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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

On the Swivel

I cannot sit at a table
In a restaurant
Unless facing the door.
I carefully scan
Any patron
Seated behind me.

I stop at the window
At every convenience store
Before I commit to entry.
I must be able to see
The check out
From where I stand.

I keep a loaded side arm
In the drawer
Of the table
At my bedside.
There are 13 rounds in the magazine
And one in the chamber.

My front door is locked
All day
Every day.
I secure the lock
No less than three times
Before I retire.

I keep a light on upstairs
And one downstairs
From dusk to dawn.

Edged weapons
Are tucked away
Throughout my home.

As I am about town
My eyes remain
On the swivel.

I am hyper alert
Suspecting the man
Pushing the carriage
The woman
In loose clothing.

I am nervous
About a car I’ve never seen
Parked too long
Where it’s never been.

I cannot watch a program
Featuring an effusion of blood
Or violence for prurient interests.

My life is as comfortable
As a man scratching his back
On barbed wire.

I am making installment payments
On a lifetime
Protecting and Serving
A citizenry
Who stopped giving a damn
Half a career ago.

It’s said there is a fraternity
In blue
For people like me….

But it only gathers for funerals.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Little Red Light

The message light
On the phone
Glowed red.

I knew it was you.

But it’s too soon
To hear your voice.

If I did
You would wear me down
And we would spiral
Into the same old nose dive.

I pushed the delete button.
The red light went off.
I pretended to not care.

But I do care.

I just can’t care for you
And myself too.

You suck all the oxygen from the room.
You bleed away all the joy.
You extinguish every pleasure.
You postpone the future.

I know this.

So why do I care?

How may
A little red light
Burn so brightly?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My Hometown

The mountains hide in mist.
Early morning’s hush settles around
As I consider the life I have missed
And the sweetness of this old ground.

It’s been a long time; several years
Since I’ve visited my old home.
I sit quietly, wiping away tears
Thinking of all the places I’ve roamed.

It’s so good to be here again
To drink the water and breathe the clean air.
Whether I ever get back, I can’t say when
But not because I do not care.

My job takes me places
Places that hold little pleasure for me
It’s put me before strange faces
And gave me amazing vistas to see.

But no matter where I may go
There’s no a better place to lay myself down
Than the one place, beyond others I know
I call my native soil, my lovely hometown.

Reply to Tim.....

Tim, I'm answering your comments as a regular post, because it seems readers enjoy our communication as much as they may my poetry!

I do not keep a notebook of ideas, principally because as a result of nerve damage done with a TBI I suffered in '97, the act of holding a writing instrument is painful in the extreme. I can keyboard, but I never write. When I have an idea I either post immediately, or make a brief entry in the notebook section of my cell phone. Of course, the idea is the same. (By the way, there is no observable indication of the nerve damage; all the damage is internal, and it is never going to get better. I have good days and bad days. On bad days, prayer, meditation, and Oxycontin gets me down the road).

You are spot-on concerning the use of writing as catharsis. While I make a distinction between posts that are auto-bio, and those fantastical, even the latter do indeed contain a kernel of truth. For example, though I have never served in the military, I consider myself an amateur military historian. My 22 years in law enforcement, and its requisite training have also afforded me familiarity with tactics and small arms. I trained with SWAT for a time, but only as their target. My role was to secure a (volunteer)"hostage," "steal" some money, hole up in a dwelling, and keep SWAT on their heels. Of course, we all used blank rounds, but the "flash bangs" they tossed through the windows were real, and the boot on my neck 3 seconds later was real. SWAT always won. My motivation was to find as many ways as possible to delay the entry team. I got to be pretty good at diversion and delay. I could be a pretty good bad guy. But good bad guys wind up being dead bad guys, as well. SWAT's motive was to keep the hostages alive, so I developed ways to play that one-string guitar as best I could. I do not recommend anyone pursue this as a career. The pain always exceeds the gain. But the stirring of my adrenalin levels were absolute! They filmed the episodes, and distributed them. So, were I to be recognized by any agency beyond my own, it would always be sinister...though I'm, at heart, a cream puff . Likewise, I was never a cowboy, but I've spent a little time in the saddle, and have chased down a bull or two, in Southwest Missouri, where cattle is big business.

My writing on my book, The Bone Tree, is as slow as inbound traffic during rush hour. I'm actually in my 5th re-write. I've added a minor character, tweaked the subplot and changed the POV. It is, I think, a much better read, and I intend this to be my final re-write. It's killing me. I began The Bone Tree nearly twenty years ago. It's time to finish it or burn it! I'm going to send you the 1st and 2nd chapters soon. It begins bloody and finds ways to up the ante as the plot develops. It's about a tame pastor who volunteers with an infantry division in 1861 and becomes a marksman, with increasing skills. I suppose some of the skills "Albert" develops are akin to my own. In that sense, there's a bit of me in Albert.

I look forward to that cup of brew in person someday. Keep those crows airborne!

~ James

Sunday, January 18, 2015

I Don’t Know

I don’t know what to do
I don’t know where to go
I don’t know why I’m here
And I really don’t want to know.

I don’t know who to ask
I don’t know why to care
I don’t know if it’s good
And I just don’t have a prayer.

I don’t know what to say
I don’t know what to write
I don’t know how to sing
So I’ll just say goodnight!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Reply to Tim......

I was in SC only once, many years ago, on a police assignment. I spent a week in Charleston at a conference and thoroughly enjoyed myself (except for getting wretchedly ill after eating tainted crab cakes! If I ever get back, I'll stick to a good 'ol Yankee cheeseburger). First one to get to the other's locale, give a shout. The drinks are on me when you're here. I know a great little Irish pub that's good for whatever makes you thirsty!

Thanks for your comment on Drinks With an Ex. It is nothing near autobiographical, but I won't say the idea hasn't crossed my mind!

Keep that crow story flying, my friend!

~ James

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Drinks With an Ex*

We sat in the window
Of a little downtown bar
And you spoke of your new life
New love and new car.

You rambled for hours
As I pretended to care
But the truth was you bored me
And you just weren't aware.

I suffered in silence
As you talked, talked and talked
When finally I’d had enough
So I decided to walk.

You smirked when I rose
To put on my coat
But stopped cold when I reached out
And went for your throat.

I suppose that we're finished
With these infernal chats
Since I'm locked up in prison
And you’re buried at St. Matt’s.

The fact is it was worth it
To put an end to your crap
Even though I’ll do life here
While you take your dirt nap.

It’s not that I’m violent
Or not a good listener
It’s just that I’m a poor saint
And you’re the daughter of Lucifer!

* I've heard tales the reason the old horseback circuit rider, John Wesley, spent so much time in the saddle was because his wife, Molly (as he reportedly said) was the "Daughter of Satan." That story is probably hogwash, but when the legend is better than the truth, print the legend! Anyway, that tale inspired this little bad boy.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Strange Ear*

There is something mysterious
About radio static
That space between stations.
Its hiss feels personal.
It has presence.

Perhaps the radio
Is listening
To me!

I lay on my bed
With mystery
My mate
Wondering at the strange ear
Tuned to my frequency.

So far it has said nothing
Nor have I addressed it.
We share the air
Dwelling together
In the vague shush of time.

* I can read your mind...you're thinking I should seek help. If the radio ever does speak through the static, I assure you, I'll find a therapist with a comfy couch to explore my dementia.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What Comes Next?*

What comes next
Baby?
Where do I go
From here?

I’ve been a long time
Trying
Long time
Fighting
And it feels
I’ve lost my way.

So, what comes next
Baby?

I feel your eyes
On me
Tonight
And I know you need
To feel safe.

I’m afraid
Baby
Afraid of losing you.
But I’m all out
Of tricks
Baby
And I don’t know
What to do.

So, what comes next
Baby?
Just tell me what to do.


*Any musicians out there hear any music behind this lyric? Anybody? Anybody??

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

All Hat

I watched him
Lean against a post.
I heard him lie
Brag and boast.

He chews toothpicks
And smokes see-gars.
Says he rides horses
Not cars.

He wears shirts
With pearl snaps.
Follows the stars
And not maps.

He stands tall
And walks straight
But he’s just
Catfish bait.

He’s all hat
And no cattle
All chaps
And no saddle.