Saturday, September 1, 2018

The Greeks Knew This

Young men without women live
in a cracked and faded rooming house
at the corner of Lehigh Street
and University Drive.

A bare, rod-iron porch straddles the face
of the house, furnished only
with a derelict sofa.

The men press their backs into
the sofa springs, purse their lips on
beer bottles and cigarettes.
The beer is sucked dry and bottles smashed
against the crumbling pavement.

Packaged meats are tossed over
a flaming grill, then devoured with
furious appetite while unassuming girls
stop along the sidewalk so their dogs may shit
on the unkempt lawn.

The men eyeball the girls and joke
about what they'd like to do to them,
and their dogs.

By evening, they are often drunk.
Their blood boils from the heat of the day,
evoking raucous outbursts, uproarious chants,
barbaric yawps and the like.

They consume action films
and sporting events, frequently argue
over favored athletes.
They call each other fag or faggot
when the other is decidedly in the wrong.
Often, they tussle over such matters,
sweaty bodies entwine like rattlesnakes
seized in a bizarre honor ritual.

They extol lavish tales of sexual conquests,
embellish the count of women they've had,
then retire each to his solitary space.

And it's a stark, lonely place that old house
beneath the restless cover of midnight
when desperate hands slick with desire
are drawn under soiled sheets,
and hot, August winds stir the rotting timber
long stood between erotic affection
and forbidden thoughts these men
dare not entertain.

Friday, August 3, 2018

The Exalted Ones

They meet in the back rooms of coffee houses,
wine bars and bookstores.  Some send their stuff
to the magazines.

They write poems about rejection, isolation,
the tragic human condition, failed love.

They drag their friends along to ensure applause
and run up the flag declaring POETRY NIGHT.

Organizers claim poetic awareness their intent,
but no one gets onstage holding a god-damn
unity candle for their beloved audience,
even the ones who preach LOVE and PEACE,
who cry for change.  They, most of all,
do it for the spotlight, for a chance to be heard
and understood, so they may not feel alone.

Shouting lyrics over cigarette smoke
and cappuccino machines, much of it is soft,
overly-garnished treatment of standard themes,
else unintelligible, angst-riddled banter.

Professor observes from the corner table,
applauding, half-sincere.  He also writes poetry,
a good deal more carefully.  His collection
of haiku was published as a chapbook.

Afterwards, they congratulate and embrace
one another as new hopes are raised
and new poems find their way
to the desks of magazine editors.

I pickup the magazines.  Nothing happens.

Has exalted poetry gone the way of the Aztecs?
Where is our Whitman?  Our Rimbaud?
Our howling Ginsberg?

How I long to taste the exquisite madness
of heroic, ravenous souls, for a righteous voice
to rise up and torch this complacent landscape,
deliver us from sedate, coffe-house prose,
weakling academics absent grit or vision,
and tired, angry verse such as this.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Eloise Jane 2.0

  Eloise "Weezy" Jane turns two today.  Our little lady warrior is often mistaken for a three-year-old.  She is B-I-G, in stature, personality, and heart.  She feels big, and the lives in her orbit are bigger for it ... Version 2.0 speaks complete sentences, will hug a crying child ("She sad, Papa"), falls down daily (hourly?).  This child's legs look like she lives alone in the woods.  Eloise relishes moments when her big sister, Iyla Grace, plays with her ... Happy Birthday, Lady Eloise!  

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Last Poem

Don't save it all
for your precious art.
Give it away,
to friends,
to loved ones,
to the stranger in need 
most of all
to yourself.
Make this life
your grandest

*First published in the Austin Chronicle, 2004ish

Saturday, May 26, 2018


Shooting eight-ball with Max.

Max observes the woman at the bar,
drunk and stumbling about the place.
Her makeup is excessive.
Her garb extravagant.
Her bra is too tight.
She flirts with the bartender.
It's distracting Max's game.

"Don't you think that's sad?"
he remarks, missing the side pocket.
"Look at her!"

Max is referring to her size.
She's a considerable woman,
dressed in glitter-encrusted leggings
and a low-cut blouse which scarcely
contains her enormous breasts.
The blouse is too short to cover
the expanse of her midriff.
A belly ring jingles when she laughs.

"It's disgusting, " Max protests.
"No one wants to look at that."

He looks at it.
He cannot stop looking at it.

I nearly sink the eight ball,
corner pocket, leaving Max an easy,
cross-table finisher.

A handsome couple enters the bar.
They scout a booth near the jukebox,
order drinks and quietly groom themselves.

She adjusts her off-shoulder sweater
while laboring over song selection.
He picks lint from his gaberdine jacket.
She touches her makeup with
a pocket mirror, sips her beer
as it it were coffee.
He lights a cigarette, draws from it,
gets ash on his jacket.
He brushes away the ash.

They inhabit an aching self-awareness,
as if they feel the eyes of the room
upon them, discriminating eyes,
raw and envious.

Only, I am not envious,
not of them.

It does not take courage
to wear vanity so cheaply.

"I like the big one," I say to Max
as he draws the cue for his shot.

Monday, April 30, 2018

A Nice Young Man

I guessed right off by the fanciful demeanor
and baroque, manicured appearance.
Barbara Streisand records on display in the parlor
were a decisive give-away.

He said he was a teacher of special-needs children
in a nearby Oklahoma town, and an incurable bachelor.
His mother left him the estate in her will,
and he turned it into a Bed & Breakfast
as supplemental income.  Father's passing
distinguished him the sole heir to a family namesake
stretching back generations in the county.

I know men like him who fled to the city
in their youth, delivering themselves from
the stranglehold of rural intolerance, yet here he was,
fledgling entrepreneur, charitable volunteer,
director of the Presbyterian church choir,
as rooted in the red soil as the Cottonwood tree
that shaded my bedroom window.

I'd have liked to ask why a middle-aged man
living alone in the dust bowl of America
had not turned his heels in search of companionship,
but thought better of it when he produced a photograph
of daughter and grandchild, the blessed outcome,
he declared, of an awkward high-school affair.

In the morning, he prepared a table
of fresh berries and scones, poached eggs, coffee,
crème brûlée in homemade raspberry sauce.

Our dear Grandmother, for whom we traveled
many miles to celebrate a birthday, remarked
with modest aplomb that our host reminded her
of the nice young man who designed
her home interior remodel.

"You're thinking of Cousin Jerry," her sister replied. 
"Such a charming boy he was. 
Shame he never married."

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Iyla Grace 5.0

  Iyla Grace 5.0 is available today.  The release includes alphabet and numeric character recognition, restaurant self-ordering feature, a penchant for theatrical storytelling, and an endearing affection for her little sister ... Happy Birthday to my little Buddy.