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CK Baker Jan 2017
cedar planks line the dim lit hall
morning snow begins to fall
sepia print in a chipped wood frame
embers spark from the franklin flame

rustling sounds from bunks below
records play in a tight alcove
bacon grills on an iron sheet
gloves are warmed by baseboard heat

bean bags tossed on colored ****
papka placed as a punching bag
red brick wall with mounted poles
windows filled with glacier bowls

whiskey jack on the southern rail
a frozen patch of wine and ale
pine cones fall in gathering white
brothers bathed in firelight

sleighs are on the table top
canyon road is at a stop
northern winds that bite the face
lines are up the gondola base

cornice clipped by gully goats
the rubber man appears to float
alpine depths are on the rise
peaking sun through parting skies

triple ropes and nordic luge
honored guests from baton rouge
gelande jumps on rainbow drive
nostalgia’s light and warm reply
spysgrandson Mar 2012
Goodbye Charlie, Hello Vietnam.

Nineteen. I was ten and nine. Two A.M. Landed in some muggy, putrid place. Between honor and complete disgrace. Smelled like that for sure.  Issued tools of our trade. Heard the true sound of “rockets red glare”. Had us hunkering in bunkers all night. ******* in our helmets. Holding our ears. ****, the first night. Welcome to Vee-et-nam.

Morning. Sunshine and quiet. Except the rap from old timers. “Newbies“. New jungle fatigues. Newbies. New M-16. Clean boots. All day the old timers, telling each other how these newbies had their cherry popped. First night in country and the biggest *** mortar attack they had ever seen. Heard. Heard, I said. Yeah. What newbie? Now you have heard the real rockets’ red glare. That’s what you heard, Newbie.

I get it. Newbies are ****. We are **** and they aren’t going to waste a breath telling us anything. Watch. Watch and learn. I hope. Lines. Lines to get our teeth rinsed with fluoride. Lines. To chow. To get more shots. To in country orientation. Lines. Memorize lines. Lines to get ammo. Lines to get orders.

No line at the outhouse. Gray three seater. Heat roasting our ****. Old timer kicked the planks before he sat down beside me in the stench. I asked the question but only with my eyes. Kick the planks before you sit down so rats won’t bite your ***** off. Kick the planks to scare off the rats. Rats. The size of possum. Not an exaggeration. Possum rats. Rat possums. Who the hell knew? Just kick the planks. Save your *****.

More lines. Then darkness. Then more booms. Not incoming. Our own. 1-5-5s. Learn the difference newbie so you don’t crap your drawers for nothing. That’s the boys in that artillery firebase keeping Charlie awake for the night. Returning the favor. Charlie. Sounds like a name you would call someone who was a buddy doesn’t it? Charlie. Victor Charlie. V C. ***** Charlie. **** Charlie. Charlie this and Charlie that. Oh, Charlie would eat that rat.

My first duty. Guarding Charlie. Prisoner with leg blown off at the knee in our clean smelling dispensary. Hands strapped to bed rails. MP and I assigned night shift. Keep each other awake . Looked at Charlie. Charlie looked at me. Smirk. Then spit. Landed on my boot. My newbie boot. Not a newbie boot anymore. Charlie squirms. Spits again and misses. MP gets up and threatens to bash Charlie in Charlie’s little head. Medic comes and gives squirming, smirking, spitting Charlie shot of good drugs. Charlie doesn’t spit on medic. Charlie gets drowsy. I get drowsy. MP falls asleep. I stand up. Newbie afraid to fall asleep on guard duty. I wake the MP before shift change. Charlie is up. Smirk, smirk. Thus spoke Charlie. The only conversation I ever had with Charlie.

Medic says Charlie getting on a bird to someplace. Can’t remember where. Anyplace.   Charlie leaving and me staying. Ain’t that a hoot--all it cost him was a boot. Envy is a word I learned that day. Cost him part of a leg medic says when I tell him I wish I was Charlie just then. Had heard tales about people shooting off their toes to get out of the ‘nam. “**** tales” I would call them, since I heard so many in those gray crappers. Rats. Possum rats and your *****. ***** or a limb? Did I really want to be him? I don’t really remember. I didn’t want to be there--somewhere between honor and complete disgrace. Bye Charlie. Hello Vietnam.
mostly true story from a while ago--the only short story I have posted here
patty m Nov 2017
Sharp evening birds shadow the sun
setting across the water;
in dreams the ocean
comes to full river.
Many times we've climbed this bridge
weeds changing the color of the water,
stirring glints of conversation
the uplift in the veins
beating a flight to autumn.

I hear your string of broken bird call
raucous and wild
as years turn it to echo;
Startling paleness
a reverie of winter's chill
how boneless is bird flight.
the solace of wings.
                    
Now there is only one
                                      where once there were two.  

          clipped wings
          the imprint of fossils
          the rain's guilty tones
          smearing the dirt

Planks wobble,
                            set as they are
                                                    haphazard­, uneven.

Now there's a blur of impressions,
                                  the nonsensical strings in a litany of sound
                                                           ­                                 
Today,
. . . reflecting on  you,
I walk this bridge alone, touching air no one else can see,
                 one step at a time,
                                           learning to be ME.
first step

when he looks at a woman he searches for qualities that attract him because he wants to desire her yet this tendency creates an imbalance or disadvantage he is rendered weak to a woman’s beauty or whatever traits he idealizes self-realizing this propensity he looks away from women years of disappointment neglect change him he becomes afraid of women gynophobic

2

when she looks at a man she searches for qualities she is critical of because she wants to be impervious to his power she is suspicious of all men their upper body strength penchant to be in control misperception of women as property misogyny emotional immaturity neediness to be mommyed selfishness insensitivity or over-sensitivity depending she wants to be treated with equal respect a loving nurturing relationship she is suspicious of all people their alternate realities passive aggressive behavior co-dependence craziness

3

he sees her then looks away she suspiciously notices nothing happens they go back to their separate homes alone always home alone grown calm in resignation yet disbelieving of this destiny saddened by this fate both worry about future she looks at her face naked body in mirror her stomach churns feels sad sickening remembers time when she was more carefree he puts one foot in front of other then walks tries to remember who taught him to walk how many times did he fall who taught him to laugh where did his sense of humor go

4

he sees her thinks she is lovely resists the urge to turn away he smiles says hello she notices nervously smiles her shaky voice articulates louder than a whisper hi

Tucson 2-step

they are standing in line at a café on 4th avenue he is directly behind her she is lanky wearing white background faded colors patterned summer dress thin straps over bare shoulders long brown hair few gray strands small unfinished tattoo on left calf leather slip-ons 1 inch heals he is at a complete loss for words thinks to make remark about the weather decides not to overhead fan stirs hot humid July air barista girl asks what she would like her eyes scan blackboard menu behind counter she hesitates remarks help him i need an extra moment to decide he steps up to counter money in hand orders small to go Arnold Palmer half black current lays $3 on counter mentions change goes in tip jar thank you barista girl moves fast he lifts cup from counter glances at woman still deciding then at barista girl says have a wonderful day turns walks out door dawns on him woman grows hair under her arms his 2nd most compelling female physique adornment fetish oh god he thinks to himself should i wait for her to make up her mind then approach try to craft conversation at least find out her name no i’m too weak in this moment she is so lovely let her go

2

she orders double Americana in small cup to go room for soy milk thinks to herself he did greet her perhaps their paths will cross on street why did he run off so fast she glances toward front of café notices window seat changes her mind instructs barista ******* 2nd thought make it for here digs through purse realizes she left wallet in truck explains to barista girl she needs to run out to her vehicle to retrieve wallet forgotten under front seat the air on the street is heavy dense she smells her own perspiration looks north then south does not see him walks to truck feels exhausted appetiteless almost nauseous wishes she did not order a drink thinks to get behind wheel drive home go to sleep

Tucson 3-step tango

she feels disappointment by her recent writings as if she is reaching a more sophisticated audience and setting a higher standard for her work yet she is not living up to her ambitions her recent writings smell of her past writings too emotional the damaged woman wounded child she wants to write more introspectively with detached humor that only comes from keener intelligence she slams her laptop shut decides to go to Club Congress for a ****** mary or margarita but Club Congress is haunted with small town cretins losers wannabes she considers Maynard’s decides Maynard’s is too safe suburban yuppyish finally gives in to thought of glass of pinot noir at Plush next comes what to wear jeans in mid-July desert heat is unacceptable perhaps loose fitting thin cotton white summer dress thin leather belt ankle high indian moccasins hair in ponytail no pigtail braids no ponytail no makeup maybe little ylang ylang oil no she thinks about her recent writings

2

i am one breath away from crying in every moment one breath away from flying m.i.a. in every moment one breath away from destroying everything there is beauty in ugliness beauty in decrepitude disease beauty in harm hurt suffering beauty in greed injustice betrayal beauty in corruption contamination pollution beauty in hate cruelty ignorance beauty in death we spend our whole lives searching for a good death we spend our whole lives searching for eternal love this modern world is too much for me over my head the horrors of this place are beyond words unspeakable voice inside maybe mom yells quit your whining or dad hollers stop complaining i am trying to smile through tears one breath away from giving in one breath away from becoming stranger to myself winter spring winter spring there is beauty in nothingness we spend our whole lives searching for ourselves learning who we are not finding grasping secrets from dark paths light trails winter spring winter spring i am one breath away

3

she sits alone at bar at Plush glass of pinot noir glass of ice water in front of her 2 bearded older men eye her from other end of bar she ignores them glances at her wristwatch tries to look like she is waiting for someone music from speakers antiquated rock standard it is early friday hours from dusk moderate middle aged crowd mingle wait for local jazz trio to begin she thinks about her recent writings wonders is it too late for love considers lesbian affair from 5 different perspectives 5 woman’s voices each describing same lesbian affair in 5 opposing accounts hmmm she sips dark red wine from glass chases it with ice water she considers a story about a gang of female bikers who ride south to Mexico

4

the Americans came through here last night crossing border illegally climbing over our fences digging tunnels beneath our barrier walls littering along their trail they travel in packs of every skin color carry guns knives explosives wear leather boots some are shirtless tattoos dyed hair mischievously smiling conceitedly stealing when in question murdering they rob our homes slaughter our chickens ransack gardens loot our harvest you can still smell the stink of their fast food breaths

5

she swallows the last dark red wine from glass chases it with ice water local jazz trio begins to play as bar fills with more people she decides to walk home one foot in front of other wonders who taught her how to walk how many times did she fall she laughs to herself

Tucson square dance

TPD 10-18 unconfirmed data report

7 post-University of Arizona female graduates go to Cactus Moon for several drinks and dancing then drive to Bashful Bandit for more drinks and dancing 2 women get into scuffle victim Brittany Garner female 23 years of age race #5 (Native American, Eskimo, Middle -Eastern, Other) 5’ 2” long black hair cut-off blue jean shorts clingy light blue top falls hits head on side of bar dies of fatal blow to skull forensics report crushed occipital lobe assailant Stacy Won female 31 years of age race #4 (Asian) 5’6” black jeans black leather jacket red helmet Honda motorcycle still at large

witness accounts

Jess Delaney female 33 years of age race #2 (White) 6’ tight black pencil skirt white sleeveless undershirt no bra 3” heels blond ponytail “that squirting little **** deserves everything she got she lied told Stacy i’m a ***** i never cheated on Brittany i don’t understand we were all having a good time getting buzzed and dancing we should never have left Cactus Moon **** Kerrie thought some biker dude might be hanging around the Bandit hell maybe the Bandit was a biker bar once but now it’s just a college sink hole full of drunken frat boys when Monique flashed a little *** they went crazy cheering and buying us shots it just got out of hand never should have happened the way it happened Stacy didn’t mean to **** Brittany it’s ****** up i want to go home please let me go home”

Sabrina Starn female 29 years of age race #2 (White) 5’8” trendy corporate gray suit black pumps red shoulder length hair “i have to be at work at 8 AM Stacy was drunk out of control she gets crazy when she drinks Brittany was trash talking pushing all Stacy’s buttons then Stacy accused Brittany of sleeping with Monique and all hell broke loose i didn’t see what happened i was in the powder room it’s a terrible tragedy unfortunate accident can i please be released i need to sleep this is madness”

Kerrie Angeles female 27 years of age race #1 (Hispanic) 5’ 6” black pants white shirt black hair cut stylishly short silver crucifix around neck red fingernails “when we got to the Bashful Bandit i was ***** soaking between my legs thinking about a cowgirl at Cactus Moon ready to **** anyone i saw fantasized pulling a train with those frat boys Monique had been kind of quiet at Cactus Moon but when we got to the Bashful Bandit she lit up dancing wild unbuttoning her top jacket Sabrina went to the ladies room to snort coke with biker dude Kerrie wanted but he wasn’t into her then Brittany started saying crazy stuff accusing Stacy of stealing Monique from Jess Jessie goes through women heartlessly she doesn’t give a **** about Monique Jessie knows if she wants Monique back she can simply fiddle a finger my guess is Stacy is half way to Argentina she never meant to **** Brittany i’m going to miss her real bad she was a good kid”

Ann Skyler female 28 years of age race  #2 (White) 4’ 11’’ green white red Mexican peasant skirt black t-shirt black high-tops hair in messy bun “i’m confused i saw them dancing laughing grinding up against each other Rage Against the Machine came on then Nine Inch Nails the room felt quaking dizzy claustrophobic then they were pushing each other shoving yelling frat boys cheering the next thing i knew Brittany was supine on the floor blood pouring out maybe she just slipped hit her head i don’t know what to think i feel real sad confused sick to my stomach scared”

Monique Smithson female 24 years of age race # 3 (Black) 5’ 9” blue jeans jean jacket cowboy boots nose ring braided pigtails “Stacy had it in for Brittany from the start i saw it in her eyes at Cactus Moon she made several clever toxic remarks they snapped at each other i never thought it would escalate to ****** poor sweet Brittany was always so susceptible i was looking down adjusting my jeans over my boots when it happened i heard felt a big thump glanced up Brittany was lying there lifeless blood spilling everywhere Stacy ran out fast i heard her bike engine take off in a hurry”

Rodeo Drive Tucson

matt’s hats tom’s tools & tobacco lou’s liquors fred’s beds frank’s planks bill’s drills jane’s drains & panes chuck’s check cashing cheryl’s barrels hank’s tanks tina’s trucks & tractors walt’s asphalt sean’s pawn rick’s rifles mom’s guns terry’s tires charlie’s harleys rhonda’s hondas jim’s rims art’s parts gus’s gasoline mike’s bikes frank’s feed gwen’s pens ann’s cans nancy’s nursery joes‘s clothes jess’s dresses bert’s skirts steve’s sleeves paul’s shawls michelle’s shells & bells al’s pails & snails sam’s hams & jams patty’s pancakes phil’s chili don’s donuts betty’s spaghetti bob’s burgers alycia’s quiches jean’s beans jerry’s berries anna’s bananas andy’s candies cathy’s taffies tony’s ponies roy’s toys kim’s whims marty’s parties jill’s pills rick’s tricks alice’s palace debbie’s disposal dave’s graves

Quinta Waltz de Tucson

she is definitely displeased profoundly disappointed in her latest literary efforts she dreams aches to create deeper discourse higher insight more thoughtful philosophical inquiries about life’s challenges beauty a better world overpowering love inspiration instead she writes paperback television trash stupid inadequate answers to solemn questions she wonders if she is too scratched dented to find love her ******* are definitely changing she is deeply disturbed not ready for menopause too young for menopause she wants to remain a fertile woman with smooth skin wet ******

2

her neighbor Leslie awoke to horrible morning Leslie’s 6 chickens were assaulted overnight precious Mabel dragged off feathers everywhere trail down the street other hens cowering slumped together with wilted necks 3 of them with puncture wounds Leslie carried them one by one inside washed their wounds hugged them cried who did this terrible act a neglected abusive neighborhood cat or some desert predator why didn’t Leslie wake to sounds of savage marauding now this creature knows hen’s whereabouts when will it return for more massacre what modifications need to be enforced to ensure their coup before nightfall

3

she wants to remain a hen keep producing eggs does not want is not ready to enter the next **** stage of this **** existence it was fun being pretty for men inspiring them to say do whacky things she wants to remain a hen she is definitely displeased profoundly disappointed in her latest literary attempts “Tucson square dance” (self-referential) ****** bit about Americans came through here last night in “Tucson 3-step” ****** "Rodeo Drive" tepid perhaps the pinot noir lowered her standards everything is becoming nothing she cannot sleep tosses turns thrashes sheets in humid heat of her lonesome bed is she is too scratched dented to find love she worries for Leslie

4

tomorrow is another day they say the rain will come last year’s monsoon never came the baking sun smothered her garden died one by one sleepless she will miss tomorrow’s pilates class the infrequent delightful chatty breakfast afterwards she dreams aches of deeper discourse higher insight with detached humor that only comes from keener intelligence more thoughtful philosophical inquiries about life’s challenges beauty a better world overpowering love inspiration she crossed the line tonight her ******* are definitely changing

Tucson 666

he decides to shave eighth to quarter inch length salt and pepper beard a.k.a. unshaven look he has worn for years and grow full mustache the whiskers on his upper lip are darker with sparse gray at first no one notices after weeks the mustache gradually fills evoking many contrasting remarks several women loath it several men admire it girl at grocery store suggests he grow Fu Manchu so she can tug on it shopgirl says he looks like Charlie Chaplin downstairs neighbor from Turkey explains most Turkish men traditionally wear mustaches he read mustaches masculinize and empower men especially men in authoritative positions he thinks back to the 1960’s when many hippie males grew mustaches then in the 70’s gay men fashioned mustaches then in the 80’s cops adopted mustaches he wonders why a swatch of hair beneath nose is so provoking examines his visage in mirror discerns the mustache confers a Pepé le Pew quality or European accent to his appearance he remembers when he was young hippie with many amorous episodes how his mustache preserved the scent of a woman but there are no women in his life for many years do post-menopausal women possess scent? he feels indecisive whether to retain it or be rid of it

2

she observes her figure in mirror thinks to herself maybe her ******* are not changing perhaps it’s all in her head she inspects the little lines forming near her eyelids studies her features for signs of aging hardly any silver strands in long brown hair she examines neck ******* arms elbows fingers tummy hips pelvic region thighs knees shins calves ankles feet detects subtle changes thinks to herself my ******* are possibly slightly changing turned 40 in March married briefly in late teens no children a 15 year old dog beginning to suffer veterinarian promises to warn her when the time comes she wonders why it is so difficult finding fitting mate men sleep with her several times then move on maybe she is not such a great lover perhaps she would be better if one of them stuck around perhaps she is a lesbian the whole ide
Wade Redfearn Sep 2018
The first settlers to the area called the Lumber River Drowning Creek. The river got its name for its dark, swift-moving waters. In 1809, the North Carolina state legislature changed the name of Drowning Creek to the Lumber River. The headwaters are still referred to as Drowning Creek.

Three p.m. on a Sunday.
Anxiously hungry, I stay dry, out of the pool’s cold water,
taking the light, dripping into my pages.
A city with a white face blank as a bust
peers over my shoulder.
Wildflowers on the roads. Planes circle from west,
come down steeply and out of sight.
A pinkness rises in my breast and arms:
wet as the drowned, my eyes sting with sweat.
Over the useless chimneys a bank of cloud piles up.
There is something terrible in the sky, but it keeps breaking.
Another is dead. Fentanyl. Sister of a friend, rarely seen.
A hand reaches everywhere to pass over eyes and mouths.
A glowing wound opens in heaven.
A mirror out of doors draws a gyre of oak seeds no one watches,
in the clear pool now sunless and black as a cypress swamp.

Bitter water freezes the muscles and I am far from shore.
I paddle in the shallows, near the wooden jail.
The water reflects a taut rope,
feet hanging in the breeze singing mercy
at the site of the last public hanging in the state.
A part-white fugitive with an extorted confession,
loved by the poor, dumb enough to get himself captured,
lonely on this side of authority: a world he has never lived in
foisting itself on the world he has -
only now, to steal his drunken life, then gone again.

1871 - Henderson Oxendine, one of the notorious gang of outlaws who for some time have infested Robeson County, N. C., committing ****** and robbery, and otherwise setting defiance to the laws, was hung at Lumberton, on Friday last in the presence of a large assemblage. His execution took place a very few days after his conviction, and his death occurred almost without a struggle.

Today, the town square collapses as if scorched
by the whiskey he drank that morning to still himself,
folds itself up like Amazing Grace is finished.
A plinth is laid
in the shadow of his feet, sticky with pine,
here where the water sickens with roots.
Where the canoe overturned. Where the broken oar floated and fell.
Where the snake lives, and teethes on bark,
waiting for another uncle.

Where the tobacco waves near drying barns rusted like horseshoes
and cotton studs the ground like the cropped hair of the buried.
Where schoolchildren take the afternoon
to trim the kudzu growing between the bodies of slaves.
Where appetite is met with flood and fat
and a clinic for the heart.
Where barges took chips of tar to port,
for money that no one ever saw.

Tar sticks the heel but isn’t courage.
Tar seals the hulls -
binds the planks -
builds the road.
Tar, fiery on the tongue, heavy as bad blood in the family -
dead to glue the dead together to secure the living.
Tar on the roofs, pouring heat.
Tar is a dark brown or black viscous liquid of hydrocarbons and free carbon,
obtained from a wide variety of organic materials
through destructive distillation.
Tar in the lungs will one day go as hard as a five-cent candy.

Liberty Food Mart
Cheapest Prices on Cigarettes
Parliament $22.50/carton
Marlboro $27.50/carton

The white-bibbed slaughterhouse Hmong hunch down the steps
of an old school bus with no air conditioner,
rush into the cool of the supermarket.
They pick clean the vegetables, flee with woven bags bulging.
What were they promised?
Air conditioning.
And what did they receive?
Chickenshit on the wind; a dead river they can't understand
with a name it gained from killing.

Truth:
A man was flung onto a fencepost and died in a front yard down the street.
A girl with a grudge in her eyes slipped a razorblade from her teeth and ended recess.
I once saw an Indian murdered for stealing a twelve-foot ladder.
The red line indicating heart disease grows higher and higher.
The red line indicating cardiovascular mortality grows higher and higher.
The red line indicating motor vehicle deaths grows higher and higher.
I burn with the desire to leave.

The stories make us full baskets of dark. No death troubles me.
Not the girl's blood, inert, tickled by opiates,
not the masked arson of the law;
not the smell of drywall as it rots,
or the door of the safe falling from its hinges,
or the chassis of cars, airborne over the rise by the planetarium,
three classmates plunging wide-eyed in the river’s icy arc –
absent from prom, still struggling to free themselves from their seatbelts -
the gunsmoke at the home invasion,
the tenement bisected by flood,
the cattle lowing, gelded
by agriculture students on a field trip.

The air contains skin and mud.
The galvanized barns, long empty, cough up
their dust of rotten feed, dry tobacco.
Men kneel in the tilled rows,
to pick up nails off the ground
still splashed with the blood of their makers.

You Never Sausage a Place
(You’re Always a ****** at Pedro’s!)
South of the Border – Fireworks, Motel & Rides
Exit 9: 10mi.

Drunkards in Dickies will tell you the roads are straight enough
that the drive home will not bend away from them.
Look in the woods to see by lamplight
two girls filling each other's mouths with smoke.
Hear a friendly command:
boys loosening a tire, stuck in the gut of a dog.
Turn on the radio between towns of two thousand
and hear the tiny voice of an AM preacher,
sharing the airwaves of country dark
with some chords plucked from a guitar.
Taste this water thick with tannin
and tell me that trees do not feel pain.
I would be a mausoleum for these thousands
if I only had the room.

I sealed myself against the flood.
Bodies knock against my eaves:
a clutch of cats drowned in a crawlspace,
an old woman bereft with a vase of pennies,
her dead son in her living room costumed as the black Jesus,
the ***** oil of a Chinese restaurant
dancing on top of black water.
A flow gauge spins its tin wheel
endlessly above the bloated dead,
and I will pretend not to be sick at dinner.

Misery now, a struggle ahead for Robeson County after flooding from Hurricane Matthew
LUMBERTON
After years of things leaving Robeson County – manufacturing plants, jobs, payrolls, people – something finally came in, and what was it but more misery?

I said a prayer to the city:
make me a figure in a figure,
solvent, owed and owing.
Take my jute sacks of wristbones,
my sheaves and sheaves of fealty,
the smell of the forest from my feet.
Weigh me only by my purse.
A slim woman with a college degree,
a rented room without the black wings
of palmetto roaches fleeing the damp:
I saw the calm white towers and subscribed.
No ingrate, I saved a space for the lost.
They filled it once, twice, and kept on,
eating greasy flesh straight from the bone,
craning their heads to ask a prayer for them instead.

Downtown later in the easy dark,
three college boys in foam cowboy hats shout in poor Spanish.
They press into the night and the night presses into them.
They will go home when they have to.
Under the bridge lit in violet,
a folding chair is draped in a ***** blanket.
A grubby pair of tennis shoes lay beneath, no feet inside.
Iced tea seeps from a chewed cup.
I pass a bar lit like Christmas.
A mute and pretty face full of indoor light
makes a promise I see through a window.
I pay obscene rents to find out if it is true,
in this nation tied together with gallows-rope,
thumbing its codex of virtues.
Considering this just recently got rejected and I'm free to publish it, and also considering that the town this poem describes is subject once again to a deluge whose damage promises to be worse than before, it seemed like a suitable time to post it. If you've enjoyed it, please think about making a small donation to the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund at the URL below:
https://governor.nc.gov/donate-florence-recovery
Arlo Disarray Jul 2015
would you hand me a match?
I've got another bridge to burn
while I'm standing on the rotting planks
above the sea

where the waves are made up
of my enemies
and they are ready to churn
up my bones
into dust

and then eventually nothing

while the sharks
complain that they
didn't get to devour me



could you please pass the milk?
I need its creamy contents
to carelessly be spilt
so I may cry again
without good reason

and quake and shake
the earth and the sky
until it shatters

while jagged pieces fall
trying to decapitate me
like the blade
of a guillotine

will somebody please send me a sign
that there is more light in this world
than can be taken in by the eye?

No?
I'm not surprised
but thanks for trying to deceive
beyond my eyes

it takes more than faith
to press my thoughts
until they're flat
and none of you
have what it takes
NitaAnn Aug 2014
I didn't have a lot of choices growing up.
Not unless you count the way I wanted him.  

Painful or excruciating.

I didn't have much power either.  
No amount of prayers, wishing, hoping, begging would change his mind.  

Not to say that I didn't try though.

I have a difficult time conveying just how strong my memories and flashbacks are.  I appear calm and collected to the passerby.  I have to.  But peer into my soul and you will see the claw marks of my pain. Scraping their way down into a collective pool of boundless grief and torment log jammed by the planks of fear and shame.

I long to turn myself inside out and bare my rotting scars.  To have someone besides myself witness what bubbles to the surface just long enough to be squelched again.  Power and a choice.  That is what I beg to find within those murky waters.

A choice to change.  
A choice to pull the planks and let the stagnant flow.

The power to persevere.  
The power to put them in their rightful place.  
Forever.
Bryce Aug 2018
A normal kind of guy
Just the guy
No cosmologist
Sans Christian
******* the droplet suns
Distant in the blackened sky

Gotta 'and'er some
The bristled gristle
The cryogenic iris
Steel teeth gnashing
Right-toe left
Ardent in an autobiography

Good man
Soft man

Locomoted his GMC
to the Sea
Thought maybe
With precise aim he
could undertow away
paradise.

No pick-me-ups
In copper-channels
That Ionized the pick-up-truck
With archaea iron
that ugly duck
Reminiscent of the man
In all but--

A castaway
Stowaway
The man who never hesitates
Bop upon the interstate
Lost within
concritical maze

Shoring up
Going home
Giving up
Turned to stone
Marble chin
Solumn grin
Chlidren sing
Seeking wings
How'd he know
Where to go
Will he see
What it means?

He's the guy
The one with the lollipop lap
Licking the syrup off the lip
Of a sweet polished sapphire
Gin
And the kids
My god
They think he
ODYSSEUS
And his dog not yet
Dead but depressive in the gloom
Howling into the midnight grass
And the creatures that stalk
With their ******* youth

Soon their weight will hit the deck
And like a noose,
Break the joints
The planks of which would stress
And bend his eyes upon his head.

God willing
Should he be exhumed
His energies excape to the river
And float,
Penultimate,
into the sea.
Nick Strong Aug 2015
Rising from the sand at low tide,
The shipwreck’s spars, brown wet, decaying
Reaching like skeletal fingers, grasping
For one last piece of the breaking daylight
Tentacles of seaweed, woven
Wrapped around decaying planks
Anchoring it firmly
To Davy Jones’ Locker
Barnacle encrusted planks
Lie twisted, turned, unnatural
Frozen in a final plea of mercy
Before white tipped monsters
Crashed across the bow,
Splitting,  tearing masts
Sending it to the murky depths
Written after viewing a ships carcass beneath the waves
Juhlhaus Mar 2019
From where the bridge was, after the first plunge
Soothed the sunburnt skin and the hay-splinters
Loosed the straw stuck in ears
After I left you under the porch light
I stood alone on the other side of the night
Where poplars reached for the moon and stars
And the cows chewed on bits of memory from when
In the cobwebs and calf pens
They were brought to life by your gentle hands

You crossed two worlds to find me in the darkness
But I was not the one you were searching for
You prayed for miracles while
God stood by, arms crossed
Taking in the sunset and the clouds
Like an old tree beside a grave carefully fenced
To keep it disheveled amid tended fields
Thus the cancer had its way and I could not
Fill the void left in your heart or mine

With no more tears to soften dry leather
I put both our hearts on skewers and held them
Over the bridge's burning planks
Too close and they were immolated
Not carefully spun to stay golden and warm inside
So I packed my hollow heart full of nothing
Filled the passenger seat, until
There was only room for me and the steering wheel
And no way to turn
Coop Lee Jul 2014
in the year 2462 those with nails protruding from their palms
will talk in ancient tongues
& sway the tribes of men to eternal love,
& endless ammunition
of the soul.

spiritus.
kin, galactic
& the golden fire.
throb the saga of man,
into hip ****** illusions and combustive color schematas.
we bury our dead in flower clippings
or skull bits.

        [skateboarding rises as the highest form of intellectual sport]

thrum and plum-*** the sewers of electric babylon.
hive city reaching past gasp and wasteland,
her lips ruinous.
cement slabs and coils of fault with
vast artistic possibilities.
these skate-lords from their heaps, their clans, augmenting
& rattling bone masks
grinding themselves into meat-bit heroics
& death.
their teeth are yellowy awoken.

this is all seen globally,
via tele-cast-com-core-mind-warp-tech.
or video.

dreams impact reality
impact dreams
in such
that the cathode cortex filter, invented circa 2222,
evolves into a demi-god, a solar charged demon of unlimited knowledge.
& it mutates the psychosphere  of our mainstream public mind
with countless projected memories.
        [streamed alternate realities]
fills the belly and the brain,
but all those unhooked are skating.
sweet meat market.
ghost harddrives.

poor leftovers called children of the once-was-men
& their poolside parties.
they leap the rubble of centuries old plastic icons,
their boards, their weapons, their seeds and spit.
they hang chains from their necks
& spew black flame from their sunshaded boot-click
lickings.
they drink from large bottlesof elixer distilled
on old flowers
& worship archaic cassettes.

cults of cyborg women with gem-tipped-blade-additions
carve wooden planks from
groves of great oaks.
great oaken powers.
their creators chew gummies and bend time
to uphold
a proposed history of perfection.
they master pong from their crystalline towers,
& hire mathematicians to write
conceptual skate-deck algorithms,
solely for fun.
non-profit.
CK Baker Jan 2017
Under the old house
cast in conglomerate mix
the cataract window
and cracked sill
broken joists
and cross beams
wringer wash
and saddle set

A draw string light
brings life
to the corner bench
fowler toads
and fingerlings
jitter bugs
and dazzy vance
dirt planks filled
with mason
crown classics

Buggy whip
and whippletree
shelved on the
chopboard
tackle and mucks
stacked at the back
horseshoe and jack rod
bend the pike pole
a sawhorse placed
for the Martindale push

Gallon jars
and growlers
prepped
for the taking
ropes and reins
for transport
and fest
goggle eye
jumps the flyer
setting up nicely
for the
Haldimand town fair
All winter the fire devoured everything --
tear-stained elegies, old letters, diaries, dead flowers.
When April finally arrived,
I opened the woodstove one last time
and shoveled the remains of those long cold nights
into a bucket, ash rising
through shafts of sunlight,
as swirling in bright, angelic eddies.
I shoveled out the charred end of an oak log,
black and pointed like a pencil;
half-burnt pages
sacrificed
in the making of poems;
old, square handmade nails
liberated from weathered planks
split for kindling.
I buried my hands in the bucket,
found the nails, lifted them,
the phoenix of my right hand
shielded with soot and tar,
my left hand shrouded in soft white ash --
nails in both fists like forged lightning.
I smeared black lines on my face,
drew crosses on my chest with the nails,
raised my arms and stomped my feet,
dancing in honor of spring
and rebirth, dancing
in honor of winter and death.
I hauled the heavy bucket to the garden,
spread ashes over the ground,
asked the earth to be good.
I gave the earth everything
that pulled me through the lonely winter --
oak trees, barns, poems.
I picked up my shovel
and turned hard, gray dirt,
the blade splitting winter
from spring.  With *** and rake,
I cultivated soil,
tilling row after row,
the earth now loose and black.
Tearing seed packets with my teeth,
I sowed spinach with my right hand,
planted petunias with my left.
Lifting clumps of dirt,
I crumbled them in my fists,
loving each dark letter that fell from my fingers.
And when I carried my empty bucket to the lake for water,
a few last ashes rose into spring-morning air,
ash drifting over fields
dew-covered
and lightly dusted green.
Robert C Howard Aug 2013
A bridge is a curious thing to cover.
mile after mile of naked road -
then a wooden box over stream or ravine.

Why not cover the road instead
leaving the bridge unclothed?
But where's the charm in that, you say?  

So perhaps it was fashioned for Currier and Ives
or to embellish the music
of iron shod hooves on oaken planks.

Or maybe was built as a kiosk
for fading feed and carnival posters
and jackknife glyphs of amorous initials.

No, all our covered bridges, imagined or real,
guide our passage over deadly waters -
holding us fast on the road
and safe from drowning.  

*March,  2007
Included in Unity Tree - Collected poems
pub. CreateSpace - Amazon.com
For James Weldon Johnson**


the clock fast approaching
an appointed midnight click
it was time to punch in
for my avocational shift

we sauntered up creaky steps
of the old weathered rectory
its planks loose, its bricks chipped,
the gabled roof still leaking

a CDC on the outer verge
leaning over a bankrupt precipice
catastrophic failure predicted
from chronic cash flow distresses

we’ve  been on the ropes
since doors swung open
to fulfill a sacred mission,
25 years in the hood
keepin the devil in remission

a young ED with firebrand cred
emerged from a cubicle partition
his erudition and abundant zeal
would save many from perdition

he commenced his brief
in the entrance hall
laid out maps of the Silk City
articulating a canvasse plan
bereft of fear and blithe pity

he stood ***** announcing
the surety of his calling
handsome face and balding spire
lent a stern presence of authority

The PIT a Point In Time
Homeless Census annual review,
to root out and count the heads
of the lost and out of view

from Bed Stuy to Boston
Baltimore and DC
San Antone, Windy City Frisco
vols be countin to see

what happening with
America’s homeless folks
who, what, how they got there;
what can we do to help them
besides a hot, a cot and a prayer

last week in January  
in cities all over the nation
missioners fan out  to uncover
the most lowly of station

we’ll discover and recover
lost lambs and prodigal sons
we’ll find street walk daughters
falling through cracks
and criminals on the run

some junkies and crack pied pipers
be yodelling sickness, death and fear
mental illness, castaway children
may licit sorrowful tears

like gnats strained
through the gaping
holes in failing
social safety nets
this night is about
good shepherds
gone forth with no regrets

this mission
is most important
to our agency as well

each head you count
every calf you cull
the coffers of the
agency will grow

program grants are tied
to an index of misery
our streets give ample evidence
of an abundant presence in this city

no poverty pimps
work harder to improve
the blighted human condition
the quality of our work
speaks for itself
its no liberal sedition

we got a dog in the fight
that's undoubtedly true
tending to add an urgency
to the critical work we do

our shelter, food pantry
and job training programs
keep jumpers off the ledge
we attempt to arrest fallers
its the agency’s solemn pledge

for what profit a man
if he inherits the earth
and finds only strife
and devastation?;
community development
our diligent charge
workin hard to build
a better nation

so as your
caravansaries
cross the city’s
food deserts

to search the oases
of supermercados
surreal revelations
may manifest a few
midnight bizarros

E 18th St bonito bodegas
where long shot scratch offs
and stale coconut macaroons
staples of community sustainability
the hoped for lift from poverty soon

busy parsing the three squares
bagged in paper thin brown balsa
cool ranch dorito, a teriyaki slim jim
frothy Colt quart to chase
the winkin sip of dog hair gin

that's where this
story begins...

yes beloved
the road is wide
the gate is narrow
for the many prodigals
off the path living
a life of shadows

they're out there
trudging
making a way
through the  gloom
hoping to be given
one more day

sojourning on
trying to get back
to the ***** of love
searching for the room
lit with light from above

take courage beloved
know that Jesus walks
the streets with you tonight

he’ll be your
present helper
as you mine
the dank waste
of the desolate
factory shells
the post industrial
monuments to the
expended labor of
six dead generations
now squatter
encampments
for urban nomads
moving through
the sarcophagi of
a nations
wasted labor

remember
afterall, we are
all fallen people
hurtling downward
into torn safety nets
slipping into the
tattered threads of
a handy hangman's
noose

who among us
has not fallen
through yesterdays
best expired dream?
waking to find yourself
in a midnight
nightmare scream

we'll catch them
round em up
as their falling
to build em up
lost sheep knows the
voice of the masters calling

Jesus will
walk before you
as you enter the
closed parks
were swings
of life fly
high and low
merry go rounds
zip by like a terrible
carousel that won't stop
to let you go

and may the
Good Deliverer
guard you as
you descend
into the screaming
rooms of
condemned
crack dens

here the fallen
angel finds comfort
in the resounding
chorus of misery
woefully regretted

Lucifer eloquently
hums beguiling
holy smoke tunes
to his doleful
acolytes sadly
lamenting
bluesy
blue
blues

you are the
Good Shepherds
leading the lost
back through
the gate

tell the beloved prodigal
children that the good
news of salvation
patiently awaits

we lucked out
its warm tonight
for the past few years
its snowed

heres a clipboard
filled with questions to ask
a box of supplies for lost sheep
and a yellow plastic poncho
so the cops know
you're one of God's own


Mary Lou Williams
Black Christ of the Andes
Praise the Lord

Paterson
1/30/13
jbm
Part 2 of extended poem Silk City PIT.  PIT is an acronym for Point In Time.  PIT is an annual census American cities conduct to count the homeless population.  The Silk City is a nickname for Paterson NJ.  An ED is an acronym for Executive Director.  A CDC is an acronym for Community Development Corporation, a non-profit agency that provides development services to urban communities.  James Weldon Johnson is an African American poet.  This piece is written in a style and manner of God's Trombones.
Sukanya Basu Jan 2013
I haven't thought about the fellow water waves
Flowing on a distant land in every step
The white foam, the blue face
Wipes away the sin of every ship
The pirates resting on wooden planks
Drinking *** and fish
Neither do they think of rusty slaves
Wearing torn and ***** rags
An also wearing sweat with every work
That they do not do on their wish
'land ahoy'! is all they say
And do not scold themselves for mistake
Yet keeps and eye on every slave.....
Even if they drop and apple
Or rumble a word in the food table
The pirates hold them for slay
And on and on sparkling knives
Cuts through rough skin
Being blood in disguise
Flows from wooden planks to the sea.....
And yet the sun has been a sign of hope
For, every traveller had to cope
To meet the land of treasures
Sun defines brightest light
Every happy kid flies a kite
And smile shows instead of fight
It has been known forever
Yet why is it that during sunrise and sunset
I see darkness brushing the trees
For injustice meet meets happiness
Where death meets hope in horizon
Is only when the sun meets the sea
Kung walked
        by the dynastic temple
and into the cedar grove,
        and then out by the lower river,
And with him Khieu Tchi
        and Tian the low speaking
And “we are unknown,” said Kung,
“You will take up charioteering?
        “Then you will become known,
“Or perhaps I should take up charioterring, or archery?
“Or the practice of public speaking?”
And Tseu-lou said, “I would put the defences in order,”
And Khieu said, “If I were lord of a province
“I would put it in better order than this is.”
And Tchi said, “I would prefer a small mountain temple,
“With order in the observances,
        with a suitable performance of the ritual,”
And Tian said, with his hand on the strings of his lute
The low sounds continuing
        after his hand left the strings,
And the sound went up like smoke, under the leaves,
And he looked after the sound:
        “The old swimming hole,
“And the boys flopping off the planks,
“Or sitting in the underbrush playing mandolins.”
        And Kung smiled upon all of them equally.
And Thseng-sie desired to know:
        “Which had answered correctly?”
And Kung said, “They have all answered correctly,
“That is to say, each in his nature.”
And Kung raised his cane against Yuan Jang,
        Yuan Jang being his elder,
For Yuan Jang sat by the roadside pretending to
        be receiving wisdom.
And Kung said
        “You old fool, come out of it,
“Get up and do something useful.”
        And Kung said
“Respect a child’s faculties
“From the moment it inhales the clear air,
“But a man of fifty who knows nothng
        Is worthy of no respect.”
And “When the prince has gathered about him
“All the savants and artists, his riches will be fully employed.”
And Kung said, and wrote on the bo leaves:
        If a man have not order within him
He can not spread order about him;
And if a man have not order within him
His family will not act with due order;
        And if the prince have not order within him
He can not put order in his dominions.
And Kung gave the words “order”
and “brotherly deference”
And said nothing of the “life after death.”
And he said
        “Anyone can run to excesses,
“It is easy to shoot past the mark,
“It is hard to stand firm in the middle.”

And they said: If a man commit ******
        Should his father protect him, and hide him?
And Kung said:
        He should hide him.

And Kung gave his daughter to Kong-Tchang
        Although Kong-Tchang was in prison.
And he gave his niece to Nan-Young
        although Nan-Young was out of office.
And Kung said “Wan ruled with moderation,
        “In his day the State was well kept,
“And even I can remember
“A day when the historians left blanks in their writings,
“I mean, for things they didn’t know,
“But that time seems to be passing.
A day when the historians left blanks in their writings,
But that time seems to be passing.”
And Kung said, “Without character you will
        “be unable to play on that instrument
“Or to execute the music fit for the Odes.
“The blossoms of the apricot
        “blow from the east to the west,
“And I have tried to keep them from falling.”
Zach Gomes Feb 2010
I have grown used to
or at least numb to this way of living.
The rain drips through the ivy above,
hitting against the grey planks.
No water lands on my skin;
I am sprawled across the parallel lines of planks in the wooden floor.

I call this the ‘sun grotto’
because of the sundial,
now dark with rainwater,
standing in the circular clearing in the hedges
in front of the entrance to my gazebo.

Today might be a day in October.  And,
since the first drop fell,
I’ve been waiting under the grotto
for what feels like hours—
I haven’t been into the maze at all today;
the darkness on the hedges mirrors
the shadows that line the clouds.

I see no point in moving
from the grotto today, and while I wait for the rain
to pass, I remember
my first day here, a few summers ago—

The humidity at noon under
a liquid sun,
a girl in a rose-colored dress,
our August trip to the hedge maze in the neighboring county,
the laugh she gave as she trotted away:
“let’s get lost in the maze—
come and get me!”
the last I heard of her,
and a glimpse of red cloth rounding the edge
of a wall in the maze,
the last I saw.

We had felt so much excitement
and fear
pressing further through the winding paths
decorated here and there with
fountains, gardens,
idyllic cherub statues,
and the grottoes
which I now use as sleeping places
and—like today—
as cover from the rain
which pours here so often.

The downpour recedes
allowing me at least the chance to walk
through the maze to one of
the tulip gardens.

Not today of course,
but there are days when I hear
the soft laughter of children, friends, and lovers
echo somewhere in the maze—only
a few lanes of manicured green separating me
from them.  Days like those
are difficult to bear.

One day, not too many weeks ago,
I heard those sounds and I smiled;
but it came as a shock to hear
the patter of a pair of running feet, so clearly just around
the clean-cut corner of the hedge I was using for shade.
It was the first—the only—time I had heard a sound in the maze
this close, close enough to see and touch—
through the pinhole gaps in the foliage-wall
I saw a burst of color, like clothing.
I shot around the corner, I glimpsed the flicker
of pale red cloth flagging
behind the form that had slid
into another path through the maze.

The chase had failed
well before I had taken my first wild steps,
hitting the well-tread path hard
with desperate feet.  I yelled like a drunkard.
Later, I noticed the cuts on my fingers and neck,
sliced into the skin as I flung myself through
one wall of green and skid against the next.

Today’s shower is completely over.
I walk myself through the maze, and
avoid the shallow lakes that have formed
in the dips
in the paths, beaten firm by thousands of trampling feet.
Under the sparse autumn light
I collect flowers from one of the many small squares of garden
which I have come to know so well.
With a clump of black
and white tulips in my hands,
I look for a place to ****.
Life here is difficult in the winters.
st64 Sep 2013
collector of iron and all things metal
carried without slightest lament
by
beautiful brown-and-white nag with overflowing mane
clip-clops up and down
every road there is
and even beyond



1.
little doubt exists
of fine ingenuity
of said collector
who wastes no moment nor chance
to scour every luck’s platform
with sharp intuition and assiduous eyes
          an old stove with absent racks
          a precious copper geyser gutted with no fittings
          pine-planks discarded due to skew-cuts
          aluminium pipes abandoned with twisted ends
          old screws with rusty whorls from an recently bucket-kicked geezer’s garage
          parts of a car . . . an ****** gearbox and ancient exhausts
heaps of junk and piles of crap clang on cart
a veritable dump in some eyes but those of
the cool collector who takes all the sweepings in gracious stride
cast-off penalties and chaffs of society’s unwanted

2.
once a week on Saturdays
these wares are parked near the parking lot
for all to approach
to see
a fine spread of legend and lore
     bric-à-brac and books to browse
so many things of interest
     magazines and manuals with miscellany-topics under the sun
     hipflasks of silver and clear-cut carafes
     unused greeting-cards with dressed-up paper-dolls
     rare literature well-thumbed with care
and things you’d sure chuck out
mechanical entrails and shiny things
yet
quite a spectacle to behold
costing a joke but for you
a fraction of today's ha'penny

3.
nobody knows why the quiet collector takes the time of day
to re-inforce that fixture-presence
a kindly soul with half-smile always flirting round the lips
and greets with old-century warmth o'er book-edge, markedly a poem-spine
walking closer to peep curiosity around
relaxed eyes let one be
          no compulsive sales-talk
          no eager-****** hopping
just sitting back in deep hiker’s green fold-up chair
easy posture and half-drooped eyes with soft drink close at hand

4.
the collector really watches all who pass
     who go by on their daily trails with rituals oft unchanged
     who fuss ever-plaintive over facetious deets like school-tasks
as they return their books long overdue while whistling smasher-hit tunes (never to be heard)
     who rush to catch an ever-noisy taxi with their own raucous guards
     who help heaving housewives cursing under breath climb on board
as their groceries groan and nearly drop from overladen plastic bags
     who ignore for now with studious intent the hobos on the pavement there
     who beg lost coins for empty-belly from the tattered purses in bosoms
while others cry out impatient at peripheral nuisances
     who act as indiscreet ‘car-guards’ ostensibly guarding cars, even with folk in it

yes, he watches
and observes with keen eyes yet never obvious
even those who saunter by
with pondering glance and walking stick
even as years have graciously touched their brow
he sees them *tut-tut
the ******* on the wall
like stray-dogs in a pound

5.
once in an often while
this collector who loves a rediscovered hypothesis
to explore the myriad facets of humanity
does an odd turn now and then
when walking to the toilet at the local library
which has parked itself adjacent to this lot
drops a twenty-buck note near the side
and soon joyful sees the utter surprise
when tired high-school kids with sullen backpacks
do a double-take
espy their luck . . . whoo-hoo, look!
their gloomy cloaks of learning plain melts
they take off sure-footed and lighter of heart
and repair to the fish-and-chips shop
they share their vinegary ***** in a finger-licking circle
and amity strong-cemented in a cool memory
that they’d recall with fondness many years later
at their 20th school-reunion
and as grand-dads visiting a dying pal

pangs of hunger satisfied
and
not only by them


next time
that note will be dropped in the park nearby
where effete winos sleep their lives away
     who ken much and give not a care
     a kind long not recognised
educated derelicts debate on war-merits and erstwhile musicians play melodic arpeggios
sitting in the gentle arbour-shade of mutual acceptance
with chess-mad players
working out strategy in rapt blade-moves
which belie and scorn the forgotten titles to their name
along with Ph.D to boot

6.
when night-time hails - all grows still again
and settles, though just for a nibble of time
it’s pack-up time
the listening collector hears the owl-hoot’s call
and knows the time has come to rest a bit
     for when the morrow dawns
     all neatly packaged in a brand-new gift called day
it’s back on the road again
to observe once more
with trusted nag in tow
clip-clop . . . clip-CLOP

7.
and the collector is the one
the housewives invite with alacrity to Xmas-lunch
the taxi-drivers offer gifts of goodwill
the school-kids give their chips and last treats
the vagrants seek out to share a ciggie and sympa-chat
the grown men visit for esoteric slim-tomes and philosophical advice
the shopkeepers welcome reassuring presence of

yes, this quiet collector
is the inadvertent guest
to shores of the lonely
the too-busy and life-ridden folk
who seek a sweet smile
just once in a while
in a world
where compassion is not justified by its deep-touches of poverty





no fruitless labour
in one who sees little detriment
but senses the full value of
every item’s moment in vanilla-time
while trying always
to catch
the finest one can be



supreme harvest, indeed
yes :)
love . . . love . . . love . . .





S T, 1 September
Happy Spring Day!
And . . . er . . . catch some sun-rays . . . while ye can :)



Sub – entry : 'empty chairs'

Songwriter: Don McLean


I feel the trembling tingle of a sleepless night
Creep through my fingers and the moon is bright
Beams of blue come flickering through my window pane
Like gypsy moths that dance around a candle flame

And I wonder if you know
That I never understood
That although you said you'd go
Until you did I never thought you would

Moonlight used to bathe the contours of your face
While chestnut hair fell all around the pillow case
And the fragrance of your flowers rest beneath my head
A sympathy bouquet left with the love that's dead

And I wonder if you know
That I never understood
That although you said you'd go
Until you did I never thought you would

Never thought the words you said were true
Never thought you said just what you meant
Never knew how much I needed you
Never thought you'd leave, until you went

Morning comes and morning goes with no regret
And evening brings the memories I can't forget
Empty rooms that echo as I climb the stairs
And empty clothes that drape and fall on empty chairs

And I wonder if you know
That I never understood
That although you said you'd go
Until you did I never thought you would



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwzHlyVRc9o
Heather Valvano Jun 2015
The ship is sinking
I'm just a passenger
The crew have gone crazy
They've known all along
about the holes in the hold
I could jump ship
to avoid disaster
Welcome the ocean's icy folds

The ship is sinking
I'm just a witness
breathing in this fantastic funeral to the abyss
They let the rats aboard
to ravage the planks like a lover's hungry kiss
All they know is the greedy hoard
But
You lose it all when you sacrifice the ship
cher Aug 2018
acting on a stage,
she builds with each step,
step,
    step,
        stepping,
the floorboards trail behind her feet.
they form from the soil,
the earth breathing beneath,
wooden planks sprouting between her toes.

she sings in a voice strained and trained,
her diaphragm strong and core
rumbling in single breaths.

her skin brushed with pigment,
cheeks tinted rouge and lips scrubbed till pain,
gold-dusted on her bones
rays reflecting and blinding from her beauty.

stomach she ***** in,
twenty-four
seven,
always prim and proper,
a perfect specimen of femininity,
her blood flows in a viscosity unique
only to the elite.

fingers down
but she lacks words to throw up,
she's silent,
an empty vessel,
her lips meant to be a two-way gate
but nothing flows either way.

her skin sunkissed turmeric,
her irises tapioca pearls,
hair flowing and falling from her face
toasted nori on the white rice her dress.

daily rehearsals of sixteen
odd years practicing lines;
memorizing them, repeating internally,
the stage she builds like a church
her loves oppose to the act,
but she builds an antidisestablishment
forcing her audience of parishioners
away from her.
[ T R I G G E R    W A R N I N G ]
my friend challenged me to use the words viscosity and antidisestablishmentarianism and so i made this boi
When a metaphysical Venus flytrap
blindsides the honeycombpound eyed
sense of security I've falsified;
when the knowledge of good & evil is ratheripe;

when contiguous backgarden of young guns
mix solar with Stella & I can hear from here
scruburb hubbub, my hothouse muse sick at their
Asbo airrifle house anthems;

when I've been spat out like a pip again,
& nursery taunts of my bullies Johnny & Tommy
- who dibsed Bill & Ben,  which pilloried me
'Little ****'  - are flashback thicket evergreen;

when local calumny of all my complaints
wins blacklisting,  thus alone, I can't cajole
or goad my thriving today:  a fool
for the sun, I go to her in her element.

In her greenhouse grown from garnered discarded
gardengates, writtenoff windscreens, woodworm tough
junk planks, other ****** clutter, freecycle stuff.
Maybe what the fairies  flytipt, shed sheds.

& as her silver hatter, tinfoilconed garden
gnome, I say it with godwottery
& fleurs bleues of drosometric poetry.
Fecund in seconds at so gorgeous a groundswoman,

compared to whom Charlie Dimmock's
a pyrrhotic hummock. I need to feel
her greenfingernailed hands that heal
petals upon me. Even dogsmuck

has its day in the sun (faecal factoid:
contemporary canine squelchtraps for shoes
no longer dessicate a canescent hue,
because of low calcium content in tinned

dogsmuck for our best friend's biting end).
But may those hands which craft crutches for
crocuses scratch out my roots, pooper-
scoop summer stinkers I grew from. She tends

to sheltered seedlings, soon to spam 'ead
the ceiling of her slipshod shed, even
before 'Bunny H. Greenhouse' is interjection
wellsaid. & when transplanted, repotted

they'll nip new zeppelins in the bud
in a beanstalking blink, like a safetypin
in a  zit! Her garden's always plopping
antigrav aureate  H.Dumpties, sunnysideup

drive of saplings & seedlings, for golden
egg plants be all flora to my floraphile.
Not strict drips she feeds to daffodils,
dahlias, daffodahlia hybreeds - they're sodden!

O Edwina Wateringcanhands!
Also my Mrs. Mellors, at whom a herm
shoots up overgrown, aherm.
Eden is a garden of reproductive glands.

Her hyponychium frowns
with flowers' bedding,
but the **** needs weeding
that brings my flower down.

Far more than the Maggie (not numb P45)
Thatcher of flower power, Frey hersilt,
Gardener Girlf put da spurt inta expert
teasing o' da e'rt. Induviae

of a concrete straitjacket, please be pleached
til dead arms o' malacophilous heart  reach
her greenfingered kind of golden touch,
much more precious than any old Midas touch.
Nathan Burgess May 2014
Seagull on rotting planks, bouy bells ding to fog and driftwood.
A culling fire exploits the docking shire.
Filled with chlorine shards, legs caught in the clap-traps.
Friar palms glisten,
Rage responds with frisson.
Clear view over water.
Feel your arms relax and slip onto your back while the culling fire attacks.
Bulbous deadening brain chimes
As the eyes slide down to your omission crimes.
Leave me alone in my despondent company.
Don't push the matter further let communication fail to nurture.
A warm breeze carries me
like a floating portrait towards unreal scented meats.
I'm here now, alone in the corner,
The greatest intimacy with the static patterns on the carpeted flooring. The king of this corner is the odor of plank seating and flowery detergent in this lonely corridor fluorescent light-bulb poles and old grain floorboards.
Now the returning shards of panic to uncelibate strangers drive me up, far, deep in my own ribcage to something wholly non-organic.
Time to clock-in, time to check out.
Alexander Klein Jun 2016
Indigo. A dream of the color, and the sound of soft rain. Bathing birds babbled among pines beyond her window, and morning light was warm on her closed face. An ache in the spine. Creaking knees. Shoulders cold cliff-rock. Complaining muscles knotted tight as wood. The wooden house around her also creaked in the wind. Smelled wet. And somewhere echoing through her fields Edgar barked three times, then once more in playful affirmation. Today maybe the last today. In her mind’s eye, falling almost back into dream, Nora surveyed the long acres surrounding her cold home: untended wheat, alfalfa, cattle-corn, all woven through untold ecosystems of weeds. Stray indigo flowers and violets. Scattered dust-filled barns. What the place might look like after all this time. With her right hand she sought the frame of the bed, found it, rough chips of paint flaking. Slowly exhaling at once Nora lifted her iron legs over the edge, thin-socked feet found the bedroom’s planks. Cold air. November hopelessness. With spider-sensitive fingers she plucked her way around the room, imagining violet dawn spilling through her screen window. Stood before the poker-faced mirror out of habit, ran her brush through hair that must now be silver. She felt the satisfying tug on her scalp and loudly past her ears. If her dresser was in front of her, to her right was the window and the pine-scented boxes where she kept his clothes, behind was her rumpled bed, and to her left then was the bathroom. She felt along the door-frame, the sink, the toilet, and sighingly she settled onto its seat. Relief.
Rain drops on her roof were like the “shh” breathed to an infant. Warm blanket of rain over the cold farm. The breathy wind was driving the rain towards her house, cranky knees told of a storm to come. The boisterous wind had the sound of laughter and strife, of voices: the twins arguing somewhere, Edgar probably with them over-enthusiasticly ******* their footsteps. The bellowing wind made the house creak more than usual, but there was something else. A distinctive groan from the foundation up the east wall to the roof-tiles. Someone was in the kitchen. Constance, just like it used to be. Connie was here and the twins were outside: they had arrived closer to dawn than Nora expected. Heavy truck’s tires in mud, headlights had pioneered dawn darkness. Smell of soil. Massaged her own back, kneaded the the flesh on either side of her spine, then wiped and stood from the seat letting her nightgown fall all down around her knotted ankles. Washed herself, and a short shower before the water turned cold. Dried her wrinkles feelingly, smelling soap, and pulled her soft nightgown back on. Socks.
Always a joy whenever Constance came to call — less frequently these days it seemed — always a joy to be with her grandchildren though little Bastian was still mistrustful of her. Always a joy to see her daughter’s family… but she never got to see Matt’s. An image of her son’s face, a red haired ghost of the past, flickered in Nora’s memory. He couldn’t stand this place since he was young, hated his full name “Matthias,” maybe hated Nora too. No reason to stay after his father died. He fled to the city. Must have a wife, several children by now. Well. At least Constance kept coming by. The rain grew heavier, played on the roof like the roll of a snare drum.
Out of the bathroom and bedroom, feeling the planks of floorboard with her soles, hand by hand and foot by foot she traced her steps down the rickety stairs. Uneven. Nora knew the chandelier she once hung here was red; she pictured the color as hard as she could to envision its reflection on each surface of the stairwell. Smell of pine. Like the smell of his clothes safely preserved in the boxes by the window. Jagged nostalgia. Nora had met dear Rowan back in another world: a world of whirling sights and colors and beautiful ugliness and ugliest beauty all. To America when she was nineteen, leaving behind all Germany and studying her new tongue. Had still devoured books then, was able to become a school teacher. When twenty-three, met in a chance cafe Rowan who worked the docks. Red hair. Scottish but of many American generations. Nora grabbed blindly at a face just out of memory’s reach. Her hold on the bannister revealed the places where varnish had been rubbed away by her wringing hands. From the kitchen, acrid cigarette stench and shuffling. Inflamed knees hating her meticulous descent, but better this ordeal each day than to abandon the bedroom they had shared. When the two met, Rowan still sent money to his agricultural folks in New York (“Upstate,” he protested more than once, “Not that awful city, but in the countryside!” and he’d pantomime a deep breath) because of the expenses of running their farm. Nora’s now. From the cafe he had bought her an almond pastry, triangular, smaller than a palm, its sweet crisp flakes made her think of Mediterranean forests, and when the two were married they worked this hereditary farm. Nora knew all the animals, when they still kept livestock. Now Nora’s farm, whose after? When her little Matthias was born they had praised him as the farm’s inheritor. Unwise.
Last step. Sound from the kitchen of Connie shifting in her seat, rustling papers. Smell of strong coffee. Strong cigarettes. Composed herself, quietly cleared throat. Sauntered down the hallway, monitoring expression and tone. Nora said, “Hello Constance. When did you three get here?”
“Hey ma,” said the woman’s voice when the elder crossed into the kitchen. “For christ’s sake don’t call me that.”
“For christ’s sake, don’t take his name,” Ma scolded, but then traced her way past the table to the countertop and felt about for utensils. “I’ll make you something Connie.” The counter was in front of her, bathroom to the left, stove to her right and along that same wall was the back door. ”How about some nice eggs and toast like how you like.”
“No ma, I handled it already.”
“And what color is that hair of yours this time?” Ma asked, carefully inserting slices of bread into the toaster. “Seems like months you haven’t been by.”
A patronising, sarcastic chuckle. “…it’s orange, ma.
Listen—”
“That is so nice. Your father’s hair was just that shade of orange.” Felt around inside the refrigerator. The styrofoam carton. Small and cold and round, her fingers seized four of them. “Do you remember?”
Pause. “I remember, ma.”
“What I don’t understand,” said Ma swallowing a cough, expertly igniting one gas burner as practiced and putting on hot water for tea, “is why you don’t fix to keep it natural. I love our nice fair hair, very blonde, very pretty.” Back home in Germany Nora had been the favorite of two men, but many years since engaging in the frivolous antics she in those days entertained. “Best to flaunt your natural hair color while it’s still there: orange like Matt and dear Rowan, or fair like you and Lorelai got.” Memories of her own face as she remembered it. Relatively young the last time she had seen. What wrinkles there must be. What a mask to wear. No wonder Bastian. Nora ignited another burner. Tick tick tick fwoosh. Smelled gas. Sound of the almost boiling water complaining against its kettle. Phantom taste of anticipated tea. Regret. The contents of the vial hidden on the top shelf. Today maybe the. Sound of heavy rain. “And how are your bundles of mischief?”
Connie sighed. “I told Lorelai to get her little **** inside the house, as if she hears a word. She’s playing with Ed somewhere in the fields I don’t wonder, rain be ******. That girl is such a little — well she’d better not be down by the creek anyhow. Could get flooded in a downpour like this. Bastian was out with her, but he’s playing in his room now. You know we don’t have time to stay long today, it’s just that you and I got to finally square this business away. No more deliberating, ok?”
Swallowed. “Course, Constance. Just nice to hear your voice. You’re taking care?”
“Care enough. Last time I was — oh! Jesus, ma!”
Ma’s egg missed the pan’s edge. She felt herself shatter the shell into the stove top, in her mind’s eye saw the bright orange yolk squeezed into the albumen. The burner hissed against liquid intrusion. Connie made a strained noise and scooped her mother into a seat at the table. Movement. Crisply, the sound of two fresh eggs being broken and sizzling on the pan. Scrambled as orange as Connie’s guarded temper. The table’s cool surface. Phantom smell of pine wood polish and recollections of Rowan at his woodworking tools building this table once. Other breakfasts. Young Constance, young Matthias. Young self. Her left hand massaged her aching right shoulder, then she switched. The sound of plates being readjusted with unnecessary force.
“You know,” said her daughter, “living in one of them places might even be fun. Might be good for you instead of moping about this place. But like I’ve been saying, we got to make our decision today: sell this place or pass it on. I know you don’t take no walk, cause where would you go? What’s the point in keeping all this **** land if you’re not gonna do nothing with it? You can’t even ******* see it!”
“Constance! Language!”
“Come on ma, just cut it out! This is great property, and you’ve let it get so it’s bleeding money.”
“…But Constance I can’t sell it, not like your brother wants me to do. He’s always trying to get rid of this place and turn a profit, but someone needs to take care of it! You know that this is the house that your f—“
“‘That your grandparents lived in where your father and I raised you…’ Yeah I know, ma. And I get it. Believe me. But what you’re doing is just plain impractical, why don’t you think about it? All you’re doing is haunting this place like a ghost. Wouldn’t you rather live somewhere where you can make friends? Things can’t go on like this.” A plate was placed softly on the table and it slid in front of Ma. Can’t go on like this. Egg smell. Salted. Toast, margarine. A cup of tea appeared nearby. “Anything else you want? Here’s a fork.”
“What will you eat, Constance?”
“I ate, ma, I ate already. Have your breakfast, then we can talking about this for real. Ok?” Then, the sound of her daughter’s body shifting in surprise, a pleasant unexpected, “Oh,” before Connie said low and matronly, “Hi baby, how you doing? Are you hungry?” But only the sound of the downpour. Orange eggs still softly sizzled. The wind pushed the creaking house. “Sweetie, you don’t have to hide behind the door, it’s ok. Come say hi to grandma… don’t you want some scrambled eggs?” Refrigerator’s hum. Barking echoed, coming over the hill. But not even the little boy’s breathing. Grandma had met the twins two years ago, following the **** of Constance’s rebellious years and independence. Nora was reminded of her german gentlemen and her own amply tumultuous adolescence. She could forgive. Two years ago Lorelai and Bastian had already been too big to cradle and fawn over, but they were discovered to be just starting school and already bright pupils. Grandma hung her head. Warm steam from where the uneaten eggs waited patiently. Edgar’s approaching yapping. And, fleeing from the doorway, a scampering of feet so light they might have been moth wings. Down the hallway back into his room. “Sorry ma,” said Constance.
Shrugged. A nerve flared in pain up her neck but she didn’t react. Only fork scrape. Ate eggs. On introduction, poor little Bastian had burst into tears and refused to go near her. Connie had consoled: “It’s ok baby, she’s just Grandma Nora! She’s my mother.” But poor little Bastian inconsolable: “No, no, no! She’s not!” What a wrinkled mask it must be. How hideous unkempt with silver hair. How horrible unflinching eyes. “She’s not,” would sob the quiet boy in earnest, “she’s a witch! Don’t you see?” And he never would let Grandma hold him. Lorelai was always polite, hugged warmly, looked after her pitiable brother, but her mind too was far elsewhere. Edgar alone loved them all unconditionally and was equally beloved. Barking. Yowling. Scratches at the door. Downpour. Door and screen door opened, wet dog happy dog entered, shook, and droplets on her cheek.
And there appeared Lorelai, a star out of sight. “Hey mom. Hi grandma!”
Grandma swiveled for cosmetic reasons to face where the door. Grinned, “Hello Lorelai. Wet?” Envisioned yellow sunlight entering with the excitable girl in spite of the deluge.
“Oh it’s so rainy out there grandma, I found little streams through your fields and big mud puddles and Edgar showed me where your secret treasure was, we found it!”
“Stop right there, missy!” commanded Constance. “For christ’s sake you look like you took a bath in the mud and the **** dog with you. Come on, your filthy coat needs to be on the rack, right? Now your boots.”
Warm nose found Nora’s palm, excited lapping. Slimy fur, smelly fur. A cold piece of egg dangled in her fingers, then dog breath came hot and licked it up. Satisfied, he trotted off elsewhere, collar jingling out of the kitchen and down the hall.
Little Lorelai lamented, “I couldn’t help it mom, the mud was all over the place! When we got past the motor barn and the one alfalfa field that looks like a big marsh frogs went ‘croak croak croak’ but Edgar growled and chased them and then we made it all the way in the rain to the creek and it’s so much—”
“Now you just hold on. Hold still!” Sounds of wrestling. Grunts of a struggle. “That creek must have been overflowing! Didn’t I tell you not to? You didn’t take your new phone out there did you, Lori?”
“No ma’am.”
“**** right you didn’t, cause I sure ain’t buying you a new one. Didn’t I tell you not to go all the way out there? Didn’t I? Now you get into that bathroom and wash your **** hands!”
“But I’m telling Grandma a story!” huffed little yellow haired Lorelai.
“Well wash your hands first and then we’ll hear it, Grandma don’t listen to misbehaving girls who are all muddy and gross. Not a squeak from you till you look like you come from heaven instead of that nasty creek.”
A profound sigh, a condescending, “Fine,” a door closing and a squeaky faucet running. Muffled hands splashed, dampened off-key ‘la la la’s.
“Who knows what the hell that one is ever talking about,” said Connie. “It’s everything I can do to get her to shut up for five ******* minutes. You done with your eggs?”
Ma fidgeted. The plate was scraped away, and a clunk by the sink. Licked her lips, mouthed a syllable, about to speak. But then her house creaked three strong along the east wall. From deeper within bubbled a suppressed sob: “Mom,” little Bastian wailed, “Mom, come quick!” Constance sighed, Constance cursed, and Constance swept off down the hallway struggling to refrain from stomping.
Sound of washing. Wind. Rain. Alone. Cold. Picking out the paint for this room, listed in gloss as ‘golden straw yellow.’ Rowan hadn’t liked it and chose himself the bedroom’s color in retaliation. The loss of the home they had built together. The contents of the vial hidden on the top shelf: do they see it? Bathroom sink stopped flowing, door wrenched open. Smell of soap, clean smell. Grandma said to her, “Your mother went to check on Bastian,” Taste of eggs still yellow on her tongue.
“What a *****!”
Stunned. “Lorelai!” she snapped. “Don’t you dare take that language!”
“But mom does it all the time.”
“Then Lorelai, it’s up to you to be better than your mother. When I’m not around any more, and your mother neither, you’ll be the one who keeps us alive.”
“But as long as you’re alive you’ll always be around, you’re not a ***** like mom. And remember? I got all the mud off so can I finally tell you can I what we found? Well actually it was Edgar found it. Oh and I’ll describe it real good for you grandma just like you could see it: when we pulled up we were just wandering in the blue rain, Bastian and me, and silly Edgar joined us but Mom tried to make us come back of course but I told Bastian to stay with us at first, but later I changed my mind on it. It was he and me and Edgar were hiding in the old motor barn where it smells like a gas station remember grandma and he was so excited to see the sun when it rose and made the morning violet sky he started clapping and Edgar got excited too and was barking ‘bark bark’ and howling so I told Bastian to go back even
J M Surgent May 2014
One time, when I was ten or eleven years old, for a holiday or something my uncle bought me a model set of a scale V-8 engine. He knew I was into cars, but without kids himself, had no idea that this kind of gift was worlds beyond my preteen intellectual abilities. It fell to the wayside that year, useless in comparison to the easy to open, assemble and operate toys my parents bought me instead.

I had completely forgotten about this model until one night in college when I couldn’t sleep because I was too wrapped up in my own existential crises of the time and too nostalgic looking at all the old car posters in my room. I remembered the V-8 engine, and how even at 21 I couldn’t name a single part in a car engine, let alone assemble one, which was sad because I had been driving them five years at that time. So, with some sort of unexplained sense of unfinished accomplishment, I felt a need to finish it. Or really, to start it.

I got out of bed and started to tear apart my closet, piece by piece, coming across old articles of clothing I never wore, a few aging airsoft guns and even a few smaller models I never assembled, but alas, no V-8 engine. With my labors unyielding, I grabbed a flashlight and headed quietly to the attic, hoping that would be lend a more fruitful search. It took me a little digging and a lot of splinter avoiding in my bare feet, but finally I found it. I blew most of the dust off the box, removing more with my hands, and held the box in my hands like a treasure. It was smaller than I remembered, and the age on the box said 12+, which now looking back on it means I should have been easily able to complete it when I got it.

I worked these thoughts out of my mind, instead turning my attention to the plastic wrap around the box which came off with ease. I pried the color-aged box top off to find a colony of loose parts, of all colors, alongside a small screwdriver, which at that moment gave me a sense of Excalibur in it’s placement. I touched the blue handle lightly, almost afraid to accept its reality at first. Then I just stared at the parts for a good five minutes before I remembered there was an instruction manual. I opened it to page one, and I began to build.

I must have worked on that model for five hours, by the light of my flashlight and the streaks of full moonlight that snuck in through the skylight above. Hours of part maneuvering and placing, losing, then replacing small screws and setting them into place with a tool made for hands half the size of mine word my fingers out. By the time I was finished, my fingers were a little sore and my flashlight was running low on batteries which didn’t matter because the sun was beginning to peer it’s eyes over the horizon. I looked at my creation before me, a lot smaller than I thought it would have been when I first received the box, and felt a sense of nostalgic victory. For years, this project taunted me from the dust piles and cobwebs of my attic, and now, too distant from my childhood to remember anything all too vividly, I completed a milestone that was meant for years prior. I thought about how, at age eleven, I would have proudly shown my father to gain his five minutes of fame for the day, and he’d ask me the name of a few parts of the engine as a quiz before asking me to grab him another beer and I’d feel like I was on top of the world. He’d tell me I could be a mechanic someday, or better year, a car designer. I’d smile and walk away accomplished.

That’s what I would have done then. Now, ten years later, I folded the pieces of the box and put them in the trash can, with the plastic wrap on top. I took my finely tuned engine, my product of nostalgic victory, and brought it back to the confines of the attic. I turned my flashlight back on, moving past splinters and upturned nails to the back, farthest corner, where a lonely black shadow kept all light from entering. I took my prized engine, which seemed even small now in my hands, and wiping away some of the cobwebs, placed it into that dark corner, displacing a slumbering daddy longlegs in the process. I placed the small blue screwdriver next to it, then thought better of it and wedged the sharp end into the wood in between two planks, with the crystalline blue handle glowing in the light of my flashlight, sticking straight out like the tool of Excalibur that it truly was to me.

I took one last look at my creation, then turned and left, knowing that, like my childhood, I’d never return to it. I locked the attic door on my way out and checked the floor for loose parts, covering up any traces of my journey back into one of the aspects of my childhood that I forgot to partake in.
It's really a short story, but I wanted to share it nonetheless, and have no other way to.
Linus Stevenson Jun 2018
Let me tell you a story
Listen and learn
There was a Shepherd, a good Shepherd
Kind and loving, courageous and strong
He had 100 sheep
and the sheep loved the Shepherd
And so when one sheep wandered
The good Shepherd left the 99
And went after the one

And you might think you know this story
But I'm afraid it's not what you think
Because I am not the one...

I am one of the 99 left behind
Waiting for the Sheppard to return
Trapped by the walls of this fence
The posts and wooden planks
That contain us
Being lead by the very sheep that are
We walk in circles around the pen
Around and around... circles
Eating up the food we have
We begin to eat each other
And as demented as that sounds
It's true
Biting and gnawing
Bleeding and bruising
We turn to other sheep for nourishment
For truth... for guidance
But we are sheep all the same
Another one of the 99 left behind

Sheep is what we are
Be careful not to tater your fur
Careful not to tear or cut
To show the underneath
The skin that doesn't flatter but
Burns with the red of your hate
Your pride... Your sin

When will the Sheppard return
And open the fence
Lead to new grass
and water

There are sheep I've never seen before
Black sheep.
have you seen black sheep?
Yes sheep with spots but these sheep
They are black from head to toe
Their snouts are long and
they have sharp teeth
Strange that they have not hooves but paws
Appearing as wolves wearing sheeps clothing
They are mending the fence
The fence! It's broken!
Suddenly we realize we are not safe
Quickly, grab your hammer and nails!
Let us work with these black sheep...
to mend... the fence... around... us

Who built this fence?
Was it the Sheppard?
Cloudy as my memories be of the man
with the scars in his hands and side
This does not resemble his work
Who... built... these... walls?
These bars... This cell
With no key and a steeple?
Oh God, who built these walls?
No it wasn't the sheppard.
The walls he built had doors
And windows to let the light in
No... We have built these walls
The 99 left behind were not left...
We left.

We left the fence! The pasture!
The place of love and safety.

We are not the 99 left behind but the one
We are the one who wandered and strayed
And seeing that we were in territory unsafe
We built walls without doors
that trapped us inside... in darkness

Sheppard,
Search
Find us
Break down
These walls
Rebuild them
With windows
To let the Light in
Aaron Kerman Jan 2010
“Everybody has won, and all must have prizes.”- Alice in Wonderland

“Everyone knows it’s a race, but no one’s sure of the finish line.”
        -Dean Young, “Whale Watch”

1a
Children rarely listen to any armchair advice from their immediate family, relatives they commonly have contact with or anyone they haven’t known for more than a couple years because in kindergarten or day care they often got gold stars just for showing up… Little glittering prizes plastered on poster boards in elementary school classrooms regardless of grades or mistakes…


1b
On the windy day when you lower the green jet-ski instead of the good one, race it to the north end, out of the safety of the bay, into the choppy waters, you’ll get bullied by the wave’s splash like the cattails of a whip. The lake will overwhelm you; you’ll inhale some of the water,  a sharp pain will course through your body as you try to breathe those short shallow breaths, which you will force yourself to do as seldom as possible. You will cough and keel over on the craft; It’s not uncommon to spit up blood; you will have to return to the dock and raise the jet-ski back onto the boatlift.  You will stub your toe on the cracks in the planking, stumble and get a splinter in the ball of your foot heading towards the deck but won’t notice. All feeling numbs against water trapped inside your lungs.


1c
Jackie Paper’s mother made him a hotdog with potato chips and served it to him on a plastic plate outside so he could enjoy it on the newly refinished deck while he watched the schooners and speedboats, stingray’s and ski-nautique’s jet in and out of the bay. He didn’t wait five minutes after he finished to fly from the deck onto the dock into the water where he free styled too far and got a cramp. His mother almost lost a son that day.



2a
If wet some recommend running around the shore of the lake until the air has thoroughly dried you off. Listening to the gulls dive and racing through the varying levels of grass on the neighbors’ unkempt lawns, in between the oaks and elms, keeping ever mindful the sticks and stones and acorns that litter the ground in lieu of stubbed toes or splinters. You will most likely fail, but you will get dry.


2b
When you **** your big toe on the zebra mussels while wading in the shallows, near the seawall beside the dock, trying to catch crayfish and minnows darting between the stones underneath the water, and the blood doesn’t stop flowing for 10 minutes and the H2O2 bubbles burgundy on the decks maple woodwork, instead of that off white color it usually bubbles, and stings something awful, don’t be a little ***** about it.  It’s your own fault for leaving your aqua-socks on the green marbled tiles in the foyer closet next to the bathroom; where you changed into your bathing suit and got the bottle of peroxide.


2c
Last winter Christopher Robbins drove his red pickup on the ice (near the island, towards the North end, where even when it’s been freezing for weeks the frozen water seldom exceeds six inches in thickness) at night and fell through.  He felt the cold water enter his lungs.  Although it was snowing and no one had noticed he survived; it took him the whole of an hour to reach the nearest house and call home; he lost his truck and suffered from severe hypothermia and acute pneumonia. At the hospital it was determined that while there was ample evidence of the early onset of frostbite in his extremities, amputation would not be necessary.


3a
While sitting Indian style on the dock next to your friends, settled on the plastic furniture, sipping whiskey and beer, comparing scars assume, no matter whose company you’re in, that yours are the smallest. Those cigarette burns running down the length of your right forearm are self-inflicted and old- reminders that you haven’t had to force yourself to breathe in quite some time.

3b
When you jump off the end of the dock you’ll forget to keep your knees loose because you were running on the wooden planks trying to avoid the white weather worn and dirtied dock chairs and worrying about getting a splinter. The water is inviting but during the summer the depth is only three feet four inches. You will roll your ankle at the very least and probably sprain it because, Like an *******, you locked your knees and jumped without looking.


3c
Two summers ago Alice was tubing behind a blue Crown Royal when she hit the wake at an awkward angle and flew head first into the water in the bay a few hundred feet off the dock at dusk. The spotter and driver simply weren’t watching and the wave-runner didn’t see her due to the advancing darkness.  She cracked her head open on the bottom of its hull; swallowed water.  She needed 70 stitches and several staples but Alice made a full recovery.


4
Mothers often tell their children to should chew their food 40 times before swallowing to aid digestion and to wait a full half hour after eating before engaging in physical activity. Especially swimming.


5
When you’re at the lake house this summer skipping stones swimming and running on the dock remember not to listen to any advice.  

If this were a race to get dry you’d be much closer to first than last.

The internal bleeding eventually stops.  The splinters all get pulled out, staples and stitches are removed, lacerations heal and the feeling returns to the fingers and toes.

The water eventually drains from the lungs and only the scars remain:

Gold stars on poster boards;

because everybody has won, and all must have prizes.
Mateuš Conrad Dec 2015
me? these days?
i have to bribe bonsai tigers
to fall asleep by giving them
excess treats,
drink myself to a limit
and then take insomnia tablets,
glance at the stars
and gag up a bolshevik black hole,
think about russian
newly-wed millionaires
spending so mcuh the taxes go up,
testifying: well when the full circus
with elephants and missing acrobats
comes... and there's no french revolution
versace... we're in bigger crap
we thought we were...
so i took to peddling, keeping heart
rate with feeling rather than
a heart-rate keeper on the wrist known
as apple / iWank...
you'll never believe the amount
of creativity that comes from Onan...
it's like that story of onan and samson
like it's that story of cain and abel...
you'd have to be a mozart to find a creative
continuum in women rather than
beethoven in the hive of being deaf...
say rich and thus say spend...
say poor and thus say like a primate
with two flint stones... what the hell is this?!
japanese crow reduced their beak for
nut crushing purposes into a car tire.
FIRE! FIRE! PROMETHEUS!
so came the world favouring thought
from prometheus' liver
when in diaper-shelter postman pat delivery
by a stork... but each of us that got the slit
of liver never claimed origins in the apple
adam ******* out when eve forgot
that satan's singularity was expressed in
a pluralism: eat this apple, depilate,
and you and adam will be like the gods...
but then the metrosexual emerged
with shaved legs and a shaved chest...
down the drain that dream went:
as long as you eat the apple and know
you have hairy legs... i'm sure whatever you
say he will be ordained with pleasure to perform...
eve - i need a hammer
adam - here babe
eve - i need a nail
adam - here babe
eve - i need five planks of wood, four legs one like an abdomen
adam - here babe
eve - mash it up
adam - hey babe, what's that?
eve - a ****** table, tapestry for porcelain!
adam - woah! that's great!
eve to god - this adam is a ****** robot!
satan to eve - well... get ready for ******.
bekka walker Dec 2014
I lay my red cheek heavily on the wooden walls that have enclosed some existence for... how long?
Planks upon planks of royalty- sliced apart to shelter me. Keeping me safe.
What kind of sound did you make when they cut you down? Did others see? Did you hear their hearts break as you thudded into the ground? Were you proud?
To lose your crown.
And now you're holding your place, as a families base in some nowhere tiny town.
So tell me, What have you seen here?
You freckled knotted wood!
You can trust me, you can tell me!
As I sleep- whisper into my dreams.
Your gorgeous and solemn,
and
your dead silence makes me angry.
My little red cheek blushes even harder at your hollow absence.
Are your secrets trapped forever behind your once so stoic posture?
And if your secrets are lost, can I whisper you mine?
Will you keep them hidden in your history? Add them to your rings?
Remnants of who you were stare back at me.
I guess you could say the same.
You have heard my secrets.
You do hear my cries.
When it's 3 am and the weight of my sorrows is too much for my shoulders, and your floor boards creak, just like you could speak.
You know that sometimes our shelves need dusting.
You offer me a place to whisper more grey matter into the air,
still hoping to lure you out of silence.
It's not fair that you know so much more about my soul.
Could you please tell me what I'm going to sound like when I come thudding down?
Your secrets are too deep.
So I'm left with my little red cheek anxiously pressed against your wooden walls.
co/tab
Emily Grace Oct 2012
Planks, splintering in solidity
Together twined in tedium
Curving cords of mated metal
Lost in ludicrous loops
Twines of tetanus protrude
Danger danger
Rising flying roaring floating
Above the stillborn trains
Arching acrid aerial arms
Lazy concrete spiral, neighbor snail
Inverse slide with railings
Rumble rumble try and grumble
Jitter in jumpy juxtaposition
Guts of grotesque giants
Flayed flawed under flaming flight
Blink away oblivion
Orange and omnificent, opaque concern
Useful hangnail, table scraps
Rise above
Shocked stillness soon stumbling
Ornamental oasis for the oracles
Unseen unheard untasted unsmelled
Unfeeling unused to understanding
Carry me across
Fly me over
Lift me beyond
Suspend.
Glimpse the unparalleled phenomenon
Ribs of steel, rain has parted
Seeping to the soul
Buzzing through the boards
Immobile, cradle in the wind
Twist
Take off your sunglasses
Be sure to look around as you pass through
Graff1980 Jul 2015
My neighbor labored to build a fence
All walls of stone and wooden planks
To separate the world from them
Building row after row
In haste as if their life depended on
Finding where other do or do not belong

Tall and sturdy slightly dirtied
The fence stood
To me t’was no good
It blocked the trees, it stop the leaves,
And blooming branches

In their veiled vanity
They blocked their view of humanity
So with words a blazing
With verses of poetry
That had built up inside of me
I sang songs of wisdom
To teach them
To tear down the fences
And see all the beauty
r Jan 2014
The stately oak stands solemn and quiet
Alongside the bucolic covered bridge
Its branches hanging downward as if tired
Leaves falling slowly into the current
Of the rain swollen Watauga River

The shadow of the tree clinging starkly
Onto the weathered century-old planks
Speaking of a time not so far removed
When bridge and tree was the gathering place
For a day's respite from a hard week's toil

Farmers, merchants, wives and children gathered
With picnic baskets filled with fried chicken
The women chatting in their new bonnets
The children wearing last year's Sunday best
While the men make bets like Roman soldiers

The low mound where the tree's roots are anchored
Bare earth beneath the lowest hanging limb
A crude stool of newly cut pine upright
While waiting for the next unwilling guest
Courthouse clock chimes the hour of Golgotha

r  14Jan14
Carmen Apr 2014
Perhaps we were both waiting
for words to come from the speechless;
with our hands outstretched, feeling
for some infinite nebula we called love.

I liked the way you saw form in the formless,
a dreamer from the sleeping,
and the ghost from the living

(But the real ghosts and dreamers were us)

Sea-sorrow would sink our ships of wander-lust
And we'd rebuild with planks of heartache;
new sails of empathy and a hull big enough
for everything else in between

Some moments were better than others,
Some forgettable, others memorable
your lips, my eyes, your skin, my skies;
the cavities of silence in our conversations.
I remember, when you tried to blink away the sea-change
Rubbing waves of apathy, so endless
and unrelenting, from your face
Watching you fight the tempest moved me
and my lungs took in so much sin
It made my bones ache with guilt;
the fire of my desires, the prison of my soul.

Perhaps we were both waiting
for the proverbial hand, that infinite warmth,
to reach down from the heavens.
The hand that moulded us;
the hand we slighted for love.
#b
Waverly Nov 2011
She sent a package
tied in this biege tweed cord.

It turned out to
be a picture of you two
at the lake,
that day it was cold
and she wore that beanie with the flames,
her hair all curly and escaping,
your lips all red and chapped.

A folded note tucked on the inside
of the frame reads:

"I have Connie,
*******

Love always,
smiley-face,
smiley-face
smiley-face,
smiley-face,
me."

­Connie: your/her rat terrier.

You put the picture
in its black frame
on the tv table.

The tweed
you nail
to two spaced planks
on the wall above the tv.

It's like abstract
modernist-expressionist-
constructionist-art.

It's just one string.

A taut cord
of brown tweed.

The black night comes,
over and over,
over and over,
she doesn't return,
but the tweed remains
as taut as a fingernail
or an exposed artery.

Somehow
it's so human and obstinate
that the woven vertebrae
seems to curve minutely
and femininely.

As time passes,
the tweed moves
from beige
to golden
and gravitational.

A call to a friend goes something like this:
"Come over here, I've got this amazing thing on my wall."

The friend, Eric,
calls more friends.

The friends come over,
all piling around this golden tweed
after they've taken stock of the kitchen
and Wild Turkey.


They take turns
plucking it,
thumbing it,
putting their ears to it,
and studying it,
all
at your insistence.

Somebody,
******* Eric,
coughs in the room.
More people begin to cough.

Eric walks up
to the the string,
that is nailed at top
and bottom
on two spaced planks.



Eric gives it a final hard tug,
snapping it like a belt.

the tweed hums and shivers off a few flakes
of dust and amber material.

"I've just wasted five minutes
with this thing,"
Eric says

to the string,
and you.

Eric speaks for the group.

He turns and leaves,
taking the whole group of
twenty
with him.

They trail behind Eric
like a great, long tail
flicking
and knocking things over
in your apartment
out of sheer agitation
on the way out.

The golden gravity subsumes you.

You do not close the door behind them,
you can't even hear their tiny, black voices
as they all clamor into the elevator
and ding.
down at the very end
of a narrow country road
sits an old abandoned farmhouse

the well worn path
to the once family filled house
is still somewhat inviting
despite its lack of care

its weathered gray sideboards,
saggy roof and missing gutters
tell a story of its past

the window shutters hang loosely
from a couple of rusted nails
still attached to the house
and there are no longer any curtains
in the darkened windows
just tattered rags filled with stains

a truck rusted with age sits
in the overgrown front yard
that has been silently strangled
by the invading weeds
that replaced the wild roses
that once grew freely

An old clothesline hanging
from the back porch to a tree
once held cotton sheets
billowing in the country breeze

A swing set, painted blue
sits in the side yard
begging for one more swing
from a happy child

you can almost hear
the childrens laughter
echoing through
the adjacent hay fields

a dilapidated tree house
high in an old oak
once a mighty fort
to hold off imagined enemies

the front porch
missing some floor planks
and others swollen and warped
from many springtime rains
but still housing
two broken rocking chairs
and two old pots for shelling beans

This old abandoned house
once filled with love and laughter
now sits alone at the end of the road
with no one to tell its tales to
I find myself tearing up
with a lump in my throat
as I drive away
never to come this way again

— The End —