a note*

Everything I post here I have previously published on the many other blogs I have had. This is a place for my favourites to rest. These are the wings that taught me i could fly and that there is life waiting, far beyond the ridge.

If you care to comment, just drop me an email at grayhawk77@yahoo.com

rick

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mary






I used to walk down that old cut road and see her there. That red scarf tied around her raven hair bandana style, like a sixties hippie. Hell, she had a big black peace sign in her window and I guess maybe she was. Her name was Mary and the story went that her young husband went to the Nam and never came back. If there was more, no one ever told me.
It was the kind of road, gravel, with gentle curves and red-winged blackbirds on the wires looking
for mischief. It was a good walk in the summer, only a mile to town.
There were never more than two or three vehicles that would pass me and I could've caught a ride if I wanted one, but I didn't, and they knew.
The first half-mile I would think of her, of her thoughts, of her nights. After rounding the bend I could see her place, the small brown house, the falling apart shed, her garden in the back.
That's almost always where she was, on her knees digging. From a distance she looked small, but when you drew near and she would stand up to stretch, you could see she was quite tall and looked majestic in those torn dirty jeans and T-shirt.
She would barely give me a glance as I came into view, but once in a while I thought I saw a smile
and she would take the bandana off and wipe her hands with it before returning it to her head.
I wanted to talk to her, or rather her to me.  But somehow I never was able to
bring it about. I'm not sure if it was my fear, or her aloneness, or my fear of her aloneness.
Maybe it was her stature, maybe her ghosts, or maybe, simply, she was too sacred.
I would pass on her side of the road to be near and slow my pace, hoping she'd say hi or isn't it a lovely day or would you pick up some eggs for me when you're in town, but she only tended her garden while surely feeling my look upon her back.
That's how I remember the summer of '72.
Not the county fair, not my father almost leaving my mother, not my first date at the local theater.
Just Mary and her garden.
And I wonder now if she ever moved, ever remarried, ever had children. I wonder if she believed in God and had a mother who missed her. And I wonder had she invited me in, what she might've said. Would she have made lemonade or fired a joint? Would she have cried because someone was finally there to listen? Or might she have kissed me and seduced me as I imagined on so many of those walks. Just like the movie, she would tender my innocence, gentle my shy, take me by the hand and brush back my hair. Then she would hold me like i hoped lovers must always be held.
But that's the trouble with movies, they're so far from what really happens.
As far as I know, no one in town knew much of her or paid her much mind, and by the summer of '73 she was gone. It was like she never really existed. But the square skeleton of her garden told me she had and the red-winged blackbirds told me I should have.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Trap





















Let's call it Acme, Ohio. That's close enough
I recognized the town as I pulled into it. A railroad and a US highway criss-crossed through it and
main street sported several beauty shops, a grocery store that had fed generations, and a bar called the
Hunter's brew.
I had come to deliver and pick up, no more, no less, and I was told I could park at the factory that whizzed out Ford parts to keep America going.
So that I did.

First thing I noticed, is that I had no cell service, I smirked to my old friend AT&T, tucked it away and wondered what I'd do in Acme, Ohio at seven PM on a Tuesday night. It was crystal cold, the snow was heaped high on the boulevards, but I decided to take a walk anyway.
I started noticing things. The train whistle howled forlornly but the train never came, and the locals seemed accustomed to this as they crossed the tracks as if they didn't exist.
I noticed that the traffic on the U.S. highway drove through like there was a Rottweiler chewing on its own ass.
And the houses wore thin curtains showing my way to the lamp next to the couch where papers were read, babies bounced, and nights buried. There seemed to be a million of these houses; blocks and blocks and blocks of them.
The nicer ones had cut their swath with a snow blower, the darker porch-tilted ones had shoveled with whatever was available, or not at all. There were three pizza places on main street, as there always is in a town like this, and Kayla's Beauty Salon was up for rent.
Kayla had had enough.
I was cold but only because I hadn't dressed for this.
See, this is where I grew up, a thousand Kaylas away, and the flood of forgotten broke the dam and washed me over the rapids, driving me to shelter at the Hunter's Brew.
It was the canker on Acme's ass and I felt uncomfortably at home.
The bar maid was a fifty something we'll call Tina because in another life she had been Tina, but now she just was. There was a guy with too many miles on his dreams and two not-pretty-enoughs singing harmony. There was a girl maybe thirty-five decked out in silver shine and tight jeans trying hard not to look desperate as the guy she was desperate for struggled to make his escape.
And there was me.
I ordered a beer which came in a can but only cost a buck and a half as NCIS played on the scratchy TV.
The flood built and breached the banks as I remembered.

The guy played a few songs on the jukebox and I watched Tina sway and move to the rhythm on her inside bar stool, as a patriotic song played about some soldiers giving all. I watched her eyes close and her lips were right on time to whatever it was that was plucking her sad heart's g-string..
One of the not-pretty-enoughs asked me if i wanted to share their garlic bread and I politely said no.
See, you have to be careful not to take their bread or they'll butter the night with your soul.
I stepped out back in the alley for a smoke and a look around.
I saw cars that were gonna run if the friend of that friend ever got out of jail. There was a yard fenced in where some mongrel sensed my presence and barked to let the town know it had been found,
and there were those apartments; the ones up rickety steps where a person could shack cheap if they had no where else to sleep.
And also, there was the Dodge Stratus. Tina's ride. Her last hope that had really died years ago and I wondered how she made the payment
I went back in, finished my beer and walked out, back through the blocks of nowhere.
Christmas lights were still blinking two months after Christmas and it all might have been serene if not for the flood and the knowing why.
See, I lived in those apartments. I fucked Tina. I threw sticks at that dog. And that guy never showed up to fix my car.
Forty five percent of graduates of Acme High would find work in one of the local factories. Forty five percent would marry them. At best, they'll have a few kids, join the volunteer fire department, and get one of the better houses on one of the better blocks.
There'll be softball leagues and parades and family reunions and now and then the guy will show up and the car will get that timing chain it needs. But in my book, they're going no where in three-quarter time.
I know, I came from there.
I don't know yet where somewhere is but I keep looking down Highway 224 and I keep waiting for that train to catch up to its whistle.
That's not to say these people aren't happy, just that i can't be one of them.

When the girl with the silver trinkets had realized the guy who wasn't her husband wasn't coming back, and the guy who was must be wondering, she said to Tina, "Well, I guess I'll go back to my prison. Fuck, my life sucks." And walked out.
I had walked out just a few steps behind like a ghost who had lost his amnesia.
Tomorrow I'll be in another town, maybe a city, maybe a Gulf Coast beach, maybe on a mountain top somewhere in the Rockies.
I haven't found my somewhere yet but I'll keep looking.
Tomorrow night Act II will begin where Act I left off at the Hunter's Brew with the same players with the same lines minus a ghost with amnesia.
I don't know which sunrise I'm chasing or which moon is holding my jackpot, but Acme Ohio will have to get along without me just like the Acme Minnesota I left long ago.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I want to live












i reach down with cupped hands
large as oak trees upside down, and
dip into the fountain
close my once hopeful eyes
and feel it wash over me
once more

i smooth my hair back
then dive!
submerge
swim
drink til it and i are one

i want to stand on a mountain top
hear the eagle cry
like this!
blaze through the forest
with will covered passion
as a  machete

i want to long
and ache,
but with hope
and the strength of one renewed

there is a wind
blowing from the north,
there always must be
it is not a tidal wave
nor even the crystal
of a maddening brook
but it holds life
and to it i close my eyes
letting it wash me
and in it, an olive branch
too solemn for hands
which i take in my teeth
and fly with, like this!
offering it to you
and you, and you
that we all might live

The Rush







There's that big exam on Monday morning
or the speech on Wednesday night
the first time you meet your girlfriends dad
that job interview a skyscraper above your head

we've all been there

those butterflies high on LSD
that won't get laid til they get to Winnipeg

these orphans of the heart, fed by the frontal lobe
are blended of our fears and doubts
unavoidable

but this is different
a quaking from without
a trembling that began in a solar storm
and knocked us on our ass without warning

you don't know where it came from
where it's going
or what it wants
but there it is,
and it's real
beyond the taming of buddha
knocking the wind out of your soul

ever had it?
did it frighten you?
it does me
because I seem to be the butterflies in its belly

The Door







I used to watch her
she of the second floor
I, of the third

it was the kind of apartment where if one tenant turned on the water,
the others all knew.
but sounds and numbers were all that were known
as names were secreted behind closed doors
and lowered gazes upon the stairs

first, as the light seeped my room
I would hear the pipes jangle and creak
then the faint echo of a medicine cabinet being plundered
before a door here, a cabinet there
and then the melody of her music would waft up
on the aroma of her coffee
wrapping itself around my bare feet
spiraling up my legs
and taking my loin prisoner without a fight

I would then open my window because I knew she would open hers
and it was funny, the way my mind froze
navigating only to her unseen steps

my feet truly found their rhythm when I would hear the heavy door open and close
and I would glance to the clock in association, knowing her moccasined feet
whispered down the stairs.

in a ritual race my own feet pulled me to my window from where,at the edge of the curtain,
I could watch her emerge onto the sidewalk below.

I would smile as she threw her auburn locks to the wind
and her hands would dip into that corduroy jacket.
she always crossed the street at an angle with nary a glance
as if she knew the world
would respect her passage.

she was going to the river, this I knew
where she would scrabble its vacant banks
speak to the current with her soul
the morning with her eyes
and to her heart, with her thoughts.
and she always retrieved a new treasure for her sill
to remind herself who she was.

this wasn't a lonely walk, it was embryonic
a seed for the evening harvest.

this too I knew, because at night I would quietly ascend those stairs
pause beside her closed door
and listen to the threshing.

one day, no more unique than another, as I descended and she ascended,
her bag of groceries shifted, her leathered foot slipped and her grace failed
-but I caught her, and my catch lingered..
things were exchanged
eyes met
silence considered
and a laugh breezed into a smile

Though no words were spoken that day, when next I paused beside her door
I heard her threshing pause with my steps.

then one evening her door was left open -just a crack
then half way
then all the way

this open door led to a name beyond the number
and a chair at her table where we drank her coffee and shared a story

I remember those days now and where they took me
I remember believing that door knew no limit

I would have been wise to remember the way she crossed the street
for one night as I climbed those stairs,
I found that door closed once again.
I remember the pain of those two voices rising up through the floorboards
taunting my concrete feet and spinning a new beat to an old routine.

I think maybe he was the baker who brought her bread
or perhaps a beggar from the park
but I never really cared to know

my mind now froze only in pale numbness and my curtain stayed closed.

I could've moved
should've moved
I know it now as I knew it then
and maybe I tried but good sense plays a minor role on such a dark stage.

the other day as I reached the second floor, I noticed two things;
the door open a crack
and a man's slippers just inside
I didn't pause
doors say more than we hear

A Tavern In The Woods





is a place that opens its doors
when Vickie decides she's ready
a place with long narrow floorboards
worn grey by the snow of long winters

back near the tiny bathrooms
is a pool table with paper thin felt
torn and cigarette scarred

the roof is shingled
the sign painted
the register antiquated
and no uniformed cuties with name tags

this is a place where widows, divorcees and veterans
stare out the window beyond the pitted gravel lot
to watch the snow fall upon the highway

a tavern in the woods has a table in the corner
where those same five guys have been playing
that same deck of cards since Carter picked his first peanut

there is a battered leather dice box under the bar
that makes up for Vickie's lousy tips
and damp smelly bar rags for the occasional spill

the jukebox doesn't do digital
but knows every George Jones song ever recorded

a tavern in the woods has burgers that taste better
for no good reason
and the best beer signs to be found

there is no happy hour because the beer is only two bucks anyway
and last call is when the stories and keg run out at the same time

a tavern in the woods cannot be built
but planted and grown from a seedling
until it reaches maturity

it is a place where strangers gather to become friends
a refuge
a sanctuary
a home for those in search of  definition

Bus Ride






it seems as close to a stage coach as we can get these days
All aboard! next stop Yuma!

we on the street, look to the faces beyond the glare
they never smile or look down
just out, away and beyond
but (or is it and) it draws us,
takes a little of our soul along
in the wake of that thick black smoke

for a moment we wish to go along,
-climb those stairs
to that grandma in Billings we've only known through stories
or the recruiting office in Yakima, or
maybe even to that friend in New York with the spare room and connections

the girl there, in the back row,
with the spiked hair and black lipstick ran away when fourteen burst the seams,
the young man in the middle aisle spent his summer in Yellowstone
grooming trails
and the old man in the green wool uniform
finally made his platoon's reunion

they all wear an expression bought with a sixty-eight dollar ticket
some find comfort in books
some in ear buds
some in journals
some in quiet contemplation

they'll stop for fuel
and just to stretch their legs, where
a few will smoke in a huddle while
names and smiles might be exchanged
and once in awhile a story told to a crooked grin

then they'll board again as we
in McDonald's, or fueling our cars watch
with curious eyes

they pretty much ignore us,
we're not in the club
-not part of the adventure

but as long as there's Greyhound
there's hope for exploration,
the human spirit,
and a dream left
for those of us that watch

Filter




Filters are important
They purify
And I don't have one

I'm the muddy mississippi
Churning
Topsy-turvy
ass over tea kettle
Pissing off artists
But making the catfish happy

So those in my path
Construct filters
Lest i forget my banks

Some have built them
In series
This for that
-a murderer's row of honeycomb
Til i'm not even a river, but
Merely a trickle
Sad in supress

Others have built dams
You know,
Keep the bastard out all together

But there's this one,
Pretty, sleepy little town
That has laid some stones
And logs across my flow
Earthy, natural, an easy traverse

Here, my catfish pool
My heron fish
And my mud slips through
While my eddies swirl
Her feet
At the edge of the bank

She knows not to drink
Too much of me
Not to belly flop my depths
understanding the danger of my undertow

But she lets me flow
Lets me sweep her feet
And in this
I have found truce in the current
Harmony in my day
Agreement in peace
And acceptance in my imperfection

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

noise







it's there, just now
like thunder in a box car
all around me, deep within me
reverberating
and I feel like a crack mom
who's baby wont stop crying

is this where head in hands was born?
my bones they rattle
as the wind and hail
beat the windward glass

my anger whispers a burgeoning threat
JUST BLOW ONE MORE GOD DAMNED TIME
and i swear
i'll spit myself all over you

chains being stretched
doors being slammed
words growing teeth

noise
up the river
down the canyon
over the mountain
and around the bend
echoing a waterfall of spoon

not so much a bass drum high on puberty
or two cymbals breaking treaty
nor even a squadron of howling monkeys
all teeth and screech
drowning out a cause
but more so an attic full of bad memories
crashing the Christmas party

where is my sargasso sea
where the surf takes its slumber?
or my life raft
on a thousand miles of deaf blue stillness?

dollars and dames
wars and used cars
tsunamis and cyclones
and my own dragon within
a light-year from slumber

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What If


Birds had maps
And dragonflies, GPS?

And whales, lanes
Appointments
And taxes?

If deer walked the same trail
passing on the right
(Well, American deer)
Checking their watches
For dinner in the corn field?

What if the hare had safe houses
And bears
Anger management every Thursday
In humphries hollow?

Perhaps deeds could paper nests
And mailboxes dented
By the hoodlum fox
Could claim a blueberry bush

What if wildflowers
Were lined in neat rows?
And the honey bee
Assigned tables?

Clouds could march
As polished soldiers
Bill boarding their intentions
So Barry, the weatherman
Could finally get one right

Perhaps the red river could pause
So its somersault of roiling boil
Wouldn't ruin
The Emmerschmidts new carpet

What if, i wonder,
Nature could be civil
Taught manners
And order like us
And have council meetings
The second Tuesday
Of every month?

Then could man be master!
Then could fear be conquered!
For beauty through Freedom
Would be vanquished
At last

The Storm






















shoulda bought the beacon
and left two weeks earlier
funny how in all this chaos
the moon still dances in and out of the fury

now that keel,
I never did like the way it shook
not that it matters now

God, what a blow
shadows of death in every trough that plows my grave
while my rudder hangs
like a tail without a cat

my survival suit swings drunken in the closet
as useless as a candle in a blizzard
and I think of those I spoke to last
and the things I might have said

Men paint of such scenes
but this isn't a banker's wall
or a side-winding tale
in a sawdust saloon

this is real
life, death, alone
the final act where indifference
yawns the balcony
and the depths feather my bed

I could think of angler fish ripping my flesh for supper
or the pump that sleeps a drowning sorrow
but strangely I don't

I think of kisses as I drink the last coffee
these lips shall enjoy
and I laugh maniacally
as I slide down one hill
and toss to the other
wondering which wave took my panic

when all hope is reefed
the grand mast of fear falls broken
and the heavy anchor of regret snaps its chain
while my soul sails an uncharted departing
under bare poles and a curious moon

tomorrow the seas shall smooth
and roll like a wheat field in Nebraska

a ship may pass unknowing
a whale might nurse
and a long liner may notice clutter
on his sonar

but that is a tomorrow my coin cannot purchase
a calm a tempest too late
and a sun I shall never see

so farewell! all ye lovely ladies
so long, my brothers in arms
drink to me when the gales come calling
drink to the fool who sailed alone
and made peace with the night that took him

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Moment





there was a desert
where all the sands of time
lay heavy in disinterest
I knew it's vastness
hell,
I lived it

the winds,
when they blew
were a bellow of hoarseness
from parch
and the noon sun
in laser sear
scorched my child's skin
into fissures
of remorse

I wore them
like a marshal's badge
but my bullets
shot only rust

the mischief moon
fell cold and heavy
shard like
on my weep laden sleep
while the scorpion
layed his mark
in mourning trails

and the thirst
that played percussion
knew only one beat
as an echo
in a house of mirrors

mercifully
as i trod these barren dunes
my tracks hid themselves
in sadden shame

but one day
in my journey
through this maze
of no relief
I felt a breeze
stir my heart
into tentative hope

it led to a door
that led to a shore
which opened to forests
and rivers and streams
beyond purple mountains
overlooking deep green seas

I laughed
as a drunken loon
and drank
til my heart floated free
and my bullets
fired life
as quicksilver

and love, too
grew neath pines
around this oasis
of crystal quench

but when again,
and much too soon,
the seas turned to sand
and my drink to dust
when once again, the noon sun
blistered my exposed heart to blacken ash
i turned like a top in a sadists maze
searching for a door I'd known
or even the door's cool breeze
but found nothing
save the barren yesterday

moments are like that
that's why they're called moments
that's why we keep trodding
because the door
is a mirage
only motion can find
and only once,
maybe twice

Today I Am





I have been
A rabbit on the run
Hunched in shallow clover
Fearing the shadows
That hold my sand

I have been
The mouse
Hunting crumbs
In others cupboards
As my tail
Grazed their traps

\



I have been
The mongrel
Bare-ribbed and homeless
A tail wagged in vain
To the catcher's disdain

But today
I am the eagle
Full, spread and high
Gliding thermals
Where only a gaze
Might find my freedom

Today
I am an eagle
Today
I fly among clouds

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Voyage






We sailed the shit out of her,
didn't we, hon?

i remember when we first got her,
what a wreck!
Tommy laughed himself sick,
and said it'll never float
your grandma clung to that rosary like a kid
with the parades last tootsie roll
and your momma, well, she just rolled her eyes,
threw up her arms,
and said, "Lord God, Almighty!"

but hell, what else did we have to do?

We scraped her, caulked her, shined her
-hey! remember that July day,
when we were sanding the primer?
that cooler of cold beer and wine?
you chased me with that stick
after i tugged your shorts down,
and how you tackled me and
we wrestled in the long grass
til we laughed ourselves to tears?
and then we just lay there
looking into each other's eyes.

didn't get much done that day,
but the bunk finally got broke in proper

and then that day we launched her,
ha! we didn't have a clue
ran right into that shrimp boat
and scared those rowers half to death!
but the sun was warm, the breeze gentle
and we learned as we went.
sorry for all that yelling

she kept the water out most the time
and her keel ran true.
there was that summer in St. Thomas
that rough ride to Bermuda
the times we just let her be
and went where she took us
never tiring of each other's smile

and we knew a storm would come someday,
one we couldn't beat,
they always do
and sure as shit we wrecked her good
and why the fuck don't they make masts stronger anyway?

but wasn't it something,
watching the clouds off the stern
gather and gain
watching the waves grow
the breath of the deep
like the chest of a champion?

you went to fix that broken cleat
while i stripped the poles bare
and I swear, all I can remember
is how good your ass looked in them oil skins
I wanted to just let her go
just pick you up and carry you below
and love you once more
while the world crashed around us

but we had fear
and better sense, and
so we raced the deck
securing this and
tossing that
as the waves overtook the stern
and claimed our bare feet

I watched you at the stern
checking the rudder
while I held the wheel
and we turned at exactly the same time
and smiled to each other as
the generator died
taking our light
but not our smiles

you with snot running out of your nose
me in that goofy hat
i traded for in Martinique
when we were drunk on bad rum

when she started to list bad,
you fell into me,
we fell against the gunwale
and we sank down
holding each other
as the starboard disappeared

damn, we tried,
didn't we honey?
we saved nothing but ourselves and that
ratty old army coat
as we held hands, locked and laced,
and watched her go under

the others,
Tommy, your momma
and Grandma
will say
see, I told ya so!

but they told us nothin
it was never about how long we could keep her afloat
or how many places we could reach
it was just a voyage
for as long as a moment lasts
and that, we did well
to the very end.

The Day I Fell Off The Earth

I've spent a life straddling the edge. It only figures that someday your foot's gonna slip. It's funny though. I never fell off by a lean. I fell off by a push and a pull. I never seen it coming.
the day I fell off the earth,
I was minding my own business.
really I was.
I wasn't looking for the edge
it just found me


I was on a wild ocean
fishing for flatfish
in too small a boat.
we were on fire,
too fully loaded,
and Frank was a madman


but that's not when I fell off the earth


I was on a mountain
rain turned to snow
morning to evening
I was alone and lost
eighty miles from anywhere.
I wandered blindly
as bears kept my trail
I bargained with God


but that's not where I fell off the earth


I drove her car
drunk and asleep
we hit the ditch at ninety, I suppose,
flew above the moon and half of jupiter
and landed in the corn

but that's not where I fell off the earth

I walked a railroad track
and counted cadence
while stepping the ties.
the rail tempted my balance
and on it I climbed
with arms outstretched.
while I felt the touch
I held my steady
and knew the smooth.
a lean here, a pull there
a soft blow to the wobble
and a smile to assurance of gentle guidance

there was no train
the earth was flat and wide
though I kept to the rail
and floated above the glimmered steel

that is where I fell off the earth
~Rick

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Journal






She was a strange child, after that, but really just a changed child.
And no one really could put their finger on just what made her so, but cousins and neighbors exchanged glances anytime she was mentioned.
It wasn't that she became bad or unmanageable, her teachers liked her, she always made her bed and ate her vegetables and her manners were impeccable.
She played like all the other children and even stole a cookie now and then when the chance arose.
But there was something just different about her.
It all began with the journal. Maybe she began with the journal
On an autumn afternoon when the leaves fell loose and lazy and her mother baked pies to Perry Como on the AM radio, seven year-old Adia grew restless and entered the storage closet.
Her bored eyes mooned lazy in their sockets as Adia began foraging through boxes that hadn't been touched in years.
Finding one box marked "sewing" on the bottom of a stack, she opened it and began to sift through fabric, zippers and pretty ribbons. Just as she was about to close it up and move on to a new treasure Adia noticed a notebook lying at the very bottom. The sun rose a bit in her eyes as she fished it out and turned it over. It was tied with a lavender ribbon and on the front, the word journal was scrawled.
As Adia undid the ribbon, a collection of old photographs fell out and floated free to the floor like the maple leaves outside the kitchen window.
That's when things changed for Adia, when aunts became strangers and her mother, a delicate flower.
Adia scooped the photographs up, stuck them back in the notebook, and stuffed the notebook under her sweater. She then put the boxes as they had been and went to her room.
Adia still ate her vegetables, still giggled when her daddy tickled her, but when goodnight kisses had been planted and nightlights encouraged sleep, she would reach beneath the book case and go undercover.
Eventually, Adia took the journal to the park where acorns lay dormant. Then to the vacant lot behind the Emerson place, and finally to the river bank where the current became a soundtrack.
And Adia became older, fresh in full bloom even as she watched her mother journey the other way, surrendering to time, gravity and monotony.
Adia's sea green eyes would grow distance as she would close the journal and wonder if her mother
had forgotten or simply chose to ignore. Correctly, she accepted that it was neither and contrary to
what psychologists would tell us, her love for her mother grew only stronger.
When her mother would have those moments when she was drying a dinner plate and her hands would slow, then stop and her eyes would see something far beyond the snow outside the window, Adia would imagine it was a soft wheat field she was seeing. A one time bed for two lovers without need for Perry Como.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
On Adia's seventeenth birthday, her mother took her shopping to the mall over in Greenville.
As her mother drove, Adia studied her face, recognized a remembrance in the silent lines.
It seemed to Adia that an emptiness was bleeding through the car, out the door and onto the highway.
It was a silent heartache that needed no narration and at the mall, when Adia came back from using the restroom, she found her mother crying uncontrollably at the fountain.
Adia reached for her, took her, held her, rocked her.
But neither spoke a word.
That night, after her parents had gone to bed, Adia tied the pretty ribbon around the notebook for the last time and went back to the box, still where she first found it ten years earlier.
When she reached the bottom, Adia found a single sheet of paper and recognized her mother's handwriting. pulling it free and sitting on her feet as she had done so long ago, Adia read the words.
"Dear Adia, Thank you for being my friend. Love, mom"

Where I Am



somewhere, among the ruins
I lost myself while questing
for my missing pieces

guides, they were too many
and friends too silent
while lovers built tomorrow
over me
city to city,
with their foundations
hidden in my mud

so I drifted
in a pensive loll

as worlds gathered about me
and ships traded ware
i rolled
to the withered clock

funny, bout the stars
which borrow light
to magnify the darkness
they dwell in

the wind gallops past
brushing the Appalachians
like a lovers bangs

some of me is there

a sapling shivers
neath the towering redwood
a bit of me there too

high on a barren ridge
where nameless stones
hold silent mass
the Dall sheep watch
the banner of snow
streak from a peak never claimed
and I am the breath expelled

but I'm also
the dust in closet nooks
and the letter
never opened
in a box well hidden

these I can't retrieve
and they keep me
from knowing the others
I miss so dearly

Bad Luck Nate



Many years ago, 1993 to be exact, I wrote a poem for a newspaper in a town in Alaska that I once commercial fished from. (Homer) So, in the spirit of Robert Service;


Bad Luck Nate


three days deep into Kachemak
can leave a man broken and spent
in pursuit of game known as halibut
to pay back the cash that was lent

silent miles of line work the bottom
while twelve footers on top must be fought
while wading through fish to be gutted
(ya can't sell the things if they rot)

while sliding back into the harbour
the Salty Dawg beckons and calls
you've done what you should
caught what you could
come in and let me cure all

inside it's a mass celebration
for those that came in bottom-full
and the one's that played the bad hunches
stare at whiskey with eyes sorrowful

the telling of two-hundred pounders
and sets that left barrels red hot
stories must grow from whiskey'ed up lips
no matter if true or if not

sitting alone at the end of the bar
getting bent was Bad Luck Nate
fish somehow know the boat he'll be on
and avoid the hooks with his bait

never catching a ride on the same boat twice
the tale of a jinx travels fast
again, he'll swear to give it all up
of halibut, he's seen his last

but he'll catch the fever again next time
when a captain finds himself needing
"be on my crew, I know that you're due
to catch the fish down there feeding"

but nights like this, we avoid poor Nate
except for a pat on the back
none will dare remind him
bout his luck, or the money he'll lack

what he lacks in luck
he makes up for in size
six-four going two-fifty five
in a fight to death with a Kodiak
you can bet on Nate to survive

about this time a gent strolled in
well dressed and of outside descent
a cigar wedged tight in a cocky grin
and a roll that looked to be spent

bragging like none I'd heard before
of the three hour charter he took
explaining to all of his expertise
in playing the rod and the hook

"I just weighed him in at three sixty-four
hanging out back if you'd just care to see.
quite sure it will claim the jackpot
though it really don't matter to me"

"I just went out to have some fun,
had heard it a fine fish to catch.
I found it all rather boring though,
no matter the prize it will fetch"

through all, Nate never gave so much as a look
the whiskey just burned in his throat
but we all glanced to guess what he thought
of the man who parlayed his gloat

three or four of the local boys
played his story for the last very cent
then tossed him out like a greasy cod
for all of his roll had been spent

then Nate rose up to leave the bar
as obligingly, we all stepped aside
impressed by the temper the big man had kept
knowing an anger was welling inside

at closing time, we walked out back
to get a glimpse of the mighty catch
that just by chance had grabbed the hook
of such a sorry wretch

we found no fish upon the hook
but feet first there hung a limp man
the scale, it read one sixty-five
and we began to understand

though the crime was never solved
to our stories, we all held fast
next night he bought the first round
Nate's luck had turned at last

~rick

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Wind




My feelings for the wind are ambivalent. It blows my golf ball where I would rather it not go and ruins my fishing. But it also stirs my soul and makes me alive. To me there has always been something in the wind beyond the flush of heat and chill. It calls me, it draws me and sometimes even leads me. It is my friend if not always a kind friend.


















I feel the wind
inside out
as it tugs
and tears
from the things
I desire

can you see the wind?
I can
fingers waving
calling
me home,
wherever that is

the pines
sing to me
hushing,


it’s oklike a slow moon waltz
in shadowed
waves
of sleeping war

the flush
to my cheek
and hair gone awry
tell me of
on and
life in promise

I tilt my head
to bathing
wash
of sun-bleached beauty
in the gentle rinse
of an ivory moon

for a moment
I fly
in freedoms
pendulum
stirring
a moon carved cradle

join me,
there’s moon for two
and breeze
for plenty
while the pines
sing so lovely
a melody
to lances laid
and shields parlayed.

Rick

I Wonder



There are those that live for parties, and noise all nascar and halftime. Laughter that splits the face wide open and spills onto anyone near. I've never been them but I like to keep them within view. I like to watch them, observe them and wonder what makes them tick.
I'm a watcher. A studier. I don't usually get all the details of a conversation but I notice what others miss. The twitch and crooked smile, and the hand gestures that are just a bit too exuberant. I see people in abstract. Beyond what they wish to reveal.
So many pieces to so many puzzles jumbled by movements in rhyme.





Her steps, just a bit too quick
her skirt just a bit too high
certainly an effort to conceal
by exposure
that which she doesn't like.



with lips welded to the way
and eyes full of warning
she parts the sweated sea
but I wonder...



He straightens his tie and crooks his smile
having been told by phony repairmen
how well it all plays.
a master of games and deals delivered
he jets to success on air filled wheels
and never trips on the cracks
but I wonder..



She leans in to lock his gaze
with small nibbles and fork extended
he feigns deep interest
secretly brushing the crumbs from his lap
and a second date seems imminent, a kiss contracted.
But I wonder...



The boy hits his homer
and high fives the home crowd
as the princess in the stands
squeals her delight
knowing she'll wear his ring someday
but I wonder...



They slather and slobber
and rhodes scholar her dreams
as grandpas beam and cousins scowl.
it all comes so easy for her
this monogrammed journey
but I wonder...



is the life of the party
life to himself
does the long legged beauty
sleep peaceful dreams
will the second date survive
the slipped gas and broccoli'd teeth



can sweet deals trophied in board rooms
campaign his lost soul?
she so eager for a ring
will it flatter her nose,
in a silly effort to prove and disprove
when by it she's pulled?



If what is displayed
on country club linen
is all of perfect.
and if Susies and Bobbies
parfait perfect dress



Then I wonder
who cleans the mess?



hospitals filled with pain to the brim
large acned girls who never will swim
in the tide of life's sweet perfume and cherry cologne
young boys who miss while mean people hiss
to his clumsy swing and his sweaty fist
and tears fill pillows in nights so alone



The world never allows us to see
the beauty queen sick over filthy toilet bowls
hair matted and ugly
or smell the bathroom
when pampered dukes depart
only the fitted gowns and pressed tuxes
and whitened teeth
but I wonder...


~Rick

The Golden Boy



hooves
upon hard pack gravel
spoke beauty
in time-scape

the fruit boxes
all in toss and stain worn
coloured the grey
of no match.

the loveliness
of the Mexican bride,
of her smile,
in the window of the rusted truck,
asking directions
from the Pennsylvania Dutch
went far beyond
digital ability
and painted the desert
of Kentucky gloom.

a thousand images
in a single frame
and yet-
it was the boy, always the boy,
the boy
with the strawberry-blonde
twist
and the smile
of a thousand golden joys
turned back, looking
over the buckboard
that froze time
and rendered hearts
useless
in the glory
of harvest nuance.
~rick

Foreboding

Doesn't it suck when you wake up in yawn and swallow a black hole? Sometimes we need to unhitch the burden from our back and let it fall. Someone else will come along needing their day ruined and will be glad for the heaviness their soul craves.
foreboding
is it your seed
or the planting
of another?

we walk
the fallow grounds
to the burgeon
of unhindered hope
while storms
of another’s doubts
shag carpet
the trail
in trip and pull down.

comets
of another’s cast
skip across the heavens
ten-pinning
the dreams of an innocent
as the tail
snaps whip-snipple
in thundered acclaim.

a child looks
to the stars
in quest fed delight
til we book
learn him silly
and black-hole
his soul
in the fence line
of reason

and we walk
deep-pockets down
in shadowed valleys
of bruised sun light
and perfect menagerie

come to me child,
cries the dawn
of new-found hope
before the seeds
of potted plants
find their root
and the nebula
of another’s foreboding
black-holes
your yearning soul.
~rick

Hot July


Quite by chance, or so it seems, I find myself these days in a place where July knows no mercy. Damp, heavy and suffocating. It wraps itself around your shoulders like a hundred pound shawl and smiles to your misery. Thank God for fans and lemonade.






the air falls thick
in layered waves
masturbating the fields
in perfect disorder

cream coloured strokes
fly the fields
and rise the ridges
in Gettysburg waves

firmament
as it was before Noah
as it was before love
before emotions were birthed
and ejaculated
down the tendrils
of our uprising

July bakes
because it can’t spill.

the heat thrums
up, down and out
while we hanky our brow
and nose drip
the fever that plagues
our stolen comfort


by noon,
the feet will grow heavy, dense.
eyes will narrow
in pleas of mercy
and hair will stray
to pasted surrender

by late afternoon,
makeshift fans
on shaded porches
keep time to
rockers that cradle
and comfort
in all, there, there

later,
when the dishes are done,
and the sun finally
falls silent,
when a breeze dares again
peek out from
whence it slept,

windows will again fly open.
box fans will fill them
with a wellspring
of dusk delight
and we’ll lay
one leg out
in wait
for tomorrows heavy dew
~rick

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hope






















The village was nondescript. Except that it lay on the edge of where war had once been. The big one.
He walked the fields that lay dormant for a thousand years. He cried as he walked, remembering what could not be forgotten.
His feet fell heavy and lifted even heavier, as if clay learned roots to better torment the living.
Old women hung laundry in the damp hopelessness and men counted coins in their shops to mark time. But it was he, the conscience of their soul, that could not be ignored. They watched him and dwelt in his misery as children scratched marks in cold stone.
************************************************************************************
The snow fell as Christmas snow should. Green chased red in never ending tag. The children lay upon beds of makeshift dreams and colored green trees under orange crayons of sunshine, as December blew through the cracks.
She did the dishes in hopes of his late return. Shame kept her from the children. Fear kept her from the window.
One of the children, the smallest, looked up out the frosted window to the neighbors laughs, racing from window to window. And wondered.
***************************************************************************************
It was three in the morning. Another hour to go as he looked to the arm of his stiff blue
security uniform of feigned importance. Old women in generic hair pulled greasy handles as if a basket of dimes would really matter now. Grateful husbands; miserable old bastards really- slept in peace dreaming of flat tires on buses of glory.
Glory. Yes, what glory for a tribe that once ruled the plains and now hoodwinked and babysat old white women for miserable old bastards. He looked at his watch again and briefly thought of long ago, and seasons out of time.
******************************************************************************
In the beginning was light, and the light was good. Then there were seas, and the seas were good. Then were there trees, and grass and green fruit, and it was all good. Then a moon, a Sun and stars beyond measure. And it was good. Then great whales, and beasts and great birds and all that, was good also.
Then there was man, and he was given dominion over all that was good.

I dream.

A village of gentle breezes where the air dries perfectly. A place where coins have no place and children roll and laugh in fields of wildflowers as men smoking empty pipes smile in feathered line and lean to friendly trees that have never seen a war.

I dream.

A Christmas Morn where every child knows love and laughter in marshmallow hugs and the green catches the red in a new colour. A December that doesn't play favorites.

I dream.
Of peace and buffalo on a golden plain of simple existence. A field of harmony in a world void of tour buses and slot machines.

I dream, because I believe. He who called it good says the lion will once more lay down with the wolf. This is my hope.
~rick

Dan




I have a son. I love him. He's brilliant, and funny when frustrated. Loves to argue. Dabbles in everything. Extremely creative. He always tries to do the right thing-nothing like me. I wonder where it will all take him.












a strange one,
this long, lanky
bird.

a hard thinker
from his roots
of tender lily

I don’t miss
the times we had
so much
as the times
we never had
and should have.

a boat builder
of tobacco sticks
he might have seen it float
had I seen it float

he believes in science
and logic
and modern man

my belief in such
lies fragmented
in the craters
of a war
beyond this earth.

he wants,
I think,
to be battleship
but one that swerves
to avoid sea turtles
or stops to rescue
broken birds

I don’t know how to tell him
why
he can’t be both.

I just know he can’t.

he’s stronger than me
he will be battleship
in the name of progress
and logic.

I wish him well
but I wish him
stars over gps
and enough trouble
to keep him spirit

me,
I will take the broken bird
and tired turtle
and swim for an island
that knows no
anchorage

and dream
of tobacco stick boats
and a little boy
who once sailed
a plastic lid
across a lake
with a sister
for crew.

and miss the times
we never had.

~rick

Nicole




I have a daughter. I love her dearly. She's grown now. A mystery always. Always sleek and under the radar. Words are used only when necessary.












the harbour
it looks still
and peaceful
from this hillside

I squat
ancient observer

was a time
the time
when I worked
the dock

she stayed close
back then

her wake was playful
her conning tower
flowered
to the stars

I rubbed her
I smoothed her
I polished her
she let me

but the day
has grown on

her wake is strong
and
full of purpose

she polishes
herself
in her movement

so I walk the hillsides
that surround
her emergence

ancient observer

she goes out now
much farther
much deeper
reinforced
by the learning
of her engine
the motive
of her rudder
and the pull
of the tide

others watch
and give passage
to her sleekness
as she slowly disappears
below the surface

one day,
she won’t return
neither good nor bad
it just is
the way of life

so I walk
the hillside
ancient observer

and dream of where she’s going
and hope
her bunkers filled
and her seams dry

and I hope
as she slides
beneath the surface
that her periscope
will rise once
and turn
to look
for the
ancient observer
who looks from squat
upon a windblown
hillside.

~rick

This Ancient Land



The sky emits strawberry milkshake
Melting over distant mountain tops

Revealed in silhouette

They plant firm and deep
Like viking linemen
Who forgot the signal
34 57 29 Hut!
But planted, they remain
To the rush around them

The shoulders hunch
Shake a bit
As the wind
Elder to the ancient
Barely gives notice

In this new dawn of light
His tuft of trees
Like hair
-no, feathers
In a warriors
headdress
Prove his heart yet beats
Above anchored legs

Beyond and higher
His father stands
Like a heart-shot moon
The frozen white
Heavy on his brows
And it is here
Wind and age make love
Spawning the prophecy
Of death

Below, and
As children in daycare,
The earth plays wild, while
Snow flies fresh and silly
Like a pillow fight gone bad

And the pines stretch,
A million tiny erections
In search of a moist womb

The mesas beyond,
crouch low and grumpy
playing drill Sergeant
To the sands below
While sage protest to cactus
We have rights, too!

This land has stood
Long before the language
That defines it
But sorrow shakes
In lost translation

Where once great bears
And the hungry she wolf
Vied and grappled
In the way of now
The rising mist reveals
Fences and telephone poles
In vile trespass

Where once the Apache brave
Chased a wild stallion
Whose neck fumed
The thunder of freedom
Men in blaze neon
Gather the litter of spoil

What was before
Shall be again
And again and again and again
Til the Elder wind stands still
In surrender
And spreads her skirts
Over a place, a way

Devoured in a taming
It was helpless to stop

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Making Sense Of It All












































I have a problem. Nothing in this world makes sense to me anymore except crazy lyrics to washed-out old songs. Go figure. (This was first published by me in nov '09. not much has changed. just the names)

Making Sense of it All
Levon,
Levon likes his money…
Google gave me directions,
last week
clickety tick
flippety whirr
zip! zip! zip!
we’re on a first name basis,
this Google fellow
and
I

he’s very helpful
and I trust him

so when he said left,
left I went
with a thank you
so very,
very much!


Levon wears his war wound
like a crown…

he was big
mean
and ugly
this Pennsylvania
troll
with stomp your ass
boots

I told him about Google
and the beauty of
mornings
all sunshine
and enlightenment

you know, right?
he didn't know.

he only
bit
and chewed
and nashed
and puckered both
our asses

I guess
to someone-
somewhere,
$18,550.00
is not so large
a traffic ticket

Levon sells cartoon balloons
in town
his family business
thrives…

I’m thinking Brazil.

will the mean man
from Pennsylvania
follow me
like Popeye Doyle?

the Rio Connection

my purse-cinched
employer
feels rather bad
and wishes me well
from tenth story
windows
mascara’d by the
glare

Jesus,
blows up balloons
all day
he’s on the porch swing
watching them fly….

another man
who loves peace
and good prayer
went quail hunting
on God’s
Texas ranch

not sure he had a license
though,
he thought
he did

feathers and ribbons
everywhere,
all
tangled in stars and stripes.
but the taxidermy man
can clean it up
with speeches
and bugles

now the quail
have taken arms
against the liars
with un-apple pie names
but I fear,
for quail are not always
so bright
and the pound
of flesh
must be sliced
and broiled to perfection.

take a balloon
and
go sailing…

I went into a bathroom
today
and sat down

the wall said,
“die niggers!!!”
and
“Mary Jo is a whore”
dangerous,
these quail
of very little brain


while Levon
slowly dies…


I listen to the man
of eloquent speech
and secret
birth
and wish to believe
his banner of hope
but aged cynicism
stews a cold shoulder
in dented pots

he was born
a pauper to a pawn
on a Christmas day
when the new york times
said God was dead
and the war’s begun
Alvin Tostig
has a son today…

Bob Dylan
has a Christmas album
I guess William Shatner
was busy
I think Cat Stevens
felt too much
and now,
thinks too much.
John Denver
wouldn’t give the Russians
ten million
to fly their space ship
then nose dived
a puddle
near Pebble Beach
perfect.
Stevie Nicks
now blasts Lindsay Lohan
for poor choices,
huh???

and Jesus,
he wants
to go to Venus,
leaving Levon
far behind…


Toby Keith
says he'll put a boot
in the ass of all
who don't fall in line,
and sings that
he likes that her kids
cry down the hall
while
the Dixie Chicks
dislike senseless wars
and oil driven
bombs

now Toby
wades fields of
green confetti
while
Natalie smells
of rotten
tomato
in banishment

How do we like him now?
just fine,
thank you

And Levon likes his money,
spends his days
counting
in a garage,
by the motorway…


I remember the young man
laying lifeless
in blood and
a runaway's tears
at Kent state.
It’s fading,
though.
was she fourteen?
does it even matter anymore?
the man who pulled the trigger,
the American soldier
who STILL eats
apple pie
and toe taps to Toby,
he who aimed
and pulled
does he remember?
67 rounds in 13 seconds,
damn, that's some shootin!
and they fixed bayonets.
did you know that?
we bayonetted our children.
-in Ohio

Cuz he likes the name,
and he sends him to
the finest school
in town…

I remember,
many years ago,
a woman with twin
daughters
just one year old.
-can you hear them
pleading for a pick me up?
anyway,
she left them alone,
in the house,
while she went out
in her yard,
in the Maine cold
to hang laundry
or some other
such malfeasance .

this rebel
wore mittens,
white ones,
to keep her fingers warm.

A hunter shot her
dead.
BLAM! BLAM!
right through the heart.
clean as a whistle
dead as a doornail.
the little girls waiting
must have wondered
of the sound,
and the cries of "Dear God help me"
that the neighbor lady heard.

how dare she wear white mittens
in her yard.
they bellered and arm waved
in uproar
and
the invading survivors
were driven
back to Iowa
where they belong.
ungrateful bastards!

the hunter lost his license
and was greatly
inconvenienced
and all was well,
once more.
Her name was Karen Wood.
do you remember?
my friend, Google
can help.

if we reached up
and spun
the sun
would we get
another turn?

or just more shots?

he shall be Levon
he shall be a good man
in the tradition
of the family plan.

{since I've penned this, just last week, a 23yr old girl, a college student collecting frogs with two friends for biology class, was shot dead. BLAM BLAM!! right into oblivion. Her friend was only shot through the hand. Guess that one can't go on the wall. How frikken bad can one want a deer? Do deer in Virginia and Maine look like students and mothers? A year or two ago in Minnesota, an old guy hunting from his lawn chair in his driveway shot a horse out from under a young girl next door. Everyone but the young girl and horse thought it was a hoot. LOL}
~rick

My Old Foe, Death





Death is a cagey bastard. It rarely comes right at you and if it does, it does so at lightning speed. It has a way of showing disinterest until it creeps from the shadows and coddles you into it’s clutches. I choose to search it out, keeping my enemy close, the better to keep an eye on it. It has a need to be in control and that is the battle I choose.




I walk through fields of amber and grey
boot heavy and heart full
all jangle and beat
in search of one who feigns
and waves along
with nonchalance

a foe I wish to draw near.

my life falls heavy
upon my chest
in anchored breath
of heated sorrow
and wasted want

He
bare and Poseidon-like,
a back of brass and iron.
banded arms in lock formation
jeweled in blood and blight
as emerald and ruby
these eyes of hardened deceit.

echo this,
echo I
hollow made thus
erringly so
you of yesteryear and forever.

but yet, I call
approach
challenge
yea,
even demand
to one who flicks
the ash of man
across the chessboard
of who dare?
I dare

I search you
yes,
in hunt of red October
and dip my fingers
to the depth
of your despair
in beleaguered plea
of selfish surrender.

I spy not
the whiskers of your age
nor the grain
of your youth
but the stench of your choice
I discern
in these fields
of inglorious restitution

and my eyes glint
as my tongue clears the scabbard
of notched forlorn

but you whisper goodbye
and trace
to the whisper of your
disappearance
the magic
in the chicanery
of your choosing

and once more, you have greased my grasp
with your laughter.

sheath full
of dull worn edge
boot heavy
with rusted jangle
and heart weary
yet alert,
watching
narrow eyed
to the shadows
that chase
along the edge
I plod on

knowing

when cease I to hunt you
your cutlass shall claim my blood
in chains
of sullen embrace.

~rick