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spysgrandson Mar 2012
999
were cyber plumed
I,
exhumed
from
exile,
pecked
1000
thanks for all the submissions to the collection--I only added this to make the collection an even 1000
spysgrandson Jun 2016
the highway on which you escape
has a placard, green with destinations:
90 miles, 140

the 50 asphalt measures between the two
raw with hope, or despair, depending on who is there, flying past stubborn mesquite, doomed steers, and sagging shacks with graveyard stories

you always return,
not having found what
you never lost

the sign coming back
on the same tarred trail
tells how many there are, of you,
one hundred thousand, six hundred, forty two
though you may be only one who knew
you departed, maybe

tomorrow another you
will crank the engine and turn the wheel,
accelerate while you still can, until your gas
burns out, or the road rips a bald tire,
a ruptured reminder you can't
leave it all behind
spysgrandson Nov 2015
the Siene does not run red
Eiffel still stands, though both
a million miles farther from our hotel
than they were at our last meal

had we not had a cancelled cruise
we would be listening to blue waves'
soft song in Nice

not now, instead
we hear the sirens' cacophony
premature dirges for the dead
wails of the maimed, yet
unnamed

tomorrow, their biographies will be
in print, their families numb in disbelief
longing for belief

and wishing numbers could be
reversed: 11-13-15, 9-11-01, 12-07-41
or perhaps AD plus one

when will this end, and
how much farther from Eve's
curious breach can we fall
spysgrandson Sep 2016
careful I was, not to step on the ants
on the trail--a red commando column, carrying crumbs
to their busy mound, on auto pilot  

feet from their hidden queen, a felled oak,
infested with termites, gorging themselves
on its dying flesh, a cellulose feast  

one day soon, when rain carries workers
off their course, these two industrious species shall meet
and their cryptic ******* will fail  

leaving them with the choice of fight or flight;
the former will prevail, for they can run but never hide,
from treachery that comes from so deep inside
spysgrandson Oct 2013
12 days in the wilderness    

what solitude hath brought…  
a paltry sum of windy words      
silly abstractions with the scent of turds  

wandering the cedar dotted mesas,  
once a vast and dreamy sea  
inspired nothing in the verbosity of me    

now home from the night walks  
the ghostly winds that had so much to say  
yet if I heard them, the words are hiding  
in some wavy web of cells, firing blanks
when I aim at the blissfully blank page    

who am I
to defile this space,
with puerile pecking  
when the white wisdom of the ages  
eyeless, stares at me  
admonishing me  
that words can  
beguile the shrewdest master  
by convincing him  
they do not exist
spysgrandson May 2017
sixty-one minutes ago, a stormy midnight;
I watched the clock hands join as lightning
struck my high pastures

only last month, a twister snatched a steer
and dropped it in my neighbor's stock tank--not a scratch
on its hide after a cylconic half mile ride

tonight I had no fear funnels would find my fields;
the distant thunder claps taunted me, reminding me
they have fierce fire, but don't always bring rain

I watched the clock, waiting for 13:02;
only last month, my wife hid with me
in our storm cellar, praying

I prayed with her, though I doubted
a god was listening, or cared; my entreaties
were not for refuge from the storm

instead, I begged the black sky
my woman would be saved from white
blood cancer--for a miracle

that was not to be--the almighty saw fit
to perform one for a dumb beast that very eve
but not for my wife of fifty years

she lasted until 1:01 AM yesterday
13:01 I strangely conceived; I had the lucky
steer slaughtered at high noon today

I'd let it rot in prairie grass, were it not
for her--she would not want it to be carrion
for buzzards, a profligate desecration

she would want its flesh to be
a feast for a family she did not know;
hands clasped, giving thanks

to the same god that saved it
but not her; I can't rest, I'll watch the clock,
waiting for 13:01 again and again
spysgrandson Aug 2016
you were born in Denver
during a white out blizzard

like all round babes,
you had no clue, what was in store for you
you couldn't have known...

you would be
the last nickel to ***** through
a five-cent coin phone box,
in El Paso, Texas

or that you would sleep
for a year in a piggy bank,
of a boy named Felipe, who would die
of white blood cancer, before
he could spend you

and who would have thought
you would be in the linty pocket
of a serial murderer named Ray, when
he was captured in Santa Fe, a sunny day
on the ancient square, stalking
his next victim

a jailer used you that very night
with a twin of yours he found in
another picked pocket, of a drunk drifter,
to buy a Hershey's bar, from a machine
that would have taken a dime as well

your face began to show the fingered
signs of age by the time the choppers found sky  
above the Saigon Embassy, where you had spent
an aching April night in the Ambassador's pants

when you turned a half century, you were tossed
into a gallon jug, e pluribus unum, no more special
than others a third your vintage

I finally met you today, only because chance landed you on
the top of the heap, waiting to be saved from further folly
spysgrandson Nov 2011
black vinyl
dusty in crumbling cardboard
but dressed up with flowers
and candy cane towers
records much of history:
a war that divided a country
riots that demanded equality
journeys to the center of the mind
and words like "for (all) mankind"

black vinyl
electric poetry of a bejeweled age
exhorting us to unlock our cage
and soar blindly in blissful flight
before the soundless eternity of night

black vinyl,
now replaced by the "CD"
in a silicon world of even more "me"
and reluctant as I am to revere what once was
I suspect that is what everyone does
when the day slowly turns to night
and we truly contemplate our plight
on this revolving orb that spins only one way
whether it is vinyl or CD we had to play
spysgrandson Mar 2014
trip flare  
and they are in a singing,
soprano sea of light
my heart thumping, baritone,  
my eyes digesting this metastasizing meal  
choking on it, until  
the guy beside me opens fire,  
emptying a magazine before I flip
from safety to rock ’n roll auto  
both of us now filling the killing
fields with tracers,
whizzing shouting shadows
in this sorrowful symphony…  
the light fades
in the newly darkened pit  
the crawling ebony clad shapes
stop,
the conductor, long gone  
to another stinking stage,  
while here, the blood dries black
and I have new mournful memoirs
of  the music of madness
spysgrandson Jan 2015
digits digging divots, gyrating
in the finite field I have left on which to play,
bringing me closer to a goalless line    

mornings I ran the ball,
feeling the turf beneath me, green and flat  
in the afternoon I passed, hoping another would move onward
by eventide I oft punted, conceding my opponent
should be given his run, only to crash into me,
to be shoved into the demanding dirt,
a victim of my will, gravity,
and chiseling chance  

when the ball returned  
to me, as it eternally did,
I called another play, everyman scrambling
for a chance, at more measured madness, more
yardage marked by mocking minutes, that became
miles, hours, days, and more massive, metastatic
months, unstoppable, no matter who had the ball,
or how far their running feet  
would take them
Written New Year's Day
spysgrandson Oct 2015
a century skipped
from one soup line
to the next

never thought I would
stand in one, a homeless octogenarian
who doesn't like soup

the library serves sandwiches,
Eden’s apples too, on Mondays, but gray Sundays
they are closed, so here I be
at a holy house

that feeds beggars, bankers
and ******, but only after servicing
our souls, with etudes on eternity
and other hymns to which
I am deaf

tomorrow I will visit the VA
for my monthly meds, free potions
to pacify me while I wait for a bed
in the shiny new castle,
forever being built

in the meantime, I get the shed
behind the shack, of another "brother"
who tells me war stories

that can't be true, since he
was but ten and two when
the last bird chopped its way
into the Saigon sky

the embassy below yet teeming
with ghosts, and the screaming hordes,
scurrying still in a conquered land, desperate  
victims of our proud command

I don't tell him he does not
speak the truth, for he gets even more
potent pills than I to keep
his demons at bay

today the broth has chicken
and rice, and our platoon slurps in unison
after another plaintive prayer
to a god I never knew

tomorrow, over my white
bread and bologna, we will
be able to sup in silence, in the
calm cathedral of tomes

where I will try in vain
to comprehend the mystic
Kabbalah, or perhaps read The Grapes of Wrath
to hoist healing hope of suckled redemption
before my ancient eyes

.
spysgrandson Oct 2015
tufts of grass stand in the yard  
hairy green patches of tenacity
in a field of neglect

half a screen guards
a **** stained door where
someone painted, 214

the pit bull sits behind it
waiting to be fed, and to be
chained again to the stake

where, like any beast bound
by gravity and the grave, he will
make ceaseless circles  

smaller  e a c h  day,  
unwitting sentry to those
two legged creatures
inside

who, with or without
the pit, lie prostrate, in dreamless
bug rich beds    

when they fall
from sleep, they too make circles
bound by stakes and chains…
invisible    

though their pull is felt
and their infernal rattle heard
no matter how far from home
the prisoners of Tulip roam
rewrite from years ago
spysgrandson Dec 2012
tufts of grass sit in the yard  
hairy green patches of tenacity
in a field of neglect
half a screen guards
a **** stained door  
where someone painted, 214
the pit sits behind it
waiting to be fed
or to be chained again
to the stake
where, like any beast
bound by gravity
and the grave, he
will make ceaseless circles,  
smaller  e a c h  day,  
unwitting sentry to those
two legged creatures
inside, who
with or without the pit,
lie prostrate,
in dreamless
bug rich beds    
when they fall from sleep
they too make circles
bound by their own
stakes and chains
that can’t be seen
but their pull is felt
and
their eternal rattle heard
no matter how far from home
the prisoners of tulip roam
DISCLAIMER: if you live at 214 Tulip, and you have a Pit Bull, this is NOT about your house
spysgrandson Dec 2015
in the sky, I don’t see him, the Big Guy,
the “G” man, but I found someone who did,  
posing the query, “What is God?”  

he answered his own question
with twenty words, plus one--no mention of the sun,
the stars, or how HE ignited the Big Bang  

but many
wispy words about love, glory
justice and joy  

I can't claim to comprehend you,
wedded to agnosticism I seem to be
though I truly would like to see:

something behind the
sunken eyes, bloated bellies of babies
covered with impatient flies    

something in the blood trails
of San Bernardino, Paris, Beirut
Khe Sanh, Iwo Jima, the Marne  
Antietam, ad infinitum  

who can read those red riddles  
and help me understand--maybe more
than 21 words are required  

though I am hardly inspired  
when the words to describe HIM/HER/IT  
don’t mention milk except as human kindness
or do nothing to explain our blissful blindness
to blood dripping from stakes driven
so long after Calvary’s crosses
"Inspired" by a poem I read called "What is God?"  It was 21 words--abstractions I could not see, touch or smell.
spysgrandson Jan 2012
food stamps on my table
a perverse end to this fable
that began with kidnapping,
cotton fields and the whip
my first attempt at a form tsac introduced here recently
spysgrandson Dec 2012
it is...
amazing,
how easy it is to ****
with the tinny tools of modernity
2 birds 1 shot,
of bird shot
who would have thought,
before thought,
we could create such things
to help us destroy?
in our gut,
in the deep slime
of our bellies, and our pasts
something feels right
something feels whole
when we commit
the act
something drives us
to repeat
the act
of ******
as often
as the act of creation
is this the delicate balance?  
the intricate scales
tipping so slightly
towards one world or the other?
it does not seem “delicate”
when precious flesh
is ripped from bone
by angry claws and teeth
when that which flew
in the heavens
we could only dream were there
lies naked and defiled
on the sullied soil
was it always this easy to reverse the fates?  
was it this easy
when we trod the plains for days
in pursuit of the hairy beasts
when our feral feasts
were by the first fires
and our hands bloodied
and our chins dripping
with the marrow of the fallen?  
was it always this easy?
it matters not
to the 2 birds
killed with 1 shot
spysgrandson Nov 2011
in the tauntingly quiet
florescent hospital hum
waiting for a hospice bed
people floated in and out
along with the scents of disinfectant and Salisbury steak
all spoke, in muted tones, words moving
through the liquid silver air of the night
they would squeeze your hand, gently
maybe casting a glance my way
before they walked into the dead vinyl tile halls
to the white squeaking sounds of faceless nurses’ shoes
where the obligated visitors would
breathe a proverbial sigh of relief
for they did not want to be there
at the moment
at the horizon between the slits in your eyes
imagining the ones behind the walls
and across the hills you would never again see
I would be there,
recalling horizons we had seen together
perhaps with you in my arms
before words built walls between us
and years were soaked up like desert rain
after seasons of doubt and drought
I wondered if you would ask me again
or if I would say yes this time
and if that would be enough
to release you
surely, I gave you life
another father and I both did, I suppose
could I take it as well
if you asked me again,
to increase the drowsing drip
of modern Morpheus’ elixir?
spysgrandson Dec 2016
it's cold in this motel
all the paisley carpet in the world
won't make the halls warm  

a faux fire is burning in the lobby
the clerk is long numb to it, and to the rest of the world
it appears--no guest has disturbed him for hours

I don't want to go upstairs, to a room
where my only daughter waits, curled in the covers
like chrysalis in cocoon

eyes dried from crying all the tears
eyes can make--still she dry sobs--still she aches
for a mother she believes abandoned her, in a motel,
like this one, a lifetime ago

we will attend the service early today--too late
for a reconciliation between mother and daughter
the tether torn a decade past

I will hold my daughter close;
her eyes will dart around the room,
wondering who the mourners are, how they knew
the mother she did not

until then, I will sit a while longer
by this timid flicker of light, before I don the black suit,
before I knot my tie in the mirror and see the face of the man
who could not forgive a transgression, a human misstep

and robbed a girl of her mother, until today,
when words will spill from strangers' mouths,
the only biography my daughter will ever have of her
and I will wish for short epitaphs, a quick return to the earth
while those words and truths haunt my soul
spysgrandson Jun 2017
I see his pick up in the yard--the grass is dead
from the heat anyway

he is nowhere to be found, except
passed out on the seat

with one of his feet touching the turf
the other still in the truck

afraid if it joins its partner on solid soil
it won't be a happy marriage

he is my child--all quarter century of him
and he won't bring in the paper

I am sure he rolled his truck on top of it...to protect me
from the news of an awful world
spysgrandson Sep 2014
too old to walk
the aides wheeled him into the sunshine each day, for their peace of mind  
his eyes were clear, one gray but the other as blue as a robin's egg  
he cackled more than talked though everyone understood what he said
which helped get him rolled onto the lonely concrete each morn,
in all weathers

I came Thursdays to see my aunt, on the way to the office
I, her only heir and she still owned the office, the firm yet bearing her husband's name, his first name the only word that came from her mouth the last two years, some strange protein eating her cortex, her body playing a cruel joke on her by keeping her organs pumping away masterfully....she didn't even **** her pants at ninety minus one

when they wheeled her out beside the cackler
he began his sermons, citing chapter and verse
usually from books I had not read--he also said,
for every hour you read, you add 89 minutes to your life
fishing, he said, was for fools who wanted to live forever;
he would settle for purchased words
and the 29 minutes in change

he had stopped reading with both colored eyes he claimed,  
but he calculated he had added seven years, three months, and four days to his life, and he would, unless he took up reading again, leave the earth seven Thursdays from when he told me the tale--then he began quoting Melville I think, if he is the one who hung the poor stuttering Billy Budd

I kept returning Thursdays to ignore my aunt and listen to his words
and when he was yet alive on the seventh one, I asked if this was the day,
"the day for what?" he replied, and he began his cackled verses, from Poe, or Updike or maybe Hemingway when a bull died mid sentence, and  
my aunt SPOKE that day, telling him goodbye

he was not there the next Thursday,
but neither was I
spysgrandson Sep 2012
I was...

encased in a silver humming tube
shooting through blue sky and soft clouds

the attendant (my daughter’s age) stood
thin knuckles gripping the seat in front of me
whiter than clouds zipping past the window
her doe eyes transfixed on the men
praying with each shallow breath
they would ask nothing of her

some spoke English, some gibberish
waving their razors in ominous dance
slicing the air that carried their words

a pilot at their feet,
a thin red trail, a single line
the only biography he had
written on the cabin carpet
between the cockpit and
where they stood
barking at us, punctuating their orders with prayer and praise
to some God I did not know

“Al lah, A lah…”
more threatening chants
“Allah, Al lah”
more—a shrill scream interrupted this dream
as one yanked an attendant to his side—more venomous words
flying at us like poisoned arrows
(but all of us too frozen to move as these flew through pressurized air)
“please” the only word she uttered before she froze
eternally in the arms of her ****** assassin

the lump in my throat fell, I leaned forward and others did too
(I never saw, but surely they did)
trying to think through the hateful haze
to younger days
how to disarm an assailant—they had to teach me that
I had to remember that—we did that for our beret
but I couldn’t reach back
not further than that morning
when I said good bye to my son

still (“Al lah, Ah lah”—ripping anger from their guts)
I thought, I can do something

the attendant beside me, tears now flowing from lost eyes
(whose smooth blond hair now even looked like my daughter’s)
backed up, her trembling hand brushing my shoulder
(did I think, the last human touch for her, for me?)
my hands grabbed her fingers and I squeezed them gently
(just as I had my own child when I left her side at the altar—
did I say the same words, “Be happy, you deserve it...I love you”)
she looked at me, raindrop tears now instead of fears
we smiled faintly as I pulled her to my seat and rose to my feet

outside the windows
gray square stones now filled the air
blocking the morning sky
where are the clouds I thought…
but only for a second
we
are
not
hostages
we are…going to…

I did not feel the cabin floor as I moved towards the miscreant crew
between me and the cockpit door
I was young, light and agile again, sailing at them
their words no longer calling for their god
but now they spoke in direct command,
nothing of some promised land, but
“STOP OR WE WILL…”
we will…what?
Could I have laughed at the irony…
or we will what?

another now with me, no older than my son
(and looked like he as well)
headed down the aisle
towards men now racing to meet us
four against two
but somehow I knew we would never meet

the lump was in my throat again, my clenched fists relaxed
my own teary eyes turned to the windows, away from the maddening screams
and between endless glass, steel, and stone
I got a glimpse of pure blue sky
last night CNN had a special about 9/11--reminded me of this narrative written on the 5th or 6th anniversary of the event
spysgrandson Feb 2017
that's the road trip
the boy wanted, once he discovered
the universe was that big

he asked Dad, the closest
god he could find, what was outside
that 93 billion light years

the father did not know
but was open to the notion vast space
was but a bubble

one the lad saw in his bath water
the night before; a mystic mass the boy tried to grasp
but vanished with a finger's touch
Astronomers estimate the universe is 93 billion light years across.
spysgrandson Jun 2017
broad daylight, a narrow highway...
what brought you there, sans your sour nocturnal song?
a racing rabbit I couldn't see
but you could smell?

and could you tell
how close my bumper
came to you when you scampered
across the road?

you had to feel
the wind of my wake
and hear the heavy hum
my tires make

though that did not signal
a close call with death to you;
only a sound you couldn't decipher,
and a tickling of hackle hairs

how delightful to be unawares
of the fickle sickle of mortality
that could have chopped you to pieces
on a hot stretch of asphalt
spysgrandson Sep 2016
she penned a note
in girly curling cursive,
blue on white lined paper,
taped it to his carrier, a cage
one size too small

"he bit me, crapped on my floor,
made thousand anxious scratches
on  my door"

she didn't intend to report his heinous
crimes in rhyme, but she did; they were enough to get him the needle, ministered mercifully, of course

though cursive's now a dying art,
it's sufficient to sign another death
decree--for slaughter, we know,
can be accomplished
with any font
spysgrandson Dec 2012
when
it became dark
it was the slow steady spinning
of the world we had to blame
while rockets huddled in their holes
waiting for the year zero
we could not count down
to cause, or pause
while superpowers chose an illusive détente
we mostly sipped complacency
from false hope cups
the world kept on spinning
the missiles slept
our nightmares became past tense
with no promise of future perfect
then
some-where
some-how
some-one
some
time
moved but a single digit,
a scrawny feeble fiddle on an impotent
OMNIPOTENT CATACLYSMIC APOCALYPTIC UBER DESTRUCTIVE  
hand
and
now
our darkness does not wait
for the casual yawing
of our few sextillion tons
it is there for all
to see for all times
though the times are no longer
measured as years
for stones, bones and ash
have no fears
alternate title: Carl Sagan's dream
My generation was the first to come of age with the threat of total annihilation of the species (and likely all life) by nuclear holocaust--we had h-bomb drills in which we would hide under desks or be herded into the basements of our schools (some of us knowing full well these were futile endeavors since all out nuclear war would have been an extinction level event) In the decades since the end of the cold war, we have let this ultimate fear slip into the background, assuming a saner reality now exists...another illusion?
spysgrandson Apr 2017
perhaps
we were not meant to take this trail alone
perhaps we were

a few inches too far right
on the ledge--half the width of my foot
and I suppose I fell

and here I am, fine,
though I can't move my left leg or right arm
blood is in both my eyes

gravity's curse carried me here
and is channeling this scarlet stream,
from wherever it began,
into my field of vision

which, though red clouded,
holds the base of a pine, boulders
as big as buffalo, and a black bird

a crow I suspect, soon
to be joined by his brethren--to enjoy
the feast of me

my pain wanes, as do thoughts
someone will find me in this steep ravine
a hundred meters below the trail
two long miles from the road

perhaps
we weren't meant to do this alone
but I did, and I am here,
alone

save for the crow
and I can't help but wonder
if my eyes will be open when the birds
begin their work

or if greedy buzzards
will join them, to take my
flesh from bone

the pain wanes
I am sleepy, the lone crow
now a ******

their eyes are open
mine feel heavy--perhaps
I have the answer

closed
spysgrandson Jan 2017
though she sat only two
pews farther back, her understanding
of things was different from his  

she imagined the body of the woman
in the casket in quiet, pacific repose, spirit departed,
welcomed already in some beaming crystal sky  

he saw red lips painted on
a powdered white face--eyelids invisibly
sewn shut over empty sockets  

for he heard the big people say
she had donated her corneas, and someone
told him what those were  

she believed, as she had been told,
the woman would suffer no more, and live forever
in a place surrounded by benevolent ghosts    

he did not understand how this thing
called soul could be so hasty in leaving a body
where it had lived for eighty years  

he had watched water drain from a tub  
and smoke from fires leave stone chimneys
and long hang gray in white skies  

she had seen the same, but when it came
to this strange thing called death, the word
she heard conjured magic, not tragic  

he only knew Daddy was not smiling,
and Mommy’s eyes were dripping tears; not one
person in the big room laughed or played    

except for the girl two pews back  
who brushed a doll’s hair and spoke to it
as if it could hear
Saturday morning is a time for seeing things as children do
spysgrandson Jan 2016
each night
he would enter his boy's room  
Bobby's tomb, he had come to call it  
and turn the TV off  

before remotes, 24/7 programming
and the infomercial, plump with desperate promises
the tube gave a final hail, the stars 'n stripes whipping, the national anthem screaming, and an anonymous promise
to return tomorrow in a perfect world

it would not be perfect for Bobby,
no matter how much thoughtless Thorazine,
hazy Haldol, or mesmerizing Mellaril
they shoved down his throat

now and then
before flipping the **** to off
he would sit with his sleeping son
stare into the screen, listen to its hissing;
he would swear he saw something  
in the gray ocean of static  

not trillions of senseless electrons
busy bouncing, but a lone sailor, rowing away
in a foaming sea, riding raging swells,  
bound for a black horizon

one his tormented son
had reached long ago
spysgrandson Jul 2016
anonymous winds
bend tall Timothy grasses,
wake rabbits napping
in the brush

they ripple the surface
of the stock tanks, tickle the haunches
of the beasts who wade there
to slurp the tepid waters

they birth red dust devils
for my eyes to follow, as they scud
through mesquite, and hopscotch over canyons
older than time

one day, soon, they will blow
over a shallow earth bed; I will not hear
their sibilant song, but my sleep will be deep,
unperturbed by their mystic music
spysgrandson Jul 2013
I could not talk him down, or
listen him up,  though that is
what I was trained to do, tried to do  
he gazed only at the street,
his final resting place, where  
he would soon be
a crushed crimson spectacle
for greedy and empty eyes  
whose mouths would tell
of his demise, but none
even knew his name,
I learned it was Everett, and  
that he had three daughters
lost in suburbia, eons from this ledge
where he stood, and talked to a stranger  
who was stranger than he  
for I looked to the skies
above the humming city, as if
they would be my salvation  
an airy home to spread wings
with angels, and glide endlessly
through blue heavens, but Everett knew  
there were no winged saviors awaiting him  
to grab him before his lonely leap
only the unmovable slab of concrete below
the craned necks of other flatlanders  
who would watch his final descent
and not realize his brief eternal fall
through the invisible place between two worlds  
would be the closest any would ever be  
to freedom
as a teen, I often equated death with freedom--seems I have returned to that theme here--Everett was actually the name of a person who was my roommate briefly who later did take his own life
spysgrandson Apr 2017
he imagines
he has carpal tunnel
from channel surfing;
reruns,
his greatest
weapon against
insomnia

the ficus, the
philodendron
she left
(with half
the wedding
china)
are taking
an eternity
to die

a fortnight
without a teaspoon
of water would
wilt the most
hardy specimens
of their kingdom

perhaps she
bequeathed him
cacti in
disguise

he asks
if they are
what they
appear to be:
leafy indoor
greenery

or prickly
survivors
that grow
only where
all things
are venomous
or have thorns

they swear
they are not
botanical
imposters

liars

he turns up
the volume
on his flat screen
to drown out
the mendacity
of flora

the fauna,  
after all,
were not
to be trusted
either
spysgrandson Jul 2015
who ever sees them
in this canopy of night
until one barks out…
tracers, hot light?

oh
this ground
cleared by chemical fire
from orange barrels, then blessed with monsoons,
I, kneeling, feeling, the modern moors’ mush
wet my knees

do you see
what I do? do you hear,
do you fear, slant eyed demons
who can blend into the ground
make not a sound
until…?

it is too late for me
I have seen them, I have
made them black with light
crisscrossed with crimson
too late for me, after all
this fine art I crafted

other pictures I painted
still dripping in my dreams
you can't see them, framed
by my memory, lies
I wanted to believe

forty-five years
to the day after I returned
my grandson, six years ancient
told me what happened to dinosaurs
I didn't see a meteor but I don't tell him
his brown eyes wide with curiosity
when he rubs the scar on my arm

his tender touch takes me back
to the fields where the invisible game
still lay, waiting for me to return
to resurrect them, and me
but I cannot see, what
was never there
To my knowledge, this Vietnam recollection has nothing to do with the Bruce Springsteen song, Hunter of Invisible Game, though the title itself did inspire the piece.
spysgrandson Dec 2016
every night, before bed,
a simple ritual: he walks to the foyer
and drags the deacon's bench to the door
to keep intruders at bay

has been this way, since
the day he read "In Cold Blood"
and realized what uninvited guests
can do under a god's watchful eye

the belly of the bench holds every bible  
he has ever owned in his four score years
save the one by his bedside, where it sits as sentinel
against other imagined foes and woes  

though he is long deaf, those
who would defile him can yet hear, and
the righteous moan of the bench on the hardwood
would give them pause

or so the old man believes;
as if a simple sound could be so profound
to tip cosmic scales in his favor, save him
from the tyranny of evil men

this very night, before bed
he takes the same walk, shoves the same  
weighted wood against a locked door,
a simple ritual
spysgrandson Dec 2016
the skulk was mostly *****

hens were haunted by either gender

the farmer's wife also feared them

though small and they ran from most two-legged beasts

the farmer shot the foxes for sport--guarding chickens not his concern with a thousand acres in corn

the farmer's son had trapped a red Reynard

it perished in captivity, starving itself

the night of the caged fox's demise, the rooster crowed tirelessly

for good reason, since the leash gobbled a dozen hens under a waning gibbous moon

the creatures prosecuted a moral symmetry it seemed

while the farmer was febrile with the grippe, the son fast asleep, and the wife dared not make a peep

witnessing a crimson carnage she likened to war

in its aftermath, a naked sun rose on waves of white feathers and scarlet trails of blood

perhaps 'tis not good to trap a wild thing, the farmer's wife mused

then she made her way to the coops, fetching enough eggs for breakfast

all the while the skulk watched from the thick brush

watched and waited, without will as we know it

but with a red reckoning ready, should they again be victims

of man's folly and sin
**A group of foxes is called a leash or a skulk
spysgrandson Jun 2013
why can’t I howl like you?  
like the wild dogs un-muzzled
in the karmic night?

why can’t I have honesty,
like well earned sweat,
ooze from every pore
like you, Bukowski?  

why can’t I enter the river
against the flow, like the steamer
which juggernauted you, Joseph  
into the black jungle, where scarlet pulses
of your dark heart spoke the language
of the sword, but  
words cut more savagely than  
the sharpened steel?  

words, so viciously true
they had to be silenced
by the light of day
before they could blind others
like I, who would slash and burn
you for seeing, and speaking  
the horror of truth
spysgrandson Dec 2011
dance, blaspheming butterfly
against the black and ignorantly blessed sky
part of a simile from a longer poem I wrote a couple of years ago, "A Word"
spysgrandson Dec 2011
my wish:
fire, cabin
comfort food
old movie
NO
humans
I will be with about a dozen people--kids, grandkids, in-laws, etc., but the recluse in me needed his voice in a few words
spysgrandson Feb 2016
your Colorado village was freezing,
even the eve of May

the bus dropped me there
you weren't waiting

I toted my duffel bag, now turned sixty,
to your place

you didn't answer for an hour; when you did,
it was not sleep in your eyes

we didn't fight--it was too cold in your apartment
for heated arguments

you didn't bother to say you were busy, or forgot
your father's only son had agreed to this visit

you had only stale bread, stingy swirls of peanut butter
in a cold jar

you left with a promise to get food,
and my last seven dollars

I waited for you until dusk, then dragged my bag
to a locked church

I put an extra ancient sweater under my coat, leaned
against the chapel's small west wall

I watched the sky turn from mauve to black,
until I fell asleep

and dreamed of a time I carried you on my shoulders,
under a warm sun
spysgrandson Apr 2016
many of his posts tilted
like trees tired of the wind; wires sagged,  
red rusted, but still jabbed the errant cow  
when duty called    

three quarters a century
he rode the same trail; of late,
he had gone afoot, the saddle too heavy
for him to heft  

walking, he reconnoitered  
the tracks with more care--hooves of his myriad steers,  
a few equine signs of the farrier’s labor    
still  there, fast fading    

his boot prints were  
more numerous now, and sometimes
tamped down by the few beasts left
in his herd    

across the line lay his dead
neighbor’s pastures, peppered with mesquite,
pocked by fire ant holes;  no livestock grazed, but the giant turbines whined, white whipsaws slashing not timber, but blue sky    

driven by the relentless winds,
they called to him, in chanted chorus, issuing a premonition:  
one day soon, your fence will fall, and the path you trod
will bear no new tracks for other souls to read
spysgrandson Jul 2016
if I spoke truth, but painted no picture,
I failed
spysgrandson Oct 2016
he sighted
a ****** of crows
lined on a dead oak branch  
he could see only silhouettes
against a gray dawn sky    

he closed one eye
pulled both triggers
on grandpa’s old gun;
all of them save one fell
from the lifeless limb  

the sole survivor
looked down on him,
but did not move, not an inch
not even when he reloaded,
aimed and shot again
* a two minute poem has no requirements other than it be written in two minutes--after the two minutes, editing is permitted; e.g., changing tense, omitting or changing words (adding words is not permitted), changing number or even changing the order of words within in a line--it is an entertaining form that has potential for one to make economical use of words and time
spysgrandson Jan 2017
where will they take me
this thick, whirling cloud
of birds?

I lower my shotgun;
my targets were to be
a skein of geese

(corpulent, impertinent
avian freaks I have seen
peck children's shins)

these smaller birds
perform a choreography electric,
black against blue

now I know the meandering
meaning of mesmerize--my eyes
glued to the skies

more agape than the hunter
in me--wishing to watch this wave
undulate an eternity

but alas, the flock turns
into a naked sun; I am forced
to shield my eyes

my hand blocks the blare
of light, with it, the whipping tail of
their liquid flight

when I lower it, they are
but a haze near the horizon, performing
magic for another audience
spysgrandson Jul 2017
I did not hear
the owl call my name,
nor the hawk squawk
before it dive-bombed me
from the tree line, not
twice, but thrice this
white hot prairie day
yes, there are those who
will say, I came too close
to its nest, and with the rest
of species I must share this space,
but had my staff been swifter the
third time it dove, there
would be a grounded raptor
in the grove, this less than
lovely afternoon
true tale from today's hike
spysgrandson Mar 2017
from the bank
I see the ghost of a pier
old posts standing solitaire
a ramp rotted, long gone

moored to one stubborn beam,
a bass boat, tethered to time, rocking
with the whims of the waters
fickle, but steady

storms upriver may hasten
the current, bloat the stream
though the flow never ends,
lapping against the hull

hiding inside are more ghosts:
phantom footfalls of fishermen,
odors as old as Eden, sounds
which once made songs

by those who cranked the motor,
manned the rudder and cast the lines
into the depths, seeking a tug--a pull
that meant dinner, a small success

a simple surrender of one species
to another, from beneath the surface
into the sun, a sublime suffocation,
then stillness before the gutting

many a day ended this way
the boat buoyed again to the dock
bellies then filled from the sacrifice,
the waters licking long the wood
spysgrandson Sep 2016
wedded that day, on their way
to El Paso, for two nights in a grand motel
with TV, and AC

they would splurge,
for profligacy was not a sin at such times
and a fat steer was sacrificed for it

the radio filled the cab
of the pickup with Tammy "Why-not"
singing D-I-V-O-R-C-E

they sang along, changing the letters
to M-A-R-R-I-E-D, creating one cheerful
cacophony in their shared space

when the next tune started, he hit:
a greasy buzzard, wingspan wide as a fence post was tall
black as an oil slick

the old windshield was no match
for the vulture, and it was a vengeful one
that crashed through Ronny's side

glass, bone, feather and flesh
tore into his sweet face like a chainsaw
his blood blinding him

Ronny turned so ******* that wheel
the truck rolled, twice, landing them on
the passenger side in an arroyo

where he lay on top of her,
gasping, his blood dripping generously on her
"Ronny, Ronny..."

her legs were numb, and she felt a warm
liquid crawling down her back, one she knew
was from her own head

which smacked the roof
so hard she was surprised her skull
hadn't popped

or maybe it had, for she saw double:
two steering wheels; two setting suns; two mangled birds
and two crimson faced Ronny's  

who then had stopped gasping, and only
slow breaths came from him, like a warm whisper
on her cheeks--but only until the song ended

and she knew, he was gone--and old verse
came to her, from Psalms, from Matthew, and she knew,
she was sure, someone would find them

and make her whole, and resurrect Ronny
for the good Lord would not do this to them, on this
hopeful highway, before they consummated

she harbored such a notion until
her own eyes closed, and other dark birds came
to find them, still, under her God's closed eye

(1968, north of Marfa, Texas)
The title is an allusion to a verse (from Matthew?) about not one bird falling without God knowing. In the early 70s, I had a landlord whose daughter's face was mangled by a buzzard that crashed through her truck windshield.
spysgrandson Apr 2017
my old street,  
a perfect bicycle drag strip,
needed no gutters--all rains drained
into the bay  

but today,
the lane where
I learned to drive, is a place gulls dance
and killdeer prance

this river
is a dozen inches deep
at street’s end, but a yard and growing at the bay
where the hot dog stand once steamed  

the melting monsters
were a million miles from us, you know;
a threat to a Titanic, though  surely inconsequential
to the Atlantic, or so it seemed

all the hype about heat, carbon emissions,
ozone’s demise, and other gassy notions, we thought
belonged in tomorrow’s world of worry  

but tomorrow became today,
and now it’s commonplace to say,
"the shoreline receded--that neighborhood’s gone."    

a continent constricted,
a lowly inch a year, by greed or divine design?
retribution from an earth that never forgets?
or a fickle force we cannot fathom?  

I am ancient now, though I recall those admonitions,
ambiguities that fueled futile debate, until it was too late
and here I be, watching waters at low tide, lapping
against my feet on a once dry and driven street
E A R T H   D  A  Y
spysgrandson Aug 2012
the vultures picked her bones
‘til they were clean as ivory
laying on the sun bleached sand
listening to the symphony of the waves

I almost stepped on her
(stopped my breath to see her there)
curled in pristine fetal pose
asking me to wonder,
how she got there
with her rhinestone-studded collar
far from the kitty litter she sniffed and tapped
before she wandered to this ancient shore,
somehow managed to stop breathing,
and become a feast for fowl

I needed a story
to tell, to explain
to map the path to this place
to this white state of grace
but the others,
the vultures,
needed only her soft flesh
and a place to fly away
spysgrandson Jun 2017
when he
was a young man,
come round up,
they would hit
the trail dead dark
before daybreak;

without a morsel
of moonlight,
he would follow
the rider in front
of him, watching
the glow of the cowboy's
hand-rolled,

while
he puffed away
on a store bought
Lucky Strike, to guide
the cowboy
on his tail;

this beacon,
a bead orange  
in a sea of black,
allowed for silence
among men

who listened
for the lowing
of the beasts
they were charged
to capture, and brand
for slaughter
thanks, Charlie Mac, for this tale of your early days as a cowboy
spysgrandson Aug 2016
there is silence sandwiched between silence
thanks to the sudden cessation of their croaking
as if a plague took them, but it didn't

nor were they sleeping, nor were you,
at 0300 hours--you were between guard towers,
with an M60, and a hunger for sound

though you were picky about your song;
you longed for their familiar cadence, for
their green belched reassurance

that they would lay more eggs in the mire
and tails would grow, the swimmers would
become singers of familiar verse

but you could not wait for a resurrection
you did not know would occur--your duty would end
at dawn, and by then you could be dead deaf

from their silence
Tay Ninh Province, 1967
spysgrandson Jun 2013
she drives through mile high air
top down on her convertible
there’s nothing to see at 2:00 AM
except cautious flashing lights, at vacant crossroads
and a neon sign or two
ready to fade for the night
after the lounge lizards
crawl away, to their lairs
I envy her, awake in the dark
the cold wind in her hair
going nowhere, while I sit
on the flat oatmeal plains,
calculating losses and gains
like I can place her
in one column or the other
would that put me at ease?
knowing she was more red ink than black
knowing she was a lover of cats
and caffeinated chats
and bedding me was
a horizontal distraction
in her vertical ascent
she was not meant, to walk
on level ground,
or sleep after our mazy mating
she had to see the climb in front of her
press the pedal forward,
and keep her eyes from closing
where sleep would morph into dreams
and she too would have to wake
to another disappointing day
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