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


Thursday, August 23, 2012


before asteroids,
before space invaders,
before X-Box-
there was a sloped table
on four chrome legs.

the top was filthy
and cigarette burned.

the kid,
what he could do
with it!

a pull with a twist
and a knock of the knee
and the little steel ball
was in play.

up and bend
groovin the paint
smirkin the move
all brass balls

the kid would push
at just the right time
and the ball would
bonus X500

a bump to the side
and the ball would
fall in the hole
with a ding! ding! ding!as he cracked his knuckles
in well, fuck yeah!
the ball would try to escape
maybe down the side alley,
but he was too good
and could bump it back into
siderail torment.

by now,
the ball was weary,
as the knock
told the score
and the games piled up.

it tried to race for the exit
down the middle,
but that only played
to his power
and once more
the ball was sky rocketed
in sideways cacophony
bing! bing! bing!
bip! bip! bip!

I’d like to hold that steel ball,
that cold little steel ball,
in my hand.
rub it warm
like a wounded bird.

I’d like to carry it to an ocean
and bathe it in my palm,
with a one finger stroke.

maybe it and I
would share chardonnay
on a Paris balcony,
laughing to the headlines.
I'd show it the moon,
I suppose,
and roll it
through soft
easy meadows.
or maybe,
just maybe,

I’ll just carry it
in my pocket
til we’re both free
from our glass encasement
and the games
of another’s quarter.

She Dances To Moons

she waltzes with moons
in a garden of words.
one hand to
the red ripe,
the other
to vine.

a look up
to wishes behind
from a bayou dock
deep in the stillness
of black
she knows
the pearl-topped
have graced her yesterday
before leaving
for another’s tomorrow

she loves where
she’s been,
and been where
she’s going
while she trances
to second-hand books
and far away looks

love is flawed,
this she pens
in her palimpsest
but still, her garden
more beautiful.

her long stem
to the nectar
of a dragonfly’s ebb
while we rim our finger
and lip the sweetness,
only to
cherish the taste
of her fevered library
in her untamed jungle

she dreams,
still, as before.
Bohemian and cut-offs
seventeen forever
and taller than the clouds
and wonders,
then grapples
with the answers
an indifferent bayou

and she dances to moons
with fat red tomatoes
while Stevie Nicks
plays on
in her garden
of words.



well, he did it again
the sneaky ol bastard

i blew my top
in the roarin forties
sliced her north on a jib
skittered the shoals
slid her into second base
no, out
whaddya mean out?
he never touched me!
but down she went
taking my argument
with her

and once again
here, on a battered rock
at the bottom of nowhere
i smelled him
afor i seen her

oh, pissed was I
and I rattled the heavens
with my curses,

kicked sand
at the witches wind
and stumped my ass
in what the fuck now

and then, soft and low
how the pipes
stirred the misty wash
upon this crusty jewel
of heartless scars

i clenched my ears
in hydraulic denial
but ears with him
ain't really the problem

i turned my narrow eyes
to his furtive control
all crookedy teeth
skid marks and
peach-rotten balls
and wept

as i had done
in Tanzania
off Scotland's cliffs
in the vineyards of Italy
and the snow pack
of the Yukon

He'd found me once more
or perhaps
never left me
but oh!
how his pipes do play

Crazier Than Batshit

I knew her once, for a couple thousand years. Or maybe she just let me think I did. She was a train with no reverse. A river disguised in her many forks, and a metaphor for the metaphor. The simple ones said she was fucked. We love that word to hide our own ignorance. I thought her sanest of all.

I watched her in the midway.

she laughed to the oddest
of things-

her feet
could never find the straight
nor her hair,
it’s proper place.
and yet,
it all rollercoastered
to my ferris wheel
so perfectly.

her scarf flew
in crazy unfetter
like a drunken buoy
in a hurricane
or would have,
had she been wearing one.

they gave her three for a dollar,
those damn crooked balls,
she took only one,
and missed.
the watchers laughed
to her head toss
and the barker
she had taken two more
as she wiped her hands
on the sliver
of her ass.

She saw ten dollars
upon the littered lawn,
and simply walked by.
she found a plastic ring
and wore it
in covet,
and a small child
with wide eyes
learned value.

she bought a corn dog,
just to chew the stick.
and an ice cream,
just to spill the melt.

she kissed strangers
and dodged friends.
and sang a marmalade tune
in a key
that only the sparrows on the wire
could know and appreciate.

and she looked to a sky,
void of light,
save her reflection
in a kaleidoscope sky.

then she raced across
like she had extra lives
or just didn't care
and whispered
to the river,
which answered her call.

her ass kissed the water
in solemn squat
and when she looked
to where a moon might be
it was,
but only for her.

there were others
that watched her,
that say she was fucked.
and while she is crazier than batshit,
I’m tellin ya,
it ain't the same.

and I know the difference.

Eloise Loses It

Every small town has a catholic school, it seems, and the always smiling lunch time ladies. But every body has their limit and things aren't always as they appear.

didja see Elouise
down der at de pool hall?

Ya, chur did, ja know
all elbows
and hang out
in de corner pocket,
chootin wit de Anderson girl

urd che went all lesbian
on Frank outa de clear blue
and tossed him out on his keister
witout so much as a what fer!

ja don’t say?
I do say! I do!

one day just sloppin
dem mashed potaters
and veeners
down der at de catlic school
and whoopee!
she jus' up and loses it
when de Miester kid pees his pants again.

den she runs up and lifts Sister Margarite’s habit,
or whatever dey call dat ting
den pinched her right der on er rear!
chur did, ja know!
and I heard Sister was wearing purple panties wit yellow flowers!
say, where d’ya suppose a nun gets a holt somtin like dat?

Oh gee willakers, I dint hear none a dat!

heard tell
dem other little squirts stood in line
and watched just like Ike Johnson ad rolled his old dozer again!
den she runs up and sticks a veener in Fadder Mitchell’s kisser,
pretends to light it,
and shovels a scoop of dem mashed p’taters right on his head.
slappin him silly and gibbin im a knee!
doubled 'im over like a toad with an ass kick dey say

ja don't say?
I do say, I tell ya!

and den she gave de revren mudder a big ol honk on dem big ooters of ers
and kissed er full on de lips!

en der's more,

and I’m not makin dis up,
she yanks off her own clothes,- dey say,
and runs out-naked as a jay bird!
bouncing and a floppin dis way and dat

Pete Willard said he saw her run past de café,
and rub her bare ass all over
de five and dime's big winder
as ol lady Schmidt watched from inside,
trying ta keep ol Schmidty from gett’n a peek, ya know,
what a hoot!

well, she never was right, cha know
not since dat der deal at Marv Sheplin’s funeral

ya, che was really lit dat night.
hard to live something like dat down.

dem kids’ll do dat to ya doe,
damn devils dey is!
a person can only take so much.
shame about er goin lesbian though

yeah, she sure looked good at de pool hall
and I never liked Frank anyway.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Holy Storm

there are storms
that strike
terror and dash
and squalls
that piss rainbows
on the dockers
of dreamers

and there is a lightning
that races
to strike a blow
for the injustice
of ingratitude
for the Sun’s labor.

we picnic our plans
and summer
our worries
in the brassiere
of our dominance
upon the earth’s

this we do
until convinced
of our throne
in the power
of lies subtle ante

but there is a storm,
a holy storm,
of up your ass
and break your
feckless pride

it comes high
then low
and lightning
owns the sky
in end to end

the clouds twist
and say
they might
while I cower
in chin out hide

I step out in the open
and say, therebut not too far
and she throws
an angry glance of
do you dare another?

I think of the barn,
and those holding flashlights
behind windows
of farce,
and think,
for them,
them only,
I’ll retreat.

but my fear was real
and my challenge
as she lifted her skirt
and queened her eyes shut
to my withdrawal
letting her billows
bow the victory
and train her dominance.

It was a holy storm
and I the lamb
of peppered incense
but she had the high ground
so I’ll wait
for another day.

Swallowed in Green

Sometimes, emotions come in a flood. Sometimes rest, peace and love come in a torrent. Sometimes it's best to just give in and be washed over.

feet in sand
soft and giving
and washed over

the sound
a whisper
that roars
in beckon
and warn
the way
I like it

it fills
my ears
and then my heart
and then my past
and then my future
and then my pulse
and then
I burst into surf

breaking over rocks
I rush
to join it
onslaught poured
it swallows
me full

in emerald silence

so quiet
so peaceful
so full
a hum
that kneads
and lifts my surrender

I roll
to engulf
and quake
in silent forever

my body
naked for shiver
in wet entwine
to know green fingers
of insidious delight

a spectacle,
for those
that light the way
of nature’s
blended fury

above me,
a storm
to Jacob’s herd
and Rachel’s jealousy

but here,
all is calm
in silent drift
breathless mercy
as I green
to aqua blue
becoming turquoise
as yesterday’s


Nobody's Baby

an alley, dark,
and snug,
so fitting to the walk
that seals her dreams
in fisted closure

doubts snicker
in all seeing
from the city’s
dank hallways
and lean lazily
as sewer mist
to night’s hopeless

another Christmas morn

Daddy’s little angel
so pretty
in pink pretend
as silent nights
echo the bells
of rehearsed laughter
on christened flakes
of morose.

slip in, slip on,
slip out, slip under

forty from Dave
thirty to Pedro
phit, phit, phit
duck and dodge
and be scored
a winner every play.

tap and tumble
A’s and B’s
for that perfect
smile, and
pink band-aids
over scrabbled knees

a filthy mattress
of deep root
in stench heavy
tells stained secrets
holding hope hostage
under piss rotten stairs

his eyes seal her
as purchase
and her fumbling fingers
in trembled acquiesce

make a wish,
then blow out
the candles
that flicker

she’s gonna be a heartbreaker,
that one.
*smile and nod*
you must be so proud
a hundred pounds of joy
in a cheerleader smile

you still owe me a C, Bitch
black words from spent lips
nah, that ain’t gonna do
favors and felony
time in broken bottles

she never sees a sunrise
is still there a sun?
When did the moon
move to Alberta?
and death squats heavy
and chambered
around her

just damp alleys
in tangled darkness
sprouting electric mangroves
with death
the only hope
that remains

the clack of her shoes
on brittle pavement
write stories
on the heart of this city
and mommy and daddy
have moved to Paris.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Clyde Columbus

I know you've heard of Christopher Columbus, but have you ever heard of his second cousin, Clyde, the lesser Columbus? It was his idea, ya know.
Clyde (his friends called him CC) was older than Chris and a real dreamer.
He would smoke opium with the Asian girls down at the red dragon massage parlor and get visions, crazy ones.
Not ones as crazy or ambitious as a new trade route to the East indies, CC couldn't give a rat's ass how his shit arrived or from where. But he would get these crazy dreams about a new world where cows were black, furry and enormous. And men were sitting in tents smoking stuff while the women did all the work.
"Wow, Hookie! Did you see that?" he would say to the naked girl playing with his balls while he
peered into his exhaled smoke. Her name was really Hukio but Clyde was never good with Asian
names and again, didn't give a rat's ass. Hookie would look up, smile and nod playfully not having a clue what he said, but anytime he said anything she just squeezed his balls tighter and this seemed to make him happy. All in all it was a fine relationship.
The more he smoked, the more he saw. A land of white sand beaches, lush meadows, grand mountains.
But he never knew where this new world was until one day, Hookie's friend Tamiko gave him some magic mushrooms before sitting her pretty little flat tush upon his face. It was then, finally and all at once that CC unlocked the mystery. As Teeko's (as he called her) juices flowed over his course beard, onto his tongue, and mingled with the mushroom sauce, Clyde s eyes flew open wide and there in her dark bush, he could see the map.
"Teeko! For Christ's sake, could you sit still?" CC mumbled into her clit. "I'm trying to read."
The frantic girl smiled, nodded and began to grind even faster, figuring, what else could he be asking for.
No matter, Clyde had seen it. The new world was directly West, straight across the ocean.
For the first-and only time in Clyde's life, he felt the tingle of ambition. It sprouted almost immediately into determination and as his mind began to fire up the rusty gears, his cock fell limp. No matter, he had seen the new world, and it was filled with half naked dark haired babes who could bring it back to life and they were just waiting for a king to discover them.
The first thing CC had to do was gain respectability so he could gain a following and sponsorship.
This wouldn't be easy as he had already established quite a reputation far short of respectability, and though he knew he needed a wife everyone admired, he settled for the scrawny snaggle toothed wench
with the crooked nose who worked down at Juan's diner. It wouldn't be perfect but it would be fast and easy as even Juan grimaced in anguish when he looked at her.
Next, he subscribed to National Geographic, which was quite thin back then, and studied how these loony bastards thought and spoke.
He then invented the New World Foundation and got every bum, thief and prostitute he knew to join, knowing quantity was as good as quality in a pinch. Clyde not only had connections in high places through his drug and prostitution rings, but he also was quite a con artist. He once misplaced an entire ship of Asian whores, then convinced the shipper to compensate him for a non-delivery.
He began to dress well, if not quirky, and to speak as though he knew what he was saying.
It all only took four years and there he was at the harbor saying goodbye to all the lords and Noblemen who had given him their money and seemed quite happy to see it sail off to God knows where.
He kissed his wife, Trudy, on the forehead as he couldn't stand to kiss her face and released the sails to the wind.
Clyde's flagship was the Queen Hookie, and three sister ships tagged along, the Pinto Bean, the Santa Bertha and the Moroccan Lady.
Having not a clue just how far it was across the sea, Clyde stocked enough food to feed his band of miscreants for six months. He could have gone longer but he stocked the Pinto Bean and Bertha with mostly whiskey and rum.
It may have helped if he actually had seamen for a crew instead of the criminals of every variety he convinced the local judge to release to his care. And it may have helped if he had a plan beyond a map he had seen emblazoned on Teeko's cunt while he was in a psychedelic state, but sail on they did.
It's hard to say where all they went those first three months as only one man knew how to read a sextant and he never saw a sober moment once land was out of sight.
But they hit storms somewhere where it was warm, floated in circles for weeks in a place without wind,
had a three week party on some rock Clyde dubbed The island of CC, faced a dozen drunken mutinies,
and all fell ill as they had no doctor and all the wrong food.
But none of this mattered, at least for awhile.
Clyde had seen a vision, which grew roots and sprouted like kudzu over the men who knew that , for them, it was either paradise or back to the hoosegow.
It's amazing what a man can do with a vision, hope, and two ships stuffed full of liquor.
But after the four month mark, when the battered ships lumbered along perilously low on food and nearly out of rum, Clyde felt his first tinge of doubt, which was a seed for fear and it sprouted and spread like Sargasso over his deep inebriation..
Though he still had the support of most of the crew who faced long sentences back in a Spanish dungeon if they failed, for Clyde, it was too late. Fear has a way; it slumbers, growing strength while hope is yet high, then when doubt starts asking questions that hope can't answer, fear pounces like a cat on a three-legged mouse.
Clyde made a strong bloody mary one morning with the last of the vodka and paced before the desk where a chart would be if there had been charts back then. Then he staggered to the mast and climbed as high as he could before pointing the spy glass West.
And in fact, other than the Isle of CC, they hadn't seen land in four months and they had about a month's worth of food left and enough whiskey for one good party.
Clyde looked down at the ship and the mongrels rolling bones, he then looked at the smaller sister ships that wagged like a retarded dog's tail and all the fleas hanging on. He thought now of failure also, and of the yarns he would have to spin upon their return to the people he had convinced to bet on him.
But you see, none of these thoughts mattered squat, the decision had been made when the first question doubt asked could not be answered by hope. That's how it works.
Clyde called the ships together, and now had to con a men whom he had conned into success, back into failure. And with that, The Queen Hookie and her footmen turned around.
What isn't well known is that they had stopped just sixty miles short of what is now the Carolina Coast.
Just one more day, maybe two if the wind was lazy, and they would have known success.
On the way back, they got lost not having a clue about Ben Franklin's gulf current that flowed North undercover.
The Pinto Bean was swallowed in a fog off St. John's. The Bertha was lost in a gale two weeks later taking all hands to the bottom, and the Moroccan lady sailed off on purpose having the last of the rum and enough of Clyde's psychedelic vision. Most likely they landed somewhere in Ireland and blended in.
The Hookie somehow managed to right itself now that the navigator had gone sober by necessity and floundered back to Spain eight months after leaving with a crew of five emaciated skeletons that longed for a warm safe dungeon.
Seeming that Clyde had suffered enough, his investors shrugged like it was just a bad night for poker, and moved on with their frivolous lives.
Clyde went back into the quiet life of opium dealer and pimp, divorced his hideous wife and the story of his journey was mostly forgotten except for the time his cousin Chris came by to see him and
CC relayed the whole bizarre fiasco to him during a drunken orgy.
But Chris, being a Columbus, actually believed in his tale of the vision. But he also knew that no one would invest in such a crazy scheme again, so, being a Columbus, he conned new investors into a more lucrative adventure. A new trade route to to the East indies.
Being a true Columbus, there were the usual fuck-ups and he turned around once before finally meandering his way to something he had no idea what to do with.
That's how life works, that's how worlds are discovered and history rewritten.
Who knows how Clyde would've made out with the people his idiot cousin called Indians.
Who knows how what is now America would've turned out.
We'll forever be sixty miles short of finding out.

Where Bluebirds Played

They walked together, the forest way. He the teacher, the guardian, protector. She, in trust of he, walking his long shadows.

The smell, it was of labor, cure and of leather. His smile calmed but warned in stern fence lines and she curioused to the riddle.

There were others, they were not alone. But their walk was alone. She spied rabbits and bluebirds and learned their ways through the smile that he spoke so eloquently.

One day, and who could know, she chased the rabbit through the brush and across the creek and laughed to the game in shoeless leather. But in mid chase, she no longer could feel the smile over her shoulder, she felt the chill, and the rabbit found escape.

Her head tilted in wonderment and her eyes lighted to what always was. But what always was had escaped with the rabbit and she was alone.

She still walked the forest way for it was all she knew, but the smells of leather and labor faded to the presence of her own scent which escaped her understanding.

She grew. Her knowledge grew. Her body grew. Another came to walk with her on the forest trail. He was in good gait, and kind in direction but different. His smell was not of strong labour and leather but of sickness and death. He of such strength and life was swallowed in death while he enveloped in death, defined life in guardianship. A curious affair.

Her thoughts questioned the forest and it’s ways. The things she once chased in play she now strangled in control believing harmony unbalanced, and trust cruel.

The forest trail led farther and farther from where the bluebirds played and her hurts led her on. She wandered into a swamp of soft velvet moss where a toad of magical abilities told great stories of enlightenment and sold her a ticket across the great lake. The ticket was free but required a change of garment and the clothes she once wore would vanish forever. An easy sell.

She learned the ways of those that lived across the lake but she could not completely forget the ways of those from the forest. She traded moccasins for sandals and sandals for sorrels as she journeyed rice fields, deserts and snow pastures. She became a piece of all she encountered and all she encountered took a piece of her in uneven trade.

There was a way taught for every land and tribe, and acceptance was based on compliance. Things were tried and bartered for. She became a collage for others to marvel of and read. And all that heard of her stories felt compelled to give another article of clothing, so as to claim part ownership in such a marvelous creature.

After a time, she was very heavy laden in the dress of gifts and the talisman that bled dry the possessor. Now, only her fingers, adorned in beauty's simplicity, shown visible and when she would meet others in the way she would draw them in so that they too could not be claimed and spoken for.

In her journey from the forest to find herself, she found herself only in others, and that sadly so.
Now, well blossomed and full of the world’s great wisdom, she sought the toad which had first granted her passage and found him by a chapel in the garments of a priest, sly old toad. A deal was made and the great lake parted her waves in honour.

This time, she was allowed to keep her clothes that wore her but she could not sail alone. So, a companion was distributed with morning tea and bread and she soon found herself back in the forest being led by a stranger who had never known the forest or it's ways.

The rabbits and the bluebirds she had so long ago known no longer recognized her or trusted her companion. She went to the river and preached to them of the ways she had learned across the great lake but they cared not for her nonsense. So she chose to make rabbits and bluebirds with her companion that would care for her great knowledge.

The forest became less wild. Storms blew elsewhere and all became safe. All seemed happy but only because the origins and the splendor of the storms had long since been buried and forgotten. One day, while walking alone-which was her want, she saw a bluebird fly off the trail, deep into the bramble. At the same time, she smelled leather, and labour, and maybe a cure and she remembered a smile bred of the earth and borne in a storm.

She followed the old trail grown over through heavy underbrush. She had to crawl and make herself small to force passage. The bluebird led her to rabbits that still knew of the old way. Their coats were wild and untamed, their eyes crazy in recognition. She found a familiar creek that flowed in harmony and smoothed stones in easy passage. Here, she took her clothes off and lay back in the soft underbelly of understanding and looked up to an emerald sky as storm clouds brewed. She now realized her own rabbits and bluebirds must learn the old way.

She smiled. She was home.


Al Mitzler went to Deadwood

Al Mitzler went to Deadwood

I had a friend. He had a wife. They had some children. They had a home. He saved money. Retirement would be early. They had a boat. He fished. They had plans. He was a nice guy. I liked him. He looked good. People liked him. There are a billion combinations to a formula that if only one were altered, this story would not be written. But Al Mitzler went to Deadwood.

this ride.
his life
bikers, babes
and beads.
everyone’s a superstar
-for a day.

“ya goin to Deadwood?”
the question
and probed
and roamed
on the wild wind
of midlife’s

the ol’ lady
fear and apprehension
all took on a shrug
of noncommittal purpose without

but go he did
a last second whim

is there really any other kind?

Peggy’s wedding
wasn’t til next week,
work let him off,
the ol’ lady said go
and money was just portraits
of dead presidents on shit-green paper.

all the planets
in line, seemingly still
at warp speed
and the kids
who knows where
Al Mitzler
went to Deadwood

“I’ll see ya on Monday.”
a kiss and a smile
and on Monday
she did.

the day
warm-blasted their ride
and cold beer
doctored the fuel
that starry-eyed the night.

Sunday morning
is kind to bikes,
the highway
fat and lazy.

the music in his head
smiled his ride
and hid the mundane
of urban resettlement.

he looked to Jerry
off the port bow
smiled and drummed
the polished chrome
to the remembrance
of Saturday night

he didn’t see the car-
that didn’t see the truck
that beasted blindly,
and the planets fell
out of orbit
as Al
fell out of life
and came home
riding coach.

the sun came up
on Tuesday.
work was work
jokes were funny
and the moon
didn’t so much
as hiccup or burp,
it just mooned as before.

“what a nice wedding.’
“yes, Peggy looks so happy.”
“shame about Al.”
“yeah, ya just never know.”
“I almost went with him, ya know?’
“you don’t say!”

Al Mitzler went to Deadwood.

I Remember It Well

Sometimes, we don’t remember the details exactly as they really happened. And maybe, after all, the devil really is in the details.

I remember it well,
I said,
and you said
but I did anyway.

you looked so-
no, really, you did.
and I laughed to your telling
as you told about
him and, um…

I remember it well.
we took the five
and arrived
and, well,
you know.

It was hot that day,
your hair long
and let down.
I wore that shirt
you never liked.
and you handed me-
no, really, you did.

well, anyway,
we walked through
the park.
I think mid-afternoon.
-are you certain?

I remember it well.
your perfume tickling
my nose
and that scarf
wild in the breeze
but I thought…
I was so sure.

did we have coffee?
I thought not.
it snowed.
oh, yes-August
of course

did I have the Buick
are you sure?
was your mother-
no, I suppose not

uh huh,
but I did love you,
did I not?
and you me?
of course.
I remember it well.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Anderson's Market

How smart or dumb we seem depends on where we are and who we find ourselves amongst at any given moment. A nuclear physicist would probably feel quite stupid in the garage at a stock car race and the mechanic would probably feel out of place in a discussion of nuclear energy. Neither has a greater intelligence, necessarily, it’s all about the environment. The best we can often do is try to adapt to our surroundings but the surroundings must be open to this.

I went to Anderson’s Market the other day. It was work, I had to. How do you get there? Well, mostly by accident. You can’t find this place on purpose, unless you happen to be one of those that just happen to live within a mile of this vortex of weirdness.

It’s in the South, a little west of here and a little right of there. You go to watchamacallit and take the twisty turny around the lumber yard and past the junk piles that might be yards if only they had houses, but the scrawy cats seem to be happy. Go about four miles to where the used store once was and turn right just beyond it on rte. 497- if the sign hasn’t been stolen. Go about six miles and turn just before Pickett’s pond if it hasn’t dried up and follow that past the fourth church to the left and veer to the right and after you see the five cows on the right you should start to feel the vibes. If you have GPS, you’ll just get a screen saver.

By the time you see the market, you’re not even sure of what state you’re in, let alone what county. The store sits at the juncture of three roads. I have sought escape on them all, totally by guess as no maps show these roads. In every case, I have been lost for hours and came out where it seemed quite impossible. And I’ve never been able to trace the same route twice.

The colours and designs of the houses run anywhere from 1904 to 1970, as do the automobiles and people. I don’t believe they ever escape. Anyone, aything. Whatever they need must be procured from Anderson’s or done without.

When you get close, you notice the people, like zombies, walking numb and faceless across the roads of no escape. You notice the dogs walking down the middle of the road in drunken sway and wonder how many breeds it took to finally arrive at this combobulation. You can’t help but feel the same about the people, except in reverse, how few.

The woman who runs the place could give Freddy Krueger the jitters. She’s built like a Sherman tank and looks like she could toss one over her shoulder. Every male stutters in her presence and even I do if I can’t avoid her, which I greatly try to do. I once tried to collect a check from her for an overdue balance. She leaned forward, scowled and slammed a large knife down into the ancient wood counter.

“I don’t think so.” She hissed through fat lips and bottomless eyes, and I backed off in terror.

I try to tell the sons or brothers or cousins or whatever they might be of why I’m here and their slack-jaw look let’s me know I am failing. I talk to the patriarch and he pretends to understand. This I appreciate and milk wildly until the udder goes flat. Nobody smiles. Nobody talks in complete sentences-only dull grunts.

When I got there the other day, they were trying to unload a trailer with their ancient fork truck. The only way it would start was if it was pulled in reverse by their pick up truck. And if you put it in reverse, it would die. So Cousin Jed would put the forks into the pallet and stall. Daddy Joe would hook up a chain and pull Jed backwards across the lot until it started. Then do the whole thing again on the next pallet. Many stood and watched in the parking quite impressed by their ingenuity as the flies circled in boredom.

I watched this and thumbed-up as if they had just solved the mystery of the origins of the universe, and wondered if they knew who the president is and if the country might be at war. Then you wonder if they even wonder at all. Everything is done so mechanical and methodical; scratch your ass, hike your pants, wipe your nose. You wonder if they are happy and if they know the difference. They have a way of making you feel stupid and of wanting to become a zombie to fit in. By the time you leave, you don’t know who you are and why, and they look at you like you might be Amelia Earhart stopped by for a donut on her way to Fiji. Maybe they just wonder what it’s like in my world and why was I such a stupid ass and could I even tie my own shoes.

I turn the radio on and NPR reminds me that it’s 2009 and complete sentences are acceptable. I honk to the dogs stumbling down the road and wonder what they think and if they have thoughts of Anderson’s Market.

just a name
and a store
in a land forgotten
and a people forsaken

storms don’t even bother
to dull a sun
no one understands
and lightning sleeps
where thunder stutters
to her fat ugly footsteps

the same three hundred bucks
over and over
the same Christmas
over and over
the same thoughts
over and over

a dollar a quart
a half for a gallon
screws without heads
and nails with no point

have you any gas
for nowhere to go?
and a map
for paper stars
and nickel moons?

is tomorrow
in 1942
yesterday today
in 1975?

in the land of the blind
the one-eyed man
is king

at Anderson’s Market
only the drunken dogs
make sense.


The locals all knew him. It was that kind of town. Somebody farts at the VFW and they smell it at the bowling alley. If he had a history, no one knew it. And no one cared. He never held a job for very long as one hand was always holding a bottle and the smell was ever-present.
He fixed lawn mowers, sometimes, but not very well and if he needed a snort and couldn’t scrape a few dollars together, he might just sell your lawnmower out from under you. You wouldn’t even know about it until fall or winter, as he’d keep telling you he was waiting on parts. He worked off and on at the granite factory making tombstones when they were desperate and also dug graves when he could be found.
His name was Charlie but everyone just called him Coots. He had a wife but she was rarely seen and rarely spoken to. A social leper by association, she went to Church and the grocery store and kept her gaze low. They had children, five boys and two girls. The boys, without exception were hellions and tough hellions at that. You simply avoided their street if you weren’t looking for trouble and always hoped they were on their street. The girls, on the other hand, were quiet and shy, even pretty in a plain sort of way. And who knows if they really were shy or simply felt the need to make themselves small and invisible.
There’s a lot of shame in being the family of the town drunk and the effects are permanent. Survival dictates policy.
There was a small theatre in town also, but for whatever reason, it was never able to fill even half the seats no matter what movie was playing. The owner, Harvey Taylor, was a nice enough guy but always seemed kind of shady and no one could figure out why he ever bought it. It just didn't make sense. There was only one small screen and it always smelled damp. You could go just five miles north and buy your ticket at the new theatre with two concession stands and four screens.
Well, one bitter cold Wednesday night in January, sure enough, very early in the morning, the theatre caught fire. Biggest blaze the town had ever seen. Every fire department within fifteen miles had been called but all they could do was save the rest of the block, more or less. Sound travels far on cold northern nights and everyone woke to the sirens. People young and old lined the icy riverbank in bathrobes and other's overcoats. The fire and gossip kept them warm as they pointed and shook their heads.
Thing is, there was an old lady who lived above the theatre, the widow Mary Wilcox, and by the time the fire was discovered her place was engulfed. It turned out she had been staying with her daughter for a few days, but at the time, no one knew, except for maybe, Harvey Taylor.
Coots didn’t know. How could he? He was always swallowed up in the bottle. But he walked. Long into the night he would stagger the dark alleys and find shelter in rear entryways and rest on ramshackle stairways. They found Coots in the morning while poking through the mess. Well, his body anyway. It was inside the theatre near the entrance to the stairs leading to Mary’s apartment.
There was a lot of speculation. Small towns breed small minds searching power through knowledge, whether real or imagined.
Harvey had a wife. Though odd, she was beautiful in a dark sort of way and you always felt she was casting spells when she looked at you. It didn't seem as though she and Harvey cared much for each other and shortly after the fire she would disappear and Harvey would be as though she never existed. If you asked him, and nobody did, he would just suck harder on the ever-present cigarette while his eyes narrowed and his smile threatened. But this is all later. In a time when Harvey found a bar stool at opening bell, crossed his legs and didn't leave until late afternoon.
A lot of figures were tossed around as to how much Harvey got from the insurance but he never said and never seemed to lack for the day's bar tab.
Harvey couldn’t have started the fire as he had an ironclad alibi and his wife backed him up. Most people thought Coots broke into the theatre to either rob it or maybe that he was paid by Harvey to set the fire. Hardly anyone ever considered that maybe he was passing by, certainly drunk, seen the yellow glow and busted in to try and save Mary.
Investigations were pretty bad back then and people enjoyed guessing more than knowing. Coot’s wife grew more reclusive. His kids disappeared from town one after the other. And another drunk came along to fill the gap of dirty gossip.
Hollywood would have it that many years later, a guy from Arizona came out of the woodwork to write a book on his platoon and the fierce fighting they went through in Europe in World War Two. Much would be said about Charlie and the good things he did. It would turn out he risked his life to save a family hiding in a basement and was shot while going back to help a wounded friend who later died anyway.
But Hollywood’s full of shit and always has been.
A would be writer with a worn out imagination would tell us of how the love of his life was ripped out of his arms in a tragic car wreck so many years ago and his heart just couldn’t bear the guilt.
Just more bullshit.
The truth is buried with Charlie’s smoked mind and scorched heart.
Every town that can support three or four churches has a Coots. If a town has a Wal-Mart super center it might have two. Any more than two and the town is a city and too large for a town drunk. It just has drunks that no one knows or cares about.
They’re here to make us feel better about ourselves.
“Well, at least I’m not Coots!”
“Amen to that, Brother!”
“See them drunks under the bridge?”
“Yes, sad.”
The fat ones make the skinny ones feel good. The average make the beautiful above average. And Coots makes the rest of us sober.
And so it goes.

The Green Bike Summer

It was green. Naturally. A green I can’t describe but every once in a while I see it in passing cars. A type of aqua maybe but not quite. The one he had bought me was black.
You must know, that my father never bought anything for his children but the necessary staples. He lived during the depression and fought in World War Two. Those people just don’t toss money around loosely. I and my brothers all worked jobs since we were twelve because it was the only way to know anything other than pork chops and mashed potatoes.
But there it was, a used black three-speed bike and him all uncomfortable in the giving standing beside it. This was huge. He didn’t even spring for class rings or yearbooks, or even class pictures. You want it, you earn it, Buddy!
The trouble is, I didn’t want it.
I had been mentioning to him how my best friend John and I were going to bike all summer long to distant towns and unknown destinations. This I had done just so he wouldn’t be surprised when he would see the new ten-speed bike I planned to buy with the money I had earned.
I tried to appear pleased and surely was surprised but I was thirteen and had made plans that a black three-speed would never be up for. It would never pull the hills or keep up with John. The handlebars were straight-and it wasn’t green.
So I traded it in. Just like that. Without so much as a word to my Father, I took his gift that he so out of character gave and traded it in for a green ten-speed just one day after the Holy offering.
There is no doubt that I hurt him. And perhaps it could have been handled with greater tact, even from a thirteen year-old, but I knew my Father. He never would have agreed to my desire, thinking it frivolous. All,- "It costs how much?!!" and "When I was your age..." But he never was my age, and I would never be his age. We were two different people in two different times and this chasm could not be bridged. He never said a word, only shook his head and sideways sniffed, as if pepper had blown up his nose.
I did what I felt I had to do and it greatly defined who I became. Not saying it's good or bad. Just saying it is.
John and I went everywhere that summer. Even to Minneapolis. We found every road that wove through the great waters of Minnetonka. We met girls. We laughed. I kept up and that green glistened in July’s warm sunshine. We rested on soft hillsides and waded sweet waters. We talked of everything thirteen year-olds talk about on lazy summer afternoons. I remember having an odometer of sorts. We put on over a thousand miles.
I could have been the good son. I could have shrugged and explained to John that great adventures and exploration would have to wait at least one more year. But then, that's who I would have become; the wise pat him on the back son with time-shares in Florida and Wednesday city council meetings and not the me I am.
But I didn’t and I’m not sorry. I am sorry I hurt my Father for a time, but we both moved on and moved closer even though I'm still a head-shake and eye roll to him when anyone asks of me. But that summer. Boy oh boy, that summer. I wouldn't trade it for anything!

The Day

the day begins
with a walk
through moonlite
her shadows
on my soul

the colours change
the waves
in textured slip-knot
the stream of race
but not halting
the burgeon
of one flower
in seeded must.

time is not distance
nor distance
but time is tooled,
to key the distance
that binds
our bloom

the sun stretches
to the reach
of dawn’s farewell
as she blinds
into hidden

now the dance

stripes on black
all tuck and fit
while blue
in smoke
finds hilltops
for shouting,
shoulders for resting.

proper says not
in perfect relent
as the hour-glass
to suspension
and the sand
falls fat and lazy.

encores aplenty
into this maze
of twisted schedule
and redress
in undress.

the Sun fills
and flows
to flower the heavens
and spread the day
as miles pass
to the moments tick.

and now,
the evening.
and the loneliness
of a far away
and silenced

The shoulder is barren
and cold.
the cliff, steed -less
and silent.
the whistle hushed,
the pebbles dormant.

only sleep,
want drives
the twisted highways
of morning
and the dreams
of tomorrow.


Thursday, August 2, 2012


Old men love to sit on benches at the town square
and tell the same old stories to the same old stories
all knee over knee and eyes on young hip-hagglers.
There's no action in that. The good stuff's happenin up on Riddleman's hill where that old shyster Bill Ludke got rich selling his farm to them city investors! Only God could make that patch of hell level.

There she goes,
and it can’t be mine.
mine don’t go like that.
smooth and straight,
right down the pipe.

she seen it too,
I see her eyes over the glasses
she doesn’t
but she does.
no, not mine.
never seen it before!
Ha! so you say.

Got a nice tail wind,
might be doin eight.
ooh! that was close!
gotta love those reflexes.

here comes another.
nothing like a race
to break up
Saturday afternoon.

that could be mine
but I swear it ain’t
it just moves like mine
all drunk and jiggly
spilling into Taco Bell

don’t look at me, Pal,
I just have this milk and caulking gun.
I’m a spectator,
just like you.
ass hole
heading into traffic,
that first rogue.
scatter and shimmy
brake and collide
down and around
in and out
devil may care
horns a blarin'

the State Farm guy
will woe is me
to the bemoaning victims
of run for your life

Well, here’s my ride.
almost hate to go.
only K-mart
would build their lot
on a hillside
daring maniacal shopping carts
to turn violent.


Do you remember someone special in your youth? One you thought hung the moon and you wondered why everyone else couldn't see it. I thought this of Julie. I wish I could have told her.

tomatoes are cheaper
tomatoes are cheaper

she chirped
skipping past my house
her laugh prodding others

in class
at ballgames
parties and such
she drew me
load and lock

but unnoticed
went I,
or mostly so,
giggles and elbows

there was history
I could tell
and that
I think, the draw

she saw, I think,
my knowing
for I looked past
her beauty
past her shield
past yesterday

I wanted so
to protect
she wanted
destruction only.
victory was hers
in dash

wagons loaded
for the goldfields
she found only
needles and loops.
fool's gold for
with white tender thighs

cruel lords
mastered her desire;
less than nothing,
for it made
her complete

her life became
bridges for roofs
for company
for yesterday
hollow eyes
for tomorrow
lust slaked
at last

friends that were
tho I doubt,
say no hope
we tried, what a mess
as they tip
their pink drinks
somehow purifying

I'd like to see her again,
to hear her chirp
and laugh
knowing I wont
knowing I can't

I'd like to see her
just one more time
to say it's ok
we all fucked up.

pandering ass

tomatoes are cheaper
tomatoes are cheaper

perhaps, maybe
I just liked her
or maybe envied
and admired
her glorious
with no holding back

tomatoes are cheaper


The Power of Moods

A woman wakes from a restful sleep. She smiles at the day ahead and rises from her bed. She finds that the cat has peed in her good shoes. The milk has gone bad and her hair won't lay right. The neighbor kid has siphoned her gas-again. The jerk in the Hummer cuts her off-again. A glance to the mirror tells her she looks like shit-again. That song she hates comes on-again. That smile to the day is long gone as she flips off the kid with too much volume and base. She will deal with many different people today who will deal with many different people today. And so it goes. This is the stuff of moods.

I saw in the light of yesterday
a world of darkened gray,
where animation fails the trick
thunder rolls to silent shtick
and lightning fades away.

I saw in the gray of yesterday
a place of hope and prayer,
where stars blaze up in perfect flame
lovers love in unblushed shame
and kindness finds the where.

I saw in the chains of darkness
a place where sorrow holds.
where visions take to terror,
screams take hold the bearer
and robbers line the roads.

I saw in the glory of midnight dreams
a place of joy and magic beans
where colours know the tenth degree
the things you want are all you see
and failure lies beyond your means.

I’ve known the roads
of darkened ways

I’ve worn the wings
of sun drenched days

a flurry of this
and a dash of that,
a smile, a frown,
a tip of the hat

a wave on charm
a fist in hate,
a deal in seal
a bad first date.

a thousand things
can turn the tide
and churn emotions
we cannot hide

and I to her
and her to you
and we to they
and on
and on
and on

they say,
a butterfly in Brazil
fells trees in the North of Spain
which shakes the earth
in San Diego
and a man in Kalamazoo
kills twenty
with his bullets.

it all goes back to the butterfly.
it’s always those damn Brazilian butterflies.

The Basement

I grew up in a large, creepy old house. Or maybe I just remember it that way. It had a huge upstairs with three big bedrooms, a full kitchen and bath. I liked it, this old house. Spent seventeen years there until I was unceremoniously thrown out after my junior year in high school. A well deserved tossing it was.
The creepy part, was the basement. It had housed a monster of a coal burner furnace that hissed the spookiest of sounds. They went on all night long and permeated throughout every space and crack. The basement weaved and tangled and angled around corners with it's only lighting being the occasional forty-watt bulb hanging low and naked. There were three ways in: the old broken down squeaky garage door right out of batman. If you really were going to try and put a car in there, you had to go down between two cement walls that lined the entrance and disappear, but the door was really only used to get the lawnmowers in and out. Another way in was the two small windows at the very end of the basement. A skinny psychopath could easily fit through the windows too dirty to see through. The last way in was the giant door to the coal room. The door looked like something from a castle dungeon and when we switched to Natural gas, it was boarded up. But I believed it could be negotiated and I never went near it.
The stairway down was creepy too. You entered a closet on the main floor where too many coats and boots were kept. You turned on the light switch to the lone bulb too far away and began the descent. The stairs were open to the back and under, where it was always dark and unknown. Anybody or anything could reach their hand through and grab your ankles as you walked down. I always ran hoping to stay ahead of their grab. And creak, boy did they ever.
When you got to the bottom, to the right the dungeon dropped off into creepy shadows and the lone lit bulb. Straight ahead went to the creepy windows in the canning room. To the left was the huge table piled high with whatever wasn't useful. A perfect place for hiding under while unsuspecting gatherers went to the only freezer in the house. You could have gone in any direction to turn on more lights, but it would lead you further from the stairs and then they would have to again be extinguished by the frayed little string hanging in the spider web.
So you made your dash, into the freezer, back turned to the creepy table, head buried deep to dig with no view of the canning room, and the Frankenstein door just to the side. And you bolted. Two large fast steps to the stairs and four jumps up. If lucky, you didn't trip and smack your knee on a step. I was rarely lucky, but I was never grabbed.
Here's the deal, though. I miss that journey. I miss those steps. I miss the rush. I think maybe I want somebody to reach out and grab my leg and snap me back into life. Terrify me into living. Make me jump and climb up.
I miss not knowing what's waiting to grab me.