Saturday, February 26, 2011

Things I Remember (not sure about this one)

I remember being slapped around
Raped and beaten and told to go home

And the priest who wanted to hear
The details before absolving me

I remember being kidnapped and knifed
Driven to the dam to be thrown off

My miracle escape and the 20 mile hike
Barefoot through the desert back

Thinking the whole time that I was
So happy to be alive and still a son

And try not to step on any rattlers
Or gila monsters scorpians or thorns

I remember my uncle chaining me
To a tree so he could eat dinner

In peace and with the money my mom
Gave me for the weekend I didn't

Visit because she had to confer
With doctors about what to do with her

I remember when he died what I was doing
And what everyone else was doing

I remember him lying there looking dead
And thinking I wouldn't see him again

Even when I die even if I close my eyes
Where only a feeling is left in the hole

And I remember other things like salty
Sunshine on the rocks and green lobster

Crawling over the checkerboard tiles
Across the kitchen floor to the stove

Just to get it over with I thought
Sweating in a thick cloud of steam

But mostly I remember the love's power
Given with asking anything in return

As if it grew on trees or rained down
From the clouds so abundant was it

That no matter what we did had done
To us there was someone you could lean

On, and remembering this, the sweetest
Part makes my world a place to be.

An old poem to JFG, executed by the State of Texas

The Last Words of JFG, Executed by the Citizens of Texas

As an astronaut on the launchpad
About to jettison beyond this world
Thinks of himself at the podium

In a cutting-edge tux, thousands
Of envious earthlings seated
In a halfcircle, a halfwheel

Of worship, the hub to receive
The highest honor, about to be
For a minute or two an angel,

He thinks of the bible meek,
The guy next door, bowling
Trophy and fishing rod won

At the Big Bass Open on Big Bear
Lake, blowups of a motorcycle
Trip to the mountains, the special

Kickstand his friend designed—
Machinist, or whatever he was
So he didn’t go to jail.  He was

The child at the dinner-table
Choked up on saying, then blurting
The unforgivable during grace,

Or a small town mayor at the club,
Or a shoe salesman goofing off
While tallying the day’s receipts,

Or he raped and murdered a nun,
And wants to thank his mother and father
For the chance, which, once upon a time,

They were happy to have given him,
And then—to those of us in the know—
"The rest of the world can kiss my ass."

Dueling Fools

Aiming in the mirror
over his shoulder

the philosopher
shoots for the heart

of things.  The poet
shoots the mirror.

Friday, February 25, 2011

15 Sonnety Lines About Fathers and Sons

Such hopes that were had by my dad
Are not the ones I want to have,
Nor wish my sons to have, nor their sons
On down as far as luck and streetsmarts

Will get us.  Try as I always do to find
Something lacking in him (believe me,
There's quite a lot missing) I can detect
Nothing unusual, unaccounted for, no whim

Of history to distort his natural correct.
Over the years I've learned I should trust
Rejecting, and then affirming, my father's gifts:
Shrugging my shoulders in a far-flung place,

Which for another might turn it all murderous
And set the whole family permanently adrift.

I'm his firstborn.  He calls me "the disgrace."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Free-Range Poet

I’m not one to boast
But my particular footprint’s
Even tinier than an infant’s
While deeper than most

Naturally I take umbrage
When accused of eco-sins
Others measure like wins
And losses beyond garbage

Disposal and the arousal
Doing right will sometimes
Grant in fact if the crimes
Seem not egregiously foul

Like video sorties for one’s
Mother’s milk-sweet Reich
While I’m pedaling my bike
To charge up the cadmium

Cells of my multi-unit
Battery forced on me since
It’s my last very chance
For a current and with it

A lit-up life.  Sure, it makes
Me feel more ethical not
On the payroll but a lot
More world-weary awake.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In Common

Every time Mike and Dave get together they do the same thing.  They drink beer, talk and go home.  At their homes they watch the baseball channel and the fishing channel, respectively.  Each spends thirty hours a week watching his channel.  When they get together on Sunday afternoons at the bar to watch NASCAR and drink and chat, each one talks over the broadcasters about fishing and baseballing.  When Mike talks about fish it sounds like everyone in the story is coming up to the plate and it’s the bottom of the ninth with two out and someone’s behind by one run etc.  When Dave talks about baseball he talks about how players find that zone that relaxes them almost to the point of sleep and yet allows them to move at “the crack of the bat,” the same zone a fisherman finds to understand his fish, one animal to another.  Even the guys going around the track, both Mike and Dave would concede, if they'd ever consider such a thing, do so in a fishingrod kind of way, as if with their hands inside a catcher’s mitt.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


While it would be nice were it to become so
It’s like it is and won’t be otherwise.  Maybe
All the pining simply avoids that this is all of it,

All the pinnacle to scale-get, what someone else
Somewhere hopes will become of their own
If only and wouldn’t it be great and it’s too bad

While gawking them and their loveliness drool-
Ing for it, because we never seem to get it righted
No matter how many experts we let in the room.

Even the clouds, after bleached days of unbearable
Windless sun-broil, inertia’s deep inhalations
Would be better if only thinner, dispersive

Until the next comet makes deadline.  Night
Skies baring teeth, the sound of propeller blades
As the needle works its way to the red zone,

Are impossible to admire without the proper gear
And a sing-along camaraderie in a back home
Bar, and a friend you can imagine hemorrhaging

His part like the pinging in your ears.  It would all
Be a lot nicer with less noise, more gentle, defensible,
No greedy argument pouncing in the blindness,

No me embedded in the grease between things, no
Fire-breeze bleeding weeds dusted up to remind you
Of another better where it never happens like that.

At the Office

I almost laughed too loudly.  I almost smiled too broadly.
I nearly got too close.  I nearly became shy.  I nearly fainted.
It would have made all the difference.  Believe me,
I almost would have made a difference had I not nearly fainted
So openly.  Believe me, I nearly died with all the smiling
And laughter inside.  Believe me, I nearly almost had something
Going there, before I pushed it.  Pushed almost nearly on it. 
I almost nearly pushed too loudly, too believe-in-something-ishly. 
I nearly died almost.  It was life-changing; well, nearly almost.