Sunday, May 31, 2009

Too nice to spend in a bar.
Catch me by the river. I got a six pack,
bag of chips, and some new poems.
P.S., bring a bottle opener.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fame and fortune

Let me buy a round.
Ring the bell.
My friends and dear strangers,
a toast to me and my book.
Damn if today ain't a great day to be alive.
Ralph, Sharon, Ellen, Gary...
next one's on me.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Don't get me to talkin'

The only interesting thing about me anymore
are my stories.
Things I did.
Where I was.
Who I’ve met.
Better than being a grumpy old fart
gumming his daily bread
with a bitter face.
It is true I don’t walk very far anymore.
Doesn’t mean I ain’t been down roads.
I’ve been from here to there and back.
I have more miles than most.
If you were my age, I’d wager
though we’ve seen the same sunsets
I can name more of mine.
I’ve been in that beautiful place
where loneliness and awe
happen in equal measure.
I’ve met some people once
who I love to this day.
I’ve dodged fists, cue sticks,
bottles and bricks but never the law.
Okay. Maybe twice.
I have tasted rain so sweet.
I’ve drank things from
corn whiskey to Sauternes,
every thing in between.
I have slept in awful places.
I treated my body like
an amusement park and
my mind like a party.
I traded my heart for
bad pennies and sour grapes.
I’ve treated some hearts the same.
Don’t get me to talking…
I got all night.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How was your day?

How many days in our lives can we say
“ This is exactly where I want to be.”?
Maybe you are in a park reading
Jim Harrison poems sipping a Pepsi
and munching on a fresh pasty.
Or sitting across a table from your best friend,
talking on into early morning.
How about, just drinking a good wine
and waiting for a poem to come.
I think the secret to a full life is
claiming such times as our own,
sharing them as we see fit,
keeping them to ourselves
knowing how rare they are.
I had such a day today.
I wish you many for yourself.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day

To my brothers and sisters in the military,
here or moved on, thank you.
You put yourself in Harms way
or supported those who did.
So, for putting ourselves
through the strangeness of boot camp,
endured the training, the classes,
the humiliation, and finally the bonding,
Then the schools and first postings,
the travel and the rules, always the rules.
And we did it for our families,
for our Country, and for ourselves.
Whatever your battle, engagement,
police action, cruise or flyover;
You lived through it, or not.
Either way, you are heroes.
So, to us Sailors, Anchors away!
To the grunts, and the new Army! Forward!
To you jarheads, Harrroooo!
You fly boys, (and girls),
do, what ever in the hell you do.

i don't know what I believe,
I'll be home on Christmas Eve.
One! Two!
Three! Four!

I tip my beer to us all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bug Man

In Tangletown
when the Bugman walks by
in his suit with his greasy hair,
it makes you want to grab your wallet,
clutch your purse, pick up your child.
He smiles like life is a carlot and we are all beaters
with prices slashed, sacrificed, a real steal.
He will sell you a bridge, part of the moon,
Nevada oceanfront shoreline property.
When he talks all you can hear is the jingle of change,
the suck of air from money leaving your pocket.
The Bugman is a Company Man,
The Banker,
the Dream Pusher with $$ eyes that gleam in the dark.
He is a fat little boy in a candy store,
all greed and hunger,
and we are all day suckers.
The sweetness of life all depends
on if you're the stick or the lick.
Bitter are the days
in Tangletown.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

In Tangletown
Pegen O'Malley
cruises Friday night streets
in blue satin hot pants and orange tanktop
that reads "Poker in the front, Liquor in the rear."
She is looking for her next Boyfriend.
She flips off cops, sneers at housewives,
blows kisses to good-looking men.
Her high heels are lethal, not really legal,
but they do set her ass to swaying.
Her green fishnet stockings
throw multi-colored sparks
and her magenta lipstick
reflects the neon of the night.
Guys check their balls absently,
making sure they are still there.
She radiates lust and hunger.
To her, all men are treats,
" I'll take that one, and that one, and that one."
For Pegen O'Malley life is a candy store,
and her sweets walk the streets
in Tangletown.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Taxi cab incident

The day I almost started
a war with the city of Toronto
Toronto, Canada.
She was stunning.
Short black hair, finely turned profile,
looking smart in board room black.
I asked where to, she told me.
I noticed an accent, asked where was she from.
Canada I asked.
Yes. Canada.
I thought you might be from somewhere else.
The conversation went downhill from there.
I thought I had an International Incident.
Maybe I should warn somebody.
She didn’t even tip me.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

a fave

We start to burn
as we are born.

The barn boards
exhale wheat breath.

We are born knowing
all we need to get by.

The lake, half in shadow,
is a coffin or cave.

Living is an art but
Dying is a saxophone.

The horses in the dark field
will be us in their next life.

The gate in the fence swings open.
We are on the road we were meant for.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Pull up a stool. What’ll ya have?
Ya like the blues? Chicago, Jump, Texas, Delta?
Blind Faith on the juke, can’t find their way home.
Ever been lost?
I asked Armand to turn off the news.
Bad news and trouble every where ya look.
People going postal,
business swiping us blind.
War, x3.
Pirates, Hollywood princesses,
celebrity Presidential family.
It’s a good thing I drink
or I’d sure start now.
Clapton told me to ride the river.
Wish it were that easy, hey?
Listen to this…
“Hard times in the Land of Plenty.
Some got it all and the rest ain’t got any.”
Omar and the Howlers pegged it there didn’t they.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Do crows make fun of
the way WE walk?

How come when you need a dime
all you can find is a nickel?

If love is an ailment and leaving a mystery,
where do we hide our hearts?

If grey is green in the sunlight
what color is the flight of a blue jay?

And, speaking of sunlight,
where can I get a prescription for it?

The answers to the Question of living, Pablo,
what can they be other than the wind in the cattails?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Li Po, maybe

The other night at Polly’s
the cool September air added
a gold taste to the beer and the Rhine.
This short elderly cat walked in,
done up in white silk shirt and dark blue silk suit,
gold-rimmed glasses, head shaved and sunburned,
shoes worn and dusty with old leaves.
Polly, ready for damn near anything most of the time,
dusted off an old bottle of plum wine.
The polite old gent bowed like his neck was broken,
pulled out a fountain pen, scribbled something on a napkin.
He and Polly toasted each other, he finished the bottle,
bowed again and left.
Polly clutched the paper to her lovely breasts.
“Show us, Polly.” we ask.
“Show us what the old man wrote
that raises such passion in you.”

At the roadhouse some plum wine,
a beautiful girl.
Polly, leaf; both say last call.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


My Yahoo!


How to walk the line between
utter cosmic radiance
and the same old same old day;
Step out of your life a moment.
Be dangerous.
Get your heart beating strong.
Say no instead of yes.
Repeat it, with hand gestures.
Take no shit,
no stupidity.
Say what you’ve always wanted to say.
It doesn’t take much to be a hero.
It is in all of us,
that desire to be a cause.
It can define us.
There is no difference
between my life and your life.
We are part of a dream,
and God is soon to wake up.
I got that road adrenaline
rumbling through my blood.
It used to be my buzz of choice.
I’d be thrown up a notch.
See in six directions,
hear in seven ways,
Knew what you’d do
before you thought of it.
Notice the silhouette
of a hawk in a tree
from a quarter-mile.
I could hear the thoughts
of the men who
graded and laid this blacktop.
The truck, the load, me.
The road signs, the wind.
The vanishing point far ahead.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Thought for the day

My Yahoo!
In Tangletown
a young woman leaves the clinic
she works at and walks downtown
where the taverns are lined up to fall like dominoes.
She is looking for someone. A guy.
A man with a good and kind heart.
Where others troll for flesh to see them through the night,
Lucy Greene only wants some love.
She shows her honesty and
it is mistaken for The Angle,The Pitch, The Line.
She can't see that she walks around with Doormat
written on her face, or Hurt Me pinned to her sleeve.
She gets nailed every time.
It is a terrible thing
to watch a heart grow to stone.
The streets are littered
with the likes of Lucy Greene
every night
in Tangletown.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sunrise Blues

My Yahoo!

I got the blues in the midnight hour.
(with a nod to Guy Davis)
And there ain’t no cure for it.
The music on the radio is heartless.
How can it be so happy when I am like this?
I need something so lowdown and fucking dirty
it hurts my teeth, it feels like a kick to the nuts,
it feels like brass knuckles to the mouth.
Girl, I don’t know where you are.
In this whole wide city you wander somewhere,
I can hear your footsteps echo, I can see the light
of store fronts reflect off your face, I can smell your cigarette.
I got the man left home blues. I got the woman
chasing tail on Main Street blues.
The children are in bed, the dog’s put out,
the sun is creeping up, where are you girl?
I look out the window,
I keep the door unlocked.
I wait for the Taxi to pull up.
Wait for you to step out lip smeared, puffy,
red eyed, throw the cabbie a wad of bills,
weave the walk to the porch.
I’m waiting for you to see my bags packed,
waiting for you to see me leave.
I’ll leave you to wonder the empty nights,
to wander the dark silent rooms,
to keep vigil at the window,
I’ll leave you these sunrise blues.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Juke box

My Yahoo!

F 17,
A 32,
On a bad night, D 6.
Marshall Tucker Band,
“Can’t you see?”
“What this woman, she been doin’ to me.”
It is all “Hey hey, what can I do”
all “Good Lovin’ Gone bad.”
It is being on the receiving end of
“I Got A Spell On You”.
25 cents a song,
5 for a dollar.
Fingers know which buttons to push.
The body dances its own healing.
Remembers how to be alone.
One hand on the wall above the machine,
other tucked in pant pocket,
gazing into the guts of the juke box,
paying due what’s come due.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Hard Road Cafe Pt. 3

11:30 AM

Jesse Parker, college junior, spells Pete at the stove
for an hour or so. As Pete fills him in, Jackie changes the board on the sidewalk to the noon menu.
Pete grabs a lunch he had packed earlier, walks down the street,
turns toward the river, towards the little park there on its shore. He sits on top of the picnic table, his feet on the seat,
his chin in his hands, and he thinks.

12:00 PM

Four or five factory and mill whistles blow, a discordant
announcement that morning is over.
Barges and tugs ply the river, a few old men on the shore are fishing. Gulls squawk and fight over pickings from the trash barrel. Peters lunch is untouched, his chin is still in his hands, he is lost in thought.
Stella dying in a barrage of gunfire.
4 in the afternoon walking the block to her door.
Young men, boys, really, defending their desperation,
pissed, armed, given to acting before thinking.
Him holding his 'Stell, watching her die.
looking into the empty stare of sunglasses
speeding by. He, left behind, left alone.
Church was too political to help him.
The widowers support group he found at the outreach center
was no help. Even his brief stint with booze did not help.
The only things that helped was his Cafe. Work. Friends.
Then, the other day while listening to the radio,
he heard about plans to march on the capital. One million black men.
It was being called a chance to reclaim male pride,
re-establish male friendship, to guide the youngsters.
To take back our neighborhoods from the criminals.
To get respect for, and from the women.
The march promised so many things.
Farrakhan would be there, and Jackson.
Those were the reasons he should go, thought Peter.
But the bus ride would be two days to get to D.C.,
a day there, two days back. Who would tend the cafe?
Do the shopping, the prep, cooking?
Peter looked at his watch, threw his uneaten lunch
to the gulls, headed back to his cafe.

1:15 PM

Jesse says Long lunch today, boss? I thought I was finally going to get a chance to do Dinner.
When you're thirty, says Peter. He peeks through the serving window, sees Elmer and Stan Lieber playing chess at the end booth, with their latte and Officially Non-Existent silver flask.
Near as Peter could tell, those two have been playing the same position for ten years. Come to think of it, he doesn't recall
ever seeing one of those gentlemen even move a piece.
He low-whistles to Helga, asks her if she has ever seen them move a chess piece. Nope, she says, been playing the same game for ten years, and walks away to serve coffee to a man at the end of the counter.
This man catches Peters eye. Has a pretty heavy jacket on for such a nice day. Reads the paper, has a small pile of ones on the countertop, remains of a ham and cheese sandwich in front of him. Looks out the door a lot, and even in air conditioning he sweats, makes his face shine like motor oil.
Peter does not recognize him. Jackie hands Peter an order,
looks at him, at the young man, back to Peter, turns away.
As she reaches past Helga to put the coffee pot on the warmer
Jackie casually and expertly whispers to her.
Then Jackie walks to the man, tears the top sheet off of her pad, lays it on the counter in front of him, asks Will there be anything else, sir? He looks out the door, back to her, says No. Looks at Helga at the end of the counter,
back to her , says That's it for me. Keep the change.
He gets up, holding his coat closed with one hand, and walks out of the front door, turns left, is out of sight.

1:30 PM

Jackie and Helga exchange a relieved glance. Officer Tam Brady walks out of the ladies room, buckling her Sam Brown, holding a newspaper under her arm, service cap on askew. Peter sees the young man come back into view, coat open, a very big gun in one hand, the door handle in the other. He sees the officer, she looks up and sees him. Peters hand is on the phone. The man runs off, the officer chases him, calling for back-up on her portable.

2:00 PM

The crowd has dispersed, the police are done taking statements.
Helga and Jackie are calm again. Officer Tam tells Peter that after a short chase, the young man turned and fired on her. She returned fire. He went down, was in St. Matt’s hospital in critical condition.

3:00 PM

The ladies are gone, the place is cleaned, and Peter hangs the CLOSED sign in the glass door. As he walks to the kitchen he hears someone try the door. He turns, hollers sorry, I'm closed
for the day.

6:00 PM

Peter stands before a wired glass window, and the glare from the corridor lights makes it hard to see inside the dim room.
Lights from some machines, a small table lamp, an indistinct shape under a white sheet. A dark face, plastic mask, a snarl of tubes and hoses. Peters forehead is against the warm glass.
He sees his Stella. Car barreling down the street, six kids.
Stella dead on a Sunday, her murderer
gone, Stella gone, all of it gone.
Peter says to the dark face on the other side of the glass
not so bad now are you. Peter wishes his tears would go away.
Stella asks him from the shine of the window,
“What are you going to do, Pete?”
He looks at his hands, sighs,
asks, “What can I do?”
The boy on the bed asks nothing,
is witness to no pain,
drifting between the boundaries
of known and unknown worlds.
Peter watches as nurses attend him.
They never saw him with a gun,
never saw the look of angry fear on his face,
or the terror he must have felt
being shot by a cop,
when he discovered he was not bullet-proof.
To the nurses he is a child in need of their care.
Not a thug, not a hood, not an armed robber.
As the day passes Peter watches.
He doesn’t know the boys name.
Stella whispers, “It doesn’t matter.”

Hard Road Cafe Pt.2

My Yahoo!

8:30 AM
The ladies sit at the two end counter stools, drinking coffee.
Peter leans on one bat winged door, and while they talk
he keeps an eye on the stove. A good morning.
Paddy Tolliver looked real tired, are his kids still sick? And is Chris Raybo looking pregnant?
Good Lord, but that girl gets more ass than a toilet seat.
Peter looks at the clock above the cash register, tells the ladies to prepare for round two.
9:00 AM
Helga works the stove for this crowd, that lets Peter be with the merchants that crowd his place.
Next block over is Market Square, with its shops and stores and stalls.
This hour before they open their places is when they exchange the news of the day.
The tax proposal from the city council, interest rates from the Fed., Johns old lady taking off with the computer repair kid.
Peter walks around with his cup and a fresh pot of coffee,
stops at each table and booth, sits and chats a spell.
These are his friends and peers, and every one who knows him
can see how he enjoys this time.

10:00 AM

A tropically-colored miniature cyclone blows through the door,
a swirl of skirts and scarves and necklaces.
Kiloman Sanjaurro; skin the shade of dark sweet chocolate,
voice smooth as sugarcane rum, tongue like a long machete.
Peter unconsciously checks his balls, makes sure he still has 'em.
He knows that for the next hour or so he is subordinate to Jackie and Helma, at least in HER eyes.
He confines himself to the kitchen, where he can do no wrong. He mutters while he cooks.
Jackie pokes her head in the pass-through window, puts on her Kiloman face and her Kiloman voice and says,
Tell dat goudlookin mon back deer I wan caffee, I wan salaud, I wan tousand Island dressin.
Jackie winks and ducks an airborne oven mitt. As she withdraws she barely hears, goodlookin my ass!
I wan this , I wan that, I know what she needs!
But Peter thinks, my, my, Kiloman sure looks fine this morning.

10:30 AM

Jackie asks Kiloman if she has any new poems she would share.
( Peter perks an ear. He loves her poetry.)
Sure, she says. Dis one I ben workin on.
She claps her hands in a complicated pattern.

“There a burning at the crossroad
devil standin there
young boy blow a blues harp
want to make a deal
Sign his name in red blood
He got blood to spare
devil he be laughin
soul for him ta steal
Mama at the whore house
workin off the back rent
Gramma in the cellar
workin up a mojo
Uncle at the roadhouse
pay already spent
Sister got her bag packed
time for her to go
Rollie play the gitar
lookin for some pussy
Bonnie wearin high heel
walkin down on Main street
Preacher got religion
blessin pretty Macy
Redneck cruisin downtown
lookin for some sweet meat
There a burnin at the crossroad
lightin up the sky
Hard wind come a blowin
fannin high the flame
devil stand there laughin
someone gonna die
Young boy he be runnin
cryin Jesus' name
Mama in the kitchen
prayin to the good Lord
Sister ride the Greyhound
leavin home for good
Uncle got his head bust
with a two-by-four board
Rollie got the clap now
like we knew he would
Gramma makin voodoo
for ta cast her spell
Preacher beg forgiveness
for lustin in the night
Hound set up a howlin
in the pit of hell
Sky is burnin blood red
no salvation tonight
There a burnin at the crossroad”

With a mock flourish and a deep bow Kiloman sits down.
Peter doesn't know to laugh or cry.