the sun

as if moving from west to east, he could rewind time to yesterday

when they hunkered with him, and took shelter from the dry season sun,

unawares what else under a pure white sky could birth fierce fire
Nov 2017 · 421
shadows in the parking lot
spysgrandson Nov 2017
it was a formal affair, amaranth napkins
folded neatly in laps

everyone clapping in unison; an obligatory
percussion of pink palms

when we left I asked you
if you enjoyed yourself

your terse "I guess" was predictable,
even though you invited me

under halogen haze, I watched you
distance yourself with every step

until you turned to me to say,
"I meant to end this before today"

I knew you would say this as soon as we entered
this man made sea of light

and saw black waves undulate around you,
cast by your perfect gown of white
Nov 2017 · 1.0k
half light
spysgrandson Nov 2017
in the hall, I listen as she calls out
his name

not aware I am there,
nor would she care

if I open the door without making
a sound,

I purloin a few seconds to watch her
before she sees me

when her eyes catch mine,
she looks away

the morning sun makes a sympathetic effort
to light our room

"our" room which from which I have
been excommunicated

the drapes she sewed only last summer
are never open

that is her world, staring through
baby blue curtains

which mute the half light of morning,
though not enough

not enough to blind her to the spot
where her son's crib waited

until I committed the unpardonable
sin of taking it to the cold cellar

only a fortnight after our stillborn child
was placed in the ground
Oct 2017 · 465
of great rivers
spysgrandson Oct 2017
for me, the creek may as well have been the mighty Mississippi

too shallow for canoe; mostly carp and crawfish called it home

no great novels were penned about adventures there

though I had my own tales to tell:

sand squishing between my toes on a sultry August day

a water moc I decided to let live

the time my grandfather taught me how to clean the catch--fish guts given back to the sluggish current

most of all, the arm I found on a Sunday afternoon, one attached to a body

who turned out to be a man who had cheated my grandpa

and vanished only days later -- assumed to have absconded to avoid John Law

my uncle the sheriff fished him out and planted him again, without a doc's scrutinizing eye

never was the man mentioned again, even by his kin--whipped white trash

such was Texas in 1940, questions not answered because not asked

drought dried the creek to fetid puddles
the year my grandpa passed

the very spot I found the arm, one of the last places to dry

a stagnant pool with minnows and memories colliding in death throes

and my grandfather buried spitting distance from the man I had found

both now above the creek where it joined
the river Brazos, it too a victim of the sun's relentless sear

though not so willing to give up secrets, to
cast doubt on legends, or let ghosts rise from the mire
Oct 2017 · 390
the deer stand
spysgrandson Oct 2017
feed corn in field for weeks
to fatten them up for the ****

from stands of live oak, hackberry
they would come, fawn and doe

leaving tracks in morning dew
to and from the scattered grain

I slept through their feeding, then
followed their trail into the copse

where I found fawn gutted
by the mythic mountain lion

I did not believe existed,
until that morn

I pulled the carcass to the edge of the wood,
in view of the stand

where I waited with rifle and starlight scope
for the great cat

who came with the waning crescent moon
and did not know I shot him

through his red river heart
as he crouched to finish his meal

(Cross Timbers, Texas, 1991)
Oct 2017 · 315
gone baby, gone
spysgrandson Oct 2017
I wrote a poem
called feather light

in which a man
took flight like raptors

from a ledge where those creatures
were known to perch

for a minuscule morsel of time
the man felt feather light in his free fall,

but that didn't last--soon the grave grip
of gravity made its presence known

though before he landed
on the pine green canyon floor

the sluggish tug of memory
yanked on him rudely, and lumped his throat

dispelling the manic myth one's life
passes before one's eyes in that final moment

all he saw, save the tree tops
and the shimmering river

was a door closing, the one where she
was on the other side, suitcase in tow

and he was left with a tear drenched face
and aching heart--a lover jilted, again

yes, that was what the poem was about
(but my PC ate it and crapped it out into cyberspace)
original written and lost when HP was having some tech difficulties
Oct 2017 · 381
it seems October
spysgrandson Oct 2017
it seems awkward October is when
the days march into a haze,

unaware of how the sultry nights of August

and left us with falling leaves, lime lawns,
and adulation of harvest moons

even if drought has murdered every
sprout planted in hopeful April

I keep a big calendar on my breakfast room wall,
and another in the hall

to remind me a freakish frost has not signaled
it's December

and feel blessed to remember, All Hallows' Eve
is not yet here,

for when it comes, the neighborhood ghosts and goblins
will yet knock on my door

expecting treats sans tricks--I'll pass out candy
with a tepid smile

knowing all the while, November
is a sleepless night away,

dragging in another day, colder, when more
living things pause their pulse

and I turn the page on two calendars
to see if it then seems November
spysgrandson Oct 2017
I didn't choose to be son of a scared Jew
and angry Irishman

who never laid a hand on her, even when
she turned the butcher knife on him

when he tried to stop her from slashing
her red wrung wrists

this spectacle in plain view of 5 children for whom "woe is the world" was daily refrain

I recall Father's blood trail on the concrete between our house and the neighbor's, a surgeon not expecting a bleeding Sunday guest,

but my mother's madness didn't rest on the Christian Sabbath, nor on her own

after that, the shrinks did their magic: Mom did the Mellaril march, the Haldol hop, the Stellazine stomp, and the less alliterative Thorazine shuffle

none of those chemically induced dances did a thing to increase the chances for my mother's salvation

soon she was behind the locked doors of "Ward 30," where I visited and Mom told me she had found Jesus

a befuddled revelation since I didn't know she was looking for him--her kin had hung him from a cross and taken the heat ever since

the doctors released her to the street, where she made misty retreat to the hills of Saint Francisco's bay

though she found faint solace in Pacific waters, she would never again see her sons or daughters

half a lifetime later, I found a long lost cousin my mother agreed to see, though not with me, for I was too much a reminder of scars which never heal

she sat with Mother near the end of days, sharing silence, the scent of Salisbury steak, and a view of the distant shore

as my patient cousin rose to leave, my mother finally spoke of a sea she watched turn from cerulean to indigo dusk

childhood beaches my mother did recall: the castles she did craft, the crawling ***** she did follow, the sun bathed sand where she made her bed

far from the one where she now lay, the one in which she would go smoothly into the night, perchance returning to blue waters, where hot blood trails cannot follow
E. W. C. 6/27/1925--10/15/2006
Oct 2017 · 324
a philippic ticking
spysgrandson Oct 2017
I scroll
mad missives
to the world

I rage against the good night
waging a farcical fight--against chronos,
its mechanical machinations

without these spinning spell
breakers, would the moon and the stars
be my finite measure?

****** if I know,
though I am compelled to write a history
of which I am a clockwork part

as if its epilogue applies to all but me,
denying me the curse to see, a winding down
of the great spring,

a coil well disguised--its tension
measured miserly, by ticks and tones
I hear but will never comprehend
Oct 2017 · 281
smaller numbers
spysgrandson Oct 2017
in the paper, online, carved in stone, I see them:
some strange, some strangers, some friends,

all still, all gone, all with a minuend, a subtrahend and a difference;
what difference they made, I can't calculate

but their numbers are smaller than mine, tempting
me to believe I'm on borrowed time

extra days, hours, that will themselves be smaller numbers--smaller than those who will witness the mute math of my life
Sep 2017 · 202
breaking Old Glory's code
spysgrandson Sep 2017
not supposed to be used as a napkin
to be coated with red blood ketchup

or yellow mustard custard from a dead
dog's bun

though it is, and while flown at half staff for a fallen hero, some cool cat on a Harley has it between his legs,

the stars and stripes a candy coating for his gas tank

but that guy will sure let you know
he's a prideful ******' part of the Patriot Guard,

trailing behind a casket and grieving mama, defending them against all enemies, fantasized and domestic

so get your ***** up when a $uperstar
sings the hymn--an anthem for ****** youth,

or an inspiration for further folly,
whether it be Khe Sanh or Fallujah,

all who fall get a banner folded in precise proportion

kneeling is for "sons of *******,"

or maybe a medic under fierce fire trying to save a buddy,

who didn't make it through the "perilous fight," and  gives less than a **** who sits or stands

as for me, I no longer salute--long ago excommunicated from that proud command

but I guess I'll place a hand on my heart, not sure if I do so to follow the code,

or check to see if it's still beating in the land of the free, the home of the brave

so keep those flags a comin' and keep the cannon fodder drummin'

those who stand tall tomorrow, will do little to assuage the sorrow,

of those who paid for the privilege to take a knee, or sing songs mindlessly with thee or me
Sep 2017 · 445
a pecking pathetic
spysgrandson Sep 2017
my stylus on the keyboard


a vulture venturing from q to m, scavenging the whole way

spelling not a kind word, leaving a cyber trail of blood

mockingbirds rarely roost; when they do, they typeset self loathing, for what it's worth

mostly mourning doves make nest there, pecking keys, punctuating words with their sad songs

deaf as I am, I still hear them,
see their blue tales

not yet has an owl visited with its mythic wisdom, but I know one day it will call my name...

not a minute too soon, amidst this fluttering digital madness
Sep 2017 · 261
shelters, Thursdays
spysgrandson Sep 2017
hypodermics lined up like firing squad rifles, loaded with Morpheus' mortal brew

at this "humane" place, where we stare in the face of every critter we "put down"

felines, canines, by the score--there will always be more

we do it Thursdays; each gets its own black plastic bag, for a trip to the incinerator

courtesy of the county's grandest

that has donated the friendly fire for our four legged friends;

we watch the trails of smoke fill the night sky

there is no Zyklon B to fear--not here, where we use shots instead of showers

and pass the hours scratching the ears and petting the rumps of those we slaughter with sleep
Sep 2017 · 416
in waters amniotic
spysgrandson Sep 2017
warm, our Bengal bath--eelgrass tickling our shins, sand marrying our soles

we traveled across the globe to escape the frost, the gray memory of our loss

the tropic sun browns your shoulders; your lips list a smile, for me

your bikini bottom fits perfectly, revealing no trace of a life purloined

we'll try again, when the time is right; for now, the sapphire sea is warm, hypnotic

whatever spell it casts won't last when we return to the land of falls and winters

where we'll again meet in our bed, with feigned abandon

for you will never trust our union--its milky, mystic promise that can end in blood
spysgrandson Sep 2017
not one in a hundred million swimmers reaches the egg

seeds fare only little better it seems

save one which landed in just the right warm cow droppings in my pasture

took root, fought its way through
two wars, too many dread droughts to count,
a fire that took a third my herd
and a hired hand,
the passing of my wife,
and some numbered portion of my life

under a harvest moon,
black armed and brittle, it still stands, stardust reincarnated
times infinity

more than once I took axe to field
but its execution was always stayed

now the tool's too heavy to swing;
the blade blunted by time

and this night, I can see its shadows on silver ground, receding silently in lunar light, preparing for a dawn the mesquite will greet, with or without me
Sep 2017 · 3.3k
dining with Edgar
spysgrandson Sep 2017
I wanna have lunch with Poe,
at Burger King,

because I'm sure he would appreciate how ghoulish that King in their commercial is

I don't want him to recite verse
while we fill our medium cups with corn syrup nectar--a giant leap
down from laudanum

I do want to ask about the Cask of Amontillado and being walled in slowly, for eternity

for to me that is creepier than all the crimson cream in the Masque of the Red Death

I want to know if he likes the fries--will he dare to dip them in scarlet paste we call catsup

mostly I want to know if he remembers the alley where he was found,

not yet a legend, consumed by consumption and delirium in equal measure

and if there were rodents privileged to hear his last whispered words--or even a gasp

I am buying, Ed, so grab that Whopper with both bony paws and tell me terrible tales, evermore
Sep 2017 · 395
an urban estivation
spysgrandson Sep 2017
I don't hide under rocks
the way they say we do

I find a cool linoleum floor
in a condemned house

and hope it ain't got too many cracks
or no rat will come while I'm asleep

a popped fire hydrant can be a gift
from white gods

but as soon as they come twist it shut
I dry fast and slither off to shade

even if it's behind a dumpster:
Damon's got good trash

had me half a cold rib eye
from that heap last night

and a good nap 'til the city come to
dump the bin this rude dawn

now I'll be on the prowl but only long
enough to beg for some silver alms

only long enough to get red wine and find the next spot out of the sun

for these August streets are too hot
and make my cool blood boil
Jenny knows I am a lizard at heart...
Sep 2017 · 299
spysgrandson Sep 2017
you've been on the same branch
on my Hackberry all day

in shade; though I don't know the glare of a star
means the same to you

for me, the arc of the Texas sun is measured
by Mercury and the clock

for thee, time, heat, and light are perhaps pulse
without calibration

I only know your mate has been in the shallow grass
beneath you...

prostrate, still, silent--since well before
this dawn
Sep 2017 · 1.2k
Hell is reel
spysgrandson Sep 2017
and you ain't gotta dig too deep
to find it

it's right behind your eyes, in that picture
you see

of Mama runnin' half naked from the house covered
in blood and snot

and crack crazed daddy chasing after her
with a butcher knife

before the man come and gunned
him down

it's there in that lump throat memory of grandad telling you his own Papa got the whip

for standing tall against a bulldog
Alabama sheriff

hell is being sent to Granny
for foster care

and her telling you she ain't got enough
food for herself

it's wearing shoes so tight
every step is a jab

a reminder everything you do
is gonna come with pain

what Hell ain't is what that fat pastor
claims it to be

some fiery place I can't even

buried so far down I can't feel
its infernal heat

hell, hell is right here on my black
and blood painted street
spysgrandson Sep 2017
they could see the Rockies on most clear days

though their ranch was as flat as any Kansas cornfield

the slopes cursed them with wicked storm now and then

but other than a few shingles off a roof and a steer or two struck by lightning, their place was no worse for the wear

Father and Son ran this place as did two generations before them,

and after chores one eve they watched a flood they thought only God could command

they flipped a coin to decide who would take a truck of supplies and who would stay to tend to the herd

the boy won the toss--just as well the old man figured; his spirit was not as ready for the road as it once was

he helped his boy load all the pickup would hold and his only son left on a clear dawn

he sliced the Oklahoma Panhandle while most folks were still eating breakfast

Amarillo was in his rearview by lunch; he had a hunch he could make it all the way there by sunrise the next day

odds are he would have, had a fleeing Houstonian not fallen asleep at the wheel and pulled into his lane under a midnight sky

the doctor from a Texas town with a name the father wouldn't want to remember assured him his boy went fast...and didn't suffer

once the father got his son's mangled body in the ground,  the old man took his grief straight to the store, filled up another truck and left his stock to fend for themselves, as he took a journey his boy was not destined to complete

he didn't shed a tear while he unloaded the supplies on a new coastal plain, amid scores who did not lose a son

though surely he was not the only one, he thought, who would cry himself to sleep that very night

where waters his son never saw receded,
far from where the mountains meet the plain
Aug 2017 · 584
I am Harvey
spysgrandson Aug 2017
I didn't pick my name
anymore than I asked for all this rain
to fall on my streets

I thank the good Lord above
Amelia didn't live to see this--me
in this chair, a leg lost to
the sugar diabetes

her cat disappearing
in the night

the water's to my waist now,
but I ain't cold--just hungry
and dog tired

last night with Noah's flood
arisin' I could have sworn I saw
two water moccasins slithering
around my one good leg

I did prayin' a plenty
and didn't sleep a wink

dawn came quiet--guess
the neighbor's rooster run off
for high ground

if there is any left on God's green earth

my ears are goin'
but I know I hear an outboard

someone is coming to save me
to pull me from this room turned to toilet


the sound of that motor's fading...
they'll be back

in the meantime, I'll keep
calling for that cat

there's high spots
where she could be

and I could swear I saw
a ray of sunshine through
those clouds

and when they come for me
I'll tell them my name

give them a good laugh

Dickinson, Texas, August 28, 2017
Aug 2017 · 271
stanza 99
spysgrandson Aug 2017
penning a poem in his Oakland
flat, he was stuck at double nines
each of the lines was fueled
by a Winston, each stanza, cheap
red wine, and quiet desperation

outside, the beat of bongos, the pop
of zip guns and the wail of sirens; if
the summer of love was hot at Haight,
nobody told the Panthers who crashed
in the pad below his

he wanted to tell the world this,
epic style, an odyssey on asphalt
a choreography of elbows breaking glass,
and boys running fast, in 'hoods where
every mother's son died too young

but he couldn't weave the right words
to end a story that started with **** filled
hulls of ships, the crack of whips, a war
of bro against bro, and Jim Crow to keep
the nightmare alive in the light of day

now the "Man" snatched them up
with draft notices, turned boys into men
and men into monkeys to be mowed down
in jungles in a question mark on
a map most had never seen

stanza 99, where were the words?
another Winston, another swig of sweet
red wine, though nothing came, until he
heard it--a baby crying in the night
and he picked up his Bic and wrote:

Here you are, coal black child of a distant star
calling out in a language as old as time, "I am hungry!
Hungry for more! Fill my belly with mama's milk,
my lungs with god's free air, and let me grow strong,
straight and brave--brave enough to dream through
all this dreaded darkness."

Oakland, August, 1967
Aug 2017 · 286
the oldest boomers
spysgrandson Aug 2017
we started school during
the Korean "police action"
like extra syllables made
murderous mayhem more
palatable than calling it
another dreadful WAR,
half a decade after we won
the last one

those of us who survived yet another
crazy Asian WAR are now fading fast

I take in news of our passing
with my morning coffee, reading
the obits like they were the sports

and every one I see whose numbers
are smaller than mine remind me I
am playing Russian roulette with the clock,
every hour

were it within my power,
I'd spin those hands backwards
to a day before cybertime

when Donny, Johnny and I went
to the park to toss a hardball into
well pocketed gloves, and discovered
the delights of peanut butter and
marshmallow cream sandwiches

back, back to a day Ike was pres,
and I would watch The Twilight Zone
with religious fidelity--back, to a time
so ancient Maris had not yet slammed in
number 61, chipping away
at the Babe's immortality

some told us the end was near,
and death by fierce fire was a reasonable fear
long before the missiles of October
and JFK's intrepid blockade

but the mushroom clouds never did appear,
and here I am with Medicare card in hand,
living in the same land where men with funny
hair make ominous "tweets"

and Manchild dictators with tiny peckers
lob missiles into the sea

wishing Clark Kent were still around
ready to don his cape and take a leap
and a bound, and save us
from ourselves

but first he would have to find a phone booth
in which to change...
Aug 2017 · 245
luna, luna
spysgrandson Aug 2017
only three days ago,
you blotted out the Sun,
casting as many spells
as you did shadows

tonight, you're but a sickle;
shaved to that anorexic shape
by the third stone from a ball of fire,
which couldn't make a dimple
or a pimple on Canis Majoris,

still I stared at you, luna
imagining the ancients, barefoot
on this same rock, who saw
magic in your pocked face

how far we've come
in scant millennia, making tubes
with their own blessed fire, to blast
us from the bounds of earth

so we could look back
at our spinning blue orb
and compare small steps
to gargantuan leaps
Aug 2017 · 187
I never read Dickens
spysgrandson Aug 2017
nor Horace--my Ars Poetica was ars psychotica,
cannabis my myrrh

though I must have known Homer, for my thumb
took me across vast asphalt seas

where I was tempted by sweet sirens, and didn't resist, while others crouched crowded in desks and read tales of two cities

unaware I was ever there, hungry, road weary, far from their land of oblivion
reflections from a high school dropout
Aug 2017 · 183
looking down to find up
spysgrandson Aug 2017
while millions of eyes were on
the skies, I looked to the flat earth:
there, shadows shapeshifted, and
like scalloped creatures crawled

they were but ephemera, photon art,
of which my silhouette was a part: under
sacred penumbra, which augured other
light and darkness I will never see
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