oh, the sun is burning hot
as the waves rise up off of the black top
forming the familiar distortion
distinctly laced with humidity.
the young man marches, toes exposed
with flip-flops smacking down
and on the verge of melting
to the grand avenue sidewalk.
fuzzy memories like warped records
spin their sharps and flats in awkward places
and bring scent trails of teenage years:
bonfires, exhaust, lingering birdcages.
kreckel's still serves the same lemon ice cream,
but the billiards out back have been closed for a time.
quarters spent on raiden fighters rust in time
as the men muttering in the background play bumper pool.
the heat still feels the same in present summer,
and some of the same faces stay on the card.
routine and commitments are starting to build,
blurring the expressions of familiarity into fog.
the young man marches, face exposed
to the blistering light of day
as lines start to form where charm has twinkled
in the schoolyard and stagnant hallways.
years spent in sleep are pulsating
as the lull between cicadas
seems to stretch the summers south
to the screeching of metallic showcases.
he's buckled to the cracks in the concrete
that bulge upward and trip drunks after last call.
unshackled only to ride shotgun with the few
that still remember their seventh grade summers.
Someone left a black leather briefcase
at the bus station sometime earlier this week.
They called in a bomb squad
from over in Springfield
after the thing sat there for hours
emitting an aura of chilled sweat;
it took them just as long to get their
from what I've been hearing.
They blew the thing up.
Right there in the bus station,
they blew that ****** briefcase
to Hell and back after an X-ray
found wires and a circuitry board.
This is not a big city,
it's not a small town either,
but here we have a place
that I arrive at twice daily
and I can hardly scrape up
the dollar for bus fare at times.
A warehouse over on Jasper street
caught on fire a few days later;
an inferno in close quarters,
so they knocked the old Bess over
so the flames didn't spread.
There is still a giant pile of rubble
at the site; bricks with masonry companies
imprint on the sides, rusty bars that were either
too heavy, or too stuck for scrapping fiends,
and a hell of a lot of odorous char.
This is a winter of fire in Decatur,
but the bones still chill.
The starter is going out
in the 91' Cutlass
that sits in my driveway
braving the winds.
I can hear that grinding noise;
the expensive one.
The one that says,
"Your savings is low!"
every time you think
you're going to have
a stable ride to work.
The bus is reliable,
the route is what will drive
a sane man off the edge.
You start to get sick
of seeing the same ****** places,
the same ****** turns,
the same ****** bumps, and
the same ****** passengers.
Plus, the radio makes Monday
just a little more tolerable
when you get the option
of stopping for breakfast.
I like that car.
Friday seems like a back brace right now,
and I've had just enough caffeine
to where I don't think I can stand a nap.
I'm just glad to have my shoes off, and
the reassuring calm of an uncashed check.
Lost in the fumes of a cloudy exhale
I search for a glimpse of myself in grimy water.
My remains are scattered somewhere
between boyhood and gutter trash.
The present is hardly of concern
when the blankets of mud offer such astounding
This swamp was flooded with the prosperity of quitters.
The face of the street I grew up on
has been radically warped and distorted.
Leave a good thing to the elements long enough
and you’ll see it begin to degrade.
Dust gathers and mold begins to creep in
from the moisture lingering in the air.
It happens to our childhood toys
just as easily as it happens to the people we know.
Everything still holds the same shape;
the same structure that casts a shadow in memory,
it’s just that now the cosmetics have worn off
and you can see the tired lines start to show.
You can hear the creak of arthritic wooden steps
to front porches where old kin with liver spots
sit and drink a shared Ice House 40 oz. while spitting into the wind.
Cavities from a candy coated childhood.
There are strangers in my old home,
that place where my uncle lives
surrounded by VHS tapes, pictures of Brett Favre,
and reminders of dead cockatiels.
The biggest struggle is trying to recall
if he was always this way,
or did it take a forty year dope binge
for the hoarder to finally stir?
I wrote my name in the sidewalk at the foot of steps.
I search for a glimpse of myself in grimy water
and check under the bushes for garter snakes .
My stomping grounds have been wiped of footprints
and grandma’s violets don’t come in very well anymore.
They cut down the walnut tree, and got rid of the porch swing.
No time for whimsy, no time for strays.
The cicadas will sleep for ten more years, ‘til summer.
Houses sitting condemned, taking up the view
while the old guys sit sipping forties in forty degree
temperatures facing the wall so the wind doesn't burn
their faces too much in what could be called a modest December.
They turn their back to the guy hiding bags of rock
in his lips to avoid detection from the cameras posted
on both street corners. This place is set to a constant sneaking
violin pluck. We are all capers in a burgle commune.
I hung up a tarp today so the stray cats can hide from the wind.
In one stanza, January has set in and it is bitter to the bone.
We summoned the name of old man winter from repetition and
no one man may hold that burden. The ***** only warms their blood.
I am the flightless pelican.
I’ve found myself with my mouth full,
my stomach full, and so much still on my plate.
Possessed by an inhuman hunger,
I will gorge upon pure potential.
I will yowl on and on, without sleep.
I have sand between my toes.
My shoes are glued to my feet.
Keep on running ‘til the calluses come.
There has to be a point where I stop to sweat,
and I’ll finally get my sigh of relief.
I have one ride left on my bus pass.
I have a tendency to ramble
and languish in my own stench.
People tend to forget this at first;
lured in by the false face of a genetic fluke.
They want to know the impression I left,
not the procrastinator; the cud-chewing goat.
I can’t sleep being held,
or if I feel someone’s breath in the still.
I start to feel the urge to burrow
into the quiet quilts; patchwork Promised Land.
I cater to the crowd that caters to themselves,
but I’m no Utilitarian. Fox and Lion.
I have cousins like brothers,
and I have brothers like strangers.
Stray cats with names
and a copy of The Mahabharata that I stash my money in.
I’m sitting on a sunny pier with my hook in the water;
avoiding conflict with no bait.
Paper cuts from the gold leaf
on the edges of hymn book pages
with burgundy leather covers.
These guilty cuts, bleeding for what seems like hours,
while we steadily forget that anyone was singing.
Alone with our thoughts in the crowd.
By this time of the year (In days of old and times past)
we would already be
onto deer trails--------
^^^^^^^^^^in the woods of Fairview park.^^^^^^^^^^
Stevens Creek runs through
We will dip our toes in the slow, murky water
(James came to town)
as the thick, sweet smell of my burning cigarillo
(and the whiskey fell into our glasses.)
lingers on the water's surface.
(It was a race to see who would pass out last)
It is here that we are young; No moss clinging.
(and be the one to see him off at dawn.)
That old ****-colored truck with the key broken off in the ignition
will take life with every well-used car I'm in. "The Brown Trout".
Marcus called from the 24-hour gas station on Eldorado
to tell you he broke the key in the ignition and couldn't seem to get the ****** truck started. We gave comedy its due.
What could we have done at that point but stumble into the blue?
I recall forty girls & boys crammed into an efficiency apartment that night
as the bathroom vent sapped the room of smoke, liquor stench
and Nag Champa incense, while the dense fog
of budding lust hung in stasis over our heads.
Boys on the exit living out their tree house fantasies;
drinking away boredom and skateboard injuries.
Phantoms of the apartment buildings
(Do you remember Dipper Lane?)
at the end of West Main tell tales of past tenants.
(I seem to have forgotten your name again.)
What does it feel like
(Did you hear something?)
to be a home away from home?
(I've been alone this whole time.)
It's four years later and the bikini tree has tan lines,
they cut down the ******* walnut at my old house,
and built my ark from its wood.
Supple leaves line the Sylvan Queen's Kermes colored hair
as we sail for higher ground.
Now the stinging sunlight cuts through the cracks in the wood.
I'm examining the border of a much larger picture.
Even now, the resolution grows fuzzy.
You are a leaf on the five-hundredth page of my dictionary. Ginko.
I placed you there on a particularly sunny day in July
when the Magicicadas woke up to the sound of Joe Cocker,
and we both learned the language of the spheres.
A revised and re-titled version of Part IV. Parts V and VI still to come...
Union and Grand
I moved into this house less than a year ago
and already three gun related murders have occurred
within a three block radius; two of them involving children.
I'm not making this **** up.
Those numbers wouldn't be anything exciting for a population
hitting upwards of the millions,
but this is not a big city.
This is the heartland.
The city paid for a series of strategically placed dead ends,
forced turns, and surveillance equipment to be installed
in the area of about a mile surrounding my house.
No wonder they call this place "The Trap".
They keep changing the maze,
and studying us like rats.
They had a make-do memorial for the little girl who got shot.
They attached her stuffed animals, cards, and photos to a utility pole
on the corner of Union and Grand. The city had it taken down.
Some kind of city ordinance
from some dusty tome at the town hall.
Kids killing kids, and the shots keep firing.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm not what'd you call an activist.
But when bloodshed occurs within eye shot of where you sleep,
you start to get a little irked.
These kids have as much potential as me, and twice as much grit.
Their teachers barely even know their names,
let alone what it's like to be deprived of privilege.
I'll stomp this concrete until my feet break.
This labyrinth is my constant reminder and reality check.
I am here, and you are there.
This connection is suspended on silver threads and I am your puppet.
Mold me into your angst driven dreamboat.
Because tomorrow, I'm just going to wake up here. **Tyler.
This soul has been folded seven times
and I grow tired of this reality.
There was a time when I could scream loud enough to wake the dead.
I guess I'm showing the symptoms
of an accidental child
with a tongue that only tastes art as bitter protest.
I'd tear my face off
to know if this is really getting through to you.
The face in the photo is that of the goat; the false idol and deceiver.
A Knight of Pentacles, selling you gold plated garbage.
You always feel like I have a secret to keep; my fist is in the air.
The most personal piece so far.
where Main intersects Main
you'll see the last living tissue
of a breathing bazaar.
They weighed down her chest with bricks and girders.
It's a wonder she breathes at all.
Wander too far in any direction
and you're sure to see the husks
of once proud and bustling businesses.
Abandoned sanctums of mortar and majesty.
Scars of the Midwest etched as constants in our mind.
Dusty and silent since the cradle.
The theaters are bedeviled with dolled up haunts
who just wandered over from Greenwood to catch the matinee.
Management still leaves the lights on for kicks after hours
to throw off their sleep schedules while they wait for the feature to start.
Up all night, sleep all day; they read by neon and slumber under Sol.
Here I am, left lounging in The Devil's Chair. Crickets keep quavering.
Underneath the Franklin Street overpass sleeps a family bound by naught.
They watch in dawn's light as the few pedestrian that traverse Cerro Gordo
advert their eyes as some sort of silent symbol of respect for their situation.
It's as if the very stare of a privileged man could drain 'til depleted.
They never ask for anything, they just wade it out and listen to
the cars overhead, the train-clock's trumpet, and the heartbeats in between.
Leaks are patched, potholes filled, and yet
we're still loosing blood; becoming beguiled.
So many stray cats in the civilian savanna,
aimlessly seeking names and second chances.
"This premises is under police video surveillance" -
hanging like ornaments from streetlamp poles.
Guarding the gates
of a dwindling dominion,
as the armies of Union and Grand
wait in their camps
for the rust to take hold
of her iron veins.
Turn your head to the right for the skyline to come into view. Rise and decay. Rise and decay.
Nebulous and Refined**
The castle is a chain-smoker.
The king wears a three piece suit.
And in the air, most everywhere
that scent just does not dilute.
A car lot filled with scribes and serfs
that assemble to deliver their willing tax.
They bump and argue for the closest view
of their Man-God on high: Glycine max.
Employment is down! Crime is up!
What if the factories all move away?
This town will surely shrivel and die!
That's what the soiled townsfolk say.
They humbly bow to their master's whim
but behind him they say much more.
Another Dead Man found Stale Lee in the vents.
Part I of VI. A tale of my hometown.
— The End —