Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Waiting for the Cyclone

Been on the sides

Of a thousand roads

Standing there

In the snow and rain

The bitter wind cutting
Through my coat

The way pain

Pierces my soul

Leaving me standing
In the ice

In the oil and the grit.


I didn’t mean to jump

That grim afternoon


At the edge of that snowy


In my Blues

Eyes screwed shut

Waiting for

The firing detail.


But I did.

I flinched

I always flinched.


I wanted to believe

If I focused my mind

On any one of

A thousand roads

Waiting for that cyclone

Of ice and wind

To push me backward

As the trucks thundered past

The crack of seventeen rifles

Would have no effect.


But they did.


They always do

Even in a universe

Of countless cyclones

And millions of trucks

On endless roads.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

If You Know What I Mean

It was

The summer of my discontent.

The lawn was cool

Damp with dew

The amber moon framed

Within St. Louis’ arch

And the wide Mississippi

Moved inexorably southward

Every ripple like

Dancing diamonds

In the midnight city lights.

It’s easy to feel sorry

For oneself

When your pockets

And your heart

Are both empty.

Then she was suddenly there.

I said hello as she walked

Down the lane

Toward her car.

She looked at me

The way one might

Look at a stray puppy.

She shrugged.

She did not tell me her name

Nor did I tell her mine.

It was sudden and random

Almost impersonal

Yet deeply human.

She sat beside me

Kicking off her sandals.

Then, wordlessly

And slowly

She kissed me

And I kissed her.

It was not a kiss

For friends

Or strangers.

It was a kiss

For explorers

For those willing to live

Outside the parenthesis

Willing to laugh at meaning

And promise.

They were kisses intended for the making

Of chaffed lips

And bruised hearts.

And we kissed

Until the moon

Cleared the arch

Turned the color of morning milk

Climbing high above the city.

At three in the morning

She put her sandals on and said

That was nice.

I said


It was.

And she left.

I don’t know who she was.

It really doesn’t matter.

But when I’m in St. Louis

And the moon is framed

Within the arch

I always get a little hungry.

If you know what I mean.

Sit With Me

Sit with me

On my sun-lit porch.

We will have morning tea

And listen to the breeze

Stir the willows

Long, graceful limbs.


Beyond my yard

The river burbles

In its private language

Speaking to itself

Like a soul

Locked in mystery.


We need no attempt

At bright conversation.


Sit with me.


Birds on a wire

Remain silent

Until some unknown urge

Rouses and sends them.


Until that happens

Sit with me.


Isn’t the sun warm

On our shoulders

And the breeze soft

In our hair?

It's My Canyon

There is no geography here.

No latitude and longitude.

No weather systems rake this land.

The strata of geologic layers

Completely fabricated

Are as obvious as a massive sleeping tiger

Lying on its side

Stretching toward the artificial horizon.

They are like sections

Of a layer cake

In glistening onyx and amber

Safire and diamond.


This canyon

Is purely the manufacture

Of my creative imagination.

The only footprints are mine.

There are no cities

Along the compass points.

Nobody comes here but me.


And, all I do

Is sit on the canyon lip

Gazing into the bottomless abyss

And imagine what it would be

To venture from the edge

And fall into eternities past

Wondering whether I might

Fly full circle

Only to tumble from the sky

In a massive loop.


It’s my canyon.

My sky.

Anything is possible.

But I try not to come here

Very often

For fear the geography

And geology

May become real

Some day.


Sunday, September 25, 2016

The First Tear

I stopped listening

To what she was saying

When the first tear


At the corners

Of her eyes.

Nothing she ever said

Spoke to me as powerfully

As that tear.

She was not a woman

Given to easy emotion.

She spoke softly

In fluid

Easy tones

Using thoughtful language

Carefully chosen

And measured.

I listened to her

The way

I gave my full attention

To Vivaldi.

As she spoke

I made mental notes

Of her every observation

Intending to return

The same consideration

Of language craft.

Pass the salt, please

From her

Was an aria.

I preferred her common talk

To the speeches of masters.

And that makes my point

In marvelous simplicity…

… I stopped listening

To what she was saying

When the first tear


At the corners

Of her eyes.

    (~~ monarch ~~)

At Forty Thousand Feet*

I watched shell casings

Fall from the sky

The day I saw

The angels die.

The air so clear, so cold

Contrails twisting overhead

Warriors in heaven

Seemed all were dead.

Too few parachutes

So much flame

Boys were dying

Without a name.

Silent warfare in the sky.

At forty thousand feet

It seemed so bloodless

So quiet and neat.

But, that’s not the way it was.

Down here, it seemed a dance

But at forty thousand feet

They had no chance.

I could not see roundels, stars

Or the German crosses.

All I could see

Was bloody losses.

I watched shell casings

Fall from the sky

The day I saw

The angels die.

*With the police force, I have seen homicide, suicide and fatalities. I am familiar with death in all its tragedy. But I have never seen combat, for which I am thankful. If I have any skill with language, I think it incumbent upon me to occasionally keep the horror of war before us. I believe when we, as non-combatants, take such horror for granted; when we esteem war as a necessary evil in which somebody else must engage, we build a super highway that assures there will always be another war. But that is okay, isn't it? As long as we get our lattes on time. Sarcastic? You betcha.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

I Never Meant It That Way*

I hope you hear me
When I say
Baby, I never meant it
That way.

All the lonely days
And empty nights.
Nothing helps
When nothing’s right.

Baby, believe me
When I say
I just never meant it
That way.

Here I am, now
Down on my knees
Begging you, baby
Come back to me, please.

I hope you hear me
When I say
Baby, I never meant it
That way.

Baby, Baby, I never meant it
That way…
Baby, I never meant it
That way.

*Sometimes I hear lyrics that would seem to suggest melody. But I am the least musical poet on the planet. I love music...just can't be its originator. At any rate, here it is.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Sheet Lightening

I was a child
Without an intelligent thought
Beneath my buzz-cut.
I sat on my grandmother’s
Eyes toward southern skies
Heat lightening
Assault the cotton fields
Like panzer tanks.

There were no shafts of dazzle
No bayonets of sparkling
But entire thunderheads
Bursting with light
Like luminaries
Along driveways
Where rich folks lived.

Sheet lightening
Mother said
And it put a notion
In my head
Of freshly-washed
Bed sheets
Left on a midnight clothesline
Fluttering In front of
Blazing florescent lights.

The towering storms
Were so distant
Thunder was impossible to hear.
I thought of July Fourth fireworks
But soundless
In their amazement.

The storms tracked south
With more and greater
Following the old
Cotton Belt rail lines
Beyond Paragould.

At breakfast
The next morning
The radio said three were
After tornadoes touched down
In Greene County.
Dozens were left homeless.

But all I wondered was
Whether the dead
Heard any thunder
Before their
Walls blew away.


A three-quarter moon
Dominated last night’s sky.

The atmosphere
Unusually clean
Provided clear visitation.
Every crater
Each lava pool
Was brilliant and clear.

Below the lunar orb
Pegasus soared
Wings spread in might
Full of power and wisdom.

Is the consort
Of poets.

I lifted my pen
Crusted with
Shallow verse
And appealed for
Meter and measure
For the blessing of words
To flow like rivers
Of ink on 
Lunar-bright paper.

Were I to truly trust
In the power of myth
I would have run to compose
To see what gift may come.

But I tuck it all away
Yearning for the birth
Of words
Like the colts of Pegasus
Rising upon wobbly legs
Taking uncertain steps.

And I would await the day
He might clear the fence
With titanic wings
And trot the stars
The way poets
Trot the alphabet
To birth words
As foals of horses
With wings of stars.