Monday, April 30, 2012

down in the flood


Rejoice in Rainbows the Revival Preacher

Crooned, ring teeth suit Sales

Incentives from God,

a solemn promise He made to

                Us hapless Sodden Souls Adrift

                on eddies, weather eyes wary  

Never Again destroy the Earth

                this fragile sliding layer

                cake left to melt in the rain

In a Mighty Flood; setting us up, waiting a beat

                to deliver the grinning punch line,

                a Cat with God-given comedic timing

in a roomful of downy canaries-  

Next Time My Friends,

Next Time, eyes teeth watch agleam

He’ll skip the Deluge and Rain

Down Fire and Brimstone

to wipe the slate clean Once

And For All, a toasty fresh start, a gag that sailed

way over my head, a kid with a

crew in a pew on a Sunday night,

too dim to see the beauty in the bargain:

fire vs. rain

ebb tide vs. ash cloud,

choking with laughter many years later when I

                finally got the joke, the one He

                stole from Us, the one We

never get tired of hearing, the one about the

Cleansing Power of Fire

Of Purification by Flame;

Scorched Earth always good for a laugh here

                Standing waist deep

in the Big Muddy

This eternally messy, roiling river.




Friday, April 27, 2012

life as drawing


A slender stick of soft willow charcoal
Held loosely, pulled in quick fluid strokes
at arms-length all from the shoulder

across a featureless white void,
tilting blindly into the teeth
of the storm, trails a line that renders

us smudged, essential features
captured briskly; form and space
loom large, set to against the other

for purchase in the composition,
ever amusing push and pull read
as gospel when the real story is

the sharp busy eraser wielded
by a tireless quick deft hand set
to wipe away our messy masterpiece.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

good advice

Secret Of Walking Dogless

Go east on Sixth.  Keep the clip brisk, a trick
dear to dogless walkers; hands that long for
Snapping twanging leashes bereft, empty,
Retreat to deep jacket pockets searching

for the missing Milkbone, clenching themselves
into dormant balls.  Fetch! Retrieve them, set
them swinging in brash arcs, fingers popping
keeping time to something upbeat, punchy

lodged in your head.  North now on Wilson Street
through old growth neighborhoods sprouting new buds
Here and there; tear downs hauled away, fresh sod
unrolled, wending your way at last to the

gates of Oak View where you can drop the act
at last and stroll among the squat graven
slabs away from prying eyes, safe among
friends, hand extended in exult charade.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

informed by television

What I Know About Nobility In The Face Of Heroic Futility I Learned From I Spy

It is a purely inspired scene written,
I want to believe, under the gun;
the writers trapped, sweating in a

windowless room of their own design,
a too neat and tidy trope worn thin
by overuse, the hour late, the coffee

stale, paper cups half full, crushed, sodden 
butts afloat, a bowl of tired fruit
adrift on a crumpled sea of

water-marked onion skin,
Kelly Robinson and Alexander Scott
hapless victims of yet another

petty Third World tyrant, Fernando Lamas
perhaps, no less so by a hackneyed script
that lands them reliably week in and week out

in some locked room
in some strange exotic city
in some blistering equatorial country

waiting for the specter of impending
deadline to spur the narrative forward,
setting them free, ushering in

another Chevy commercial;
an implausible pyramid of
citrus their ticket out in this  

particular episode, cracking wise,
impossibly cool while they stacked each and
every orange, layer upon layer to

the edge of the high narrow window that
framed one coconut palm, the writers
expectant, hopeful even, in the

moments before they send Alexander
Scott scurrying to the top in a heroic
but futile bid for freedom, the Cos’

sprawled, mugging, oranges rolling, juice
seeping everywhere, the writers, spying
an out, having escaped amid the carnage. 

Friday, April 20, 2012


All La Glory

These guys never plug in before midnight
keeping unholy hours, playing without
a break until someone notices the
tanged rim of the sun through the mist rising
from Overlook Mountain, washes of chords
from the Sacred Harp cascade down rounded
ancient shoulders, blue runoff in rills, brooks,
streams, a river returning to the source
Eternal nightly gig, a trio now,
smoking, swapping japes as they unpack trunks
of old harmonies, flat and creased after
all these years, the long wait for a rhythm
section finally over, The Weight from
the top now, count off those four flat bass drum
thumps, smoking, swapping verses, time to kill
before the night winds wail and the others
stroll in, short trip back to the big pink house. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Invisible man

A Ruinous Thirst

Arvi’s black mutt-his misdirected bark,
gaze off target, vague, somewhere to my right
was the first clue, one of only two mind

you, there’d been no need for a third even
at my age, too old to feel so light on
my feet, young enough to notice I no

longer cast a shadow on the sidewalk;
Troublesome? sure, but I shake it off and
press on down the leafy street side-stepping

a meteor shower of furtive black
squirrels Un-Dog-Like, unable to detect
my presence not unlike the approaching

runner, a young woman, jaw set in sheer
determination her mouth turned down at
the corners left eyebrow arched ever so

slightly; vivid details I would have missed
had I not paced her for a block or two,
our four feet slapping in unison if

only for a moment, long enough to
Understand this new found transparency
did nothing to extend my flagging verve

leaving me bent and planted in the street
gulping great lung-fulls, hands on knees, awash
suddenly with ennui, come to grips with

the foolishness of impunity:  filched
candy bars, levitated hats, eavesdropped
private conversations, aware at last

of a ruinous thirst that leads me to
a garden hose attached to a nearby
house noticing too late the boys on bikes

agape at the long green charmed snake bubbling
in the driveway, marching wet prints in quick
succession trailing off down the street round

the corner to the front door that appears
to swing open of its own volition
up the stairs to the bathroom where I stand

for hours before the mirror, blue toothbrush
flitting to and fro like a furious
sparrow, awaiting my reappearance.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Memento Mori

Here is a version of what happened, mine, 
teased from the wiry vacant bird’s 
nest that once cradled a brace of fine blue 
eggs, hatched now, certainty and faith long

since flown, tufts of truth, a few jagged bits 
of thin shell all that remain leaving 
plenty of room for sparrows and wrens, 
busy squatters flitting in and out, 

relining with fragile gauzy fiction, 
sitting on a new brood at once strange 
and familiar; take Cherokee Hill for 
instance, the setting of which I’m certain,

less so about the curious
application here of Red as motif:

sudden code-red wail of sirens
mad dash to Red Bank Baptist Church
dozens of strobing red lights
accordioned red Beetle
touches of red repeated on scattered Bud cans
pools of dark blood spreading out 

a distinction that would have gone 
unnoticed that hot afternoon, my aunt 
flushed from the short furious drive, three 
shirtless barefoot children ferried to their 

first brutal brush with certainty, at least 
one, perhaps, trying to imagine 
the light touch of the white sheet drawn 
gently over his astonished cooling face.