Monday, April 27, 2009

Something I've been working on.

"It's a hard road to be walkin down
bare feet on stone ground
It's a long ride across fifty states
taking the dust that God made
Sowing seeds on a mine field
Making the best of a bad deal..."

"Big Road Blue"
Dave Sharp

The Hard Road Cafe
Michael Koehler

5:30 AM
Doodles Maguire rolls out of his cardboard box,
relieves himself at the pee tree, and stepping over
Rollie the bugman stiffly walks up the park path to
Eleventh Ave and shuffles north, peers into trash cans,
alleys, gutters.
At Monroe street he turns into the alley, knocks on a
pale blue steel door.
An arm the exact shade of oiled mahogany answers the knock,
small paper bag gripped in the large fist.
Doodles takes the bag, puts it inside one of his coats,
says "Thanks, Petey." Deep, scratchy voice answers
"Later, Doodles."

5:45 AM
Peter Boudreaux shuts the door, walks the short narrow
hall to the kitchen. Two huge urns of coffee drench the air
with sharp Jamaican aromas, and the six burner gas range
kicks out a welcome heat. He walks through the cluttered
room, pauses to turn on an old plastic radio, and as he exits the batwing doors next to the sink Patty Labelle puts a spring in his step. He does a dip and turn and a bit of soft shoe as he heads to the front door to unlock it, flips the "Closed" sign with one neat twist. With the same grace
he uses the edge of his hand to rake a line of switches
to the ON position, and the overheads blink and hum, then
steady as the sun light up three booths, six tables
and the eight stools lined along the counter.
As Peter walks back to the kitchen the polish and shine
pleases him. Old, worn and well-used, yet every visible surface glowed, and the glow went all the way through. Peter believed a person should treat his dreams as the most precious jewels, and he lived what he believed.

"Petey!", a voice from the back door. " Where ya want the eggs?"
He grins and answers " If they was up your ass you wouldn’t
have ta ask, hey?" . The delivery man returns," If they was up my ass, would'a been more fun than I had last night."
Peter tells him, "In the reefer, Nick, same place as always."
Nick: "Got some blueberries." Peter: "Couple’ a quarts, ok?"
Nick: "How 'bout some chops?" Peter: "Beef or pork?" "Pork"
"Na" Nick:" Potatoes?" Peter: "Hunnerd. Got some chickens?"
" Plucked 'em myself. How many?" Peter: " Twenty friers.
And help yourself to some coffee."
"Thanks. See ya later Petey." "Bye, Nick."

6:15 AM
Jackie and Helga work the breakfast counter,
the heavy laughter of coffee mugs and plates,
banter between customer and waitress a song that
fills Peters heart as he stands over the range scattering
shredded potatoes, turning bacon and eggs, buttering toast.
When he hears his name he pokes his head through the serving window, returns the wish for a great day or trades good-natured
jibes. His face shines like obsidian, the pace of his work is in four-four time, and the poetry of his life is not lost on him. Fifty years is a long time to chase a dream, he thinks,
and by the standards of most, a small, simple dream at that.
A little diner with a down home menu, two experienced and loyal
women to work the public side of the kitchen, and a love of meeting new people and hearing stories.
Peter looks at the clock above the sink, knows in a few minutes
the first shifts at the local mills will start to trickle in,
throws ten pounds of bacon on the stove, takes a precious moment to sip his coffee, and thanks the Lord for a good life.

7:00 AM
Fourteen men and six women surge through the door, head to favorite seats. Their talk is fast and salty, peppered with
laughter. No cholesterol counters or fat watchers
here; bacon and eggs, buttered toast and hash browns, lots of strong black coffee. Peter thinks there can be no better way to start a 10 hour work day. They eat, give good tips,
leave like a mob.

8:00 AM
The graveyard shift from the foundry across the street shuffles in, dirty and tired, no useless talk. Eleven bodies that need energy just to make it home. Helga pushes the soup and whole grain bread. Jackie does a Fonzie kick to the side of the jukebox
and Charlie Pride sings of how hard work can really be.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

In Tangletown
she sits in her car
outside the bar
in the dark part of the parking lot.
The faint glow from the end of a joint
is all that reveals her.It flares and dies
like far distant suns.It takes awhile for her
to get out of the Camaro,to walk a slow weave to the taverns' side door.
She enters an air of sound;jungle drums, moaning guitar, subterranean bass.
The song passes over her like familiar hands,touching raw inner places.
Her lover waits on the dance floor.In the center of the crowd she gives herself to him.
Gives everything she has... promises everything else.
The pot roars through her blood like a thunderstorm.The music rides her like lightening.
She moves as if calling forth rain.
Where others would write or drink,
fuck or walk,hit or cry, leave or die
to get away from what kills the soul,
it is the dance that keeps Tess
in Tangletown.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

In Tangletown
at the Brokedown Blue Saloon
Amy Lowell sits at the end of the bar.
Her husband dances with a big-titted girl,
doing a two-step best left in the bedroom
.His hands are places they oughtn't be,
and Amy burns in the places they should be.
What Amy wants she can't say.
What she needs she can't face.
She knows brandy better than she knows her pain,
and she knows pain like a preacher knows Gospel.
So Amy prays to her spirits and they answer with sleep.
In the morning he will wake up beside her.
But for now it is Saturday night
and hearts get broke sure as
the sun comes up come morning.
It is better than sleeping alone, especially
in Tangletown.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What I want.

I want poems I can open like a can of beer
but shut by themselves like a bank vault door.
Poems with old chairs in them,
and washed-out white pine boards.
Poems with foot prints through them,
dog-eared lines, and faded phone numbers
printed in pencil.
Poems that can take the edge out of
the night voices, isolate and silence the “You Fraud” s,
the “You Loser” s; poems that take me to a garden
where all the flowers are closed for the night,
merely awaiting dawn; a garden where
footstep echoes mutter in the faint breeze.
I want poems that name every man who needs to save himself
by being alone; we’re connected with “Do Not Disturb” signs,
graffiti like “Just Kiddin’”, “Attack Poem On Premises”,
“Thanks for last night” smeared on in red lipstick.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Buck for the juke box

Doors open to the passing world, spring sidles into the place, warm and bright, half blinding me.
Janis singing about how high the cotton is, what the catfish are doing. A woman in tight blue jeans and white blouse fills the doorway for a second, she's gone but the image lingers for just a little bit. A breeze clears the stale smoke, riffles the hair Armand still has left on his head.
C'mon. I'll buy ya a cold one.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I read a poem to a guy sitting next to me. He was just some Joe, John Deere hat, jeans, work shirt. I said, "Listen to this," and read him Li Young-Lees "The Gift".
His eyes wandered till I got half way in, and then tears rolled down his face.
"I had a seven year old boy once." When I finished he paid my tab and walked away without a word. How elegant a thank you can there be?
In a red neck bar on the wrong side of the tracks a connection was made.
Leave me the fuck alone. No, come back. I have another poem.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I thought I would put up a new poem here, but 5 times now when I tried to paste it, I was booted off my home page. To hell wit it. Today was too fine a day to waste on work,
so I grabbed the tackle box, a pole, and a bottle of wine, which I drank while the Pole went fishing. Like I said, too fine a day. Heres to ya.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


An ode to Blaunfrankisch

You were bad when you were young.
We put you back with the celery
as you sat your voice was sung.
We forgot you for a year my dear,
The back of the fridge was your prison.
One day we sprung you free to breathe.
From your neck your cork was flung.
In the light of day once more
expectations were low I'm afraid
but we were too drunk to drive to the store
so before any more plans were made
we drank you dry to the bone then and there
and we found your true light had begun to shine
bright as our noses by then
apples and legs were brought to mind

You try doing better after two bottles of wine.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Johhny Winter on the juke, words in my head

Highway 41
(after Bob Dylan)

I asked old man Ole
listen to me please,
I got ten cans of beer
and a pound of cheese,
I need to get a party out of this,
Ole said hold on there slick
I don’t think it can be done.
If I were you I’d get my ass
out to Highway 41

Jenny said to me one day
I want you to off my ex,
I’ll give you two hundred bucks
and some so-so sex,
just get the fucker off my back.
I said we can skip the nasty,
where can I find this son.
She said I cant say for sure,
somewhere off Highway 41

A Packer player asked his coach
to score him a lid of weed.
Coach came to me to get
him just what he need.
This ain’t no performance enhancing drug.
If ya want to beat the Bears
ya need to have some fun.
Take two of these and head south
down Highway 41

Mattress Mary had twenty bucks
and some clap that would not quit.
Could I get her some of that stuff
to get rid of this funky shit.
I said babe I ain’t no M.D.
I’d like to sit around and chat
But I really got to run.
You got to stop selling your ass
out on Highway 41

Monday, April 13, 2009

I saw Jack Kerouac last night in Armands place.
He was doing shooters and shots,
toking on some pot.
He looked pretty good considering
he’s been dead how long?
A little thin, real pale,
worn away and crumbled,
like old blacktop.
He sat on the stool by the window,
doobie in one hand,
the other painting scenes
of long roads and lonesome women,
angry men in subterranean rooms
talking stuff that no longer matters.
I ain’t too sure it’s him,
he could be one of those drunk fucks
always talking to themselves in the dark.
Oh, he talked all right,
so soft no one heard but me.
He argued with Ginsberg and Snyder,
seduced some black woman named Yolanda.
His voice was hard and edgy and demanding,
not at all what I’d expect from a dead man.
It faded in and out like tires going over
road grooves, clacked every other heart beat,
strong and insistent, tireless and hopeless,
but soft, like a heartbeat heard through
a woman’s breast late at night after loving.
When Polly woke me up for last call I was alone.
Ahh, Jack, wherever you have gotten yourself to, be well.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Not All Who Wander Want To Be Found

Sorry, J.R.R.
I wanted a space all for my self. So I picked my favorite dive in Tangle Town,
put a grand down on a bar tab, picked out a stool sturdy enough to hold my fat ass,
put it near the john and the juke box. Armand, slide me a stein of suds.
I've got some serious drinking, er, thinking to do.
If ya want to find me, here is where I'll be.
Till my tab runs dry.