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3d · 33
Ridiculous Eros aiming blindly,
This cold fortnight of the shorted month that leaps,
Your sonneteer--approaching unkindly--
Breaks into a fevered back beat yeah creeps
Her way beside a fiery  salsa step
By step, with some erosion of pursuit.
Apollo's got it bad for you,  can't help
His slipshod rhymes, cracked rhythms destitute.
If any more can ever yet be said,
Your golden arrows strike the syllable,
While lighting spikes inside the maker's head,
Induced contortions of the mandible.
Straight shooters miss the mark as oft as not.
Come let this winder take another shot.
For the northern lady, still displaced.
6d · 36
Gray Morning
No sight without the sun, which blinds
The close observer, melts the wings
Of anyone whose father finds
His labyrinth has need of strings
For sons and daughters sacrificed
On city streets and gravel roads,
Where pills & guns & powder's priced.
America the great reloads.
No mother's child can satisfy
This ancient need for blood and bones.
Beguiling lies that justify
This everlasting, cratered jones--
Give way to truth, in slanted rays,
Declaring beauty through this haze.
6d · 89
Gray Morning
Feb 8 · 42
Cold night spent needing
Something more than scribbled thoughts
Regarding April.
Feb 3 · 37
Man Overboard
You feel like you've escaped and then
It's back, that feeling that you've failed
At everything that matters when
The world and you have separate sailed.
Man overboard, call strike the mast.
Unwax your ears and hear the song;
Those sirens that you won't sail past.
Collapse your angel wings, go long.
Reclaim scorched ground in sanity,
Dismiss the cursed curriculum.
Host sacrilegious deity,
Liscentous offerings to come.
Axe whittle down your enemy;
Poseidon take a whiff on me.
Interesting kismet.  When I save Man Overboard to HePo, I get the confirmation
Man Overboard saved successfully.
Jan 31 · 36
Last Ditch
What seems important?  Now is not
The time nor here the place of sand--
Annealed, reconstituted thought--
Neck high, yet claiming one free hand,
Spent youth a mandala released
In ardent love songs and defeats,
Old sorrows that have scant decreased,
Poured out in lines with bagua beats.
Your frame and mine, the scarred remains,
Fragmented, somehow holding on,
Against the new, the older pains,
The resevoir turned now to stone.
Shanti, shanti, shanti my love,
Do not look back, don't glare above.
Jan 29 · 46
Against Ourselves
It shouldn't be this difficult
To find a way to love the good,
Pledge loyalty and not insult
Wind water fire and sacred wood.
Did language separate warm blood,
Get bent in efforts to control,
Leave children out to face the flood
Without the carpentry of old
Anticipating what will come,
Despite denier's profit schemes
That leave the offspring running from
The nightmare smacked upon their dreams?
Give love, give faith, give blood and hope,
Throw courage, strength and high test rope.
Jan 25 · 47
Native Tongue
I've learned this language better now,
Can hear each letter's tone of voice,
Who let me know I've sinned somehow,
Still leaving them without a choice,
Despite their subatomic strength,
That should be paired with more than mine,
And then expounded on at length,
As some apocalyptic sign,
When really I am less impressed,
Would trade them for another slate.
Not saying this tonight in jest,
They're insufficient, as of late.
Yet live with them and give them due--
Some nights they cast a lovely hue.
Jan 25 · 152
Her Song
She hears herself
When no one else is there, rehearsing
What sustains, intransitive
Awareness of an ancient ground, words
Lined and ploughed, bloodwatered,  humble sown
And harvested, now swallowed and recast,
Choked I am (one a.m.) bic pen,
Tam o' Shanter working through the darkness
Still surrounding mother earth.
Jan 24 · 46
Another 3 A.M.
Of course it's three a.m. again--
Time long encircled in the blues--
And grateful for the company
I pull out old shellacs;
Dinah, Eartha, Big Maybelle,
Then Tina, early blues with Ike
On a long playing record, songs by
Little Walter, Blues Boy King,
Songs Ginny used to sing
At juke joints in northwest Tennessee,
Before she made her way out west,
Vegas and L.A., when cheap scotch at midnight was enough.
And now, somehow, pure grain and Percocet
Have stopped her, some say accidentally.
Man trouble too,
Horn players with habits,
Car dealers and one evangelist,
Backslidden but believing,
Tapped now to speak well,
Ignore vices and regrets.
Jan 18 · 34
Walnut Shells
Step outside the wires
Some winter morning,
With your wool coat and hat,
Before the world has wakened,
When and where walnut shells,
Discarded by the clever nocturnals,
Dot the snowy sidewalk,
Along with occasional ****,
Small carcasses and cigarette filters.
Watch your breath and listen
To the city--small town, really--
As it sleeps.  The medicated night
Has disappeared, into the meditation
Of streetlamps and the few remaining stars.
Having found this place, decisions remain.
You can strip down everything outside you,
Make snow angels in the neighbor's
Yard--imagine her surprise should she
Awaken--and then compose these lines,
In what remains of darkness of the sky.
Jan 16 · 25
Endurance Test
As commoners endure the truth
Of calculations bent to fool
The innocent, this barker's booth
Conceals the reaper's tripart tool;
Religion, prejudice and shame,
Cruel conflict built on mockery,
A shallow huckster's facile fame,
Insipid, feckless trumpetry.
Some plainer spoken hope survives,
Green mountain wild bred patriot,
Dry powder of the children's lives,
Who see their future from a rut.
Moscovian chicanery.
Foot soldiers for democracy.
Jan 12 · 413
The American dream had wheels,
Wheelwrights heating rims to fit
Linseeded spokes,
Conestogas, prairie schooners,
Bicycles and trains,
Fords and Maseratis, Harley Earle Impalas,
Coal trucks, semis, interstates
That separate the morning.
Jan 3 · 20
Bare Ground
Bare ground gets soft in the cold rain,
Turning ankles and slowing work,
Freezing the overnight tracks
Of possum and raccoon, brushed in frost
For  the morning cattle feeding,
Before the school bus and lessons,
Drilled paddle of the principal,
Confessions of the miscreants.
Nothing more simple than the heart,
Which warms the lungs so breath is seen.
The hens don't peck, prefer bagged grain,
The steady work of laying eggs
That disappear with doorknobs in the nest.
What's the poet getting at?
Dec 2019 · 30
River City Kingdom
Bobby Copeland Dec 2019
Such elegance and opulence
Beneath this highway overpass,
Where rocks provide the sustenance,
As winter culls the underclass;
Gimcrackery of transients,
Guitars and spoons and mattresses.
Police come charged with striking tents.
You can't live here, the city says.
One level up, on 2nd Street,
Old cars and vans make living space
For down-and-outs who still compete,
And teach their kids to ask God's grace.
This kingdom come, of what's been done--
Earth daughter, mother, father, son.
Dec 2019 · 39
Bobby Copeland Dec 2019
Not surprising, really, that she
Never heard from Kevin, though he
Promised if he could he would keep
Calling, after his heart went still,
The inevitable outcome
The cardiologist assured
Them would be soon, maybe three months,
Maybe four.  He lasted seven.
She wore black for the first long year,
And listened close to everywhere
His voice might speak the slightest word,
Watched the fingerlings swim downstream
In the waters he used to fish,
As if one might turn back and look
At her with swift recognition,
Beside her in that icy stream.
Dec 2019 · 45
Bobby Copeland Dec 2019
What calling beckons long gone memories,
Those scattered prodigals, sad mother's son
And father's daughter, sailing troubled seas,
To fight upstream a washed out riverrun,
Convinced that something  not yet understood
Will recommend this fallen universe
Of wood and nails to shelter brotherhood,
Through mothers' tears and winter's harsh reverse,
Inspire another backwood symphony
Of blue and green?  Come over now and see.
Dec 2019 · 37
Old Words
Bobby Copeland Dec 2019
Somehow the words you whispered then
Seemed nothing worth remembering.
Not so the flavor of your skin,
Or how you set the phone to ring
At my house when he called your line
From jail to see if you were home,
While all the time you lay inclined
On feather pillow, mattress foam.
We borrowed time from userers,
Who claim their interest near the heart,
And reappear as raveners,
Insistent while the days grow short.
Would now those words could buy some time,
Spent here in this outdated rhyme.
Dec 2019 · 85
Wolf Moon
Bobby Copeland Dec 2019
Unless these clouds move out tonight,
There'll come no moon to wish upon,
No drawing down Diana's light
By bacchanalian devil's spawn--
The only sound  a cat's footsteps,
And our quick breath, almost unseen--
No other watcher here except
The wolf that winters here between
This woods and that one, biding time,
As lovers shiver, called outside,
Through sacred oak and profane pine,
Against the forest's darker side,
Now slanted on a recent fall,
Unfettered as this lupine call.
Dec 2019 · 44
Bobby Copeland Dec 2019
Wood cut in spring splits clean in December,
And though I've seen three score and should be tired
Of ending years, expiring decades and
Even one century I put to bed,
Should be tired of trees and tinsel,
Tired of tricks played on the children,
Tired most all of new beginnings,
Tired of poems I can't finish,
Long cold winter evenings, sleep
And dreams and anxious afternoons,
The platitudes come late to stay
Than invited,
Laughing at us unrepentant
Singers, dancers, lovers, saviours.
            Start.  Live.  Go.  Now.
Nov 2019 · 42
Uneven Feast
Bobby Copeland Nov 2019
A sawbuck won't go far these days,
Enough to get your sick off, not
Much more--a Chinese toy, 3 plays
At chances for the biggest ***.
Sometimes I'm happy still, a fool
Soft selling so much misery,
With platitudes of Sunday school
And politician's finery.
There's not enough when no one shares,
When blame is disproportionate,
And hungry voices strike deaf ears
That call the lost unfortunate,
That call compassion socialist,
And gall their name on heaven's list.
Nov 2019 · 34
Bobby Copeland Nov 2019
Nobody's heard much more than what's
In the paper and that's only
That Hill got killed by an off duty
Officer when somebody called in
Suspicious behavior and he was only
Half  a mile from his house, along
Hill road in the woods
And his sister said sure,
He was gacking,
But he didn't have no gun,
They didn't have to **** him.
I guess they're used to this
In Nashville, St. Louis, Cincinnati,
But here we know each other some,
And his sister says he wanted
To get straight but ****'s
A disease and Hill had it bad,
Had it from high school,
Through two tours in Iraq
And five years now since he came back,
Couldn't seem to hold a steady job
And started dealing it to pay the rent,
Sold grams and eight *****,
Coke or Ice,
Not smack and never packed
More than a knife since his felony,
Because he gave it to me, she says,
I've got his 9 and that's it,
He didn't have no gun.
So I tell her it isn't right
What happened and would like to say
Justice, etc., but
Seeing that's unlikely
And she knows it, I hold her head
On my shoulder
Because last night
They killed her brother.
Nov 2019 · 41
Bad Lie
Bobby Copeland Nov 2019
Unruly truth, your sharp array
Marks tossing lovers--hostages--
Gives aspiration to the clay,
Whose pornographic images
Come through the open basement door.
Fidelity, unreckoned thief
Of all the lies that promised more
Than visitations cloaked with grief,
Defy my moving hand tonight,
That's found the place where life comes in.
Reveal your ugly face and fight.
This thrusting pen comes jammed with sin.
Submersion couldn't call your bluff.
I'm done with this.  I've had enough.
Nov 2019 · 35
Not Recommended
Bobby Copeland Nov 2019
For nights you lie awake in bed,
A thousand miles away from sleep,
Still whispering inside your head
Some promise that you didn't keep,
Or else forgot you ever made,
These words are recommended less
Than paperbacks and lemonade,
Or magazines that dare confess
True stories with a shot or two
Of hookers trying hard to guess
Who's easy money coming through,
Or who needs more than sympathy,
Pays well for late night company.
Nov 2019 · 38
Still Mind
Bobby Copeland Nov 2019
Chattering squirrel, I beg you hear
This quiet sonnet plead your leave.
Yes, you and I count each sincere,
Refusing, Dylanesque, to grieve.
I offer you the whisky jar,
A hit of **** or mushroom caps.
Cold day is slanting into dark.
If I were younger, there'd be apps.
I couldn't write this, maybe you
Began it and I snagged this line.
What moves will drop, when time is due,
The snow, the leaves, your mind and mine.
No more space left for barking here,
Scorched words an antidote to fear.
Nov 2019 · 275
Bobby Copeland Nov 2019
What isn't here, not in these lines,
You have the right to see, and more
Than that, discover, touch
As it blooms.
Nov 2019 · 63
Seven Years
Bobby Copeland Nov 2019
Lee's dumbstruck seeing hung
Beneath the light
Her dress, a wig the color
Of her hair, her shoes--
The marionette he wanted.
He'd spent some time on this,
Had set the stage then texted
Please come get your ****,
Garage unlocked.

And  had he thought
Helena, by her now--too late
To shield her eyes--
Would understand such hate
At five years old?
"Is that you, mom?"
"I guess it is.  Your
Daddy's mad."

She held back tears, undressed
The doll except the hair,
Then cut it down while standing on
The set of steps he no doubt used
To raise it there
And dropped it in the trunk
Of her Toyota, unsure
What else to do with it,
Collected all the dross
She carried in for seven years,
Before and while things
Went to hell.
Oct 2019 · 54
House Music
Bobby Copeland Oct 2019
A madam in her house breeds fear,
Long list from halls of government.
Wild music flowers night its ear,
Played rough enough blue words come bent
From queens and jesters, jack and jill,
Buck dancing Appalachian child,
A delta path that winds uphill,
To Corinth, where the rocks lay piled.
Black Jesus clogs at Nellie's house,
Trades in his sandals, blesses feet
That dance in air while lancers joust
On what were never quite white sheets.
Some unwashed sinner sheds her skin,
Makes men of boys and boys of men.
Oct 2019 · 116
Old Truck
Bobby Copeland Oct 2019
Downhill on a cool morning
With a fresh cut load
Of logs for the mill
The brakes went out
On the old truck
With its nonredundant lines.
No stopping it my father
Double clutched and geared down,
Steered across a road ditch
Deep enough to bounce us
High above the seat,
While I in childish innocence believed
He knew what to do,
And he did, as well as anyone could
Under the circumstances.
The chains and come-a-longs
And standards held, tires didn't
Burst, and we made our way
Slowly to the mill yard, unloaded
On the ground and spent the afternoon
Soldering that breached brake line,
Refilling it with fluid and bleeding it.
Oct 2019 · 72
Her Keys
Bobby Copeland Oct 2019
She's kept so many keys, cut long
Ago to doors and boxes, locks
On gates and diaries, on wrong
Or bad directions, wind-up clocks
Long stopped and not remembered well,
That maybe should be thrown away,
Though skeletons will sometimes sell
In sidewalk sales on judgement day.
Increasingly, the future's picked
From options found along the road--
Reaffirmation, habits kicked,
A heart that bears a heavy load.
Kind words prove yet her greatest spell,
Her keys cast in the wishing well.
Oct 2019 · 144
Bobby Copeland Oct 2019
I once knew a girl from Kentucky,
Whose husband would not let her f**k me.
He landed in jail,
And could not make bail.
Now all of my friends call me lucky.
Sep 2019 · 59
Bobby Copeland Sep 2019
The rain this morning falling strange,
Unheard for weeks while grasses browned,
At first unrecognized then changed
To gratitude that heaven frowned
And cried again on broken land,
Healed cracks and succoured trees and vines.
Would that were true of everyman
And woman born in these hard times,
Observant where the seed will drop,
Terrain that takes good faith to sow,
That generations may not stop,
That rain will come and ice will hold
Our struggling sons and daughters,
Who cleanse the heavens with their tears.
Sep 2019 · 66
Morning Frost
Bobby Copeland Sep 2019
Fall mornings, he believes, will show
The way back, stretched from afternoon
Above midday, an hour now
And then another, three more soon,
Arrested from the night and laid
Upon his plate with nothing more
Than coffee, toast and marmalade.
Resisting what he used to score.
The afternoon could use a source,
Some meditative carousel
To mitigate the old remorse
Of what has not worked out too well,
And what will come, familiar fright,
His long acquaintance with the night.
Sep 2019 · 63
Unfettered Blues
Bobby Copeland Sep 2019
All colors and their absence mourn--
White page, black pen design the mind.
Bare bodies blow Gabe's copper horn.
They leave a twisted trail behind.
What's left unwrit is lionspeak,
Transcripted worse than poetry
Encaged in shops that smell and creak
From correlated symmetry.
Unbending letters, cold steel rails
Truss up irrelevant decrees,
But broken grammar jams and flails
From supplicants on what were knees
Aa ee ii o u
Come hear what's lost, spit out in blue.
Sep 2019 · 65
Bad News
Bobby Copeland Sep 2019
The news is not good news today--
Hide from the wind and run from rain,
A boat on fire, gut sick gun play.
All told, a litany of pain,
And I, perhaps I should feel worse,
Should give anxiety its due,
The medications being cursed.
And yet the sky outside is blue.
I claim no sense of innocence,
While holed up here--a sonneteer,
With lit incense and cupiscence
For that woke fear this craft can't queer,
This horrorshow, this pixeled glow--
Trade winds that blow where words won't go.
Sep 2019 · 91
Slow Dance
Bobby Copeland Sep 2019
Supreme Court ****, supremacy.
Recession.  Constitutional
Embarrassment and lunacy,
A beast whose belly's never full.
Broke minds have given up on love,
Our bodies scarcely understand,
Wish something, somewhere--up above?
Could mastermind a better plan.
This oldschool wordplay broken down
Can't dance in darkness, or hot sun,
While bullets tear through white and brown.
We've overdosed, the children run.
And what can any human do?
Socratic poet asking you...
Aug 2019 · 69
Our Sport
Bobby Copeland Aug 2019
I think we know the way it goes,
Stray bullets in the moonlit night--
Football East Louis, Illinois--
Take life from good girl only eight.
A pawnshop gun, a deal gone bad,
Unanswered prayers, unfinished life,
Uncertain hopelessness gets fed
To those who somehow just survive.
Which way is this, untouchable?
Defender of the sacrosanct,
Red blood of Jesus, god man child
Spilled out on grass beside white paint.
Our sport is shooting children now.
Swing low, sweet chariot, swing low.
Aug 2019 · 79
Bobby Copeland Aug 2019
Only we raised crosses,
Gallows poles, ever spiked
The heads of enemies
Along the road to Rome,
Quartered our
Kind--horses being driven
Without understanding--
Ever made slaves a stock-in-trade,
Built cages for refugees
From places worse than here
In class distinction,
Worse leaders--imagine--
Than our own.
Breathe deeply and continue,
While in the place incomprehensible
Another slaughter,
Then another,
And who would give himself that
Name?  Reaper?  Personification
Of the inhumane, political.
A sleepless nation, terrorized
By lies and accusations,
Fear of swarthy siblings,
Ishmael, El Paso.
Pens and pencils, paper, crayons.
New shoes.  Notebooks.  Erasers
Left on the tile battlefield.
Jul 2019 · 85
Bobby Copeland Jul 2019
To love so well is rarely known--
Incomprehensible but true,
This thing that you and I have grown,
That everyday comes out for view.
Surviving while the others fell,
This linkage has the strength of steel,
And when there's nothing left to tell,
Still how we lived was oddly real--
No grand illusion in the sky,
No better place than by your side,
No understanding by and by,
No chariot or train to ride.
Yes, you comprise my paradise--
Let heaven weigh the sacrifice.
Jul 2019 · 77
Bobby Copeland Jul 2019
It's academic, as they say,
These evocations lingering,
As I and I remold the clay,
A bold offensive, stolen ring
Of Adam, Eve and human vice,
Exposed in rhythm on the grass.
Cascading willows, wind and spice,
The reaper makes his steady pass.
Cassandra sang, Ophelia too--
Good words are always hard to find,
Yet somewhere must remain a clue,
A still, small voice that says be kind.
Our final words go etched in stone,
And in the end we sing alone.
Jun 2019 · 99
Empty Cage
Bobby Copeland Jun 2019
She stares outside the open gate,
Convinced she can't pass through it still,
And leave the world she's learned to hate.
Perhaps she'll eat another pill.
Scorched character has settled fate,
Has undermined her sovereign will.
The cost of freedom set too high--
She loves her gold too much to try.

The hungry ghost, tight-lipped and sere,
Stores up the treasures that corrupt,
Refuses love and succors fear,
Finds living always too abrupt.
I've said it slanted, but today
The cage is empty anyway.
Jun 2019 · 139
Bobby Copeland Jun 2019
We've outdone Father Abraham
In sacrificing girls and boys;
Along the border, in the wars
That serve no cause but oligarchs,
Who reassign the deity,
Call Moloch to America,
With powder, pills and poverty,
While celebrating liberty.

Don't fault the peasants, red or blue,
Whose votes have been corrected by
The players in the party rooms.
The unwashed--unbrushed teeth on edge-
Come out of hell for processing,
Discover yet another ring.
Jun 2019 · 106
Solstice 80 Syracuse
Bobby Copeland Jun 2019
A pack of earnest individuals
Turned up at Tom's apartment for the wake;
Concupiscent philosophers intent
On explicating Wittgenstein and Kant,
And English post docs stuck somewhere in Joyce--
The river running through the lion's mouth--
A few of us on LSD, and Ron,
Blonde hair and chiseled, wistful midwest face,
Old granite in his rusted pickup bed,
Palimpsest still just traceable as Hall,
With d. and 18 something underneath,
Processing uphill in the cold dark night
To footsteps of the Hall of Languages,
Long climb of concrete steps, and parked his truck.
We clambered over sides and carried
That rock a little more than halfway up
Those daunting stairs that Delmore climbed in angst,
And Carver, breathing hard, in mourning for
America, romantic Reagan just
Elected president and my black dog,
As snow began to fall, just settling in.
Jun 2019 · 200
Moving Day
Bobby Copeland Jun 2019
Pompeo says just relocate,
Don't fret about the climate change,
The ice and fires that rearrange--
At any rate it's much too late.

Pompeii saw fire come raining down,
The melted earth run through the streets.
But we have new technologies--
They've parked the rockets outside town.
Jun 2019 · 64
Bobby Copeland Jun 2019
The darkness in a country spreads,
Collects more space and settles in,
Asphyxiating kith and kin--
Kids slogging through the latest meds.

We deserve some affirmation,
Brighter rhythms, smiling faces,
Love & peace among all races--
Make again a grateful nation.
Jun 2019 · 220
Love Letter
Bobby Copeland Jun 2019
I've been through Webster's book and none of this
Is good enough to understand your love,
Which held me close against the wide abyss--
Not cast below or rising up above,
Mortality the cost of tasting bliss,
Eternal mourning of a peace-blue dove.
Your touch is more than I and I deserve;
Your soul is where the goddess finds her nerve.
May 2019 · 83
Bobby Copeland May 2019
She's got a new coat, rabbit fur,
She found marked down in mid July
In a strip mall consignment store.
She's wearing it at work tonight.
A new layer, first to come off
As she dances in bright, hot lights.
Washingtons, Lincolns and Jackson
Collect on a string drunks tug on.

At home she's got a girl and boy,
Who wait with grandma while she works,
Expecting she'll arrive with toys,
And bar food served with plastic forks.
It's Friday night, no school tomorrow.
She packs them in and starts the car.
May 2019 · 102
What Worth in Words
Bobby Copeland May 2019
The world's abandoned us and left
Us reeling from its own devices,
Separating smaller slices,
Cold servers calculating theft,
Corrupting every sacred craft.
Women punished for their choices.
Hungry children got no voices.
Let's have a war, without the draft.
What worth in words the poet wrote,
Old gods could show us how to live?
Bad questions linger, bodies float.
Who knew the earth could cease to give?
I leave this ragged, tortured note.
And from this pen, I'll forge a shiv.
May 2019 · 88
Absent Lover
Bobby Copeland May 2019
The fortune teller's twisted heads
See past the time you might have stayed,
And how we might have made our beds.
Did you have need to be betrayed,
Forsake your soul and take your meds?
Confess the way you've been afraid.
Who's with you isn't where you've gone.
He's with you now, you're still alone.

I've no great fleet to sail you home,
Though you are ever beautiful,
As Helen with her careful comb.
Call yesterday your interval,
Give me your scent of summer rain.
We'll face the future, heal the pain.
May 2019 · 78
Body Work
Bobby Copeland May 2019
Smoky used to sell pills and write poems,
Had to make a living somehow, payments
For a disabled mind, combat ruined,
Being less than the cost of rent and food,
So he sold his prescriptions and then some,
A little bit of grass as well, and shrooms
He raised in a little closet, lived with
Two mutts that barked at every driveway tire.

He sold his El Camino, bought it back
Wrecked and hammered out the damage at night
In an old friend's shop on Bondo alley,
Turning down the **** observers offered,
Then lay down in its shallow bed, alone,
In a closed garage, with the motor on.
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